Photography / Current Research Questions
My interest is not in the practice of photography per se, but in photography as a theoretical practice. My photography concerns a metaphysical problem: the verification of reality. A focus on the absence of the real which defines my current writing/curation of a book entitled ‘Apophatic Urban Photography’. Also see my chapter on ‘Baudrillard’s Photographic Theory’ for The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory (published January 2018).
My current Research Questions:
Are we living in a simulation?
Why is there nothing rather than something?
How do we photograph the absence of the real?
What would the world be like without humans?
Why are there skyscrapers?
How can painting transform cities?
How will London be reconfigured by Brexit?
'Favela Painting' © Richard G Smith
Please contact me if you are interested in reading for a higher research degree - PhD; MPhil; MSc by Research in Urban Studies; MSc by Research in Social Theory and Space - under my supervision. I welcome all applications; but in particular those that engage with any area of Urban Studies, Baudrillard Studies, Poststructuralism, Assemblage Theory, or Actor-Network Theory. Applications involving a critical engagement with extant literatures on global cities, world cities, so-called 'ordinary' cities, and urban networks (whether they by economic, cultural, technological, political, environmental, social, etc.) are also desirable. In a nutshell, I am happy to supervise your study for any higher research degree. I will be most effective as your supervisor if your thesis concerns social theory of a poststructuralist flavour; and/or your thesis concerns a theoretically informed examination of any topic, issue, or problem within the many literatures that constitute the field of Urban Studies.
I have extensive international knowledge and experience - having visited more than 100 countries worldwide; and presented my research at more than 50 international conferences, universities, and public events - and welcome applications from UK, EU, and International students who aim to undertake research on any of the world's cities.
Below is an example of a past PhD thesis for which I was the lead supervisor:
Dr Oli Mould, PhD (ESRC funded; Awarded 2007) on 'Sydney: brought to you by world city cultural industry actor-networks' (now a Lecturer in Human Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London) PhD PDF here See Oli's book here
How to Apply/Funding Sources
* Contact me: email@example.com
Once you have contacted me with an expression of interest we can discuss your application and idea for developing a research project proposal. Furthermore, I can email you information regarding how to apply for a place at Swansea; and, provide advice about relevant funding sources available to you whether you are a UK, EU, or International student. Please note that for postgraduate study at Swansea you must apply for a place at Swansea University AND - if not self-funding/already secured other funding - THEN apply for funding.
Available for media contact about:
Philosophy: Jean Baudrillard
Urban Studies: Global Cities, World Cities, International Financial Centres
Brexit: London's role, status, governance, and future as Europe's premier global city
Economics: The economic specialization of cities in globalization
Globalization: Urban challenges and leadership needs in an interconnected world
* Swansea University has a partnership with The Conversation to which I am a contributor.
I am a philosopher and urbanist. Educated at Lawrence Sheriff School (Rugby, Warwickshire), University of Hull (BA Hons, 1st) and University of Bristol (PhD). My doctorate on the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard was supervised by the non-representational theorist Professor Sir Nigel Thrift. I was awarded the first Phyllis Mary Morris Scholarship from the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol.
Selected Current Writing
Smith RG ed. (2017) Remembering Gerry Coulter, Editor for Special Commemorative Issue of the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies
Smith RG (2017) 'Editorial: The A to Z of Baudrillard: Remembering Gerry Coulter's Scholarship', International Journal of Baudrillard Studies
Smith RG (2017) 'Baudrillard Street One', International Journal of Baudrillard Studies
Coulter G and Smith RG (2017) 'Jean Baudrillard', Oxford Bibliographies
Smith RG (2018) 'Baudrillard's Photographic Theory', The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory
Smith RG (2018) 'Why Skyscrapers? Structures, Relations, Assemblages', Handbook on Cities and Networks (Edward Elgar)
Smith RG (2018) 'Poststructuralist cities', in Smith RG (2018) The Companion to Urban Studies (Routledge, London)
Smith RG (2018) 'Looking Back on Un-collecting Baudrillard', in Smith RG ed. Jean Baudrillard: The Missing Pieces, Uncollected Writings and Photographs (Edinburgh University Press)
Smith RG (2018) 'Jean Baudrillard', in Bloomsbury Handbook to Literary and Cultural Theory
Current Book Projects Under Contract
Smith RG ed. (2018) The Companion to Urban Studies (Routledge, London)
Smith RG ed. (2018) Jean Baudrillard: The Missing Pieces, Uncollected Writings and Photographs (Edinburgh University Press)
Smith RG, Clarke DB, Turner C eds. (2018) Jean Baudrillard: Untranslated German Interviews (Seagull Books)
Smith RG, Clarke DB, Turner C eds. (2019) Jean Baudrillard: Untranslated French Interviews (Seagull Books)
Smith RG and Clarke DB eds. (2019) Entretiens avec Jean Baudrillard (‘Perspectives critiques’ Presses Universitaires de France)
Publications in press and undergoing translation
Smith RG (2017) 'Baudrillard, Jean', The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies
Smith RG (2017) ‘Beyond the global-city concept and the myth of “command and control”’, in Keil R, Ren X, Brenner N eds. The Globalizing Cities Reader (Routledge, London & New York, 2nd Revised Edition). Reprint of extract from my 2014 IJURR paper, published in October 2017.
