CALL FOR PAPERS: Critical policy mobilities: thickening theorizations of the assembly, mobility and adoption of circulated knowledge

Paper session at the Association of American Geographers’ Annual Conference, San Francisco (29 March – 2 April 2016).

Session Organizer: Astrid Wood (Cardiff University)

In recent years, the policy mobilities discourse has stimulated a dearth of research concentrating on the processes and mechanisms through which ideas become mobile and the actors involved in these processes. This session is rooted within those studies that consider the replication similar forms of harm reduction, planning and design, sustainability, transport, urban governance and welfare, focusing on the agents and associations copying, mobilizing and emulating these best practices as policy models. These accounts attend to the process by which urban policies are constructed and circulated globally to speak to wider theoretical evidence of the manner by which policy is simultaneously territorial and relational, local and global.

In spite of an impressive collection of scholarly outputs, we are still probing at the most fundamental questions – what causes policy circulation and how does it take place? Do certain kinds of knowledge assemble, mobilize and localize more readily than others, or is it the packaging by boisterous individuals which prompts movement? Perhaps there are moments when policy actors and their cities are more likely to mobilize knowledge, or maybe ordinary policymaking activities engender innovation? Uncertainty regarding the role of exogenous versus endogenous factors remain at the forefront of policy mobilities discussions – are policy ideas pushed from the outside by dynamic policy mobilizers eager to introduce particular forms of best practice, or are they pulled-in by pragmatic local actors eager to strengthen transnational ties? How do practices of assembly, mobility and adoption differ when state-led versus consultant-led, translocal versus local, fast or recurrent? And, what role do historical, colonial informational infrastructures play in ongoing exchanges? This session calls for thicker theorizations of the assembly, mobility and adoption of circulating knowledge. Contributions should focus on the directionality, forcefulness and power of policy flows. Comparative analyses are most welcome.  

Please email abstracts of 250 words to Astrid Wood ( by 15 October 2015.

Successful applicants will be contacted by 18 October 2015, and will be expected to register and submit their abstracts online to the AAG website by 29 October 2015. Please refer to the AAG website for more information.