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Archive for April, 2017

Call for Proposals: Economic Exposures in Asia

Chris JPenfold12 April 2017

Economic Exposures in Asia is a brand new interdisciplinary series showcasing ethnographically-driven analyses of changing economic landscapes in Asia.

Economic change in this region often exceeds received models and expectations, leading to unexpected outcomes and experiences of rapid growth and sudden decline. This series seeks to capture this diversity. It places an emphasis on how people engage with volatility and flux as an omnipresent characteristic of life, and not necessarily as a passing phase. Shedding light on economic and political futures in the making, it also draws attention to the diverse ethical projects and strategies that flourish in such spaces of change. We publish monographs and edited volumes that engage from a theoretical perspective with this new era of economic flux, exploring how current transformations come to shape and are being shaped by people in particular ways.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal to this series please contact:

Chris Penfold, UCL Press (c.penfold@ucl.ac.uk) or Rebecca Empson, Series Editor (r.empson@ucl.ac.uk)

UCL Press Meets Chinese Publishing Delegates from China Publishing Group

LaraSpeicher6 April 2017

On 22nd March I had the great pleasure of meeting a delegation of 15 Chinese publishers from the largest publisher in China, the China Publishing Group, and presented a two-hour session to them on academic publishing in the UK and, more specifically, the university-based open access publishing model forged by UCL Press.

CPG, which was ranked no.14 in the 2014 Top 50 Global Publishing Groups, has been in the Top 30 of Chinese Cultural Enterprises for six consecutive years, and owns 40 individual publishing companies and imprints which produce over 10,000 titles per year. Importantly, it concludes licensing agreements with overseas publishers for over 1,000 books and journals per year, and comprises China’s biggest publications import and export enterprise, importing and exporting over 200,000 titles every year. CPG also owns 28 overseas publishing houses and bookshops.

The publishers I met reflected the wide range of publishing that takes place in the CPG family – scholarly, children’s, poetry, encyclopedias, and art and architecture to name just a few. The delegates were in England as part of a three-week training programme during which they met publishers, wholesalers, PR agencies and others in the publishing industry, to gain greater insights into the possibilities for doing business with publishers in the UK, and their trip also included attendance at the London Book Fair, who had organized their training programme.

I was joined during the session by one of UCL Press’s authors, Dr Gabriel Moshenska, Senior Lecturer in the UCL Institute of Archaeology, whose textbook, Key Concepts in Public Archaeology, has just been published by UCL Press. Gabe explained from an author’s point of view why open access publishing is so important i.e. the ability to communicate his ideas to a wide global readership, and why open access textbooks in particular are increasingly important for supporting the student experience and for making UCL teaching resources available globally, thereby raising the profile of UCL teaching and research. We demonstrated UCL Press’s online publishing platform, which features scholarly functionalities such as highlighting, making notes, saving personalised copies of books, sharing and citation. The CPG publisher for fine art books was particularly interested in the subject of public archaeology, a field that was pioneered at UCL and has been taught here for twenty years. There is growing international interest in public archaeology in countries such as the US, Australia, Italy, Sweden and China. We were able to tell the delegates about UCL’s global standing, particularly in subjects such as archaeology, architecture and education.

The publishers asked a range of perceptive questions about the Press’s model, for example, could a particularly successful OA book raise an author’s profile to the extent that they decide to publish elsewhere with a commercial publisher, and how the endeavour is financed.

In China, open access does exist for journals but not yet for books. Print books are in any case sold at a very low price, between £2.50 and £3.50 typically, and, according to one of the publishers who works for CPG’s academic imprint, scholarly monographs can sell in relatively large numbers ie 4000-5000 copies, so the scholarly publishing model in China does not suffer from the same degree of problems as the Western one. One particular barrier in China to open access for monographs is a culture in which free things are not trusted to be of good quality. And as in the UK and US, publisher brand prestige is hugely important.

