In this paper I examine what economic geographies of the steel industry might learn from cultural economy and what cultural economy might learn from manufacturing industries. In particular, I draw on the concept of assemblage to outline a performative economic geography that emphasises the importance of material encounters, process, and working with, and containing, lively matter. My account argues that production complexes like steel plants are constantly made and unmade through material practices, doings and actions - all of which matter economically. The paper then puts the concept of assemblage to work, drawing on research during escorted tours to steel plants and employing literary narrative to frame the day-to-day rhythms and ruptures of industrial work. The effect is an economic geography of steel making that recasts overlooked and routine work (like monitoring, handling and transforming materials; repair and maintenance; and health and safety) as fundamental to economic activity and the creation of value.
- Economic geography
- Cultural economy