Geographies of Public Life

IMG_0167I am interested in making sense of the geographies of public life. I prefer this formulation to narrower focus on ‘public space’, because it keeps open the question of where public action takes place and what shapes it takes – rather than presuming in advance that it has to take a form that comports to some more or less revised image of the public square, the street, or the forum.

My research on this question stretches back to work as a graduate student and beyond on textual publics, and overlaps with my thinking on democratic politics, media theory, theories of neoliberalism, and my research in South Africa too. I have explored the theme of ’emergent publics’, the explicit focus of an ESRC-funded project between 2008 and 2010. That project produced an edited collection on Rethinking the Public, and a follow-up project that investigated the use of marketing practices in the reconfiguration of public action in the UK since the early 2000s. The current focus of this strand of work includes a British Academy funded project exploring popular responses to discourses of risk and responsibility during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Publications:

Barnett, C. (2003). Culture and Democracy: Media, Space and Representation. Edinburgh University Press and University of Alabama Press.

Barnett, C. (2004). Media, democracy and representation: Disembodying the public, in C. Barnett and M. Low (eds.) Spaces of Democracy. Sage, pp. 185-206.

Barnett, C. (2004). Neither poison nor cure: Space, scale, and public life in media theory. In N. Couldry & A. McCarthy (eds.) MediaSpace: Place, Scale and Culture in a Media Age. Routledge, pp. 58-74.

Barnett, C. (2008). Convening publics: the parasitical spaces of public action. In K. R. Cox, M. Low, and J. Robinson (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Political Geography. Sage, pp. 403-417.

Barnett, C. (2008). Political affects in public space: normative blind-spots in non-representational ontologiesTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS, 33, 186-200.

Barnett, C. (2009). Violence and publicity: constructions of political responsibility after 9/11Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy, 12, 353-375.

Barnett, C. (2009). Publics and markets: What’s wrong with neoliberalism? in S. Smith, R. Pain, S. Marston, and J.P Jones III (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Social Geography.

Mahony, N., Newman, J., and Barnett, C. (2010). Rethinking the Public: Innovations in research, theory and politics. Policy Press.

Barnett, C. and Mahony, N. (2011). Segmenting Publics. National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement, Bristol.

Barnett, C. and Bridge, G. (2013). Geographies of radical democracy: agonistic pragmatism and the formation of affected interestsAnnals of the Association of American Geographers 103(4), 1022-1040.

Barnett, C. (2013). Public action / political space: an appreciative response to John ParkinsonPolicy and Politics 41(3), 449-451.

Barnett, C. (2014). Theorizing emergent public spheres: negotiating development, democracy and dissentActa Academica 46(1), 1-21.

Barnett, C. (2014). How to think about public space. In P. Cloke, P. Crang, and M. Goodwin (eds.), Introducing Human Geographies, 3rd Edition. Routledge, pp. 883-898.

Barnett, C. (2015). On the milieu of security: situating the emergence of new spaces of public actionDialogues in Human Geography 5:3, 1-34. ISSN: 2043-8206.

Barnett, C. (2015). The Scandal of PublicityDialogues in Human Geography 5:3, 296-300.

Barnett, C. and Mahony, N. (2016). Marketing practices and the reconfiguration of public actionPolicy and Politics 44:3, 367-382.