Chinese translation in progress - by Business School at University of Shanghai for Science and Technology to be republished in a Chinese journal - of: Smith RG (2014) ‘Beyond the global-city concept and the myth of “command and control”’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38 (1), January, 98–115 (published on-line June 19th [doi: 10.1111/1468-2427.12024])
A miscellaneity or 'classification of me':
(a) My Edinburgh University Press Books - Richard G Smith, (b) Edinburgh University Press Philosophy Catalogue 2016-2017 (one of my books is a Bestseller - see page 40), (c) Routledge Books, (d) Seagull Books, (e) Marx & Philosophy - a review of one of my books on Baudrillard: "This is an excellent companion for the initiated. There is an opportunity to read into the person who produced books like Simulacra and Simulation and The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. Smith and Clarke have produced a text that was an absolute joy to read for a Baudrillard fan, while also improving my understanding of his work and my appreciation of his abilities.", (f) A review of my latest book (Jean Baudrillard: The Disappearance of Culture) will appear in a forthcoming issue of Cultural Politics, (g) 'Nobody needs French Theory' - an extract from Jean Baudrillard: from Hyperreality to Disappearance, (h) A review of Hardback (2009) version of my book - Jean Baudrillard: Fatal Theories - published in much less expensive Paperback (2011): "If a theorist can stimulate this range of commentary, he must have done something right. And if the book were less expensive, many readers might take genuine pleasure in the authors’ ruminations.", (h) ‘Baudrillard Redux’ (Special Issue of Cultural Politics, 2011), (i) International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, (j) A debate over my paper: Baudrillard’s non-representational theory: burn the signs and journey without maps (Also see Lights, Camera, Action: Baudrillard and the Performance of Representations), (k) Poststructuralism, power and the global city, (l) Spotlight on Research - 'Favela Painting', (m) Front Cover of Swansea University Momentum Magazine, (n) The Royal Institution - Exhibition of Research as Art Winners 2015, (o) Swansea University's Research as Art Winners Announced, (p) 2015 winners on Flickr, (q) Links Magazine - 'Favela Painting', (r) London after Brexit: independence a non-starter but special status could protect global position, (s) Also see: Yahoo News; CityMetric, (t) Ordinary cities#FAIL - A debate centred upon my paper - 'The ordinary city trap' - in Environment and Planning A in 2013, (u) A couple of discussions about my research: by Sir Peter Hall (2001); and by Jane M Jacobs (2012), (v) Globalization and World Cities Research Network, (w) Powerpoint presentation of my paper: World city network: A new meta-geography?, (x) Urban Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG, (y) Questioning scale in Urban Studies, (z) baudrillardstudies.com
Impact, Influence, Activism
Source: Beaverstock JV, Smith RG and Taylor PJ (1999) ‘A roster of world cities’, Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning, 16 (6), 445–458
What am I doing now? See "Richard G. Smith Live!" (College of Science Lunchtime Talks)
Interviewed by Co-created (June 2017) about 'Food and the City'
Highly-cited: My research is published in numerous books and many international journals such as Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning; Urban Geography; International Journal of Urban and Regional Research; Annals of the Association of American Geographers; Environment and Planning A; Environment and Planning D; Geography: An International Journal; International Journal of Baudrillard Studies; and Progress in Human Geography. That research has been reported on extensively in the world’s print and on-line media (in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and other fora), and my journal papers are among the most highly-cited and reprinted in the world – a few examples: on ISI web of science, in the 'Core Collection' alone my Cities (1999) paper has 336 citations; my Annals (2000) paper has 197 citations; one of my Progress in Human Geography (2003) papers has 75 citations and is noted as one of the fifty most frequently cited. My research is reprinted in no fewer than 9 edited collections. You can access my publications via the original sources; some are also available through 'Cronfa' (Swansea University's Research Repository), and, through academia.edu, ORCID, and other on-line portals.
