Asian Studies

Three New Journal Partnerships for 2018

In 2018, Duke University Press will begin publishing three journals: the Journal of Korean Studies, English Language Notes, and Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism. Read on to learn more about these new journal partnerships.

ddjks_22_1The Journal of Korean Studies, edited by Theodore Hughes, is the preeminent journal in its field, publishing high-quality articles in all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences on a broad range of Korea-related topics, both historical and contemporary. Korean studies is a dynamic field, with student enrollments and tenure-track positions growing throughout North America and abroad. At the same time, the Korean peninsula’s increasing importance in the world has sparked interest in Korea well beyond those whose academic work focuses on the region. Recent topics include the history of anthropology of Korea; seventeenth century Korean love stories; the Chinese diaspora in North Korea; student activism in colonial Korea in the 1940s; and GLBTQ life in contemporary South Korea. Contributors include scholars conducting transnational work on the Asia-Pacific as well as on relevant topics throughout the global Korean diaspora. The Journal of Korean Studies is based at the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University.

ELN-54.2-cover-bleedA respected forum of criticism and scholarship in literary and cultural studies since 1962, English Language Notes (ELN) is dedicated to pushing the edge of scholarship in literature and related fields in new directions. Broadening its reach geographically and transhistorically, ELN opens new lines of inquiry and widens emerging fields. Each ELN issue advances topics of current scholarly concern, providing theoretical speculation as well as interdisciplinary recalibrations through practical usage. Offering semiannual, topically themed issues, ELN also includes “Of Note,” an ongoing section featuring related topics, review essays or roundtables of cutting-edge scholarship, and emergent concerns. Edited by Laura Winkiel, ELN is a wide-ranging journal that combines theoretical rigor with innovative interdisciplinary collaboration.

Meridians15Meridians, an interdisciplinary feminist journal, provides a forum for the finest scholarship and creative work by and about women of color in U.S. and international contexts. The journal, edited by Ginetta E. B. Candlario, engages the complexity of debates around feminism, race, and transnationalism in a dialogue across ethnic, national boundaries, and disciplinary boundaries. Meridians publishes work that makes scholarship, poetry, fiction, and memoir by and about women of color central to history, economics, politics, geography, class, sexuality, and culture. The journal provokes the critical interrogation of the terms used to shape activist agendas, theoretical paradigms, and political coalitions.

Visit dukeupress.edu/journals to subscribe to these journals.

New Books in November

Another month, another batch of great new releases! Check out all the new books we have coming out in November.

978-0-8223-7016-1In Black and Blur—the first volume in his consent not to be a single being trilogy—Fred Moten engages in a capacious consideration of the place and force of blackness in African diaspora arts, politics, and life, exploring a wide range of thinkers, musicians, and artists. The other two volumes in the series will be out in the spring.

The contributors to Asian Video Cultures: In the Penumbra of the Global examine Asian video cultures—from video platforms in Indonesia to amateur music videos in India—in the context of social movements, market economies, and local popular cultures, showing how Asian video practices are central to shaping contemporary experiences and mainstream global media.

Melanie Yergeau’s Authoring Autism challenges the academic and cultural stereotypes that do not acknowledge the rhetorical capabilities of autistic people, and shows how autistics both embrace and reject the rhetorical, thereby queering the lines of rhetoric, humanity, agency, and the very essence of rhetoric itself.

978-0-8223-7021-5Reckoning with one’s role in perpetuating systematic inequality, in The Beneficiary Bruce Robbins examines the implications of a humanitarianism in which the prosperous are the both the cause and the beneficiaries of the abhorrent conditions they seek to remedy.

In Domestic Economies Susanna Rosenbaum examines how immigrant Mexican and Central American domestic workers in Los Angeles and the predominantly white, upper-middle-class women who employ them seek to achieve the “American Dream,” underscoring how the American Dream’s ideology is racialized and gendered while exposing how pursuing it lies at the intersection of motherhood and domestic labor.

In Epigenetic Landscapes Susan Merrill Squier follows the cultural trail of C. H. Waddington’s “epigenetic landscape” metaphor from its first visualization by the artist John Piper to its use beyond science, examining how it has been used to illustrate complex systems that link scientific and cultural practices: graphic medicine, landscape architecture, and bioArt.

In Passionate and Pious Monique Moultrie explores the impact of faith-based sexual ministries on black women’s sexual agency to trace how these women navigate sexuality, religious authority, and their spiritual walk with God.

