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Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences

Chair of Economic Geography – Prof. Dr. Stefan Ouma

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What we research on


At the moment, we are doing research on the negotiation of bioeconomic futures in East Africa, the transformation of wage and reproductive labor in the context of digitalization, the political economy and ecology of global commodity chains, and the financialization of land and agriculture.


We stand for a theoretically grounded research and teaching agenda that critically interrogates the imaginaries, trajectories, possibilities, limits and practicalities of sustainable regional development in an age of global challenges such as rising sociospatial inequality, the looming climate crisis, rising and the ongoing marketization and technologization of social, economic and ecological domains. Our work is informed by insights from heterodox economic thinking, political ecology, and post- and decolonial studies, which allow for provincializing certain conceptions of the “economy” and opening up the space of possibilities for other conceptions of “the economy”. Such a take is also sensitive to the relationality of processes of uneven development, which connects actors, phenomena and places across the globe. It attunes us to the historical becoming of economic landscapes, relationships, and practices, but at the same time seeks to transcend established territorial categories of “North” and “South” and associated disciplinary divisions of labour.


The established set of methods of economic geography is challenged by the increasingly complex movements and networks of commodities, people, capital, knowledge and power. A core concern of the methodological orientation of our team is to trace these dynamics and the resulting connections and how they materialize. In doing so, approaches of ethnographic organizational research, qualitative interviews and mixed-method designs and increasingly geographic data science approaches play particularly an important role.


Our research has focused on the East and West Africa, Germany and New Zealand. We see ourselves in the tradition of cosmopolitan globalization studies. We are not merely concerned here with the geographical diversification of empirical research, but with the production of insights from the "margins" of a scientific system that is often characterized by the universalization of theories with a specific historical-geographical biography. Despite this global focus, our team is dedicated to teaching and supervising student research in the metropolitan region of Nuremberg and the border region of Upper Franconia.

Der Aufstieg der Landwirtschaft als alternative Anlageklasse

The rise of agriculture as an alternative asset class

  • Team: Stefan Ouma, Mangasini Katundu (Moshi Cooperative University, Tanzania)

  • Runtime: 2017-2021 (DFG, before: Chair of Economic Geography, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Prof. Dr. Peter Lindner)

  • Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Since the financial and food price crisis of 2007-8, the world has seen a surge in financial investment in arable land and agricultural production. You can find more here ... 

Mobile Capital and (Im)Mobile Entrepreneurs: Start-up Success, Institutional Context and the “Laws of Start-up Money” in Silicon Savannah

Mobile Capital and (Im)Mobile Entrepreneurs: Start-up Success, Institutional Context and the “Laws of Start-up Money” in Silicon Savannah

Kenya has become one of the leading venture capital (VC) destinations in Africa. You can find more here ...

Logistics and Logistification of African Economies

Logistics and Logistification of African Economies

  • Team: Julian Stenmanns, Stefan Ouma

  • Runtime/Funding: currently

What role do logistics and transport infrastructures play in Africa's current political economy and what political levers are they currently setting in motion on the continent? You can find more here ...

Whose Bioeconomy? Visions of socio-ecological transformation and their ethical negotiation in Tanzania (BATATA)

Whose Bioeconomy? Visions of socio-ecological transformation and their ethical negotiation in Tanzania (BATATA)

  • Team: Eugen Pissarskoi (Universität Tübingen), Kerstin Schopp (Universität Tübingen), Stefan Ouma, Leiyo Singo  

  • Runtime: 2019-2022

  • Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

  • Website: http://batata-bioeconomy.de/

At first glance, the transformation to a sustainable bioeconomy that is being sought, particularly in the Global North, and the striving to strengthen agriculture in a country in sub-Saharan Africa like Tanzania seem to complement each other well. You can find more here ...

Political ecology of global supply and commodity chains

Political ecology of global supply and commodity chains

  • Team: Julian Stenmanns, Stefan Ouma 

  • Runtime/Funding: currently

What are the ecological consequences of global logistics and the "hardware" they require (ships, containers, infrastructure)? And why can global chains of goods be considered spatial. You can find more here ...

