Category Archives: thought

Centrifugal Citation Conformity Machine

I was recently in an information briefing (which was very useful) about Web of Science and citations/searches. Here are some thoughts on how the system at present breeds conformity. Or at least, this is what I said, pretty much. very slightly odified to remove some names:

On Metrics as Tools

My concern – something I have discussed with a few others – is how there are some serious gaps in the Web of Science coverage for some areas of the social sciences and humanities.  I wonder if you are interested in this discussion as well. I think there are a few important things to consider, or if they have been considered, make the thinking clear as to how they have been handled.

I work (and think) in a variety of different ways that sometimes seem to me to be specifically designed to fall between the cracks of the indexes. This started with noting that the journals I really admire, were not making it from ESCI to SSCI, or rather, some were even choosing not to. I don’t think I should say which ones, but a few I have had some reviewing or editorial exchange with have said they are pulling out of the indexing ‘game’ as metrics was both too blunt and too normative. There are also a few things, discussed especially, that were not being indexed. Smaller magazines for example, museum catalogues and artist books, visual research (I had taught ethnographic film for many years) and political pamphlets are falling by the way in the face of a normative centrifugal force.

The blunt version of the argument here is that the new Incites tools do not ‘incite’ enough – but rather encourage heading in the same direction that everyone else is heading in – collaborate with those who are most likely to collaborate with you, cite those who cite you, read those who read you etc. Sure, that perhaps has its merits in terms of group cohesion, but academic work should surely be, at one level at least, not about that at all. It is disagreement and difference we should seek, not everyone heading towards the same spiral of universal chanting “ISI ISI” as if a group of characters from a Thomas Pynchon novel had spring off the page in full riot gear. Doesn’t the tendency to seek out the most popular make it harder for new and novel ideas to get a hearing? At what point do the top citations, top metrics, top index procedures need to be disrupted by ideas might not even be recognised by ‘metrics’? Ideas that disrupt the play of uniformity, conformity, safety and repetition? Obviously, I am setting this out starkly to make the point clear, but I think there is a fundamental problem when we have 50 million papers that are there because, as you said, ‘we want to make the world a better place’ but some could argue that the world is demonstrably becoming less better, or at least a significant set of indicators would suggest that. maybe the 50 million need to not refer more and more to the centre, but seek more and more the alternative, angular, oblique and even opposite/oppositional ideas. Ahh, we are communist after all (though in communism there is also a tendency to centralisation, of course – as I said, overstating to make the point).

What mechanisms can be demonstrated within your presentation, or within the tools, that cater for the need to engage in a ‘ruthless criticism of everything’ as old beardo would have us do. The old man with a beard also saw himself as on the road to science, but that it was no easy path, there was work to be done. What could be entered into the search algorithms to ensure the critiques of normative and even hegemonic ideas in each area are challenged? What mechanisms in the search can be dysfunctional for the ongoing business model that is, frankly, no longer really fit for purpose in a degraded and entropic world…

I would love (ironic and hysterical laughter – cackle cackle hee hee hee) to see some explicit attention to how critical disruptive thinking could be built in as potions for the indexing process. I know indexing cannot be neutral, but can the biases run the other way sometimes? can you say how these questions might be addressed? And what great possibilities would be there if 100 flowers contended with 100 schools of thought in bloom…


Just to confirm that referentiality takes all kinds, my most often cited ISI works (ISI articles cited by ISI journals) show interesting trends. (All available on the download texts link in the sidebar).

Authors:  John Hutnyk 

Authors:  John HutnykSanjay Sharma Published:Jun 2016 in THEORY, CULTURE AND SOCIETY DOI: 10.1177/02632760022051211

Authors:  John Hutnyk  Published:Jun 2016 in THEORY, CULTURE AND SOCIETY DOI: 10.1177/0263276406062700

Authors:  John Hutnyk  Published:Jul 2016 in CRITIQUE OF ANTHROPOLOGY DOI: 10.1177/0308275X9801800401

Authors:  John Hutnyk Published:Feb 2002 in FUTURES DOI: 10.1016/S0016-3287(01)00032-5

Innovations… Conference 4-5 October 2019, TDTU, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities

