An Interview with Tabitha Boyton of Res Publica Politics
Updated: Jan 16, 2022
Tabitha Isabella Boyton is a final year student at Northeastern University reading Law with International Relations with Politics (Hons) LLB. She is an Ambassador for the Oxford Forum for International Development and the Northeastern Women Who Empower Community alongside being a Member of the European Youth Parliament. In her spare time, she works pro bono for Pacific Chambers, Pegasus Chambers and The Edict (a legal clinic based in the UAE). She has just been given a Certificate of Recognition at the British Citizenship Awards.
Res Publica is an award-winning magazine of Politics, Law, Art and Culture that has been recognised and accredited by JP Morgan, The Cartier Women’s Initiative, Travers Smith LLP, The Cheltenham Ladies’ College, GROW Mentoring, Rate My Placement and several others.
Tell us a bit about Res Publica - what is your mission and what are the goals of the publication? What inspired you to start Res Publica?
Unfortunately, during my first year at university, I was subject to racism and sexism, when I was targeted by a student against whom other students and even a member of staff had raised complaints. As such, I wanted to create a platform for - particularly marginalised - students to engage in a productive exchange of ideas and debate that is rich in both depth and diversity.
Coupled with global collaboration at its core we invite readers and followers to consider informative and thought-provoking socio-political commentary alongside opinion pieces, reviews and academic articles.
Boyton giving a speech at King's College London's War Studies Department
I think we have stuck to this with 30 major collaborations, namely with:
● Issues: Phi Magazine, King’s College London European Society, Art and the City, Nottingham University Green Economy Society
● Panel/Podcast: King’s College London Latin American Society, Oxford Forum for International Development, New College of the Humanities, Pacific Chambers, King’s College London ThinkMental, FemLegal, Femme Mag, EasyA, The Politica at Boston University, Zero Gravity, Joyn Media, Oxford University Student Union, EU Neighbors East (Young European Ambassadors)
● Essay Competitions: Res Publica teamed up with the Oxford University Amnesty International Society to create an Essay Competition - sponsored by Blackwells - with a focus on asylum seekers and their rights in the age of COVID-19.
● Others: Castle Fine Art Gallery, Oxford University: Mergers and Acquisitions Group, Oxford Public Philosophy, Ivory Tower, The Edict, Admittedly Legal, Talk Books with ME, Pegasus Chambers, Northeastern University, King’s College London War Studies Society, Columbia University: RightsView, Polity21
In a world that seems increasingly dominated by those who seek to silence free speech and suppress opposing views, it is crucial that differing political opinions are not just communicated but held up to criticism. Freedom of speech, although not an unqualified right, ultimately facilitates open discussion, debate and by extension lays the foundation for democracy.
Our fundamental objective is to provide an academic platform where ideas and concepts can be praised and challenged. In turn, we hope to stimulate, invigorate and encourage readers to consider contrasting opinions and be inspired to take the discussion further by reflecting and formulating more nuanced perspectives. We have had a phenomenal range of contributions, with the quantity and quality of submissions having set a very high standard from the very beginning with our first issue "Coronavirus: Politics and Pandemic".
What is it like to lead a publication like Res Publica? What are some challenges you have faced and what have been some of the highlights?
Being the Founder and Editor-in-Chief encapsulates finding the right balance between giving creative freedom to the workforce and simultaneously guiding the current of thought in the right direction, so as to not spill over. We have just released our collaborative issue “Your Scope” which is a product of a collaboration between two very different magazines – Res Publica, a mostly political publication, and Phi Magazine, a creative space for young philosophers.
Working together with Chiara Zucchelli and her team has been an amazing experience and wonderful opportunity to work alongside a new group of people. Everyone’s perspectives gave us a new outlook on the role of philosophical ideas in our day to day lives. Publishing this special issue at the beginning of 2022 takes stock of the sentiments we enter the new year with. It was something a little different and really amusing to fuse our independent styles and signatures. Please do feel free to review it here.
Unfortunately, in my experience, a lot of young people today want to be founders and CEOs or anything that resembles a position of responsibility yet are unwilling to put in the grind, painstakingly go through their network to organise collaborations or fight for every interview and piece of content. This truly is an epidemic of clout seeking and this is something I have really struggled with. In order to combat this, Natasha Dixon and I started up Res Publica’s Change Makers Series to highlight the phenomenal work of founders who are really looking to make genuine positive change in the field of social mobility, entrepreneurship and technology.
How do you choose which article to be published?
We look for articles that are thought-provoking and that have something actually interesting to say. We also look for those who can articulate their evidence-based argument strongly, as our goal is to urge you to think about your own viewpoint and, more significantly, whether it can sustain criticism and debate. In short: open-minded thinkers who are keen on delivering the content reaching beyond the lines of commonality.
The Res Publica team is immensely diverse with over 35 of us coming from around the world, from New York to Russia, Cyprus to San Marino, Hong Kong, Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland, Mexico, the UK, Malaysia and many more! I am proud to share that 5/7 leadership roles are held by women. We accept applications on a rolling basis, so please do get in touch if you want to get involved!
There is so much information being circulated all the time - how do you decide what takes priority for your publication?
It is definitely a challenge that never really goes away, and the field of politics and current affairs never really seems to shrink. We have been really fortunate in that our calls for serious and considered analysis have always been well responded to, regardless of what theme and issue may focus on. We try to make sure that we identify issues that are getting less attention than they may deserve when we are deciding on our themes, but the goal is always to get interesting and rigorous thinking, above all.
How has social media played a role in promoting or sharing news about your publication? How do you communicate with your members and audience?
Our enthusiastic Head of PR, Veronika Kalina Słowińska, has been at the helm of putting together our “Sunday Brief” with a rundown of all the big news headlines of the week alongside suggested podcasts and other material. Due to taking a green-focused approach, as per the United Nation’s Sustainability Goals, we have decided only to do print special copies of the magazine, as such all of our content is freely available on our website. Therefore, we heavily rely on our social media platforms to reach our audience and give a glimpse, a short teaser of a multi-layered experience that is our publication.
Alex Tambiev and Barbara Listek have been working diligently leading the social media team to create informative infographics and share opportunities (such as our Mentoring Workshop) to contribute or get involved in Res Publica. Moreover, in order to prioritise accessibility, we have held all our panels and mentoring events online via Zoom, Spotify or YouTube to ensure all are able to benefit irrespective of geographical location. This month we hosted Professor A. C. Grayling, Noah Smith and Manon Royet to discuss whether we will see the end of Liberalism at the end of the 21st Century. A huge thank you to Alex James, Natasha Dixon, Julie Uszpolewicz and Barbara Listek for all your insightful questions, contributions and efforts in putting this phenomenal event together!
We have a Contributor Group on Facebook that you would be welcome to join and pitch ideas to.
Do you have any tips for students trying to get interested in starting their own political publications?
In light of recent events, I think it is worth contextualising my journey, as in order to be successful you need both opportunity and tenacity. I am an able-bodied, privately educated woman and therefore, may have a different experience from others. I have been immensely fortunate to have such a hardworking team that is always on the lookout for new opportunities and ideas. Moreover, my university lecturers have been phenomenal in participating and helping to organise the logistics of our events, namely: Professor A. C. Grayling, Dr. Marianna Koli, Dr. Sara Raimondi and Dr Tim Sinnamon.
To borrow the inspiring words of Denzel Washington: 'Without commitment, you'll never start, but more importantly, without consistency, you'll never finish'.
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