Interview with Philip Lawton
Philip Lawton is the new Social Media Editor for Regional Studies, published on the behalf of the Regional Studies Association.
In this interview he goes through his background, offers advice of authors wanting to promote their work on Twitter, and the value of the Regional Studies Association.
Follow the Regional Studies Twitter account, @RegionalStudies, today!
Q: Tell us about your academic and professional background.
A: I am trained in geography, with a particular focus on urban geography. In my research, I have focused on a number of areas, including 'entrepreneurial urban governance', urban public space, gentrification, and suburbanization.
Q: How did you first get involved with the journal? Can you tell us a bit about your role?
A: I became involved in the journal in mid-2019, after I had applied for, and was successfully appointed as Social Media Editor. This was a very exciting opportunity for me, as it is my first editorial role and it is great to be involved in Regional Studies.
Q: What’s exciting about being involved in the Editorial work of Regional Studies?
A: As social media editor, I get to engage with a range of work before I promote the respective paper. I really enjoy getting the opportunity to read the work of colleagues from different disciplines and people with very very different approaches to research. This has opened me up to different ways of thinking about things and demonstrated the importance of inter-disciplinarity in thinking about regional questions. I also feel it is a really crucial time to focus on the regional scale. For example, there are the different global challenges, not least of which is those revolving around environmental challenges. Regional Studies can play a central role in these debates. Of particular note here is the degree to which the solutions needed for the current environmental crisis will require connections between the local, regional, national, supra-national, and global scale. Furthermore, there are significant questions about the ways in which we can understand urban-regional space, with the notion of a bounded and legible urban entity, such as is understood as the 'city', becoming increasingly difficult to uphold. Regional Studies is thus also ideally suited to tease out some of the challenges that this raises, such as understanding the socio-spatial dynamics of regional space from the scale of the neighbourhood to that of the global forces through which it is being reshaped.
Q: What would your dream article look like, and which author would write it? Which research topics do you think are of particular interest to the research community at the current time?
A: I would really like to see something in the Urban and Regional Horizons section which draws together a number of key authors writing in urban and regional studies, such as, for example, Ananya Roy, Neil Brenner, Jenny Robinson, Tom Slater and Roger Keil on the significance of current debates about urban regions for thinking about our understandings of different parts of the world, including, but not limited to debates about the global north and global south. While there has been a significant amount of discussion on this topic, perhaps something that pits explicitly about the question of the region, or the implications of 'planetary urbanization' for regional studies might be interesting.
Q: What’s the best article you’ve read recently (in the journal)?
A: I really enjoyed reading 'Getting the Territory Right: Infrastructure-led development and the re-emergence of spatial planning strategies', by Seth Schindler and J. Miguel Kanai. I found it a very engaging piece of work which chimed with some of the questions I am thinking about in relation to social space and landscape.
Q: 'What advice would you give to authors seeking to promote their work on twitter?
A: Even if the paper does not have relevant images, try to pick one or two photographs that encapsulate the point the article is making. I have found that the papers with images tend to get a higher level of engagement. It draws people in and gives a sense of what the article is about. I also find that an additional blog linked to a paper provides a good platform to promote the contents of the original paper and reach a wider audience.
Q: Why should readers consider membership to the RSA?
A: The broad scope of the organization and its openness to wide areas of academic scholarship on urbanization and regions is a significant plus and a key strength.
Q: What advice would you give yourself just after finishing PHD?
A: Apply for more funding opportunities and be less worried/concerned about finding 'the job'.
Q: What are your 5 desert island discs?
A: • Everybody Knows this is Nowhere - Neil Young
• Plastic Beach - The Gorillaz
• The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
• Fear of a Black Planet - Public Enemy
• Astral Weeks - Van Morrison