Concluded research projects

The global agricultural market and its blurred edges: integration of small farmers in commodity chainsHide

The global agricultural market and its blurred edges: Forms and consequences of the integration of small farmers in transnational commodity chains

The global market for agricultural goods is experiencing a profound change. Food crises and food scandals go along with higher quality standards and a rising demand for non-seasonal high-quality goods that were little known in Europe until recently. As a consequence of these developments frontier regions – regions in the global south, where agricultural production was hitherto mainly subsistence-oriented or traded locally – have been integrated into world market relations and fundamentally restructured by transnational companies. Thereby, orthodox market models serve as operational blueprints, but are adapted to local settings and thus bring about new market orders. The project "The Global Agricultural Market and Its Fuzzy Boundaries: Forms and Consequences of the Integration of Smallholders in Global Commodity Chains" has these developments as its core concern. It is focussing on two sample regions in Ghana, where the production of just-in-time fruit salads and organic mangoes for the European market began only recently. Six complementary perspectives on the newly emerging arrangements as well as on the performativity of market models provide the basis for the empirical work: the definition of new products, pricing in "weak" markets, the regulation of competition, different market models as points of reference, mechanisms of control and sanction, and new modes of social differentiation as a consequence of market integration.

Researchers: Stefan Ouma, Marc Boeckler and Peter Lindner

Funding: German Research Foundation

Duration: 2010-2013 (DFG), thereafter own funds

For further information see all Publications


  • Ouma, Stefan; Lindner, Peter (2010): Von Märkten und Reisenden. Geographische Entwicklungsforschung oder Wirtschaftsgeographien des Globalen Südens? In Geographische Rundschau 62 (10), pp. 12–19.
  • Ouma, Stefan (2012): Markets in the Making“: Zur Ethnographie alltäglicher Marktkonstruktionen in organisationalen Settings. In Geografica Helvetica 67 (4), pp. 203–211.
  • Ouma, Stefan; Boeckler, Marc; Lindner, Peter (2013): Extending the Margins of Marketization: Frontier Regions and the Making of Agro-export Markets in northern Ghana. In Geoforum 48, pp. 225–235. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2012.01.011
  • Ouma, Stefan; Whitfield, Lindsay (2012): The Making and Remaking of Agroindustries in Africa. In: Journal of Development Studies 48 (3), S. 301–307.
  • Ouma, Stefan (2012): Creating and Maintaining Global Connections: Agro-business and the Precarious Making of Fresh-cut Markets. In Journal of Development Studies 48 (3), pp. 322–334. DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2011.635201
  • Ouma, Stefan (2015): Assembling Export Markets.The Making and Unmaking of Global Food Connections in West Africa. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell (RGS-IBG Book Series)
​Industrial City Frankfurt?Hide

Industrial City Frankfurt?

Since the financial crisis in Europe there has been a recent reassessment of the overall economic importance of manufacturing. At the same time a different picture of industrial production has become apparent which finds its most prominent expression in the depiction of a "fourth industrial revolution." The consequences of these developments for urban and regional economic policy, however, are largely unclear. Against this background, the city of Frankfurt has decided to advance a master plan for its industries, which aims to determine the pathways of the city’s economic development in the coming years. The project "Frankfurt’s Industries" provides the basics for this master plan by consistently taking the perspectives of entrepreneurs and their employees and aims to offer a detailed and nuanced picture of a sector which is increasingly difficult to delineate from the service sector. To this end, the study combines a traditional SWOT-approach with an in-depth analysis of networks and value chains and outlines the most important fields of intervention for the future master plan.

Researchers: Peter Lindner, Stefan Ouma, Max Klöppinger and Marc Boeckler

Funding/Duration: Frankfurt Economic Development; 2012-2013

Publication place: Frankfurt

For further information see all Publications


  • Lindner, Peter; Ouma, Stefan; Klöppinger, Max; Boeckler, Marc (2014): Industriestudie Frankfurt am Main 2013. Frankfurt u.a.: Peter Lang.

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