Category: University of Westminster

Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman

Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman

UWP launched a brand new journal today, now open for submissions.

Editors David Chandler, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos and Jane Lewis of the University of Westminster explain the background and their thinking that led to its creation:

Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman’ seeks to explore the implications of the Anthropocene from the perspectives of the social and life sciences, arts and humanities. We see the Anthropocene as an invitation to think differently about ways of being in the world and how we operate within, across and beyond our disciplinary framings. We take inspiration from Val Plumwood’s view that the Anthropocene poses the question: ‘Is it to be a posture of openness, of welcoming, of invitation, toward earth others, or is it to be a stance of prejudged superiority, of deafness, of closure?’ At present we feel that there is too little invitation: work on the Anthropocene often seems divided between climate scientists working along technical and managerial lines and, what can come across as, fairly aloof and abstract philosophical approaches. We seek to work to expand the area of Anthropocene work which can often be obscured by this divide; working out from the middle as it were.

For us, the Anthropocene poses questions that go far beyond narrow technical or governmental concerns of how to address issues such as climate change and global warming. While some contributors may, no doubt, be concerned with preventing, slowing or opposing the Anthropocene as a future to come, we hope that others will provide a critical, constructive and exploratory focus upon what it means to live within the Anthropocene as a time in which the certainties of the modernist world are becoming undone. Our desire is that this journal will pursue the open-ended and future-oriented invitations of the Anthropocene through building new cross-disciplinary research communities, facilitated through publishing in an open access format available to all.

We feel that the time is right to establish a world-leading interdisciplinary journal placing the University of Westminster at the centre of contemporary conceptual debates and practices. Drawing upon our unique strengths across diverse fields from the arts and media to the human sciences, via law, architecture and politics, Anthropocenes will engage and work with leading and upcoming international academics and practitioners looking for an interdisciplinary outlet and keen to develop and initiate debate through traditional and non-traditional forms of publication including visual and audio links.’

200 authors contribute to UWP books and journals

200 authors contribute to UWP books and journals

Another landmark reached.

Over 200 unique authors or editors have contributed to UWP books and journals from over 30 countries.

The top 10 countries in order of author numbers are: UK, USA, France, Italy, Canada, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Germany with China, China (Hong Kong), Ireland, Netherlands and Russia in joint 10th place.

From the University of Westminster 21 authors or editors have contributed to our publications more than once, with 16 authors from other universities or locations also contributing multiply.

Our travel-loving Press Manager has visited all but 7 of the countries but would like to have to add more to his bucket list which UWP has reached that currently includes Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan and South Africa.

Does this top 10 geographical profile match our open access audiences? Not quite but not far off either. We’d have more authors from Turkey and a few more from Greece, Mexico, Indonesia and South Korea perhaps but overall it would be hard not to say that there was a strong correspondence.

From our main website we can see readers have popped up (though not too frequently) in Yemen, South Sudan, Niger, San Marino and in the US commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Northern Pacific. With our WPCC journal ( a separate site) this week there have been strong showings from Zimbabwe, Australia, Singapore and Nigeria.

Open access offers quite a lot of insights to distract the publisher but demonstrates the ability of a small publisher to extend a reach and have a greater ability than a purely print publisher to understand a little more of where there readership is hailing from.

CDSMS series reaches 100,000 views/downloads.

CDSMS series reaches 100,000 views/downloads.

The University of Westminster Press‘s flagship Critical Digital and Social Media Studies open access series just recently achieved a new land landmark: 100,000 views and downloads. These include both book chapters and full book downloads (impossible currently to wholly disaggregate) across its 11 titles published since October 2016.

We’d like to ascribe this to a particular date but the rise in figures is coming at us so thick and fast from different directions (many reporting only monthly, one six-monthly) the only certainty is that the actual number is higher, maybe even significantly so.

UWP would like to congratulate all its authors, editors, the editorial board its platform provider Ubiquity Press and especially series editor-in-chief Christian Fuchs of our own parent institution, the University of Westminster for a wonderful effort in helping us reach global audiences. We look forward to further landmarks in 2020 and onwards.

