Politics Faculty

Matt 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 ANTH 89/ BIOL 89/ POLI 89: Foundations for Global and Community Health; 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; 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 Richard Sean 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. Initially this took the form of research examining how borders, geopolitics and national sovereignty are remade in the context of trade liberalization.  His research in North America, Europe and South East Asia complicated simplistic ‘geoeconomic’ meta-narratives about ‘the end of the nation-state’ and a ‘borderless world’ in the new millennium. It showed instead how forms of national sovereignty were still being drawn upon to enforce pro-market governance and neoliberal norms of citizenship at a transnational scale.  As well as being written-up and published in a wide variety of articles and book chapters, this work also informed his first book, In The Space of Theory: Postfoundational Geographies of the Nation-State (Minneapolis, 2005). With the book he further sought to use geographical evidence about territorial transformations to explore the limits of abstract appeals to ‘space’ by critical theorists, including Arjun Appadurai, Homi Bhabha, Timothy Mitchell, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt.


Funded by a NSF CAREER award and support from other foundations, Sparke has continued to study the impact of globalization on governance and citizenship into the present.  Some of this work also informs his second book, Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (Oxford, 2013). This is primarily a textbook, but it additionally attempts to deepen his critique of geoeconomic myth-making and the ways in which it continues to obscure the asymmetrical influence of national-state authority and sovereignty within a context of heightened global interdependencies. His textbook and teaching work about globalization have led in turn to research on the politics of global health, including into what he has come to theorize as the ‘biological sub-citizenship’ resulting from austerity and other neoliberal reforms.  One example of this is his current work on unequal global access to the COVID vaccines, including all the exclusions from immunization created by the patent-based monopolies on vaccine IP.

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.
  • 2013 “Climate Change, Global Health, Vulnerability and Resilience: Towards an Area Studies of Risk,” co-PI with Celia Lowe for joint Mellon grant.
  • 2010, Award for Excellence in Teaching, Jackson School of Intl. Studies, University of Washington
  • 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

2024, Matthew Sparke & Owain Williams, "COVID and Cartelisation: Market-State-Society Ties and the Political Economy of Pharma," New Political Economy.


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.

2022, Emma Mitchell-Sparke, Katharyne Mitchell & Matthew Sparke, “Re-socializing Pre-Health Education in the Context of COVID: Pandemic Prompts for Bio-Social Approaches,” Frontiers in Medicine, 9: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2022.1012821.

2022, Matthew Sparke & Orly Levy, “Competing responses to global inequalities in access to COVID vaccines:  Vaccine Diplomacy and Vaccine Charity Versus Vaccine Liberty," Clinical Infectious Diseases, 75, 1: S86-92, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciac361

2022, Matthew Sparke & Owain Williams, "Neoliberal Disease: COVID-19, Co-Pathogenesis and Global Health Insecurities", Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 54 (1)  http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0308518X211048905

2022, Matthew Sparke, "Reactionary Anti-Globalism: The Crisis of Globalization," in Richard Ballard and Clive Barnett, eds. Routledge Handbook of Social Change (New York: Routledge, 2022). DOI: 4324/9781351261562-3

2022, Matthew Sparke &  Lucia Vitale, "COVID's Co-Pathogenesis," Syndemic Magazine, Issue 1, February 14.

2021, Aarushi Saharan, Manya Balanchander, & Matthew Sparke "Sharing the Burden of Treatment Navigation: Social Work and the Experiences of Unhoused Women in Accessing Health Services in Santa Cruz," Social Work in Health Care. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00981389.2021.1986457

2021, Matthew Sparke &  Owain Williams, "Prepped to Fail: Why Countries Must Learn Hard Lessons from COVID," The Telegraph, September 14.

2020, Matthew Sparke & Dimitar Anguelov "Contextualizing Coronavirus Geographically," Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

2020, Matthew Sparke "Neoliberal Regime Change & the Remaking of Global Health: From Roll-back Disinvestment to Roll-Out Reinvestment & Reterritorialization,Review of International Political Economy, 27:1, 48-74.

2020, Matthew Sparke, “Globalisation and the Politics of Global Health,” in Colin McInnes et al eds. The Oxford Handbook of Global Health Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2020, Matthew Sparke "Comparing and connecting territories of illiberal politics and neoliberal governance," Terrritory, Politics, Governance, 8, 1: 95-99.

2019, Matthew Sparke &  Daniel Bessner, “Resilience, Reaction, and the Trumpist Behemoth: Environmental Crisis Management from 'Hoax' to Technique of Domination,” Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 109 (2): 533-544. Reprinted as Chapter 21 in James McCarthy, ed. Environmental Governance in a Populist/Authoritarian Era, New York: Routledge, 2020.

2019, Miranda Joseph, Abigail H. Neely, Gail Davies, Susan Craddock, & Matthew Sparke book review panel on Susan Craddock's, Compound Solutions: Pharmaceutical Alternatives for Global HealthThe AAG Review of Books, 7:1, 47-58.