Highly-influential: My research on World Cities forms a part of the AS / A Level Geography syllabus in the Core Human Geography section on 'Settlement Dynamics'. I was recently invited to give a TED talk in London that is based on my research on world city networks which you learn about at school. The theme of the TEDx London event at Sadlers Wells in London was 'Confidence' with an audience of 1600 people (it was also broadcast live).
Activism: my research interests engage with issues of social justice, community empowerment, and participatory urban development in cities across the world. For example, see my writing on ending bonded labour practices in Dubai; and/or on the implications of satellite imagery for potentially disempowering poor communities in the mega-cities of the developing world. My research interest in favela painting in Brazil has involved: First, the exhibition of my award winning photograph to audiences in the UK and USA (at the Digital Technium and Taliesin Arts Centre (July-August 2015); Swansea Grand Theatre (September-October 2015); the Royal Institution in London (February-March 2016); University of Texas, Austin (April-May 2016)) to raise the profile and purpose of such community initiatives. Second, my attendance (sponsored by Santander bank) and communication of a favela painting initiative undertaken by Brazilian friends in Belo Horizonte's Morro do Papagaio (Parrot Hill) favela to urban practitioners and sponsors at the 2016 United Nations Habitat III Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito. This also involved writing an article for Links Magazine: Chamber of Industry & Commerce Ecuador & Great Britain (Special issue for UNESCO Habitat III conference, Quito, October, page 35). Current activity concerns the planning of fund raising campaigns to buy paint!
Non-academic users: My research on World Cities has been highly influential across the world shaping the urban agendas of, and influencing leadership in, many cities. For example, influencing the ‘transnational local councils’ of Sydney and Vancouver, see: (1) Stein R (2002) Sydney Globalizing: A World City in National, Pacific Asia & International Context (Report Commissioned by Bahaus Dessau Foundation, Bauhaus Kolleg (Dessau, Germany), 98 pages; (2) City of Sydney (2000) Yearbook 1999 (Council of the City of Sydney; (3) Tourism Vancouver.
Media coverage: I was interviewed for background information on Global Cities for BBC Radio 4 ‘Analysis’ Programme (2009). I was interviewed on TV for Colombian Television on Global Cities (Medellín, 2013), and for South Korean Television on Jean Baudrillard (Swansea, 2014). See: Human and Fashion. Dir. Jung-ok Lee. Dacuprime. EBS, [DVD] Seoul, 1 June. 2015. [인간과 패션. 연출. 이정옥. 다큐프라임, EBS, 서울, 6월 1일. 2015.]
Just a few examples of reports about my research from around the world in the popular/business press are:
1) The Bulletin “Melbourne: Chic happens” August 14th 2002; (2) Wallpaper April 2000; (3) The Dallas Morning News “Dallas is C-list? Whatever” 17 May 2000; (4) Dallas Morning News “The Time has come for Dallas-Fort Worth to ease into urban maturity”, 4th March 2001; (5) The Sydney Morning Herald“A beta way to do business” 4 March 2002; (6) Frankfurter Rundschau “Schluss mit bunt / Die Kulturkonzerne treiben die digitale Revolution voran” 28th August 2002; (7) Johannesburg News Agency “World class cities and iconic architecture”, 22nd May 2006; (8) Metromode “Michigan Aerotropolis”, 31st May 2007; (9) Edge Singapore “As I call it: Are we a global city?”, 7th August 2006; (10) Philadelphia Daily News “Why evicting elephants is a dumbo idea”, 9th October 2006; (11) Houston Chronicle “Houston seeks world’s attention”, 1st December 2006; (12) Svenska Dagbladet “De globala städerna på frammarsch”, 1st December 2003; (13) Geographical: Special Issue on Mega City One, “Boom town”, April, 2008; (14) Chicago Sun-Times “Alpha bravo! Chicago in top ten”, 21st March 2007; (15) San Antonio Express-News “Assuming S.A. wants to be a world city, how do we get there?”, 20th May 2007; (16) Journal of Risk Finance “Global Financial Centres: One, Two, Three ... Infinity?”, March 2006; (17) Manila Bulletin “437th Foundation Anniversary of the City of Manila”, 24th June 2008; (18) National Post “Taking the city from beta to alpha”, 3rd February 2007; (19) The Globe and Mail “Does beta city have what it takes to be an alpha?”, 25th January 2007; (20) The Business Times Singapore “Alpha city Singapore”, 9th August 2005; (21) The Bulletin Australia “Melbourne: Chic happens”, 14th August 2002; (22) Business Traveller, “Sothern belle”, March 2011; (23) The Globe and Mail “A crisis of culture”, 19th June 2000; (24) The Globe and Mail “And now a word about Toronto”, 3rd July 2000; (25) Global Traveller: The Source for Luxury Business Travellers “On the Rise: Upbeat Atlanta spreads its wings in new directions” February 2015, 58-59; (26) Quartz "Nations are no longer driving globalization - cities are", 3rd May 2013; (27) Sydney Morning Herald "Sydney not yet a true global city" 12th April 2014.
