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Michael Samers

BA Geography, Clark University (1988)
MS Geography, University of Wisconsin (1991)
D.Phil, Oxford University (England) (1997)

Originally from Stamford, Connecticut in the suburbs of New York City, I received a BA in Geography from Clark University in Worcester, Massachussets in 1988, which included 6 months at the Université de Dijon (now the Université de Bourgogne). I then went on to study for my Masters of Science in Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1991). From there I decided to undertake my D.Phil (PhD) at Oxford University, under the supervision of David Harvey and Erik Swyngedouw. My doctoral thesis  (dissertation) focused on the "Production and regulation of North African immigrants in the Paris automobile industry, 1970-1990. While still finishing my D.Phil at Oxford, I accepted my first academic position at the University of Liverpool, and after 7 years in Liverpool, I moved to the University of Nottingham in 2002 and eventually became a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in 2005. I left Nottingham in 2006 to return to the United States, and accept an Associate Professorship at the University of Kentucky. In May 2018, I was promoted to Full Professor, and assumed this role on July 1, 2018. 

*** For the 2013-2014 academic year, I was in France on a Fulbright Fellowship, and based at CERAPS at the Universite de Lille II *** 

My research and teaching interests lie broadly in economic and urban geography, but particularly in the political-economic, economic, urban, and socio-theoretical dimensions of migration/immigration, the relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) and labor markets, as well as international finance. In the last few years, I  published an article (together with Karen Lai, Durham University) on the economic geography of FinTech; on AI, robotics, and employment; on cities, migration and governance (with Felicitas Hillmann, Technical University, Berlin); and on welfare policies and entrepreneurship in France.
I have studied these issues in the context of the European Union, and especially France, although I am also concerned with comparisons between the European Union and the United States

My relevant publications can be found further below. 

Advising/supervising graduate students

I am always excited about advising critical/theoretically-oriented, independently-minded, and intellectually-driven Masters and PhD students in the broad fields of economic and urban geography or migration/immigration. Having said that, you should consider my more specific research interests before applying to work with me. If you have questions about the 'fit' between my own work and yours, please feel free to contact me.

In terms of economic geography then, I am eager to advise students who wish to research the political economy of particular economic sectors, and the relationship between these sectors and labor, especially the classed, racialized, and gendered characteristics of work or unemployment. For example, my most recent work focuses on artificial intelligence in the U.S. financial sector and its employment implications for financial workers. By the same token, I am also interested in advising students who are motivated by alternative/'diverse economies', or community-led economic development from a critical perspective. In that sense, I consider myself to be what I could call a socio-economic geographer with a special interest in qualitative/ethnographic (or mixed methods) work in the U.S./Canada, Europe, and especially France.

In terms of urban geography, and again, mirroring the idea of socio-economic geography,  I am most interested in advising students who wish to examine the impact of political economy or policies on the lives of urban residents, again from a critical theoretical and empirical perspective. Admittedly, I prefer qualitative (or mixed) methods, and am less interested in students with more applied/planning or purely quantitative or GIS-related methodologies. My research 'expertise' in this area is (as above), the US./Canada, Europe, and especially France, although I am certainly open to students with other geographic foci.

With respect to migration/immigration, I am most interested in studies that would involve qualitative/ethnographic work with low income and/or otherwise disadvantaged immigrants, refugees, or asylum-seekers in especially cities of the global north. However, I would also be delighted to advise students with interests in the geopolitics, geopolitical economy, or politics of migration/immigration. 

Once again, if you are not sure whether I might be interested in your potential research topic, please feel free to contact me about potentially undertaking a graduate degree in the Department. You have nothing to lose.  

Forthcoming publications

(2024) (co-edited with Jens Rydgren) Migration and Nationalism: theoretical and empirical perspectives. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, forthcoming, January 2024

Research Interests:
Economic and urban geography; migration and immigration

Selected publications since 2002 (See my CV for a full list of publications since 1997)

(2023) (co-edited with Felicitas Hillmann) Cities, Migration, and Governance: beyond scales and levels. London: Routledge.

(2023) (with Felicitas Hillmann) Introduction, in Hillmann, F., and Samers, M. (eds.) Cities, Migration, and Governance: beyond scales and levels. London: Routledge. 

(2023) 'Do welfare systems matter for immigrant entrepreneurship? An analysis in the context of France, International Migration. 61(2), 48-66

(2021) 'Futurological fodder: on communicating the relationship between artificial intelligence, robotics, and employment', Space and Polity. 25(2): 237-256.

(2021) (with Felicitas Hillmann) Transatlantic perspectives on urban transformation and the governance of migration: Introduction to the Special Issue, Geographical Review, 111 (2): 173-186, 

(2021) (with Karen Lai) Towards an economic geography of FinTech, Progress in Human Geography, 45(4), 720–739. 