4th and 5th of October 2019.
Ho Chi Minh City, Socialist republic of Vietnam

Welcome to the website for the conference Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities, jointly organised by The University of Trieste, Italy; the Universität Leipzig, Germany; National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan; University of Warwick, UK; College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (CHESS) at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), USA; and Ton Duc Thang University, Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Conference Venue – Ton Duc Thang University

Address: 19 Nguyen Huu Tho Street, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Invitation and Call for papers:

For the International Conference 4-5 October 2019 at Ton Duc Thang University, HCMC, Vietnam, we would like to hear from those working on innovative approaches to public engagement in the social sciences and humanities. Methodological, empirical, archival or conceptual-theoretical work is encouraged, especially where a keen interest in application, consequence, practice or outcome is involved. Sometimes this is called impact on the one side, or intervention on the other, but we are nevertheless interested in all inquiries and investigations which advance the emancipatory possibilities of scholarship in a radically changed global context.

Social and cultural practices in both modern life and in the preservation of historical memory, could suitably connect sociology, social work, history, ethno-anthropology (museums, exhibitions, fairs, monuments, collective ceremonies), cultural tourism, eco-preservation policies, and other urgent contemporary social issues. Comparative studies are welcome, but not the only focus. We are especially interested in deep and detailed studies which have wider significance and suggestions for ‘best practice’. After many years of ‘interdisciplinarity’, or at least talk about this, we are interested to see examples where this works well in practice. We can assume all studies are comparative and interdisciplinary in a way, and all certainly have consequences, implications…

We are especially keen to hear from those working in three overlapping areas of engaged activity: these may be people working as anthropologists, historians, museum and preservation/heritage studies; cultural geographers, sociologists and in cultural studies; or on border studies, migrant labor and workplace and institutional inquiries. Our themes will interact within the structure of the conference, but we are keen in particular to go deeply into each area.

With Innovations in Public Engagement we anticipate discussions of the ways scholarship might best go about communicating in public the experience of the past and of human, cultural and environmental diversity, including technological and bio-political innovations and their contemporary reshaping of pasts and presents. Challenges to questions of who produces scholarship and why, for whom and by whom, can apply to past and present uses of knowledge, where the models of research and inquiry are actively reworked in the face of new public demands.

With Historical/contemporary practices and policies we seek to address issues related to contemporary forms of social conflict, including unequal citizenship and new racisms, the rise of right-wing populist movements and infiltration of religious power in secular governmentality, migrant workers as neoliberal slavery, questions of human trafficking and refugees, developmentalism and environmental pollution, crony capitalism and geo-economic zoning politics.

With Innovations of methodology, training and new skills for the future it seems to us crucial that our work respond to rapid reconfigurations of the very possibility and consequences of engaged social sciences and humanities scholarship. Whether the changing context is imposed by governments by industry or by civil society, when we deal with institutional change and competitive and imperative demands, we do need to develop new tools for knowledge(s) and new sensibilities/sensitivities. Education, reform and responsiveness, new skills and objectives, new modes of investigation and teaching in general. An urgent and targeted focus on how scholarship might remain relevant and critical in the face of global trends – funding cuts, social constraints, new demands, new conservatism, and crises of certitude.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam will be our venue, but it need not necessarily be the context or focus of all papers, nor are comparative, or East-West or ‘post’ or neo-colonial framings always to be foregrounded in the papers. We are interested however in papers that encourage us to think anew about the implications of where we are and about how to re-orient humanities and social sciences scholarship in contexts where rising tensions in East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia call on us to innovate and apply once more.

On acceptance of your paper, we will provide you a letter of acceptance or an invitation letter for your visa application to Vietnam or financial sponsorship from your institution. Therefore, you are encouraged to submit your paper at the earliest time possible.


The conference proceedings and papers will be in English.

Important dates:

  • Abstract Submission: By February 28th, 2019
  • Notification of Paper Acceptance: Before March 30th, 2019
  • Full Paper Submission: By May 30th, 2019
  • Registration and Payment by: August 20th, 2019 (early bird discounts apply)
  • Conference Dates: October 4th– 5th, 2019

We look forward to receiving your contributions and kindly ask you to disseminate the call to your colleagues who may be interested in participating the conference.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at if you need any further information.


