Meet the AAG Journals Editors: Kent Mathewson and Robert Perham
Kent Mathewson is the editor-in-chief of the AAG Review of Books. Published quarterly, the AAG Review of Books is a special journal highlighting recent texts in geography and related disciplines. The journal features book reviews by geographers and other scholars at various points of their academic careers. These reviews are also available from a database located on the AAG website.
Mathewson has lived in a number places in the U.S. Originally from North Carolina and Virginia, he has also lived in the Northwest, Midwest, Northeast, and then back to the South again. He studied geography at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio for his bachelor’s degree and University of Wisconsin, Madison for his graduate degrees. He is currently Fred B. Kniffen Professor in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University. Previously he taught geography at a number of campuses in Wisconsin, as well as in Minnesota, Virginia, North Carolina and Ecuador. His travel experience matches his residential life. He has traveled extensively in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Australia. Courses that he teaches at LSU reflect his geographic travel, focusing on geographies of the Americas and Europe as well as cultural geography and history of geography.
Over the course of his career, Mathewson’s contributions to the geographic discipline include serving as a book review editor. He helped start the AAG Review of Books six years ago and has been a book review editor for other publications such as Historical Geography, Geographical Review, and Cultural Ecology Newsletter for the past 25 years. He enjoys the opportunity through his editorial work to meet many colleagues in geography and related disciplines as well as be at the forefront of surveying recent trends in disciplinary research. As a book reviews editor, Mathewson believes he is in “a privileged position not only for the responsibilities conferred, but also in a vantage point for viewing the shifting research trends in the discipline.” He believes in the importance of understanding the progression of the geographic discipline as reflected in the books geographers publish. For those hoping to publish in geography he offers the following advice: “In writing, strive for short and clear declarative sentences. Use jargon sparingly if at all. Write for a readership well beyond the narrow bounds of your specialty.”
Several graduate students are also a part of the AAG Journals’ editorial team, including Robert Perham who worked as an assistant for the AAG Review of Books. In his own words below, Perham talks about what led him to this position and his experiences working with the AAG publications team.
Hi, I’m Robert Perham. I grew up in Rusper, a small village in the South of England. I recently finished master’s degree in geography at Louisiana State University. I found myself in Baton Rouge by way of a road trip I took across the “deep South,” in 2013! Did I get lost and just decide to stay there, you ask? Kind of, after studying abroad at Rutgers University, NJ, during my undergrad at the University of Manchester, U.K., the road trip provoked my research interests in the U.S. South (particularly Southern identity and Confederate iconography). What better way to fulfil these interests and further my education in geography than pursuing a master’s in Louisiana, I thought. Also, I’d only be just over an hour from New Orleans; a city that as a geographer I find fascinating on so many levels, which is probably why it is one of my favorite cities in the world (Brighton, U.K. is probably my ultimate favorite). When New Orleans was thrusted into the center of national debates over Confederate iconography last Spring, my decision to pursue my academic interests in South Louisiana proved appropriate. Observing the numerous protests that ensued firsthand after the city unveiled its plan to remove four of its Confederate monuments is perhaps my most memorable research experience.
Not long after arriving in Louisiana, I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to work part-time for the AAG Review of Books under Kent Mathewson, the publication’s Editor-in-Chief and my advisor. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and in the two years I spent working in the role, I thoroughly enjoyed commissioning, coordinating, and editing some 250+ book reviews. As an early career scholar, working so closely with Kent and our associate editors was an invaluable experience that taught me so much about editing and the academic publishing process. Personally, I found liaising with many distinguished leaders from across the discipline, commissioning significant books for review, and working with the AAG’s fantastic publications team in D.C. to be the most enjoyable aspects of my work. As I reflect on my stint working for the AAG Review of Books, I’m going to sorely miss being surrounded by bookcase upon bookcase full of new and exciting work that spans the entire discipline.