(2021) (with Jane Pollard) “Les géographies de l’altérité. Différence et socio-territorialité de la banque et de la finance Islamiques, in Hancock, C. (ed).  Géographies Anglophones: nouveaux défis. Nanterre: Press Universitaires de Nanterre

(2020) The regulation of migration, integration, and of multiculturalism in 21st century France, in Mielusel, R,. and Pruteanu, S. (eds.) Citizenship and Belonging in France and North America. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

(2017) (with Michael Collyer) Migration, 2nd edition, Routledge, now available at…

(2017) (With Karen Lai) 'Conceptualising Islamic banking and finance: comparing Malaysia and Singapore,The Pacific Review, 30, 3; 405-424

(2015) Migration, in Agnew, J., Mamadouh, V. Secor, A., and Sharp, J. (eds.) The Companion to Political Geography, Wiley Blackwell

(2015) Regional integration and migration in North America, in Leila Simona Talani and Simon McMahon (eds.) Handbook of International Political Economy of Migration

(2015) New guest-worker regimes? in Horvath, K., Amelina, A., and Meeus, B. (eds.) The Anthology of Migration and Social Transformation in Europe, University of Amsterdam Press

(2015) (with Mitch Snider) Finding work: the experience of migrants in North America in Immigration, Integration and the Settlement Experience in North America. Toronto: Canadian Scholar's Press, Inc.

(2015) (with Patrick Bigger and Oliver Belcher) Building a new world: activism in light of Marxist geographical thought, in Valentine, G, and Aitken, S. (eds.) (2nd ed) Key approaches to Human Geography, Sage.

(2015) A marriage of convenience? Islamic banking and finance meet neoliberalization in Brunn, S. (ed). The Changing World Religion Map, Springer

(2015) Unemployment and the 'underclass' in Richardson, D., Liu, W., and Pratt, G. (eds.) The Wiley-AAG International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment  and Technology.

(2015) (with Amanda Fickey) Thinking about Appalachia: A study of limited economic imaginings and a re-thinking of ‘development’, in Shauna Scott, Phil Obermiller, and Chad Berry (eds.) Thinking about Appalachia, University of Illinois Press.

(2014) How to understand the incorporation of immigrants in European labour markets, in Martiniello, M., and Rath, J. (eds.) An Introduction to Immigration Studies: European Perspectives. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press

(2014) I Ju (Korean translation of my book Migration). Seoul: Purengil Publishers

(2013) (with Jane Pollard) Governing Islamic finance: Territory, agency and the making of cosmopolitan financial geographies, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 103, 3: 710–726

(2013) Stirrings in the attic: On the distinction between historical geographical materialism and critical realism, Dialogues in Human Geography. 3,1: 40–44

(2012) Migrazioni (Italian translation of my book Migration). Rome: Carocci Press.

(2012) Islamic home finance, in Sanders, A. Wachter, S, and Smith, S. (eds.) The International Encyclopedia of Housing and Home, Elsevier.

(2012) The political economy of labor migration in France, in Ness, I. and Bellwood, P. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. Wiley-Blackwell.

(2011) Towards a critical economic geography of workfare, in Leyshon, A., Lee, R., McDowell, L., and Sunley, P. (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Economic Geography. London: Sage.

(2010) Migration (Key Ideas in Geography Series), Routledge.

(2010) The ‘socio-territoriality’ of cities: A framework for understanding the incorporation of migrants in urban labor markets, in Glick-Schiller, N., and Caglar, A. (eds.) The Location of Migration: the City and the Scale, Cornell University Press.

(2010) (with Jane Pollard) “Alterity’s geographies: socio-territoriality and difference in Islamic banking and finance, Lee, R. Fuller, D., Jonas, A (2009) Interrogating Alterity: alternative spaces of economy, society and politics. Ashgate Publishers

(2010) (with Matthew Zook) “Telemediated servants and self-servants of the global economy: labor in the era of ICT-enabled e-commerce, in McGrath-Champ, S, Herod, A., and Rainnie, A. (eds.) Handbook of employment and Society:Working Space.

(2008) “At the heart of ‘migration management’: immigration and labour markets in the European Union”, in Gabriel, C., and Pellerin, H. (eds.) Governing International Labour Migration: current issues, challenges and dilemmas. London: Routledge.

(2007) (with Jane Pollard) Islamic banking and finance: postcolonial political economy and the decentring of economic geography, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 32: 313-330.

(2005) "The 'underground economy', immigration and economic development in the European Union: An agnostic-skeptic perspective", International Journal of Economic Development, Vol 6, No. 2, pp199-272 [view online]

(2004) (with Castree, N., Coe, N., and Ward, K.) Spaces of Work: global capitalism and geographies of labour. London: Sage

(2004) "An emerging geopolitics of 'illegal' immigration in the European Union", European Journal of Migration and Law, 6,1: pp 23-41

(2003) "Invisible capitalism: political economy and the regulation of undocumented immigration in France", Economy and Society, 32, pp. 555-583.

(2002) "Immigration and the global city hypothesis: towards and alternative research agenda", International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 26, pp. 389-402.