Shaina Potts

Shaina Potts

Assistant Professor
Ladder Faculty

Office: 1158 Bunche Hall



(Ph.D, UC Berkeley, 2017) Shaina Potts is an Assistant Professor in Geography and Global Studies, with research interests in post-colonial sovereign debt relations; financial, legal and political geographies; international political economy; American empire; and the politics of territory. She teaches classes on globalization, border studies, nationalism, political geography, and political economy.




Ph.D, UC Berkeley, 2017

B.A., UC Berkeley, 2005


My research focuses most broadly on the economico-legal structures that perpetuate inequality between the Global South and the Global North. I am particularly interested in the role of US courts and domestic law in shaping transnational economic relations.

All my work is empirically, conceptually, and methodologically interdisciplinary, sitting at the intersection of: political, economic, and legal geography; international political economy; and critical approaches to legal studies. Throughout, I seek to show how macro-economic and geopolitical issues, such as sovereign debt crises and post-colonial resource struggles, are shaped by the micro-politics of law and contracts. Two important goals of my work are to make what are often highly technical practices discussed only by “experts” accessible to broader audiences, and to widen the debate about what kinds of change might be possible and necessary for making the economy serve the interests of a more just and inclusive society.

One strand of my research focuses on the legal geographies of finance. I am especially interested in the ways in which law not only prohibits or regulates, but produces all financial activity, while simultaneously re-configuring state territoriality in a globalized age. This aspect of my work has focused especially on sovereign debt crises in the Global South.

I am also currently working on a book project documenting the expanding role of US courts and common law in governing transnational economic relations with post-colonial countries, bolstering US empire, and producing the post-World War II international economic order. The book connects the extension of transnational US commercial law to Cold War era politics and the stifling of post-colonial development efforts, as well as to the institutionalization of neoliberal logics at the transnational scale since the 1970s.

Selected Publications

Potts, S. (2020) “Beyond (de)regulation: law and the production of financial geographies,” in Routledge Handbook of Financial Geographies.

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.