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New flows and spatial relations

Nouveaux flux, nouvelles relations entre les lieux

Nuevos flujos, nuevas relaciones entre los lugares

Peripheral spaces within globalisation

Les espaces périphériques dans la mondialisation

Los espacios periféricos en la globalización

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Published on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 by João Fernandes


La mondialisation contemporaine présente un visage inédit par bien des aspects. Elle modifie les relations entre les espaces, les institutions, les entreprises et les individus et entraîne notamment une transformation radicale des liens des périphéries avec d'autres lieux. Les flux de toutes natures que ces relations déclenchent, les stratégies des acteurs qui sont au centre de ces dynamiques, les territoires institutionnels, politiques ou identitaires que construisent ou renforcent ces reconfigurations et les dissymétries sociales et économiques qu’elles génèrent ont été étudiés par le programme collectif de recherche Périmarge : « Périphéries, marges : interpréter les relations aux centres dans la mondialisation », financé par l’ANR sur l’appel « Métamorphoses des sociétés : Inégalité-Inégalités ».



The end of the eighties marked a turning point, with the collapse of the Soviet block and the parallel consolidation of economic liberalism on a global scale.  Many countries opened up to the market economy: the international trade of goods and capital created a process that could in part be compared with the first wave of economic globalisation that took place between the nineteenth century and the First World War Contemporary globalisation does however remain a unique phenomenon in many respects. Demographic, economic and political hierarchies between countries and regions have been overhauled, with the successive emergence of the “Asian Tigers”, China, Brazil, South Africa and India on the global stage. Additionally, private entities entered in a competition with the state, both in the sector of economic production and in that of not-for-profit activities. These transformations are also connected to the recent years’ technological revolutions, which transformed the circulation of individuals, products, capital and information. While a growing portion of exchanges are now conducted virtually, the increased speed, cost-effectiveness and reliability of transport have also transformed relations between countries, institutions, businesses and individuals.

Some spaces could appear to have remained excluded from these new global connections: remote regions located far away from the planet’s main decision-making centres, isolated neighbourhoods at the confines of metropolises, deserted rural areas and more generally all spaces qualified as “peripheries” or “margins” towards the end of the twentieth century. Yet stating that such spaces are only playing a minor part in this effervescence appears increasingly inaccurate. On the contrary, there are increasing signs of an intensification of connections. Those include flows from the outside world, made visible by the presence of mobile phones, of the Internet, of billboards in foreign languages displayed with the construction of new infrastructures or of residential blocks growing in the middle of the fields. Additionally, a growing number of stakeholders are now designing projects from these very peripheries, whether those are the actual centre of their action or only one of the focuses of their networked strategies. Following relatively traditional patterns, some take advantage of their remote position to keep out of sight from the authorities, while others are renegotiating their position within globalisation: they use their long-term presence and the specificity of their cultural values to request exceptional rights or a position of autonomy, they exploit new resources from these unique and long untapped territories, and create new centres along the communication routes created by globalisation. These players create new places of economic and political power, at a variable distance from national capitals and large conurbations, all the while building links with the rest of the world.

Périmarge  is a research programme that explores the new connections between peripheral spaces and the rest of the world, the diverse flows created by these connections, the strategies led by new players, the institutional, political and economic landscapes built or consolidated by these configurations, as well as the social and economic dissymmetries they are generating or reproducing. The programme is funded by the ANR (National Agency for Research, France) under its strand “Social transformation: inequality-inequalities”. Working from a model developed in the early 1980s by geographer Alain Reynaud, the Périmarge research team looked at the changes brought about by the new configurations of global space, using case studies located in the peripheries of national clusters or urban conurbations in Africa and Latin America. We are now keen to discuss our methods and findings with members of the scientific community who might have used different routes to analyse relations between diverse locations within the world’s new spatial system, with a focus on the part played by the peripheries.

The conference “New flows and spatial relations: peripheral spaces within globalisation” will be organised around methodological, thematic, theoretical and practical questions. Proposals can be connected to these various fields, looking at cases located in Northern or Southern countries. We welcome contributions from all disciplines in social science, reflecting on the flows to and from peripheral spaces, on the relations reflected by these flows and on their impact on the contemporary world’s evolutions. 

Sessions will be organised around the following research questions: 

Identifying and analysing flows and relations

The reconfiguration of relations between peripheries and other spaces, whether near or distant, is driven by diverse flows (people, capital, products, standards and information), led by diverse players. Identifying, describing and analysing these flows is a methodological challenge. How can they be captured, named and compiled? How can we interpret their spatial and temporal characteristics? Is it possible to demonstrate a growing intensification of the role played by peripheries in the contemporary world’s flows and relations? Contributions might use data of all natures (field observations, surveys, interviews, mass data…), drawing from diverse analytical tools such as modelling, comparison, quantification or reflexive approaches.

