Back of a receipt with the words Pluto, Verso, Hay Market, Duke University Press
News, Publishing a book in a year

Publishing a book in a year (ish): February

Radical Engineering Press

I’m going to be honest with you. This is less a blog about book writing, and more a holding post. Over the course of the last week we started to receive feedback on the book. We are still waiting for some more reviews. Then we will make a plan for next steps. I don’t want to share too much about the feedback right now, as we don’t have the full set. I will say I have gone through my normal set of emotions, disappointment that they didn’t say it was perfect, anger/frustration, and then, with time, some clarity, and gratitude for the generous thoughts others have given me. I should be used to it by now, but it still catches me out.

One thing that has emerged is that the book is quite radical. This is not a good thing, or a bad thing but it is a thing (or, to be honest it is seen as both a good and a bad thing!) This has started me thinking.

Where is the radical engineering press?

Where are the books and thoughts published that create debate?

That ask the questions no one else is asking.

That searches for the opportunities no one else is seeking.

Where are the books that provide different views and perspectives?

Where are the feminist engineering books?

The decolonisation engineering books?

The LGBTQI+ engineering books?

The inclusive engineering books?

Where are the books that critique the past, not just accept it unquestioningly?

Where are the books that imagine different futures?

Where are the African futurist[1] engineering books?

The indigenous engineering books[2]?

The extinction rebellion engineering books?

The books that look at the intersection of engineering and politics?

The books that look at the intersection of engineering and law?

The books that look at the intersection of engineering and art?

The books that look at the intersection of engineering and faith[3]?

Where are the engineering books that empower and enable us to imagine different futures?

Following a delightful coffee/mint tea with Foluke Adebisi, who gave me a list of possible radical press’s (which I scribbled down on the back of a receipt), I had a good look around. It turns out that there are no radical engineering press’s. Or not any that I can find.

Which of course, makes me think, should there be?

Maybe engineering, as an outworking of science, does not need a radical press. After all a bending moment is a bending moment and a stress is a stress. But somehow this doesn’t feel right (this is me politely saying this is nonsense). Because engineering is interconnected with everything else. And it impacts not just locally, but globally, through carbon emissions, mining, loss of biodiversity the list goes on and on and on. It is political. It changes economies. It creates abundance and wealth, and is part of war. It effects all of our lives, every day, in almost every conceivable way.

So I really think there should be a radical engineering press. We should be having difficult conversations. We should be challenging ourselves to read and understand different perspectives on engineering, not just accept it as inevitable and one dimensional. Of course, the point of a radical press, is not that everyone has to agree, but that it creates a space for conversations. And just as a design is much richer for considering and debating the alternatives, engineering would be richer for discussing and debating the alternatives.

So hopefully someone out there decides that engineering, far from a conservative field that has no need for a radical press, realises that there are lots of untold stories. Lots of imaginings that have never been captured and shared and are just whispered. Hopefully someone will set up a radical engineering press, and I for one am looking forward to reading their provocative books.


[1] Africanfuturism came up in my conversation Foluke Adebisi – see further on – and according to Wikipedia includes the philosophy of science, which would therefore suggest it has lots to say about engineering.

[2] Lo-TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism by Julia Watson on Taschen covers exactly this topic and is a great example of what a radical engineering press could publish – but is an isolated book rather than part of a wider collection.

[3] If you can’t imagine how engineering and faith may intersect I suggest reading Building for Hope by Marwa Al-Sabouni (Thames and Hudson) which brings together her Muslim faith, her expertise in architecture and the impact architecture has had on her home country of Syria. I also suggest you read The Battle for Home (Thames and Hudson), because it is incredible.

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