Professor Matt Sparke

June 28, 2018


Matt Sparke is a Professor of Politics.  He moved to UCSC in the Fall of 2017 after 22 years at the University of Washington.  At UW he held joint appointments in International Studies and Geography, and also helped create and direct new undergraduate programs in Global Health and Integrated Social Sciences. Navigating between these varied positions, Matt sought to connect the collaborative work of curriculum development with his interests in political theory and global studies. And it is these same interests that he now brings to Politics at UCSC.

Intellectually Matt comes to political theory and global studies with a training in the discipline of Geography – first as an undergraduate at the University of Oxford, then as a graduate student at the University of British Columbia.  His work has been focused on the politics of space and geopolitics, including the diverse ways in which the geographies of citizenship and belonging are shifting in the 21st century. Concerned with how such shifts are mapped into political theory, his first book, In The Space of Theory: Postfoundational Geographies of the Nation-State (Minneapolis, 2005) sought to use evidence about the contemporary spatial reconfiguration of power relations to explore the limits of abstract appeals to ‘space’ by post-foundationalist political theorists.  In subsequent writing, Matt has continued to examine how citizenship regimes, borders and belonging are altered by market-led globalization. Relatedly, his second book, a textbook entitled Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (Oxford, 2013), is centrally concerned with the ties between market driven global neoliberalization and uneven patterns of market responsibilization, resistance and reaction. And these interests have led him to write more recently – in both journalistic and academic fora – about how we can come to terms with the reactionary politics of Trumpism.

Matt’s concerns with the political implications of globalization are a central feature of his POLI 17 course on the US and the World Economy.  They are connected in turn to his evolving research on the politics of global health which he teaches about in POLI 186 on Global Health Politics.  With this global health research and teaching Matt also hopes to contribute to cross-campus initiatives to develop global health programming at UCSC.  For the same reasons, he is currently serving as the university’s representative on the board of the UC Global Health Institute.  Back in the Department of Politics, Matt is especially excited about his new role as Director of Graduate Studies, including the work of attracting and supporting a community of graduate students that is as diverse and as successful as possible.  He can be reached by email at any time, and can usually be found in his office in Vallier 233. He is also always ready for mountain biking in the redwoods or just wave-watching by the ocean.

Professor Sparke sits on a red blanket at the left foreground, the beach with waves are breaking to the right, a costal bluff is in the distance, a few clouds in a blue sky