Politics Faculty

Matthew B Sparke
  • Pronouns he, him
  • Title
    • Professor
    • Co-Director of Global and Community Health
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Politics Department
    • Global & Community Health
  • Affiliations Legal Studies, Community Studies Program, Latin American & Latino Studies, Science & Justice Research Center, Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Crown College Faculty Wing, 233
    • Crown College, Ivan Vallier Hall, 233
  • Office Hours Mondays 3 - 5pm in Soc Sci 1 in the GCH Suite or for a zoom appointment copy this URL into your browser -> https://calendar.app.google/zwHkd3wvFAwWmsH69
  • Mail Stop Merrill/Crown Faculty Services
  • Mailing Address
    • Merrill Faculty Services, Politics Department, UCSC
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Capitalism, Globalization, Border Studies, Critical Theory, Health and Wellness, Disease and Immunity, Death/Mortality Studies, Discrimination and Inequality, International and Global Affairs, Political Economy of Development
  • Courses POLI 189: Pandemics, Politics and Global and Community Health; POLI 189B: Global and Community Health Policy in Practice; GCH 195: Global and Community Health Communication; GCH 190: Task Force in Global and Community Health; GCH 1: Foundations for Global and Community Health; GCH 186: Global Health Politics (was POLI 186); POLI 186/ LGST 186: Global Health Politics; POLI 17: US and the World Economy; POLI 200D: Political Economy Core; POLI 271: Global GeoPolitics
  • Advisees, Grad Students, Researchers Gabrielle Marie Penaranda, Tamara Ortega-Uribe, Henry Lawrence McLaughlin, Gabriela Segura, Key MacFarlane, Mark Howard, Boyeong Kim, Riley Anne Collins, Lucia Vitale

Summary of Expertise

KEY AREAS: Globalization, Global Health, Global Politics, Global Studies, Borders, Citizenship and Sub-Citizenship. Based on research in these areas, Sparke has written two books: Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and In the Space of Theory: Post-foundational Geographies of the Nation-State (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press); along with the journal articles, book chapters and reviews listed opposite and on his CV

Research Interests

Sparke's work focuses on the changing geography of politics and citizenship in the context of globalization. Funded by a NSF CAREER award and support from other foundations, he has studied the impact of neoliberal globalization on governance and citizenship in Europe, Asia and North America, focusing on border regions but also increasingly on what health citizenship means in practice in terms of access to medicines and the global prospects of 'health for all'.  The upshot implications for uneven global development and socio-political integration and enfranchisement are described at length in his second book, Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (Oxford, 2013). This work has extended since 2020 into his research into COVID as a 'neoliberal disease', including the resulting unequal global access to the COVID vaccines.  His newest project  extends the related concerns with unequal landscapes of protection and vulnerability to questions of resilience amid global environmental insecurity, focusing on farmworker health in the context of climate crisis.

Biography, Education and Training

Matt Sparke is a Professor of Politics at UCSC. He was was born in Tonbridge, England in 1967. He was educated at a state comprehensive school in Tunbridge Wells, then at the University of Oxford (where David Harvey was his main mentor), and then at the University of British Columbia (where Derek Gregory was his PhD advisor). He joined the faculty in International Studies and Geography at the University of Washington in 1995.  After 22 years in Seattle, he moved to the Department of Politics at UC Santa Cruz in 2017.   For more see his wikipedia page here.

Honors, Awards and Grants

  • 2023, "Farmworker Community Health Vulnerabilities and Responses Amid Climate Change,"  Climate Action Award granted from UC Office of the President
  • 2023, "Community-Engaged S/Hero Award," granted from UC Office of the President
  • 2023 Senior Visiting Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute  zur Erforschung multireligiöser und multiethnischer Gesellschaften 
  • 2022 University of California Office of the President, Digital Inclusion award
  • 2021 UC Global Health Institute Incubator Award, "Accelerating Implementation Science," co-PI with Stef Bertozzi
  • 2019 Appointed as Editor for Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 
  • 2019 "Global health citizenship and the city," Brocher Foundation Residency, co-PI with Katharyne Mitchell.
  • 2018 Appointed to the Board of the University of California Global Health Institute.
  • 2016  “On the ethical, legal & social implications of new biosecurity technologies as they relate to migrants and geography of biological citizenship,” Brocher Foundation Residency, co-PI with Katharyne Mitchell.
  • 2007, Lifetime Distinguished Teacher Award, University of Washington
  • 2005, Award for Excellence in Teaching, Dept. of Geography, University of Washington
  • 2000-5, National Science Foundation, CAREER award, PI
  • 1998-9 National Science Foundation, Undergraduate Research Experiences Grant, PI
  • 1997-9 National Science Foundation, Regular research award, PI
  • 1989-1994, University Graduate Fellowships, The University of British Columbia
  • 1989, Congratulatory First Class, The University of Oxford.

