New publications on offshore finance and financial citizenship

I have a new paper on financial citizenship (co-authored with my former student TAN Choon Hang) that is now in press with Geoforum. The final corrected proof version of the paper is available for free download until 4 August 2015, no subscription or registration required. Please use this link. (The link below brings you to the regular journal page.)

Lai, Karen P.Y. and Tan, Choon Hang (2015) ‘ “Neighbours First, Bankers Second”: Mobilising financial citizenship in Singapore‘, Geoforum, Vol. 64, pp. 65-77.

I am also very pleased that a special issue on offshore finance that I have been working on with Dariusz Wojcik and Gordon Clark is now published in Economic Geography (2015, Vol. 91, Issue 3). This special issue emerged from an interdisciplinary seminar at St. Peter’s College Oxford, September 2–3, 2013, entitled “Deconstructing Offshore Finance: From State of the Art Towards a Research Agenda”. The seminar gathered participants from a variety of disciplines, including geography, business studies, economics, and law, as well as policy makers and activists.

Clark, Gordon L., Lai, Karen P.Y. and Wojcik, Dariusz (2015) ‘Editorial introduction to the special section: Deconstructing offshore finance‘, Economic Geography, Vol. 91, Iss 3, pp. 237-249, DOI: 10.1111/ecge.12098

Haberly, Daniel and Wójcik, Dariusz (2015) ‘Regional Blocks and Imperial Legacies: Mapping the Global Offshore FDI NetworkEconomic Geography, Vol. 91, Iss 3, pp. 251–280, DOI: 10.1111/ecge.12078

Cobham, Alex, Janský, Petr and Meinzer, Markus (2015) ‘The Financial Secrecy Index: Shedding New Light on the Geography of Secrecy‘, Economic Geography, Vol. 91, Iss 3, pp. 281-303, DOI: 10.1111/ecge.12094

Ledyaeva, Svetlana, Karhunen, Päivi, Kosonen, Riitta and Whalley, John (2015) ‘Offshore Foreign Direct Investment, Capital Round-Tripping, and Corruption: Empirical Analysis of Russian Regions’, Economic Geography, Vol. 91, Iss 3, pp. 305–341, DOI: 10.1111/ecge.12093 


Call for papers: Financialisation of everyday life (4th GCEG, Oxford 2015)


Fourth Global Conference on Economic Geography (Oxford, 19-22 August 2015)

Session: Financialisation of everyday life

Organisers: Shaun French (University of Nottingham), Karen Lai (National University of Singapore)

Increasing consumption of financial products and the growing acceptance of financial logics (particularly in the context of dwindling state-welfare benefits) are normalising risks and risk-taking behaviour in ever more areas of daily life. Changing practices of borrowing and saving are also seen in the rise of credit card and other debts, and savings being channeled into various forms of insurance and investment products rather than conventional bank deposits. However, increased anxiety and uncertainty over investments and returns may drive individuals to retreat to the safety of savings accounts, or even a rejection of financial market investments in favour of residential property. Changing state policies, new technologies on credit scoring and crowdfunding investment, and the rise of middle class consumers in developing economies are also changing the nature and impacts of financial consumption and financialised behaviour.

Papers that examine the financialisation of everyday life across different dimensions could include (but are not limited to):

  • The formation and evolution of financial subjects
  • Financialisation of the body, of health and of the life cycle
  • Financialisation through property
  • Changing forms of consumer credit and financial consumption
  • Financial ecologies, financial exclusion and variegated financialisation
  • State-subject relations, financial citizenship and securing the national economy
  • The performativity of ‘popular’ finance (e.g. texts, images, financial mangers, investment gurus)

Please send abstracts (of maximum 250 words) or enquiries to Karen Lai ( by 1 April 2015.

For more information about the Fourth Global Conference on Economic Geography, please visit:

Call for papers: Global Production Economies (Fourth Global Conference on Economic Geography, 2015)


Fourth Global Conference on Economic Geography, Oxford, 19-22 August 2015

Global Production Economies 

Sponsored by the Global Production Networks Research Centre at the National University of Singapore (GPN@NUS

The Global Production Network (GPN) approach is a useful analytical tool for economic geographers seeking to unpack the networked nature of the global economy. The heuristic analytical framework has, however, been criticized by some commentators as ignoring fundamental capitalist imperatives and being too all-encompassing to retain explanatory power. Important dimensions such as finance and environment are also not fully incorporated into the original framework. Methodologically, the emphasis on micro-scale processes and “ties and networks” creates difficulties for validating the GPN framework empirically other than through qualitative case studies. A convergence of quantitative analyses and case study approaches is arguably required to mitigate the potential blind spots of micro-scale analyses and to enhance the GPN framework’s explanatory power.

This theme welcomes submissions on topics including:

– Theoretical foundations of GPN analysis
§  GPNs and financial institutions (including global financial networks)
§  GPNs and environmental economic geographies
§  GPNs, the state, and politics
§  GPNS, labour and the labour process
§  GPNs, consumption, and the market
§  GPNs and uneven development
§  Alternative conceptualizations of GPNs

– Developing GPN methodologies
§  Strengths and weaknesses of case study approaches
§  Methods of mapping and visualizing ties and networks
§  Quantitative analyses: methods, validity and reliability
§  Evolutionary approaches to GPNs

Deadline for abstract submission: 30th April 2015 

Please contact Godfrey Yeung ( for further details and submission of abstract.

GPN Centre website

The Global Production Networks Centre (GPN@NUS) website is now live.

