Shaina Potts

Shaina Potts

Assistant Professor
Ladder Faculty

Office: 1158 Bunche Hall



I am an economic, legal, and political geographer with a focus on the articulation of international political economic processes, geopolitics, and law.

In the age of globalization, cross-border economic processes are often treated as placeless, ubiquitous flows making nation-states and borders increasingly obsolete. My work shows, in contrast, how transnational economic relations are inscribed in concrete and geographically specific legal and institutional practices and that states remain central to producing and governing this activity. The bulk of my work combines detailed analyses of technical economic and legal processes with extensive historical and geopolitical contextualization to show how the perpetuation of North-South economic inequalities is shaped by the micro-operations of contracts, financial transactions, and law.

One strand of my research focuses on financial geographies of sovereign debt, with a focus on debt crises in the Global South. More broadly, I consider the mutual constitution of legal and economic geographies, on the one hand, and territory, sovereignty and geopolitics, on the other. My first book Globalizing Judicial Territory: Law, Capital, and American Empire, forthcoming with Duke University Press, documents the almost entirely overlooked role of the transnational extension of US common law and judicial authority in undermining the “developmental” or “interventionist” economic practices of postcolonial governments and in bolstering American power and the liberal international economic order since World War II.


Ph.D, UC Berkeley, 2017

B.A., UC Berkeley, 2005

Selected Publications

Potts, S. (2023). “Debt in the Time of COVID-19: Creditor Choice and the Failures of Sovereign Debt Governance.” Area Development and Policy, 8(2) 126-141.

Potts, S. (2020). “Beyond (de)regulation: law and the production of financial geographies,” in Routledge Handbook of Financial Geographies, Eds. J. Knox-Hayes and D. Wójcik. Routledge.

Potts, Shaina. (2020). “(Re-)writing Markets: Law and Contested Payment Geographies.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 52(1) 46–65. (First published online 2018).

Potts, Shaina. (2019). “Law as Geopolitics: Judicial Territory, Transnational Economic Governance, and American Power.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 110(4) 1192–1207.

Potts, Shaina. (2019). Review of Jerome Roos’ Why Not Default? The Political Economy of Sovereign Debt. Antipode. (

Potts, Shaina. (2019). “Defining capitalism: The case for (relational) abstraction.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 51(5) 1197–1200.

Potts, Shaina. (2019). “Offshore.” In The Antipode Editorial Collective, ed., Keywords in Radical Geography: Antipode at 50, 198–201. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Knuth, S., Potts, S., & Goldstein, J. E. (2019). “In value’s shadows: Devaluation as accumulation frontier.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 51(2), 461–466.

Jamie Peck, Susan M. Roberts, Chris Muellerleile, Leigh Johnson, Shaina Potts, Trevor J. Barnes & Brett Christophers. (2019). “Economic Geography: A Critical Introduction.” The AAG Review of Books, 7(1) 59–67.

Potts, Shaina. (2017). “Deep Finance: Sovereign Debt Crises and the Secondary Market ‘Fix.’” Economy and Society, 46(3-4) 452-475.

Potts, Shaina. (2016) Book review: “Bringing the Law Back in: Legal Power, Form, Time and Space in The Great Leveler.” Environment and Planning A, 48(12) 2538–2540.

Knuth, Sarah and Shaina Potts. (2016). “Legal Geographies of Finance Editors’ Introduction.” Environment and Planning A, 48(3) 458–464.

Potts, Shaina. (2016) “Reterritorializing Economic Governance: Contracts, Space, and Law in Transborder Economic Geographies.” Environment and Planning A, 48(3) 523–539.