2019, Matthew Sparke, a book review of Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, by Quinn Slobodian, for Economic Geography.

2018, Sparke, Matthew. "Globalizing capitalism and the dialectics of geopolitics and geoeconomics." Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 50.2 (2018): 484-489. https://doi.org/10.1177/0308518X17735926

2018, Matthew Sparke “Welcome, its suppression, and the in-between spaces of refugee sub-citizenship,Fennia - International Journal of Geography.

2018, Matthew Sparke &  Katharyne Mitchell, "Hotspot Geopolitics Versus Geosocial Solidarity: Contending Constructions of Safe Space for Migrants in Europe," Society and Space.

2018, Matthew Sparke &  Katharyne Mitchell, "From EU Hotspots to Solidarity Spaces: Scenes of SAFE PASSAGE," Society and Space.

2018, Matthew Sparke “Teaching Globalisations,” in Robert C. Kloosterman, Virginie Mamadouh, Pieter Terhorst (editors) Handbook Geographies of Globalisation, Edward Elgar Publishing.

2018, Matthew Sparke &  Katharyne Mitchell, “Lampedusa in Hamburg and the ‘Throwntogetherness’ of the Global City,” in Marion Werner, Jamie Peck, Rebecca Lave, & Brett Christophers (eds.) Critical Dialogues with Doreen Massey, Agenda Publishing.

2018, “The Rise of Asian Economies and the Deprovincialization of Globalization,” an interview with Nirvikar Singh, Panjab University Research Journal of the Social Sciences.

2017, Matthew Sparke “Austerity and the embodiment of neoliberalism as ill-health: Towards a theory of biological subcitizenship,” Social Science & Medicine

2017, Matthew Sparke, “Textbooks as Opportunities for Interdisciplinarity and Planetarity,” Area.

2017, Matthew Sparke, “Situated Cyborg Knowledge In Not So Borderless Online Global Education: Mapping the Geosocial Landscape of a MOOC,” Geopolitics.

2017, Matthew Sparke & Daniel Bessner, “Nazism, neoliberalism, and the Trumpist challenge to democracy,” with Daniel Bessner, Environment and Planning A.

2017, “Globalization,” in The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology, edited by Douglas Richardson, Noel Castree, Michael F. Goodchild, Audrey Kobayashi, Weidong Liu, and Richard A. Marston, New York: Wiley.

2017, “Climate Terror: A Critical Geopolitics of Climate Change” a book review for Space and Polity.

2017, Matthew Sparke& Daniel Bessner, “Don’t let his trade policy fool you: Trump is a neoliberal,” Washington Post, March 22.

2017, “Fabrics of Uneven Development: Global Displacements and the Seams of Global Studies,” editor’s essay introducing a review symposium on Marion Werner’s Global Displacements: The Making of Uneven Development in the Caribbean in the AAG Review of Books, 5 (1): 74-85.

2016, Katharyne Mitchell & Matthew Sparke,  “The New Washington Consensus: Millennial Philanthropy and the Making of Global Market Subjects,” Antipode, 48, 3: 724-749.

2016, Jamie Peck & Matthew Sparke, “Introduction to Symposium on Brett Christophers’ The Great Leveler: Capitalism and Competition in the Court of Law,” Environment and Planning A.

2015, Matthew Sparke, “Health,” in Roger Lee et al, eds. Handbook of Human Geography, Thousand Oaks: Sage.

2014, Matthew Sparke, “Author's Response,” response in to a book review symposium on Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration, Oxford: Wiley.

2013, Matthew Sparke, “From Global Dispossession to Local Repossession: Towards a Worldly Cultural Geography of Occupy Activism,” in Nuala Johnson, Jamie Winders and Richard Schein, Handbook of Cultural Geography, Oxford: Blackwell-Wiley.

2013, Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration, Oxford, Blackwell-Wiley.

2013, Matthew Sparke & Dimitar Anguelov, “H1N1, Globalization and the Epidemiology of Inequality,” Health & Place, 18 (2012) 726–736.

2012, Matthew Sparke, “Globalization Discourse, Geoeconomics, Neoliberalization and Philanthrocapitalism,” an interview for Exploring Geopolitics.

2012, Matthew Sparke, “Debtscapes, double-agents and development: Reflections on Poverty Capital,” Antipode, 44 (2): 517 – 522.

2012, Matthew Sparke, “Ethnography, Affect, Geography, and Unemployment,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 2012, 102 (2): 510 – 515.

2012, Matthew Sparke, “National Identity case study: How is globalization transforming the borders of national identity?” In Solem, M., Klein, P., Muñiz-Solari, O., and Ray, W., eds., AAG Center for Global Geography Education.

2011, Matthew Sparke, “Global Geographies,” in Michael Brown and Richard Morrill, eds. Seattle Geographies, Seattle: University of Washington Press, pages 48 – 70.

