Transnational Production Spaces
The worldwide production of goods is increasingly organised within transnational production networks. Regions with very different conditions and resources are connected through complex and highly dynamic production processes based on the international division of labour. In fact, the integration in global production systems not only affects local economies, but also the built environment and urban development of the respective places of production. However, to date, urban research has hardly addressed the effects of globalised industrial production on urban built structures.
Using case studies from different industrial sectors and production regions, research at Habitat Unit will follow the industrial goods in their transnational production process in order to investigate the different places of production, their spatial structure and urban development. Harnessing the research approaches of Global Commodity Chains and Global Production Networks for a multi-local and multi-scalar analysis of urban spaces, this project seeks to investigate the translocal character of urban production places and thus to contribute to the emerging research field of transnational urbanity.
The project starts with a DFG-funded case study of three places of clothing production in south-eastern Europe and the respective structures of regulation and spatial planning (see below). In the medium term, the Habitat Unit plans to establish an international research network to explore the urban spatial effects of global production networks of automobile, electronics, or pharmaceutical industry in specific locations in South Africa, China or India for a comparative perspective.
DFG-funded Research Project starting in October 2016:
Transnational Production Spaces. Impacts of the clothing industry on urban spaces and urban planning at production locations in Western Turkey and Southern Bulgaria
This research project explores the spatial effects of industrial production and the role of urban planning at different locations of a transnational production network of the clothing industry that connects Southeast European production sites with Western European fashion companies and markets. The project aims to investigate the interplay of local and transnational forces in the spatial and physical development of these production locations. The research approach integrates existing research into global commodity chains and global production networks from the field of economic geography with urban research. By investigating how industrial production contributes to the constitution of transnational urban spaces, the research addresses a frequently reiterated research gap.
The case study focuses on three industrial locations which relate to different stages of product processing and different levels of value creation: (1) an industrial zone with large-scale factory production in the Tekirdağ region west of Istanbul, (2) the inner-city industrial and residential quarter of Bağcilar in Istanbul with suppliers' workshops and home-based work, and (3) the town of Kardzhali and its rural hinterland in Southern Bulgaria with small-scale sewing factories. Within the context of transnational economic dynamics, this project will trace how industrial production shapes the physical urban space and drives urban development in these locations, thereby also exploring its influence on municipal and regional planning governance. Research methodologies include spatial mappings, qualitative interviews and the evaluation of policy documents. The research aims to build an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of spatial negotiations and the role, scope and leverage of the different actors involved – from the local to the global, between bottom-up and top-down drivers of urban development, and at the intersections between formal and informal economic and building practices.