978-0-8223-6898-4.jpgIn Saving the Security State Inderpal Grewal traces the changing relations between the US state and its citizens in an era she calls advanced neoliberalism, under which everyday life is militarized, humanitarianism serves imperial aims, and white Christian men become exceptional citizens tasked with protecting the nation from racialized others.

In Sounds of CrossingAlex E. Chávez explores the contemporary politics of Mexican migrant cultural expression manifest in huapango arribeño, a musical genre from north-central Mexico that helps Mexicans build communities on both sides of the US border and give voice to the transnational migrant experience.

N. Fadeke Castor’s Spiritual Citizenship explores the roles African religious practice play in the formation of social and political identities play in post-independence Trinidad and Tobago, showing how Ifá/Orisha practitioners build and perceive a sense of diasporic belonging that leads them to work toward black liberation and a decolonial future.978-0-8223-7150-2

In Street Archives and City Life Emily Callaci maps a new terrain of political and cultural production in mid-twentieth-century Tanzanian cities. While the postcolonial Tanzanian ruling party adopted a policy of rural socialism—Ujamaa—an influx of youth migrants to the city of Dar es Salaam generated innovative forms of urbanism through the production and circulation of street archives.

We are excited to publish a tenth anniversary expanded edition of Jasbir K. Puar’s pathbreaking book, Terrorist Assemblages—which features a new preface by Tavia Nyong’o and a new postscript by the author. Puar argues that configurations of sexuality, race, gender, nation, class, and ethnicity are realigning in relation to contemporary forces of securitization, counterterrorism, and nationalism.

978-0-8223-7034-5In Test of Faith photographer Lauren Pond documents a Signs Following preacher and his family in rural West Virginia, offering a deeply nuanced, personal look at serpent handling that invites a greater understanding of a religious practice that has long faced derision and criticism. The book is the eighth winner of the Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography.

978-0-8223-7001-7Paul Rabinow continues his explorations of “a philosophic anthropology of the contemporary” in Unconsolable Contemporary by examining the work of German painter Gerhard Richter. Defining the contemporary as a moving ratio in which the modern becomes historical, Rabinow uses Richter’s work to illustrate how meaning is created within the contemporary.

The contributors to Unfinished, edited by João Biehl and Peter Lockeexplore the ethnographic essay’s expressive potentials by pursuing an anthropology of becoming, which attends to the contingency of lived experience and provides new means to represent what life means and how it can be represented.

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70th Anniversary of Indian Independence and Partition

Today is the 70th anniversary of British India’s partition into two countries, India and Pakistan, and of its independence from the United Kingdom. On this occasion, we suggest scholarship that offers insight into these events and their lasting effects.

978-0-8223-2494-2India’s partition caused one of the most massive human convulsions in history. Within the space of two months in 1947 more than twelve million people were displaced. A million died. More than seventy-five thousand women were abducted and raped. Countless children disappeared. Homes, villages, communities, families, and relationships were destroyed. Yet, more than half a century later, little is known of the human dimensions of this event. In The Other Side of Silence, Urvashi Butalia fills this gap by placing people—their individual experiences, their private pain—at the center of this epochal event.

Through interviews conducted over a ten-year period and an examination of diaries, letters, memoirs, and parliamentary documents, Butalia asks how people on the margins of history—children, women, ordinary people, the lower castes, the untouchables—have been affected by this upheaval. To understand how and why certain events become shrouded in silence, she traces facets of her own poignant and partition-scarred family history before investigating the stories of other people and their experiences of the effects of this violent disruption. Those whom she interviews reveal that, at least in private, the voices of partition have not been stilled and the bitterness remains.

978-0-8223-6289-0In Of Gardens and Graves Suvir Kaul examines the disruption of everyday life in Kashmir in the years following the region’s pervasive militarization in 1990. He explores Kashmir’s pre- and post-Partition history, the effects of militarization, state repression, the suspension of civil rights on Kashmiris, and the challenge Kashmir represents to the practice of democracy in India. The volume also features translations of Kashmiri poetry written in these years of conflict, as well as a photo essay by Javed Dar, whose photographs work together with Kaul’s essays and the poems to represent the interweaving of ordinary life, civic strife, and spectacular violence in Kashmir.

