Book Review Symposium – Matthew Sparke’s “Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions, and Uneven Integration”

“The body is…both embedded in the processes that produce, sustain, bound, and ultimately dissolve it and internally contradictory by virtue of the multiple socio-ecological processes that converge upon it […] To put the matter this way is not to view the body as a passive product of external processes…the human body is active and transformative in relation to the processes that produce, sustain, and dissolve it”

David Harvey (1998) ‘The body as an accumulation strategy’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Arguably undersold by its publisher as a textbook ‘designed for introductory globalization courses’, Matthew Sparke’s Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions, and Uneven Integration is both challenge and aid to teachers and students to take seriously this simple yet profound thesis. Taking on neoliberalism, discourse, commodities, labour, money, law, governance, space, health and responses, it invites us to reflect on our place in the world and the active and transformative role we play in it. Sparke bookNeither despairing nor naively hopeful, it rises to what Gramsci called “the challenge of modernity” – proceeding “without illusions” yet “without becoming disillusioned” as it anatomises the material and discursive realities of globalisation.

The four reviews here are both sympathetic and searching, both charitable and critical, fully exploring Sparke’s problematic – pushing at its boundaries, casting light in its darker corners (which include economy [Stephen Young],  culture [David Beer], nature [Jamey Essex] and essentialism [Farhang Rouhani]) – and the author’s response displays a similar will to engage and develop in collaboration. And this project is open to readers; as the author puts it, this is “an opportunity for a wider audience to reflect on how texts on globalization relate to some of the wider contexts in and about which we teach”.

The reviews

Stephen Young, University of Wisconsin-Madison

David Beer, University of York

Jamey Essex, University of Windsor

Farhang Rouhani, University of Mary Washington

Author’s response

Matthew Sparke, University of Washington


Many thanks to the four reviewers for their thoughts, to Matt for his cooperation, and to Wiley for the books.