Selected Publications

Most recent:

2024, Matthew Sparke, “Defining geoeconomics amid shifts in global hegemony: critical geographies of new international conjunctures,” Environment and Planning A.

2024, Matthew Sparke & Owain Williams, "COVID and Cartelisation: Market-State-Society Ties and the Political Economy of Pharma," New Political Economy. 29(4), 579-596. https://doi.org/10.1080/13563467.2024.2304180

2024, Matthew Sparke, "Neoliberalism revisited," in Richardson, D. et al (eds) The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology, New York: Wiley.

2023, Matthew Sparke, Edwina Malmberg & Ted Malpass, "Bio-Pharma Hub Development in Global Production Networks: Contrasting State Policies and Conjunctural Value Strategies," Area, Development and PolicyDOI: 10.1080/23792949.2023.2216258

2023, Matthew Sparke & Owain Williams, “Pandemic Co-Pathogenesis:  From the Vectors to the Variants of Neoliberal Disease,” Chapter 11 in Leila Talani and Alan W Cafruny, eds.  The Political Economy of Global Responses to COVID-19, Palgrave Macmillan.

2023, Matthew Sparke & Orly Levy, “Immunizing Against Access? Philanthro-Capitalist COVID Vaccines and the Preservation of Patent Monopolies,” in The Routledge Handbook of Critical Philanthropy and Humanitarianism, New York: Routledge, eds. Katharyne Mitchell and Polly Pallister-Wilkins.

2023, Adrian Bailey et al, “Care for Transactions,” Transactions of the Institute of British, Geographershttps://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tran.12592

2023, Swati Banerjee, Dave Shaw & Matthew Sparke, “Collaborative online international learning, social innovation and global health: Cosmopolitical COVID lessons as global citizenship education,” Globalisation, Societies and EducationDOI: 10.1080/14767724.2023.2209585

2023, Matthew Sparke, “Geoeconomics geohistoricised.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 1–5. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1111/tran.12652

2023, Matthew Sparke, "Geographies of Philanthropy," in Richardson D. et al (eds) The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and TechnologyNew York: Wiley.

2023, James Esson,  Markus Breines, Sinyee Koh, Colin Mcfarlane, Jessica McLean, & Matthew Sparke, "Way-finding Agendas Through Transactions," Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.


For publications prior to 2023, please go to https://mattsparke.sites.ucsc.edu/publications/

Selected Presentations

"Welcome to Global and Community Health at UCSC," presented for incoming students interested in health careers, 2023.

"Introducing the Global Fund to Fights AIDS, TB and Malaria," prepared for GCH 186, Global Health Politics at UCSC, 2024.

"COVID's Neoliberal Co-Pathogenesis: On the pandemic's capitalist co-determinants and complications," presented at UCSC, 2022.

"Global and Community Health," presented in an interview with Chris Benner on KSQD, 2022.

"Global Health Degree Launches at UCSC: Q & A with Matt Sparke," presented by Lookout Magazine, 2022. 

“Interdisciplinarity, global exchange, and the future of the university.” Interviewed by Gray Kochar-Lindgren for Hong Kong University, Common Core, 2017.

 “On the problems and promises of online education.” Lecture for the University of Washington’s Integrated Social Sciences BA.

Selected Recordings

COVID and the Lessons for Global and Community Health, recorded University Forum lecture for UCSC, July 20, 2020

Global Markets and Personal Impacts, online course recordings archived with EdX

Teaching Interests

Global Politics, Global Health, Health Justice, Biological Citizenship, Global Studies, Globalization, Geopolitics, Geoeconomics, Neoliberalism, Neo-Illiberalism and the Politics of Space