James Biles

Associate Professor

Main Affiliation


Additional Departments/Affiliated Programs

International Studies

Areas of Expertise/Research

  • Economic Development
  • Mexico and Latin America
  • Policy Analysis


NAC 6/107B



Photo of James Biles

James Biles


James Biles is an economic geographer, specializing in development. His research focuses on the confluence of global economic processes, development policy and local livelihoods, particularly in urban and rural areas of Mexico and Latin America. In light of the deep-seated changes in the role of government and the prevailing ideology of development during the past three decades, his research attempts to incorporate the experiences of those excluded from prevailing models of development while highlighting agency – the place-specific practices and strategies that people employ for the purposes of improving livelihoods. These scholarly activities have been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its Mexican equivalent (CONACYT).


B.S.S., Urban and Environmental Studies, Ohio University, 1995
M.A., Economic Geography, Michigan State University, 1998
Ph.D., Economic Geography, Michigan State University, 2001

Courses Taught

INTL20100 Introduction to International Studies: A Global Perspective

INTL30500 Social Foundations of International Studies

INTL31109 Geography and the Global Economy

INTL32100 Senior Seminar

INTL32200 Senior Thesis

LALS10200 Latin American and Caribbean Civilizations

SOC26700 Social Change in Developing Countries

Research Interests

Development and livelihoods
Mexico and Latin America


J.J. Biles. 2010. Redes globales de producción y políticas de desarrollo regional en Yucatán, Mexico. Revista Ciudades 87, 24-30.
J.J. Biles 2010. Chronicle of a debt foretold: Mexico's FOBAPROA debacle and lessons for the U.S. financial crisis. Progress in Development Studies 10, 3, 261-266.
J.J. Biles & T. Lindley. 2009. "Globalization, geography and the liberation of overseas study."Journal of Geography 108, 148-154.
J.J. Biles. 2009. "Informal work in Latin America: recent debates and competing perspectives."Geography Compass 3, 1, 214-236.
J.J. Biles. 2008. "Informal work and livelihoods in Mexico: getting by or getting ahead?" The Professional Geographer 60, 4, 541-555.
J.J. Biles. 2008. "Wal-Mart and the "supermarket revolution" in Mexico." Geographische Rundschau-International Edition 4, 2, 44-49
J.J Biles et al. 2007. "Globalization of food retailing in southeastern Mexico: transformation of supply networks and consequences for small-scale agricultural producers." Journal of Latin American Geography 6, 2, 55-75.
J.L. Scarpaci & J.J. Biles. 2007. "Globalization and Latin American geography: linking scales of analysis." Journal of Latin American Geography 6, 2, 7-10.
J.J. Biles. 2006. "Globalization of food retailing and the consequences of walmartization in Mexico," in S. Brunn, ed., Wal-Mart World: The World's Biggest Corporation in the Global Economy. New York: Routledge (pp. 347-359).
J.J. Biles. 2005. "Globalization of banking and local access to financial resources: a case study from southeastern Mexico." The Industrial Geographer 2, 2, 159-173.
J.J. Biles. 2004. "Export-oriented industrialization and regional development: a case study of maquiladora production in Yucatán, Mexico." Regional Studies 38, 5, 517-532.
J.J. Biles. 2003. "Using spatial econometric techniques to estimate spatial multipliers: an assessment of regional economic policy in Yucatán, Mexico." The Review of Regional Studies 33, 2, 121-141