978-0-8223-4411-7Combining film studies, trauma theory, and South Asian cultural history, Bhaskar Sarkar follows the shifting traces of partition in Indian cinema over the six decades that followed in Mourning the Nation. He argues that partition remains a wound in the collective psyche of South Asia and that its representation on screen enables forms of historical engagement that are largely opaque to standard historiography.

Borderland Lives in Northern South Asia, edited by David N. Gellner, provides valuable new ethnographic insights into life along some of the most contentious borders in the world. The collected essays portray existence at different points across India’s northern frontiers and, in one instance, along borders within India. Whether discussing Shi’i Muslims striving to be patriotic Indians in the Kashmiri district of Kargil or Bangladeshis living uneasily in an enclave surrounded by Indian territory, the contributors show that state borders in Northern South Asia are complex sites of contestation.

ddCSA_25_1Generations of Memory: Remembering Partition in India/Pakistan and Israel/Palestine” from Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East considers partition’s memory across the national borders and regional distances of South Asia and the Middle East. The first part of this article reflects on the meaning of “partition” in each population’s collective memory. The second part examines how the state-building project in India, Pakistan, and Israel, and the emerging Palestinian national-liberation project, shaped dominant versions of respective “first generation” partition narratives. The third part analyzes how these dominant historical narratives have been re-envisioned by scholars within the second, “hinge generation” of Indians.

Progressives and ‘Perverts’: Partition Stories and Pakistan’s Future” from Social Text explores short stories on partition by Sa’adat Hasan Manto. By concentrating on Manto’s writings, this essay revisits Pakistan’s early history to demonstrate how, after the country’s creation, there was continued debate among intellectuals about what would constitute a national culture. Within this context, these short stories by Manto enables the author of the essay to offer a critique of Pakistan’s normative national history and to suggest a different path to understand the country’s past and, possibly, to envision its future.

New Books in August

We hope you’re enjoying your summer! Our fall list is now in full swing with lots of new books to check out in August.

LazarreIn her memoir, The Communist and the Communist’s DaughterJane Lazarre tells the fascinating history of her father Bill, a radical activist who, as part of his tireless efforts to create a better world for his family, held leadership positions in the American Communist Party, fought in the Spanish Civil War, and organized labor unions.

In The Look of a Woman, Eric Plemons explores the ways in which facial feminization surgery is changing the ways in which trans- women are not only perceived of as women, but in the ways it is altering the project of surgical sex reassignment and the understandings of what sex means.

Jason Dittmer, in Diplomatic Material, applies new materialism to international relations and offers a counterintuitive reading of foreign policy by tracing the ways that complex interactions between people and things shape the decisions and actions of diplomats and policymakers.
Hough-Snee and Sotelo Eastman

Dexter Zavalza Hough-Snee and Alexander Sotelo Eastman’s collection, The Critical Surf Studies Reader, is an innovative exploration of the history and culture of surfing that recasts wave-riding as a complex cultural practice and reclaims the forgotten roles that women, indigenous peoples, and peoples of color have played in the its evolution.

In Disturbing Attachments, Kadji Amin challenges the idealization of Jean Genet as a paradigmatic figure within queer studies to illuminate the methodological dilemmas at the heart of queer theory, bringing the genealogy of Genet’s imaginaries of attachment to bear on pressing issues within contemporary queer politics and scholarship, including prison abolition, homonationalism, and pinkwashing.

art1Nicholas De Genova’s The Borders of “Europe” examines the perceptions of the staggering refuge and migration crisis in Europe, demonstrating how it stems from migrants exercising their right to the freedom of movement, leads states to create new technologies of regulating human movement, and prompts the questioning of the very idea of Europe.

In Vibrator Nation, Lynn Comella tells the fascinating history of how feminist sex-toy stores such as Eve’s Garden, Good Vibrations and Babeland raised sexual consciousness, redefined the adult industry, provided educational and community resources, and changed the way sex was talked about, had, and enjoyed.

Alexandra Chang’s catalog, Circles and Circuits—which examines Chinese Caribbean art in Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, and Panama—accompanies the exhibition, Circles and Circuits: Chinese Caribbean Art, presented in two parts: History and Art of the Chinese Caribbean Diaspora at the California African American Museum from September 15, 2017 through February 25, 2018, and Contemporary Chinese Caribbean Art at the Chinese American Museum from September 15, 2017 through March 11, 2018.

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Tatiana Flores and Michelle Ann Stephens’ Relational Undercurrents accompanies an exhibition by the same name that opens at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California in September, 2017. The exhibition and edited volume call attention to the artistic production of the Caribbean islands and their diasporas, challenging the conventional geographic and conceptual boundaries of Latin America.

