Jump to Navigation

12/2 GGG Fall Speaker Series Presents Prof. Richard Walker and "The Strange Case of the San Francisco Bay Area"

Event Date: 
2014-12-02 04:10 - 05:30

The Strange Case of the San Francisco Bay Area

Abstract: The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the four largest urban areas in the US, and one of the most important and richest urban centers in the world. But its history and geography are still poorly understood by most observers, with a far wider compass than Silicon Valley or the City by the Golden Gate, far deeper roots of success than the silicon chip and Fred Terman, and a contradictory social order belied by its liberal and green reputation.

Professor Richard Walker's Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley. Professor Walker's research is focused on economic geography, regional development, capitalism and politics, cities and urbanism, resources and environment, California, class and race. Professor Walker’s best known work is in economic geography but he is also known as an urban geographer. His next book will recount the making of urban landscape of the Bay Area. It is tentatively titled City at Bay: The Making of the San Francisco-Oakland Metropolis. In this work, Walker picks up on themes he explored in early writings on suburbanization and in articles such as “Landscape and city life: four ecologies of residence in the San Francisco Bay Area.” Ecumene (1995). A follow-up book will deal with the urbanization of Silicon Valley. Books have been written about electronics in that storied place, but none about the shape of the city that has grown up around the industry. No longer the poster child for sprawl, San Jose and Silicon Valley have become one of the densest and most racially mixed cities in the U.S. This volume is tentatively titled, Silicon City: The Urbanization of the Electronics Mecca. An enduring thread of Professor Walker’s thought is the logic of capitalism as an economic, political and social system, and its geographical evolution. Works in this vein stretch from early writing on value and rent theory, through The New Social Economy: Reworking the Division of Labor (Blackwell, 1992), with Andrew Sayer, to recent articles on the role of California in the last two financial bubbles, e.g. "The boom and the bombshell" and "California: the pivot of the Great Recession" (forthcoming).

He has a B.A. from Stanford and Ph.D., from The Johns Hopkins University, 1977. Walker loves the life of teacher and advisor, and is proud of the many former students teaching around the country. He served five years as Department Chair, 1994-99, helping to re-shape Berkeley Geography. He edited the journal Antipode throughout the 1990s and has been Chair of a statewide California Studies Association and of a California Studies Center at UC Berkeley since 2000. He has also been an activist in public affairs and on campus, fighting against such monstrosities as the Peripheral Canal, the Gulf War, and the Patriot Act. He takes great joy in the arts of gardening, singing and parenting, among virtues not listed on the official CV. 

Download Talk Flyer133.44 KB