Mikael Omstedt

The politics of debt crisis management in the U.S.
Faculty of Arts
Jamie Peck

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I'm daily struck by how much there is to learn, especially about such a complex and multifaceted phenomenon as capitalism. A graduate education, therefore, seems like a great opportunity to really get time and resources to think long and hard about the questions that intrigue me.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

UBC Geography is one of the foremost centers for research in geographical political economy so when I received an offer to start my PhD here I was thrilled to join a community of faculty, staff, and students whose work really excites me.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

In particular, I appreciated how the master's program in Geography gives you a lot of freedom to explore your own interests through extended independent research.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

I was surprised by how welcomed I felt when arriving in the Geography department. Despite 'only' being a master’s student, people were genuinely interested in what you were up to. As a consequence, I didn't just socialize within my cohort but got to learn from many grad students that were further along in the program than me.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I really appreciate the more casual opportunities to learn together in more or less formalized readings groups. These reading groups help mitigate the isolation that is such a prevalent feature of academic work and make sure that you're not simply trapped inside your own head. And since every new cohort of grad students bring with them new insights and provocations, I'm going to look forward to each new academic year in the program.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

While a graduate education is hard work, I try to make sure to always find time to hang out with friends, dance lindy hop and just walk around in the city.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

I would advise masters students to not be afraid of going out and doing fieldwork. It might be intimidating at first, but you'll never be 'fully prepared' and there is nothing that beats spending time in the field to wrap your head around a research problem.


Learn more about Mikael's research

Interested in the ways financial logics become institutionalized in the state apparatus, my research focuses on the contested politics of state-level debt crisis management in the United States. Taking these moments of crisis as crucial indicators of the social contradictions of financialized capitalism writ large, I'm currently in the process of developing a multi-sited research design that doesn’t so much compare a narrow range of similar cases but instead opens up partial windows into larger processes of political transformation within a 50-state federation. In particular, I will examine the contested narrative of crisis, the political response facilitated by such narrative and subsequent institutional change. I hope this research will enable me to triangulate between distinct but interrelated moments of crisis-induced state restructuring and interrogate whether this historical moment indeed constitutes a structural transformation of state politics along more financialized lines.