10th June, 2020

Listen: #IPC19 Industry Research Keynote: Mary Poppins’ Publishing Compass

Professor Claire Squires, University of Stirling

Inspired by a scene from PL Travers’ Mary Poppins (1934), in which a magical box opens up perspectives to the north, south, east and west, this keynote goes on a journey structured around four points of a ‘publishing compass’, responding to the following questions (not necessarily in this order). In so doing, it thinks through a series of pressing issues for publishing and publishing research, and interrogates how we might set our coordinates in order best to navigate through them as both researchers and practitioners of publishing:

Publishing Geographies: the spatial organisation of publishing has long been global, but determined along lines which continually reassert hierarchical structures of power, the less than equal ‘world republic of letters’ (Casanova) which privileges certain languages, countries, and metropolitan centres. How might local, regional, ‘remote’, peripheral and digital activity be disrupting, shoring up or diverging from such patternings? Is the publishing map being redrawn, and if so, in what ways?

Publishing Epistemologies: as the publishing industries face increasing disruption, challenge and opportunity in their operations, how do structures of knowledge make sense of the current state and future shape of those industries? What is the role of the academic researcher, and which creative and critical modes might be employed to understand, or intervene in publishing’s directions? And what place might the small Scottish Highlands town of Ullapool take in such concerns?

Publishing Responsibilities: independent publishers have frequently taken a role in directing publishing’s moral, cultural and political compass. In an age of ongoing inequalities, hastening climate crisis and geopolitical upheaval, how might publishers, and publishing studies academics, respond to such challenges, take action to address them, develop socially just post-growth economic structures, and plan for responsible futures?

Publishing Imaginaries: what might future ‘imagined communities’ (Anderson) generated by publishing look like, and by which dystopian and utopian visions of the future might we want to navigate in order to create them?


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