46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
One of the pressing issues in today discussion about globalization and urban and regional development concerns about the role of local space in 'situating' the global economy. That every bit of 'local' economic activities has become subsumed into 'the global' is something we know already, but what is the role of local spatial conditions in 'translating' (following the definition in Law, 2002) the global economy to site and by doing so making firms able to operate effectively at the global scale while sitting in a particularly local space? The motive of this paper is twofold. Firstly, it explores the relation between urban form and economy by taking Amsterdam as case study. It attempts to show a consistent relationship between a topological spatiality and the distribution and organisation of economic functions (i.e. locations of firms, particularly those operating at the global scale) –a premise which partly developed out of Space Syntax. Secondly, it tries to develop an instrument for urban analysis by recasting the issue of economy from spatial/urban perspectives, rather than putting forward economic arguments. Drawing mainly from Amin & Thrift (2002), it is being argued that the global economy becomes situated in local space through the everyday spatial performances of people who perform the work of 'relay' and 'translation' of the fluid global processes. We offer a proposition that the location of urban economic functions in cities can be explained by analysing the way their circuits mesh with diverse other (including those driven by economic motives at much lesser degree, for example social and family life) which help to create 'situatedness' in a particular local site This paper starts with briefly presenting the theoretical framework and then concentrating on the analysis of case study using a series of spatial and temporal mapping. As empirical demonstration, we will present analysis on a particular urban field (1x1 km2) in the city of Amsterdam, which has the intention to allow us to start capturing the circuits cutting across between what commonly seen as two or more discontinuous economies or different set of activities. This analysis is then presented as an alternative approach to recast the issue of economic spaces in terms of 'ecology of presence'