2010, Matthew Sparke, “The Look of Surveillance Returns,” in Classics in Cartography: Reflections on Influential Articles from Cartographica, edited by Martin Dodge, New York: Wiley, pages 373 – 386.

2009, Matthew Sparke, “Unpacking economism and remapping the terrain of global health,” in Adrian Kay and Owain Williams, editors, Global Health Governance: Transformations, Challenges and Opportunities Amidst Globalization, New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 131 – 159.

2009, Matthew Sparke, “On denationalization as neoliberalization: Biopolitics, class interest and the incompleteness of citizenship,” Political Power and Social Theory, v. 20: 287 – 300.

2008, Matthew Sparke, “Political Geographies of Globalization (3): Resistance,” Progress in Human Geography, 32 (1): 1 – 18.

2008, Matthew Sparke, “Fast capitalism/slow terror:  Cushy cosmopolitanism and its extraordinary others,” in Marieke de Goede and Louise Amoore, eds. Risk and the War on Terror, New York: Routledge: 133 – 157.

2007, Matthew Sparke, “Geopolitical Fear, Geoeconomic Hope and the Responsibilities of Geography,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97 (2): 338 – 349. Reprinted in 2011 in Geopolitica: Revista de Geografie Politica, GeoPolitica si GeoStrategie, Anul VIII – Nr 36 – 37.

2007, Matthew Sparke, “Everywhere but always somewhere: Critical geographies of the Global South,” The Global South, 1(1): 117 – 126.

2006, Matthew Sparke, “A Neoliberal Nexus: Citizenship, Security and the Future of the Border,” Political Geography, 25 (2) 2006: 151 – 180.

2006, Matthew Sparke, “Political Geographies of Globalization: (2) Governance,” Progress in Human Geography 30, 2 (2006): 1 - 16.

2005, Matthew Sparke, Elizabeth Brown, Dominic Corva, Heather Day, Caroline Faria,Tony Sparks, and Kirsten Varg “The World Social Forum and the Lessons for Economic Geography,” Economic Geography, 81 (4) 359 - 380.

2004, Matthew Sparke, “Political Geographies of Globalization: (1) Dominance,” Progress in Human Geography, 28,6 777–794.

2004, Matthew Sparke, James Sidaway, Tim Bunnell and Carl Grundy-Warr, “Triangulating the Borderless World: Geographies of Power in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle " Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, NS 29 485–498.  Also republished online as Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) Bulletin 135

2004, Matthew Sparke, “Passports into Credit Cards: On the Borders and Spaces of Neoliberal Citizenship,” in Joel Migdal ed. Boundaries and Belonging, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 251 - 283.

2004, Matthew Sparke, “Nature and Tradition at the Border: Landscaping the End of the Nation State,”  in Nezar AlSayyad ed. The End of Tradition? New York: Routledge, 87 – 115.

2003, Matthew Sparke & Victoria Lawson “Entrepreneurial Political Geographies of the Global-Local Nexus,” in John Agnew, Katharyne Mitchell and Gerard O Tuathail, eds., A Companion to Political Geography, Oxford: Blackwell, pages 315 - 334.

2003, Matthew Sparke, Carolina Reid and Clare Newstead, “The Cultural Geography of Scale” in Kay Anderson, Mona Domosh, Steve Pile and Nigel Thrift, The Handbook of Cultural Geography, London: Sage, pages 485 - 497.

2003, Matthew Sparke, “American Empire and Globalisation: Postcolonial Speculations on Neocolonial Enframing,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 24, 3, pages 373 - 389.

2003, Matthew Sparke,  Sue Roberts and Anna Secord, “Neoliberal Geopolitics,”  Antipode, 35, 5: pages 886 – 897.

2002, Matthew Sparke, “Between Post-Colonialism and Cross-Border Regionalism,” Space and Polity, 6 (2), pages 203-213.

2002, Matthew Sparke, “Not a State, but a State of Mind: Cascading Cascadias and the Geo-Economics of Cross-Border Regionalism,” in Markus Perkmann and Ngai-Ling Sum, eds, Globalisation, Regionalisation and Cross-border Regions, New York: Palgrave Publishers, pages  212 - 240.

2000, Matthew Sparke, “Excavating the future in Cascadia:  Geoeconomics and the imagined geographies of a cross-border region,” BC Studies, 127, Autumn, pages 5 - 44.

2000, Matthew Sparke, “Chunnel Visions: Unpacking the Anticipatory Geographies of an Anglo-European borderland,” Journal of Borderland Studies, XV,1, pages 2 – 34.

2000, Matthew Sparke & Noel Castree, “Professional Geography and the Corporatization of the University: Experiences, Evaluations and Engagements” in Antipode, 32, 3, 2000: pages, 222-229.


 Click here for publications prior to 2000 as well as other essays, reviews and interviews.




Selected Presentations

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

"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