Congratulations to David Scott, editor of Small Axe, for his 2016 Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Distinguished Editor Award. The awards were announced on Thursday, January 5, 2017, during the 2017 Modern Language Association annual meeting held in Philadelphia.
The Distinguished Editor Award is given to an editor who has had a major influence on the field of scholarship in which they publish. Small Axe focuses on publishing critical work that examines the ideas that guided the formation of Caribbean modernities. It mainly includes scholarly articles, opinion essays, and interviews, but it also includes literary works of fiction and poetry, visual arts, and reviews.
When, in the company of a few fellow travelers, I initiated Small Axe in Kingston in 1996–97, many people said to me, confidentially and with my interest in view, that it would be at best a short-lived enterprise. It was grand, yes, ambitious even, but it wouldn’t last. That was always the thing—it wouldn’t last. Nothing like it did. The Caribbean is awash, they knowingly said, with well-intentioned initiatives that run aground sooner than later. In fact, nothing is more characteristic of Caribbean intellectual life than this penchant for starting new ventures that never have any chance whatsoever of reproducing themselves. And so on . . . Now, honestly,I never took these prophecies of doom to be expressions of ill will, of what Jamaicans lyrically call badmindedness—though of course they might well have been. After all, the truth is that I too was wondering, not because of a wavering or uncertain commitment on my part, need‐less to say, but as a matter, if you like, of thinking the future in the present. Beginnings are one thing, hard enough, to be sure. But what would “lasting” mean? What would be the point at which Small Axe could be said to have “lasted”? These were, in part, abstract questions(in any case, I brushed them aside) because although I was always self-conscious of seeking something larger in the Small Axe initiative (remember, New World Quarterly and Savacou were the models I had before me, and they styled themselves as expressions of “movements”), I was at that early point literally feeling my way from one issue of the journal to the next. And from the haphazard and chaotic inside of each of these issues, encountering and resolving their specific challenges, it was impossible to discern what they would add up to—whether the shape of something more than the sum of all the issues put together would emerge from within what we were anyway carrying on with.
David Scott has edited Small Axe since its inception in 1997. To learn more about the journal and to read a sample issue, visit smallaxe.dukejournals.org.