Call for Papers: American Association of Geographers (AAG), Boston, April 5-9, 2017

*Sponsored by the Economic Geography Specialty Group*

Local Anchors in Trans-local Knowledge Communities


Suntje Schmidt – Leibniz-Institute for Research on Society and Space / Humboldt University of Berlin

Brian J. Hracs – University of Southampton

Taylor Brydges – Uppsala University

Conceptualizing places and spaces is at the heart of geographic thinking and the relations between the two are continuously challenged, contested, and negotiated. Specific physical places may, for instance, serve as local anchors for social movements (e.g. the maker movement) (Walter-Herrmann, 2013; Toombs and Bardzell, 2014), trans-local scenes (e.g. in music) (Hauge and Hracs, 2010), global knowledge communities (e.g. communities of enthusiasts) (Brinks and Ibert, 2015; Müller and Ibert, 2015) or global processes of value creation (Power and Hauge, 2008; Pike, 2009; Berthoin Antal et al., 2015). In fact, we observe a wide spectrum of local anchors that help to disseminate ideas and knowledge, enable and encourage participation in specific practices (e.g. tinkering, designing, building), serve as (temporary) productions sites (e.g. local workshops for music) and facilitate curation and consumption (e.g. pop-up stores, record stores). Hence, actors utilize these physical spaces to co-/create objects, artifacts and products and to generate and disseminate ideas, brands and values.

As these spaces and processes are dynamic and understudied, this session aims to nuance our understanding of the interplay between ‘the global’ and ‘the local’ as well as ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’ spaces. We aim to explore the role that local anchors play within local neighborhoods and scenes as well as trans-local scenes, communities and virtual networks. More specifically, the session aims to consider the diversity and specificity of local anchors which may comprise open creative labs (Schmidt et al., 2014; Ibert et al., 2015), third spaces including cafes and restaurants (Oldenburg, 1997), craft collectives, performance venues, records stores (Hracs and Jansson 2016) fablabs and coworking / maker/ hacker spaces (Merkel 2015). In doing so, it aims to identify nexuses between the global and local and advance our understanding of how global communities are rooted locally and how localities intertwine with the global. The organizers welcome either conceptually, empirically or methodologically focused papers which address the range of topics raised above or the more specific, yet not exhaustive, list of questions below:

  • How can ‘anchors’ and the interplay between the local and the trans-local be conceptualized?
  • How can urban, social and economic geography best be intertwined to co-create conceptual approaches of local anchors?
  • What is the role of local anchors – such as fab labs or record shops - in trans-local scenes and more specifically in trans-local processes such as knowledge creation and the formation and evolution of movements and cultural scenes?
  • How do local physical spaces, as literal anchors and conductors, support the generation of ideas, values and connections?
  • How can we assess the sociopolitical value of these spaces and should policies be developed and implemented to foster and support local anchors?
  • How do local physical anchors intersect with virtual spaces and virtual anchors?
  • How do anchors evolve? What are the factors that support the success or effectiveness of anchors in some locations, and why do others struggle or fail?
  • Although anchors are often associated with positive connotations especially in terms of participation and openness, what does ‘open’ actually mean? Are there new forms of openness and exclusion associated with them?
  • Do anchors induce new uncertainties for their potential users or offer new forms of resilience by, for example, helping to adapt to new labor market requirements?

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please send your abstract (of 250 words) to Suntje Schmidt ( and Taylor Brydges ( by Friday October 21st, 2016.



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Brinks V and Ibert O. (2015) Mushrooming entrepreneurship: The dynamic geography of enthusiast-driven innovation. Geoforum 65: 363–373.

Gershenfeld N. (2008) Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop--from Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication, New York: Basic Books.

Hauge A and Hracs BJ. (2010) See the sound, hear the style: Collaborative linkages between indie musicians and fashion designers in local scenes. Industry & Innovation 17: 113-129.

Hracs BJ and J Jansson (2016) Only the Strategic Survive - Independent Record Shops in the Digital Age (working paper).

Ibert O, Schmidt S and Kühn J. (2015) Open Creative Labs. Local Anchors in translocal knowledge communities (unpublished manuscript). ITA Forum 2015. Berlin, 19.-20.11.2015.

Merkel, J. (2015) Coworking in the city. Ephermea, 15(2), 121-139.

Müller FC and Ibert O. (2015) (Re-)sources of innovation: Understanding and comparing time-spatial innovation dynamics through the lens of communities of practice. Geoforum 65: 338-350.

Oldenburg R. (1997) The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars Hair Salons and other Hangouts at the Heart of the Community, Cambridge: Da Capo Press.

Pike A. (2009) Geographies of brands and branding. Progress in Human Geography 33: 619-645.

Power D and Hauge A. (2008) No man’s brand – Brands, institutions, fashion and the economy. Growth and CHange 39: 123-143.

Schmidt S, Brinks V and Brinkhoff, S. (2014) Innovation and creativity labs in Berlin: Organizing temporary spatial configurations for innovations. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 58: 232-247

Toombs A and Bardzell S. (2014) Becoming Makers: Hackerspace Member Habits, Values, and Identities. Journal of Peer Production 5: 1 - 8.

Walter-Herrmann J. (2013) FabLabs - A Global Social Movement? In: Walter-Herrmann J and Büching C (eds) FabLab: Of Machines, Makers and Inventors. Bielefeld: Trancsript, 33-45.