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Dr Jon Swords
Senior Research Fellow / Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries



I am a senior research fellow working on the XR Stories creative industries cluster partnership and lead for research on the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN). I am an economic geographer with research interests including the geographies of the creative industries and visual methodologies. Before joining the University of York in July 2019, I spent ten years working at Northumbria University.

As part of XR Stories I am undertaking research to understand the dynamics of Yorkshire and the Humber’s creative industries and to inform the development of the screen and immersive sectors. This work builds on research I have undertaken over the past 15 years into the role of the creative economy in local and regional development. I am also examining the role of intermediaries in R&D processes.

My work on SIGN includes leading the research work strand as well as undertaking research examining the geographies and working practices of the screen industries. Current projects include tracking working patterns in the TV sector to understand the nature and impact of overworking and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the precarity of freelancers in TV.

Before joining the University of York, I undertook interdisciplinary work with colleagues at Northumbria University funded by the AHRC and EPSRC, to examine how heritage could be recontextualised into urban spaces using immersive technologies. We investigated the barriers heritage organisations face in producing historical narratives that reach beyond museums, galleries and archives to diverse audiences.

Alongside my work on the creative industries, I theorize how innovative visual methodologies help us understand how young people experience the city. With colleagues I have worked with skateboarders, youth organisations and schools in the development and implementation of participatory mapping projects. The visual nature of this work has led to the co-curation of a series of exhibitions and artworks to illustrate our research findings.



From 2021 I will be teaching on the BA (Hons) Business of the Creative Industries.


Selected publications

Rogage, K., Kirk, D., Charlton, J., Nally, C., Swords, J. & Watson, R. (2021) Memoryscapes: Designing Situated Narratives of Place through Heritage Collections, International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, DOI: 10.1080/10447318.2020.1865004

Swords, J., Nally, C., Rogage, K., Watson, R., Charlton, J. and Kirk, D. (2020). “Colliding epistemologies, productive tensions and usable pasts in the generation of heritage-led immersive experiences” International Journal of Heritage Studies, DOI:0.1080/13527258.2020.1780462

Swords, J., Jeffries, M., East, H. and Messer, S. “Mapping the City: participatory mapping with young people.” Geography, 104 (3), 2019, 141-147.

Howson, P., Oakes, S., Baynham-Herd, Z and Swords, J. “Cryptocarbon: the promises and pitfalls of forest protection on a blockchain” Geoforum, 100, 2019, 1-9.

Swords, J. “Interpenetration and intermediation of crowd-patronage platforms” Information, communication and Society. Online first, 2018, 1-16

Swords, J. and Jeffries, M. “A Map of Tyneside’s Skateworlds – How young people produce the city” in C. Lambio (ed) This is Not an Atlas. Transcript: Bielefeld, 276-282, 2018.

Swords, J. "Crowdpatronage – Intermediaries, Geographies, and Relationships in Patronage Networks." Poetics, 64, 2017, 63-73.

Swords, J. and Carlisle, B. “A Topological Road Map of Newcastle upon Tyne” Environment and Planning A. 49(2), 2017, 245-247

Butt, M., Cross, E., Holliman, N., Kempton, L., Legget, J., Mackenzie, E., Ross, H., Sapsed, J., Swords, J., Vallance, P. and Whitehurst, F. “Creative FUSE Initial Report.”. Creative FUSE North East: Newcastle upon Tyne, pp20, 2017

Jeffries, M., Swords, J. and Messer, S. “He Catches Things in Flight: Scopic Regimes, Visuality and Skateboarding in Tyneside, England” in Lombard, K-J (ed) Skateboarding: Scenes, Sites and Shifts. Routledge: Abington, 57-73, 2016.

Pugalis, L., Swords, J., Jeffries, M. and Giddings, B. “Toonsformation: renegotiating city rights and city roles” in Davoudi, S. and Bell, D. (eds) Justice and Fairness in the City: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to 'Ordinary' Cities. Policy Press: Bristol, 125-149, 2016.

Swords, J. and Liu, X. "Special Issue Editorial: Visualizing urban and regional worlds: power, politics and practices." Environment and Planning A, 47 (6), 2015, 1235-1240

Swords, J. and Jeffries, M. “Tracing Post-Representational Visions of the City – Representing the Unrepresentable Skateworlds of Tyneside” Environment and Planning A, 47 (6), 2015, 1313-1331

Contact details

Dr Jon Swords
Senior Research Fellow / Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries
School of Arts and Creative Technologies
University of York
Baird Lane
Campus East
YO10 5GB