ESR-project 8

Jamie-Scott Baxter

I am an architect, teacher and researcher. My work gravitates around urban, and more recently, rural spatial development projects in disadvantaged regions in the U.K. and internationally. In parallel to practice, I have taught as a senior lecturer in London architecture schools where I developed a teaching-learning program integrating practice, research and co-production methods with communities and postgraduate students addressing specific socio-spatial challenges. I firmly believe in the rich synergy between interconnecting practice, research and teaching and attempt to work at the nexus of these spheres. This led me to join the Leibniz-Institut für Raumbezogene Sozialforschung (IRS) and Technische Universität Berlin in October 2017 to write my doctoral thesis. I graduated from the Glasgow School of Art, Macintosh School of Architecture with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (RIBA part I), and went on to receive a Professional Diploma in Architecture (RIBA II) under Professors Florian Beigel and Philip Christou, and Professional Practice in Architecture (Part III) from London Metropolitan University, Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design. During this time I co-founded and sat on the board of a local civil society organisation which went on to become a registered charity and shortlisted for the Small Charity of the Year Award. More recently, I have participated in academic conferences in Hannover and Oxford. At the Leibniz Universität Hannover, I presented a contribution on social innovation and spatial transformation in rural regions, entitled: “We’re all it together”. At Oxford Brookes University, my contribution addressed innovation in higher education and research mapping methodologies in the city, entitled: “(Audio-visually) Mapping Redbridge”. I have lectured and curated various exhibitions in London and the U.K., and my collaborative work has been published in architectural and urban design journals and led to national awards. I am currently a member of the Einstein Research Group, NYLON hosted at the Georg Simmel Centre for Metropolitan Studies and part of an international network of urban research groups. I am also a member of the EMES international network for research on social entrepreneurship.

My research project
Work package 3: The generation, diffusion and impact of social innovations in rural regions

The spatial spread of social innovations. How and under which conditions do innovative social practices “travel”?

My PhD thesis considers spatial transformation as a product of social innovation through 3 case studies. Rural regions in Europe frame the cases and include: Essex (United Kingdom); Uckermark (Germany); Mühlviertel (Austria); and Alentejo (Portugal). The thesis asks, how the spatial spread of social innovation is accounted for through the reconfiguring of material-discursive practices and the simultaneous process of coevolution, adaptation and movement in/between regions and internationally.

Although there has been much advancement to the field of social innovation in recent years, with leading scholars working to found substantial theoretical underpinnings, or provide definitions to what is a multivalent and relatively young field, less attention has been given to the dynamics of motion inherent within social innovation, especially in rural regions and what happens as practices move and are reconfigured. Researching this gap may be particularly relevant as ‘spatial spread’ is often figured in the working definitions and advanced conceptualisation of social innovation. It is to this research gap which my thesis attends drawing on theoretical advancements made through the so-called material turn with particularly attention to the work of feminist theorist and quantum physicist, Karen Barad read through insights made by Gabriel Tarde in the late 19th Century to the micro-processes at work within the social. It is though this theoretical framework I adapt and develop a suitable and novel cartographic methodology to reveal the distributed agential forces at work in the spatial spread of social innovation in disadvantaged rural regions. My research interests include, theoretical advancements through new materialism; co-production and dispersed agency in spatial transformation processes; spatial spread and social innovation in rural regions, and experimental mapping methodologies.

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