Assoc. Prof. Le Thi Mai, Ph.D
Head of  Sociology Department


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Steve Redhead: Theoretical Times

I’ve read most of Steve Redhead’s work over the years. Maybe not all the Virilio stuff as I leave that to Sophie, but this is the next one I’ll read:

Theoretical Times

Redehead TTimes

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And why now? – should have been earlier of course, but I am less often in bookshops with ready cash, and just found out the terrible, most terrible, news of Steve’s passing.

“Am deeply sad to find that just over a week ago the scholar Steve Redhead died. There are many tributes, well deserved. In Manchester in 1994, in another university and in a different discipline, how great was it that a (then) law prof took an interest in a talk on Derrida’s Marx book by an unknown postdoc and in conversation suggested archives I could read on the history of anti-racism activism in the UK, without which no “Dis-Orienting Rhythms”, among so much else. RIP Steve Redhead. Hope his family and friends and especially Tara Brabazon will be fine, despite condolences never being anywhere near good enough.”


Cartographic Abstraction in Contemporary Art: Seeing with maps

ClaireClaire Reddleman’s new book ‘Cartographic Abstraction in Contemporary Art: Seeing with maps’ is out now from Routledge Advances in Art and Visual Studies!

Claire Says:

“It’s all about different forms of cartographic viewing – including the ‘cartographic view from nowhere’, drone viewing, the Apollonian view (in which the earth is ‘seen’ from space), remote cartographic viewing (with particular reference to the antipodes) and an ‘immersive’ form of viewing cartographically from within an art installation. These ways of seeing with maps are explored with close reference to a series of contemporary artworks, by Joyce Kozloff, James Bridle, Trevor Paglen, Layla Curtis and Bill Fontana. The book is a development of my phd thesis, and so is most likely to be of interest for postgraduate students and researchers – but I think the material about the artworks will also be of interest for art students, artists and art-world professionals, and the theoretical ideas about cartographic abstraction will be of interest for people who work on real abstraction and Marxian-informed ways of thinking about art and visual culture”.

Here is the official blurb:

In this book, Claire Reddleman introduces her theoretical innovation ‘cartographic abstraction’ – a material modality of thought and experience that is produced through cartographic techniques of depiction. Reddleman closely engages with selected artworks (by contemporary artists such as Joyce Kozloff, Layla Curtis, and Bill Fontana) and theories in each chapter. Reconfiguring the Foucauldian underpinning of critical cartography towards a materialist theory of abstraction, cartographic viewpoints are theorised as concrete abstractions. This research is positioned at the intersection of art theory, critical cartography and materialist philosophy.

Here are the chapter headings:

Intro – From Critical Cartography to Cartographic Abstraction: Rethinking the Production of Cartographic Viewing Through Contemporary Artworks

1. Reconfiguring the View From Nowhere: Collage and Complicity in ‘Targets’ by Joyce Kozloff

2. The Drone’s Eye View: Networked Vision and Visibility in Works by James Bridle and Trevor Paglen

3. Remote Viewing, Cartographic Abstraction and the Antipodes: Three Works by Layla Curtis

4. Signification in the Soundscape: Bill Fontana’s ‘River Sounding’

5. Cartographic Abstraction: A Material Modality of Thought and Experience


‘Cartographic Abstraction in Contemporary Art: Seeing with maps’ is available for library recommendation at under £90 from Routledge: The kindle edition is about £26. ISBN 10: 1138712574 / ISBN 13: 9781138712577. Paperback in 2019 if you are not made of money.

Spivak: What time is it on the world clock?

Spivak on time, speaking on education and critiquing the knowledge management toolkit template at die Akademie des Verlernens \unlearning academy\. Has some anecdotes of crying boys and vids from the field to soften you up, then in a rising tone, strikes several times and clocks you for six.


Sad to hear that the Shopping Hour journal (ex zine) has ceased publication. Here’s my little piece on Freud’s cocaine murder guilt complex in the pic – click to enlarge. It also serves as hat-tip to Prof Dave Boothroyd’s excellent book on drugs, and is result of a reading group on Interpretation of Dreams 100th anniversary way back in 2001. All the SH issues are here.

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