It was exciting to hear last week that Progress in Political Economy (PPE) had been announced as the winner of the 2016 Best Blog (Group) Award by the Online Media Caucus of the International Studies Association (ISA), which is supported by Sage. Announced at the ISA’s annual convention, in Baltimore, the so-called “Duckies” have quickly become a self-deprecating but serious element in the calendar of academic events. With the controversies surrounding the conference this year, due to the proposed travel ban from the Trump administration impacting on the ability of all attendees to be present, it was a boost to receive this positive news.
The recognition of online media efforts in international studies through an awards process has shifted from the editors of the Duck of Minerva (the origin of the name ‘the Duckies’) to the ISA’s Online Media Caucus. PPE would like to thank Daniel Nexon for his unstinting energy in getting this process off the ground and Amanda Murdie who currently convenes the awards.
The category of Best Blog (Group) Award was previously held by The Disorder of Things (2013), Political Violence @ A Glance (2014), and The Monkey Cage (2015) alongside a series of different additional categories. PPE is delighted to be included in such company with the 2016 Best Blog (Group) Award! So, many thanks to all!
The launch of PPE unfolded in 2014 and, as with anything significant in life, it is a collective project. The greatest “thank you” is due to Cemal Burak Tansel who gave his support and skill in setting up the programming infrastructure for the blog. Our endeavour to get a group blog off the ground finally found propitious circumstances and the right political and intellectual environment at the University of Sydney within the Department of Political Economy, which is part of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In this context, Gareth Bryant came on board to co-edit the PPE blog at a time when handling the copy was becoming a struggle alongside my Chair of Department activities. Without his collegiality, innovation and willingness to build communal space beyond the pressures of individual priorities, editing the blog alongside other duties might have been unmanageable.
For those new to PPE, or only just familiar, what does it offer? We publish research and commentary from unashamedly heterodox and progressive political economic perspectives that seek to understand transformations in contemporary capitalism. Collectively, our contributors seek to challenge the unequal and unjust class, race, gender and socio-ecological relations that characterise the decayed but enduring neoliberal order. This is a common thread running through each of our posts, whether they are disseminating new research publications, intervening in debates over policy and politics, or promoting events and initiatives at the University of Sydney and beyond.
We think the blog has had several major highlights. In 2016, the collective character of the blog was showcased with a forum on Scandalous Economics led by Aida Hozić and Jacqui True. This forum on their book — which highlights the gendered and racialised inequalities behind the Global Financial Crisis — best exemplifies what we are trying to disseminate at PPE. It was with great thanks that both Aida and Jacqui accepted the prize on our behalf at the ISA convention in Baltimore.
Forums organised around key books are a signature feature of PPE. Additional standout foci include those on Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry by Susanne Soederberg; the symposium on How the West Came to Rule by Alex Anievas and Kerem Nisancioğlu — which was organised by Andreas Bieler and comrades over at the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice — and the attention given to The Making of Modern Finance by Samuel Knafo, which was initiated by our outstanding colleague Martijn Konings.
The focus on our events and additional public outreach activities in the Department of Political Economy is a further feature of PPE. We have hosted major events involving Yanis Varoufakis and Paul Mason, among many others, alongside our annual Wheelwright Lecture series, which this year reaches its tenth anniversary. The Past & Present Reading Group is also a key platform for collective discussion between faculty and students, which is now into tackling its tenth text. It is customary to post a review of each book read by the group on PPE.
Three individual posts should also catch the eye. First, Troy Henderson’s ‘Why Study Political Economy?’ post, which is anchored towards student enquiries about political economy and is still easily the No.1 post with the highest direct hits. Second, there is what may be an emerging series with ‘Ten Talking Points on Jason Moore’s Capitalism in the Web of Life’ organised by Gareth Bryant and ‘Ten Talking Points Towards A General Theory of Trump’ organised by Cameron Smith. These collectively written posts, each by ten authors with an individual talking point on the topic, have attracted significant readership and they are a novel way of providing content on different topics.
Lastly, in terms of readership, PPE is truly global. We are read by people located across all states in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Australasia. In fact, the list of countries where PPE is not read is ever diminishing. The only state in Central Asia where we have no readership is in Turkmenistan. Likewise we are read across all of North Africa and the only states where we have no readership in sub-Saharan Africa are Chad, C.A.R and the Republic of Congo. The top ten countries where our readership is strongest, in rank order, are Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Russia, India, Mexico and Brazil. Our readers reach us in roughly equal numbers via Facebook and Twitter, through our dedicated Facebook page, Twitter handle and the likes and shares of our followers.
What does the future hold for PPE? The blog is only what we all collectively make it. We want to make the blog your appointment reading over a coffee, on the commute, as a distraction in the evening, or as escapism from what you should be doing during the day! But we are entirely reliant on the copy people send us and your support. So for the next book symposium or book launch, or journal article plug, or event focus, or activist meeting, or community organising event, or public lecture do think of us and send us your copy!
Thanks to all for reading.