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  • Reaching Beyond the Walls of the Academy:Publishing Scholarly Books in Geography for the General Market
  • Susan Wiley Hardwick

When APCG president James Allen asked me to discuss some of the challenges and rewards of publishing scholarly books that appealed to both academic and general audiences, I was pleased to comply for both personal and professional reasons. On a personal note, this topic is of particular interest to me since Professor Allen played such an instrumental role in helping shape and publish each of the books I'll be discussing in this article. Not only did he provide the title for Russian Refuge: Religion, Migration, and Settlement on the Pacific Rim while discussing our mutual interests doing immigration research at the annual meetings of the Association of American Geographers in Miami, he also followed up on this conversation with a letter of encouragement to expand my commitment to doing work in humanistic geography. At that time, as our subfield of the discipline was in the throes of discussions and debates about what later came to called the "new human geography," I was one of a very few cultural geographers rather nervously willing to risk using phrases such as "emotional attachment to place." My work also depended upon qualitative data derived from personal interviews conducted in the field with recently arriving immigrants. So it was a risk to try to publish my work both on the methodological and the empirical fronts, especially since I used local case studies based on a purely qualitative ethnographic approach.

Since then, there has been a great deal of talk about the important contributions of earlier humanistic work in our field by scholars such as Tuan (1977), Ley (1980), and Relph (1976) in the 1970s and early 1980s. This all-important foundational work was published primarily in response to what were viewed as the serious constraints of the quantitative revolution. But despite these important early contributions in the decades of the 1970s and 1980s, few scholars had begun to apply the humanistic or ethnographic method to studies of immigration, [End Page 132] place, space, and culture when my research for Russian Refuge first began. Thus, James Allen's gentle nudge was exactly what was needed to push me toward completing my first scholarly book in the early 1990s.

Ten years later, when I used these same approaches to write my most recent book, Mythic Galveston: Reinventing America's Third Coast, these approaches were now being called post-modern, feminist approaches and had taken root among many other, more theoretically based human geographers interested in immigration issues. These important contributions opened the door to seeking answers to more-nuanced questions related to topics such as the meanings, relationships, transnational connections, and social networks of migrants in North America and elsewhere in the world.

Despite these ongoing and critically important contributions to studies of the geography of immigration from a more theoretical perspective, however, much of the work accomplished to date in post-modern, post-structural, and feminist circles is deeply layered in talk about social construction of relationships, identities, and meanings. This makes much of the deeply theoretical work being accomplished in our field difficult, if not impossible, to disseminate to a cross-over market of non-academic readers. Thus, in this article I argue for the value of writing and publishing scholarly books that speak to a wider market in an effort to encourage scholars interested in humanistic forays to delve into writing and publishing book projects that are grounded in a more broad-based positionality (for further arguments in defense of using both a theoretical and a humanistic approach in human geography, see Hardwick 2003a). This is particularly true if they are tenured faculty and thus safe from criticism from internal personnel committees and outside manuscript and personnel file reviews.

Russian Refuge: Religion, Migration, and Settlement on the North American Pacific Rim

My first scholarly book was aimed at both an academic and general readership (Hardwick 1993). The story of its completion, submission, publication, and broad dissemination, in retrospect, seems quite miraculous. First, let me confess that I never imagined [End Page 133] publishing a book during or immediately after my Ph.D. process. Although...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
pp. 132-141
Launched on MUSE
2006-07-05
Open Access
No
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