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Deadline: December 20 2021 (500 word abstract)


Proposed special issue for Regional Studies

Rethinking Economic and Social Development in ‘Left Behind’ Places: Call for Papers

Guest editors

Professor Danny MacKinnon, CURDS, Newcastle University, UK,

Dr Vincent Béal, University of Strasbourg, France,

Dr Tim Leibert, Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig, Germany, T_Leibert@


Social and spatial inequalities between and within core and peripheral regions have re-emerged as an acute concern in urban and regional studies. The past couple of decades have seen growing spatial polarisation between the ‘superstar’ cities in which the innovation economy is concentrated and economically lagging and declining regions. Having been neglected by urban and regional research and policy over the past couple of decades, these struggling or ‘left behind’ places, particularly former industrial and rural regions, are attracting renewed interest. The proposed special issue contributes to current debates on regional inequalities by providing the first comprehensive and in-depth international examination of this critical issue of ‘left behind’. The special issue will advance debate and research beyond quantitative electoral work that has identified these lagging and declining regions as hotspots of discontent and populist support by engaging with the condition and feeling of ‘left behindness’ across a range of socio-spatial contexts. It will contribute by mapping the condition of ‘left behindness’, conceptualising its diverse meanings and manifestations, examining social networks and relations, and drawing out implications for local and regional policy and practice.

The guest editors are looking for additional papers to complement those selected from presentations at a special session of the Regional Studies Association ‘Regions in Recovery’ online festival in 2021. They are particularly keen to extend the geographical scope of their analysis of ‘left behind’ places beyond Europe. As such, we are seeking papers that address key aspects of ‘left behindness’ –  including defining and conceptualising ‘left behind’ places; trends in population loss and shrinkage; livelihood strategies and practices; the role of social infrastructures, assets and facilities; alternative forms of economic and social development, and policy approaches and initiatives for the recovery of economically lagging and declining regions – with a particular focus on any of the following regions:

  • The global South, especially Africa and the Middle East
  • Eastern Europe and Central Asia
  • North America
  • Australia and New Zealand

Please submit 500 word abstracts to Danny MacKinnon, by December 20, 2021.

Notification about further consideration of contributions will be given by January 14, 2022.

Final papers will be due April 30, 2022. Upon submission, all papers will undergo the journal’s usual peer review process, and those that are accepted will be published online upon acceptance.

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