In order for UCL Press to make its books available in China in Chinese, it will need to arrange licensing deals between a Chinese publisher and the author, for the Chinese publisher to translate and sell the work in China, which is the usual way books are licensed to foreign-language publishers. UCL Press has had expressions of interest in some of its books from Chinese publishers and as our publishing programme continues to expand, this interest is likely to grow. While we would ideally like our books to be published open access around the world, we recognize that the OA model for books is not yet widely enough developed and therefore we accept that a commercial model for making the books available in other languages can be the only available route. This is with the notable exception of books in our social media series, Why We Post, which the WWP project has undertaken to translate into all eight languages of the project. These will be published by UCL Press as open access, with the exception perhaps of the two Chinese titles, Social Media in Industrial China and Social Media in Rural China, for which there is strong interest from Chinese publishers who are unlikely to agree to publication of a simultaneous OA Chinese version.

UCL Press will of course always make the English language version of our books available as open access to a global audience, something the publishers from CPG did not think would be a barrier to Chinese publication. All in all, it was a fascinating couple of hours exchanging ideas and information about different publishing models. The Beijing Book Fair beckons!

Why the suburbs are important

AlisonFox4 April 2017

Today’s excerpt, by Mark Clapson of the University of Westminster, is the foreword of Suburban Urbanities, a multi-contributor volume edited by Laura Vaughan, UCL Bartlett.

In recent years there has been much debate within urban studies as to which came first in the evolution of human settlements, the countryside or the city. There was always a third context to this discussion, however, and that was the suburb. Life beyond the city walls was a distinctive feature of ancient urban civilisations from Persia to Minoan Crete, and today in the Anglophone world the suburban population is a majority. How surprising, then, that few scholars have attempted to understand the nature and agency of suburban living as a dominant characteristic of human settlements. This was symptomatic of a wider academic indifference and even hostility towards ‘the suburban’ which has only (ridiculously) recently been challenged by a new generation of scholars who take suburbs seriously.

Suburban Urbanities is a hugely important contribution to understanding our suburban world. Drawing upon scholarship within the now rapidly expanding field of suburban studies, synthesising historical geography with space syntax theories and methods, and the sociology of everyday life, it sheds new light on the historic and spatial evolution of the city. It shows that suburbia is not a synchronic caricature of a life-less-lived, but a dynamic context of metropolitan agency and creativity. As an historic process, suburbanisation is not something that evolved beyond the city to suck the life out of it, but was intertwined with trajectories of growth, with the socioeconomic patterning and structuring of cities large and small. It is impossible to grasp the meaning of class relations, of gendered lifestyles, of ethnic segregation and integration, of urban economies and patterns of mobility and communications, without placing suburbia at the forefront of the analysis. The universality of the themes of Suburban Urbanities is obvious: the dynamics of growth are significant historically because suburbs are starting points in change over time, not the end of the line. Old suburbs were once new, and today’s new suburbs, springing up rapidly across the world, will one day be old. As dynamic environments they continue to act as vectors of social, economic and political development, locally, nationally and globally.

The book is timely in another important sphere, and that is the personal subjectivity of suburbanites. To those who live in them, suburban lives have meaning. Back in 2013, I went for a walk in Fort Totten, an AfricanAmerican suburb of Washington, DC. On a sweltering August lunchtime, as I took photographs of the comfortable suburban homes of middle-class black people in roads that were empty except for flowering trees and parked cars, a woman’s voice called out to me with a gentle but audible ‘good afternoon’. Across her neatly trimmed front lawn I began chatting with a woman in her sixties who was taking tea with a friend on her veranda. She had left downtown DC in 1976 and as she stated with some passion, ‘I couldn’t wait to get out’. Fort Totten had its problems, but it was an attractive and spacious place to raise children, and well connected to the city. Her story is an important one because it is one of millions of inconvenient truths being ushered out of view by the current urban policies that demonise suburbia, and by the retro-fitting of suburbs that were, until very recently, doing just fine. Myriad examples of successful suburban living and suburban happiness and of triumph over social exclusion can be found if academics want to look for them. Suburban Urbanities looks for them, and understands that they are part of an ongoing pattern of human settlement that stretches from the ancient past to the present, and will persist long into the future.