Click on the above link to find out more about our work on global production networks and development in Asia and the research team. We are currently working hard to develop the Centre’s core research programme. There will be a launch event on 26 January 2015 at the University Hall Auditorium, National University of Singapore. This will be followed by a team workshop with our international advisory committee members on 27 January 2015.

GE1101E/GEK1001 updated

The module information (topics, schedule, assignments etc.) for GE1101E/GEK1001 Geographical Journeys: Exploring World Environments, Semester 2, AY2014/2015 has been updated here. As with previous years, the module will be taught by myself and Professor Alan Ziegler. More detailed information and updates will be posted on IVLE. Please check for any changes to class schedule closer to the CORS bidding period. You can also email me or Prof Ziegler for any specific queries about the module.

GE3201 The Service Economy module updated

The module information (topics, schedule, assignments etc.) for GE3201 The Service Economy, Semester 2, AY2014/2015 has been updated here. For next semester, the module will be taught by myself and Professor Neil Coe. More detailed information and updates will be posted on IVLE. Please check for any changes to class schedule closer to the CORS bidding period. You can also email me or Prof Coe for any specific queries about the module.

Talk at Beijing Normal University, 17 November 2014

I will be giving a talk at the School of Geography, Beijing Normal University (北京师范大学,地理学与遥感科学学院) on Monday 17 November 2014. Details are listed below.

Financialisation, financial citizenship and the state:
The case of banking reforms in Singapore

Dr Karen Lai (National University of Singapore)

Monday 17 November 2014, 10.00am to 12.00pm
School of Geography, Room 180 (北师大地遥学院180)
Sheng-Di Building, Beijing Normal University,
19 Xin Jie Kou Wai Street, Haidian District,
Beijing, China, 100875

For enquiries, please contact Dr PAN Fenghua (潘峰华) at

BNU Lecture poster - 17Nov2014

S$4.95 million for new Global Production Networks Centre at NUS

Colleagues and I at NUS have been awarded S$4.95 million to start a Global Production Networks Centre at NUS (GPN@NUS). This is funded by the NUS Office of Deputy President (Research & Technology) Strategic Research Proposals 2014.

GPN@NUS will be co-directed by Henry Yeung and Neil Coe (from Geography). Team members consists of Karen Lai and Godfrey Yeung (from Geography), Davin Chor, Albert Hu and Jang-Sup Shin (from Economics), Soo Yeon Kim (from Political Science), and Kurtulus Gemici (from Sociology).

The Centre will formally start its activities on 1st October 2014, with an official launch event to follow in January 2015.

This is very exciting news indeed on many fronts. Personally, I would like to expand on arguments made in my Regional Studies (2014) paper titled ‘Integrating Finance into Global Production Networks’ (co-written with Neil Coe and Dariuz Wojcik) to systematically extend and deepen the concept of global financial networks (GFN) in analysing the roles and impacts of finance and advanced business services on knowledge formation and capital flows. These are crucial to GPN and regional development but underdeveloped in the framework so far.

We are still in the very early planning stage. More news to follow as we get closer to the formal start date of the research centre, and hopefully an official website soon.

Research Impact Workshop at RGS-IBG

Generating Research Impact: Ethics, Politics and Practices

Date: Tuesday 26th August 2014
Venue: Education Centre, Royal Geographical Society (RGS), 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR
Organised by RGS Research Groups: EGRG, DARG, SCGRG and PolGRG

This workshop will take place on the day before the annual international conference of the RGS (with IBG). It brings together academics, including postgraduates, from across human geography to facilitate a critical focus and debate on the nature and implications of research impact, from research group perspectives across the discipline, including thinking more broadly and critically about what research impact means to us, and how it affects our work. The event includes group and roundtable debate, facilitated by five keynote talks.


10:00-10:30 Registration & coffee

10:30-10:45 Welcome from Alex Hughes & introductions

10:45-12:00 Session 1: Tracking & Embedding Impact (Chair: Steve Musson)
Dr Martin Walsh (Global Research Adviser, Oxfam GB, & Member of REF Main Panel C): Researching impacts: emerging lessons from the development sector
Group discussion: How do we embed & track impact? How might we work with organisations to do this, and what are the challenges?

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-14:30 Session 2: Politics, Consequences & Communication of Impact (Chair: Rebecca Sandover)
Professor Kevin Morgan (Cardiff School of Planning & Geography): The politics of sustainable school food reform (project recognised in ESRC Impact Annual Awards 2013)
Hazel Edwards (Senior Engagement Manager – Arts & Humanities, Durham University): Research impact through partnership: the case of a Tyne & Wear Archives & Museum project
Group discussion: How do we conduct research that shapes public policy/engagement? How do we address the political challenges associated with the generation & consequences of research impact? How do we communicate research impact?

14:30-15:00 Tea/coffee

15:00-16:30 Session 3: Conceptualising Impact & its Pathways (Chair: Karen Lai)
Eloise Mellor (ESRC): Overview of ESRC’s current visions of impact
Professor Nina Laurie (Newcastle University): Conceptualising impact in the global South: the case of a trafficking project
Group discussion: How do we conceptualise and create pathways to impact? What kinds of skills are required to foster impact?

16:30 Workshop closes

18:15 Annual conference opens

The event is free to students (current, registered graduate or doctoral studies), and £16 for all others. To register for the event, you can book in one of two ways: (i) through the RGS website and online booking system (to add the workshop to your RGS annual conference booking) at or, if you are not attending the annual conference, (ii) by e-mailing and sending a cheque (if you are paying) for £16 made payable to ‘EGRG’ to Alex Hughes, School of Geography, Politics & Sociology, 5th Floor Claremont Tower, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU by 6th August 2014.