Academic users: My research is discussed in many papers and books. Just a few examples, see: Hall P (2002) “Global City-Regions in the Twenty-first Century”, in Scott A (Ed.) et al. Global City-Regions(Oxford University Press), pp. 59–77; Hubbard P (2006) City (Routledge, London); Jacobs JM (2012) “Urban geographies I: Still thinking cities relationally”, Progress in Human Geography 36 (3), 412–422; Bryne D (2001) Understanding the Urban (Palgrave, New York); Clark D (2003) Urban world/global city (Routledge, London) 2ndedition; Kaplan D H, Wheeler J O & Holloway S R (2004) Urban Geography (John Wiley & Sons); Abrahamson M (2004) Global Cities (Oxford University Press); Short J (2006) Urban Theory (Palgrave Macmillan, New York); Fossaert R (2001) “World cities in a world system”, Hérodote 105 (2nd March), 10–25; Marston S A, Jones III JP & Woodward K (2005) “Human Geography without scale”, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30, 416–432; McCann E (2002) “The Urban as an Object of Study in Global Cities Literatures: Representational Practices and Conceptions of Place and Scale”, in Herod A & Wright M W (eds) Geographies of Power: Placing Scale (Blackwell, Oxford), pp. 61–84; Robinson J (2016) "Theorizing the global urban with 'global and world cities' research: Beyond cities and synechdoche", Dialogues in Human Geography 16 (3), 268-272.
Most recently the validity of my critique of the ordinary city critique of the world and global cities literature (see Smith 2013 'The Ordinary City Trap'; and, 'The Ordinary City Trap Snaps Back') has been further confirmed, and I am pleased that my paper has had the desired effect of increasing dialogue within what had been an increasingly polarized Global Urban Studies: e.g. see McNeill, D (2017) Global Cities and Urban Theory (Sage, London); or: Meeteren Mv, Derudder B, Bassens D (2016) "Can the straw man speak? An engagement with postcolonial critiques of 'global cities research', Dialogues in Human Geography, Vol 6 (3), 247-267.
My impression is that world cities scholars are in denial about my critique of Peter Taylor's interlocking world city network model. Simply thinking that my critique is 'poststructuralist' is a wholly inadequate response (see Taylor and Derudder in the 2nd Edition of World City Network), and obscures the fact of the logical fallacy at the heart of Taylor's model with regard to identifying command-and-control centres within the overall world city network. Please note that my critique of Taylor (2001 onwards) is not an auto-critique of the foundational research on the world city network which I undertook and published with him and Jon Beaverstock (Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999, 2000). Our work avoided the logical fallacy subsequently introduced by Taylor (2001). See: Smith RG (2014) "Beyond the global city concept and the myth of ‘command and control’", International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38, 98–115.
Administration: I was REF Impact Lead for Geography, 2010–2016. In 2014 REF Impact for Swansea Geography was judged as 50% (4*) and 50% (3*). Swansea had the highest impact in Wales; and was 8th overall in UK Geography.
Teaching: I teach a final year module on World Cities. The theme of the 'authentic' assessment for the 2017-18 module is 'London After Brexit'; the topic of my invited TED talk given in London in June 2017. My module enables final year students to advance their interest in World Cities, and my research paradigm which they first encountered in AS/A Level Geography, in a way that is not only theoretical and empirical, but also practical - enabling their exploration of the 'real world' application of world cities research and theory to understand one of the UK's most important and challenging contemporary issues: 'London After Brexit'.