The rallying cry of ‘We should all be feminists’ (C. N. Adichie) is turning into ‘We should all be activists …’

The rallying cry of ‘We should all be feminists’ (C. N. Adichie) is turning into ‘We should all be activists …’

as new reports emerge concerning male bias in AI … etc’
(from WPCC editorial).

As a new WPCC issue on Media Activism is published editors, Anastasia Denisova and Michaela O’Brien highlight the key issues for the issue in their editorial ‘From High Visibility to High Vulnerability: Feminist, Postcolonial and Anti-Gentrification Activism at Risk‘. What follows is an extract.

In times when hijacking of terms and stories happens on a daily basis, activism also means constant narrative recreation and damage control. Some scholars call the internet a patriarchal structure (Megarry, 2018) and there are voices that demand gender equality of the online space. The rallying cry of ‘We should all be feminists’ (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) is turning into ‘We should all be activists’ as new reports emerge concerning male bias in AI (Crawford, 2016; Adam, 2006; Leavy, 2018), sexist coding of digital voice assistants (West, Kraut and Ei Chew, 2019), the inherent inequality of AI-assisted recruitment processes (Dastin, 2018), and inequality of activism too. Female protesters and activists of colour face more challenges than others – due to the outbursts of toxic masculinity, racial abuse, cow­ardly anonymous online attacks and imbalance of visibility when it comes to hierarchy of influence. These issues are as virtual as they are real – and they need to be addressed to maintain liveable societies.  As editors, we wanted to explore the possibilities for progressive activists around the world to use the media to resist the current rise of the extreme right along with disturbing and growing evidence of the techniques of fascism: populism, propaganda and fake news, hate speech and rise of hate crimes. We define ‘activism’ as ‘the widest range of attempts to effect [progressive] social or cultural change’ (Meikle, 2018: iii), while ‘the media’ includes a broad range of communication platforms, from traditional journalism to digital networks.

[The University of Westminster runs an MA Programme in MEDIA, CAMPAIGNING AND SOCIAL CHANGE].

Adam, A. (2006). Artificial Knowing: Gender and the Thinking Machine. London: Routledge.

Crawford, K. (2016). Artificial intelligence’s white guy problem. The New York Times, 25 June.

Dastin, J. (2018). Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women. Reuters.com, 10 October. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-jobs-automation-insight/amazon-scraps-secret-ai-recruiting-tool-that-showed-bias-against-women-idUSKCN1MK08G (last accessed July 2019).

Megarry, J. (2018). Under the watchful eyes of men: Theorising the implications of male surveillance practices for feminist activism on social media. Feminist Media Studies, 18(6), 1070–1085. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2017.1387584

Meikle, G. (Ed.) (2018). The Routledge Companion to Media and Activism. Abingdon: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315475059

Leavy, S. (2018, May). Gender bias in artificial intelligence: The need for diversity and gender theory in machine learning. In Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Gender Equality in Software Engineering (pp. 14–16). New York: Association for Computing Machinery. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3195570.3195580.

West, M., Kraut, R., & Ei Chew, H. (2019). I’d blush if I could: Closing gender divides in digital skills through education. Paris: Equals Global Partnership/UNESCO.

‘Influx of New University Presses’ — change accelerating in academic publishing.

‘Influx of New University Presses’ — change accelerating in academic publishing.

The University of Westminster Press features in a recent survey article published by Research Information on aspects of the changes affecting scholarly communications and university press publishing,

The full article also draws on perspectives from Cambridge University Press, the University of Michigan Press and Bristol University Press as well as comments from UWP Press Manager, Andrew Lockett who explained some of the reasons for the grown in ‘New University Presses’ including demand from academics, the Research Excellence Framework and ‘the frustration in the library sector that wanted more opportunities to publish on behalf of academics, and a growing confidence from senior librarians that they could have a role in these activities’

Since the article was researched UWP views and downloads have increased from those reported in the article by a further 60,000 or 17% in a matter of weeks indicating the potential for momentum once a New University Press is under way.

