Introducing Counterpress: A New Open Access Publisher of Law and Critical Theory

When the public has re­stricted ac­cess to pub­lished ma­terial, this is no longer pub­lish­ing in the lit­eral sense of ‘to make public’, it is ‘privating’.

Stacy Douglas ‘red & black II (an in­vit­a­tion)’, 5″ x 7″ ac­rylic on tex­tured card stock. Reproduced with permission

There is a tight­ening grip on the throat of rad­ical and crit­ical thinking. Traditional spaces of thought have be­come weakened and con­strained. Parties and news­pa­pers lurch to the right, aca­demic journals over­whelm­ingly lie be­hind pay-​walls and aca­demic mono­graphs seem to spiral ever up­wards in price. The space for crit­ical thought out­side the uni­ver­sity is closing, and within the uni­ver­sity it is dis­cip­lined by the ‘Research Excellence Framework’ and tenure boards. Scholars come to the rad­ical cri­tiques of law with an im­pulse to chal­lenge struc­tures of power and dom­in­a­tion. Yet the public voice of ideas has be­come in­creas­ingly gov­erned by shallow eco­nomic im­per­ative rather than the polit­ical ex­i­gen­cies of thinking.

In 2009 we set up Critical Legal Thinking (CLT) as an in­formal and open plat­form to en­able crit­ical legal scholars to make public in­ter­ven­tions. A major focus has been the rad­ical cri­tique of new legal forms and the ana­lysis of emer­gent res­istant sub­jects, move­ments and ideas. We have tried to bring to light com­plex and in­ter­re­lated forms of in­justice — legal, eco­nomic, cul­tural, polit­ical, etc. — in the hope of pro­moting demo­cratic mo­bil­isa­tion. In terms of reach, read­er­ship and res­on­ance, CLT has proven a great suc­cess. But we feel we can do more.

Counterpress Logo

Today, we would like to an­nounce the cre­ation of a new, not-​for-​profit, open ac­cess pub­lisher of books that will provide crit­ical legal scholars and al­lied the­or­ists, philo­sophers, and other trans/​inter-​disciplinary aca­demics an al­tern­ative to tra­di­tional book pub­lishers. We have named this new pub­lisher Counterpress.

In ad­di­tion to printed books offered at reas­on­able prices and pur­chas­able via tra­di­tional and vir­tual book­shops, we will provide e-​book ver­sions on a pay-​what-​you-​can basis. A full open ac­cess op­tion will also be made avail­able. In short, our books will be part of the global com­mons, ac­cess­ible to all re­gard­less of per­sonal wealth.

Counterpress will hope­fully ap­peal to aca­demics and stu­dents, but as with CLT, we would also like to reach beyond this tra­di­tional audi­ence. We will pub­lish three types of books, em­phas­izing rad­ical polit­ical and the­or­et­ical en­gage­ments with the world:

  • The first type of pro­ject will be a ‘sup­ple­ments’ series. These will be shorter books, aimed at a broad audi­ence, much like an ex­tended pamphlet or pocket-​book.
  • The second type of pro­ject will be an ‘ex­changes’ series. These will in­volve direct con­front­a­tions or co­oper­a­tions between a number of thinkers, on a par­tic­ular topic or body of thought.
  • Finally, we will pursue the more tra­di­tional style of aca­demic pub­lic­a­tions: edited col­lec­tions, readers, text­books and mono­graphs on rad­ical philo­sophy, legal and crit­ical theory.

We already have a number of ex­cel­lent book pro­posals, a se­lec­tion of which you can read on the Counterpress web­site. We in­vite fur­ther pro­posals and/​or full ma­nu­scripts, which, to en­sure the highest quality, will be sub­ject to peer re­view by our edit­orial board.

We are very ex­cited about this new ini­ti­ative. By its very nature it poses a chal­lenge to the privat­izing of aca­demic know­ledge, the pos­sessive in­di­vidu­alism of copy­right, and the ac­cess re­stric­tions to learning ma­ter­ials in a world of un­even glob­al­isa­tion. Counterpress is our con­tri­bu­tion to the ‘Academic Spring’. We hope you will join and sup­port us. For more, please visit coun​ter​press​.org​.uk.

Illan rua Wall, Gilbert Leung and Stephen Connelly are the dir­ectors of Counterpress

  4 comments for “Introducing Counterpress: A New Open Access Publisher of Law and Critical Theory

  1. June McCue
    26 August 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Excellent idea!

  2. Luis Paulo Bogliolo
    27 August 2013 at 8:25 am

    That’s great news and a bril­liant ini­ti­ative! I wish you all suc­cess and I hope the books are soon avail­able on­line for free/​pay-​what-​you-​want.

  3. Nikita Andjeevich Mitskevitch
    27 August 2013 at 1:33 pm


  4. Andrea
    27 August 2013 at 6:39 pm

    page not working :/

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