World Cities and the Uneven Geographies of Financialization: Unveiling Stratification and Hierarchy in the World City Archipelago


This article critically evaluates the network-centrism of much of contemporary world cities research and queries its capacity to unveil key accumulation processes under financialized globalization. Our object of inquiry is the world city archipelago (WCA), a material yet non-contiguous space of world city ‘islands’, which is (re)produced through the socio-spatial practices of advanced producer services (APS) firms as they assist in constructing (financial) accumulation strategies for their clients. Scrutinizing the WCA with a singular focus on networks can veil dynamics that lead to internal stratification and hierarchy between world cities and their constitutive outside. Alternatively, these veiled dimensions are better grasped by territorial, scalar and place-based abstractions. As an example, we unveil WCA space by studying the space of APS practices in three recent cases of Eurobond issuance. By comparing these three instances through an encompassing approach, a bounded geography of a financialized accumulation space is identified, which contains London and other world cities as a necessary space of dependence but also stretches out to various contingent spaces of engagement at the fringes of the WCA network: offshore jurisdictions and places of debt origination. We conclude by making the case for a heightened sensitivity in respect of core–periphery structures that exist between the WCA and its outside, but also within the WCA itself.