Tourism in London: Ever more ‘pivotal and pervasive’.

Tourism in London: Ever more ‘pivotal and pervasive’.

In this extract from the introduction to our latest title editor Andrew Smith outlines the increasing presence and significance of London’s tourism.

Available to read or download open access Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy was published on the 21st May and is an initiative of the Tourism and Events Research Group of the University of Westminster. (The complete referenced version of the introduction is available on its own here).

‘London hosts a very significant visitor economy and overnight visitors contribute approximately £14.9 billion of expenditure to the city every year. When the city hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 the UK’s capital was already a leading global destination, but staging this mega-event instigated a new period of growth. In the period 2011-2016 tourism numbers increased by 25% and over the past few years the city has experienced a series of record years for arrivals. Despite already being one of the three most visited cities in the world – hosting 31.2 million overnight visitors in 2016 – city officials expect visitor arrivals to increase further: to over 40 million overnight visitors by 2025. Put simply, tourism is already a very significant economic and social phenomenon in London, but over the next few decades it will become even more pivotal and pervasive. 

London’s status as one of the world’s most visited destinations is not universally welcomed. At the moment there is considerable media and academic attention dedicated to the problem of rapid tourism growth and what has become known as over-tourism. This coverage has focused on various European capitals: from Berlin to Barcelona, Ljubljana to Lisbon. Even though the UK’s capital city seems like the ideal case through which to explore the ways that destinations evolve and expand, there has been surprisingly little attention devoted to London in these debates. This book explores how and why tourism is growing in Europe’s most popular city destination; and what benefits and problems accrue from expanding the tourism sector in a city already hosting 19 million overseas tourists and 12 million overnight domestic visitors every year. These additional people mean London’s population grows considerably every day, especially when one considers the 300,000 people that commute daily to the capital from outside Greater London and the daily influx of 750,000 non staying visitors. London hosts a residential population of around 8.8 million people, but its ‘daytime’ population – i.e. that which includes workers, visitors and tourists is estimated to be over well over 10 million. Tourists and day visitors now make up over 10% of London’s daytime population.

The book analyses how and why the expansion of the visitor economy is happening; and what effect this is having on the city. Contributions from various authors demonstrate how Destination London is developing through the extension of tourism into new spaces and new spheres. The book outlines how parts of London not previously regarded as tourism territories – e.g. residential suburbs, peripheral parks and private homes – are now subject to the tourist gaze. Tourists are being encouraged to visit places outside the centre and stay in accommodation owned by residents. In a similar manner, London is constantly creating new eventscapes to capitalise on the experience economy and providing reasons to visit at different times – in winter and at night. These types of initiatives feature prominently in London’s new ‘Tourism Vision’, which explicitly outlines the city’s aim to grow tourism ‘by encouraging visitors to explore the city’s outer districts, both in and out of season and around the clock’ .

Contemporary expansion is being facilitated by extending the capacity of existing services (e.g. by running the Underground 24 hrs a day), and by building new infrastructure (e.g. the new Crossrail network and a new runway at Heathrow Airport) and accommodation provision (plans for 23,000 new hotel rooms by 2025). However, growth in the visitor economy is driven more by market and cultural trends than any deliberate planning and policy; and this unfettered growth is likely to outrun formal provision. The rise of social media and the sharing economy, and the desire for new, distinctive and personalised experiences, are pushing tourists into peripheral locations, but also advancing tourism into spheres not normally considered tourism territory.  Growth is likely to be enabled and absorbed by unofficial tourism providers including London’s residents who now provide a range of services: most obviously accommodation, but also food, travel, and guiding. This book explores these trends and, in doing so, highlights the mechanisms and processes that are driving the expansion of the visitor economy. The discussion enhances understanding of London, but it also helps us to better appreciate the ways that tourism in cities is expanding into new spaces, times and spheres’.