Rethinking scale within globalisation

Within globalisation, flows do not just circulate from a centre to a periphery within a given circumscribed area (national territory, economic region, etc.), or even between national, regional and local scales as defined by rigid categories of scale. Not only do flows travel across scales, but scales themselves need to be understood as dynamic spatial categories built by various players. Scales define spaces of action as much as socio-spatial hierarchies, both of which are progressive. Contributions will look at the construction of scales by the stakeholders that drive the flows, or at alternatives to the use of predefined scale categories to carry out our analysis.

Re-examining the issue of socio-spatial inequalities 

The reconfiguration of relations between peripheries and other spaces has an impact on socio-spatial differentiation processes. How do the resulting flows contribute to the emergence of original economic or demographic evolutions? How are new relations accentuating or attenuating differences between spaces and individuals who inhabit them, use them or control them? How are they imposing new forms of inequality, because of their growing diversification? Contributions might describe current evolutions. They might also study the new criteria used to capture inequalities, deriving from the circulation of new models and standards. 

Challenging the categorisation of peripheral spaces 

The very notions of periphery and margin are being challenged by globalisation. Players of every nature and every origin have proven their ability to interact on a global scale. The exclusive relationship between a periphery and a single centre deserves to be challenged. Are “globalised” peripheries not more connected to remote spaces than to their respective national capitals? And if that is the case, is the notion of periphery (understood as a space placed under the dependency of a single centre) still relevant? Contributions might use case studies to answer these questions. They might suggest new categories to qualify these spaces, whose study is leading researchers to challenge relations of power and trajectories. 

Interrogating the reconfiguration of the state

The part played by the state and the persistence of national territories are key factors in contemporary globalisation. Some commenters saw the acceleration of the flows as a sign of a de-territorialisation process. Others insisted on the transformation of the state, on the mutation of power and on its projection in space. Taking these debates a step further, contributions might look into ways in which the state organises its action in peripheral spaces, which have so far been characterised by the weakness of its presence. They might explore the new forms of the state’s links with private entities and with the public sector, which diversified through devolution or community participation processes and in some cases through the involvement of traditional authorities.

Using the analysis of relations to anticipate challenges and conflicts  

The increasingly intense and complex links between diverse spaces and stakeholders often produce conflict, especially when it comes to access to resources. This observation should invite us to reflect on our potential involvement in applied geography. How can the analysis of relations and flows be shared and disseminated? Can research contribute to producing new tools to serve communities and feed into their reflexion on their own situation? Can local authorities use the outcomes of research to support their territorial assessments, integrating territories’ relations to new spaces and stakeholders in order to anticipate future evolutions?

Submission of proposals

One page summary (3,000 characters or under) to be submitted to colloque.perimarge2016@gmail.com

Please specify the session you would like to be part of. Participants will be given a 20 minute slot for their presentation, followed by a 10 minute Q&A.

Proposals must be submitted by the 30 th June 2016.

Participation to the conference is free of charge.

Organisation committee

  • Nicole Bernex (PUCP, Lima)
  • Jean-Louis Chaléard (U. Paris 1)
  • Françoise Duraffour (CNRS)
  • Pauline Gluski (IRD)
  • Adjoba Marthe Koffi-Didia (UFHB, Abidjan)
  • Anaïs Marshall (U. Paris 13)
  • Évelyne Mesclier (IRD)
  • Laetitia Perrier-Bruslé (U. de Lorraine)
  • Marc Piraux (Cirad)
  • Marie Piron (IRD)
  • Jean-François Valette (CNRS)

Scientific committee

  • Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary (U. Grenoble Alpes)
  • Denis Gautier (Cirad)
  • Pierre Gautreau (U. Paris 1)
  • Bertha Gozalvez (UMSA, La Paz)
  • Alicia Huamantinco (UNMSM, Lima)
  • Éric Léonard (IRD)
  • Jérôme Lombard (IRD)
  • Géraud Magrin (U. Paris 1)
  • Pascale Metzger (IRD)
  • Olivier Ninot (CNRS)
  • Pape Sakho (UCAD)
  • Alexis Sierra (U.Cergy-Pontoise)
  • Aquiles Simões (UFPA, Belém)
  • Jean-Philippe Tonneau (Cirad)


  • Centre IRD Campus Ile-de-France - 32, avenue Henri Varagnat
    Bondy, France (93143)
  • Institut de Géographie - 191, rue Saint-Jacques
    Paris, France (75005)


  • Thursday, June 30, 2016


  • flux, relation, espace, périphérie, mondialisation


  • Colloque Perimarge
    courriel : colloque [dot] perimarge2016 [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Colloque Perimarge
    courriel : colloque [dot] perimarge2016 [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« New flows and spatial relations », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, https://calenda.org/364188

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