Conference paper
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This paper is part of a systematic examination by the authors of Sydney’s changing political economy within its largely self-imposed globalisation agenda. This part seeks to unravel the changing nature of Sydney’s material connections across the Sydney basin economy and with other places. The analysis is based on novel uses of GIS-based software and its application to freight flow data. There are employed to describe and delineate the composition, intensity and direction of materials flows arising from the functioning of the Sydney economy. Two questions are explored. First, we seek to expose the global city metaphor as narrowly defining what Sydney is and how it operates economically. Second, and following Blomley’s (2005) call for a new look of the idea of ‘property’, we undertake a resurrection of the materials sector of the economy as having important political presence. Here we ask: what is the substance of a material such that it is worth moving? how are materials politicised by their generation, distribution and appropriation? how do spatial contexts influence the ways materials are valued and assigned meaning? and what is the role of materials in deterritorialising and reterritorialising urban economies. Of course, this privileging of materials flows deliberately holds back the presence of the services, property and finance sectors. We reserve these for later analysis. ---

The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.

This paper was presented at SOAC 2 held in Brisbane from 30 November to 2 December 2005.

SOAC 2 was hosted by the Urban Research Program at the South Bank campus, Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University.

The principal intention of the conference was to lead a dialogue between leading researchers on the state of Australian cities and where they might be headed. SOAC 2 was designed to lead to a better understanding of the research needs of Australian cities and to provide those in the public and private sectors with a better appreciation of the current state and capacities of researchers.

SOAC 2 brought together participants from a wide range of fields, including:
academics, researchers, policy makers, private and public sector practitioners, leaders in government, social commentators and the media.

Conference papers published fromSOAC 2 were subject to a peer review process prior to presentation at the conference, with further editing prior to publication.

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