Both exhibitions, Circles and Circuits and Relational Undercurrents, are part of the Pacific Standard Time Art Project. 

The largely unknown story of the FBI’s surveillance operations in Latin America during the 1940s is the topic of Marc Becker’s The FBI in Latin America. He provides new insights into leftist organizations and the nature of the U.S.’s imperial ambitions in the western hemisphere.

Ambassadors of the Working ClassIn Ambassadors of the Working Class, Ernesto Semán tells the story of Argentina’s diplomatic worker attachés dispatched to further Peronism, organized labor became a crucial aspect in defining democracy and perceptions of social justice, freedom, and sovereignty in the Americas.

Kojin Karatani’s Isomania and the Origins of Philosophy questions the canonical glorification of philosophy and democracy in ancient Athens by placing Western philosophy’s origins in Ionia, a set of Greek colonies located in present-day Turkey that practiced isonomia—a system based on non-rule and a lack of social divisions whereby equality is realized through individual freedom.

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Now Available: First Issue of Archives of Asian Art published by Duke University Press

ddaaa_67_1We are pleased to announce the first issue of Archives of Asian Art published by Duke University Press, volume 67, issue 1, is now available at asianart.dukejournals.org.

Archives of Asian Art, edited by Stanley K. Abe, is devoted to publishing new scholarship on the art and architecture of South, Southeast, Central, and East Asia. Articles discuss premodern and contemporary visual arts, archaeology, architecture, and the history of collecting. Submissions are encouraged in all areas of study related to Asian art and architecture to maintain a balanced representation of regions and types of art, and to present a variety of scholarly perspectives. Every issue is fully illustrated (with color plates in the online version), and each fall issue includes an illustrated compendium of recent acquisitions of Asian art by leading museums and collections.

Browse the table-of-contents for the current issue and read back content from 2001 to the present.

Collateral Afterworlds: Sociality Besides Redemption

ddstx_130The most recent issue of Social Text, “Collateral Afterworlds: Sociality Besides Redemption,” moves beyond the binary of life and death to explore how the gray areas in between—precarious life, slow death—call into question assumptions about the social in social theory. In these “collateral afterworlds,” where the line between life and death is blurred, the presumed attachments of sociality to life and solitude to death are no longer reliable.

The contributors focus on the daily experiences of enduring a difficult present unhinged from any redeeming future, addressing topics such as drug treatment centers in Mexico City, solitary death in Japan, Inuit colonial violence, human regard for animal life in India, and intimacies forged between grievously wounded soldiers. Engaging history, film, ethics, and poetics, the contributors explore the modes of intimacy, obligation, and ethical investment that arise in these spaces.

Read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

Association of Asian Studies, 2017

This past weekend, we enjoyed meeting authors and selling books and journals at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference in Toronto.

Congratulations to author Tania Murray Li, who won the George McT. Kahin Prize from the AAS Southeast Asia Council for her book Land’s End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier!

On Friday we had a reception celebrating the launch of Archives of Asian Art. The reception was a fun way to celebrate the first issue of the journal published by Duke University Press with editor Stanley Abe and readers of the journal. Learn more about the journal here.

We snapped a few photos during the conference:

Rebecca Karl

Rebecca Karl with her book The Magic of Concepts

Arnika Fuhrmann

Arnika Furhmann with her book Ghostly Desires

Maggie Clinton

Maggie Clinton, whose book Revolutionary Nativism was just published

Li award program

Congratulations, Tania Murray Li!

If you missed AAS this year or didn’t grab all the books you wanted, don’t worry! You can still take advantage of the conference discount. Just use coupon code AAS17 for 30% off your order through our website.

New Books in February

Can you believe it’s already February? Our Spring 2017 season is in full swing. Check out these new books dropping this month:

misinterpellated-subject-coverIn The Misinterpellated SubjectJames R. Martel complicates Louis Althusser’s theory of interpellation, using historical and literary analyses ranging from the Haitian Revolution to Ta-Nehisi Coates to examine the political and revolutionary potential inherent in the instances when people heed the state’s call that was not meant for them.

Fans of literature and iconic literary theorist Slavoj Žižek shouldzizek-cover enjoy Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask ŽižekThis volume demonstrates the importance of Slavoj Žižek’s work to literary criticism and theory by showing how his practice of reading theory and literature can be used in numerous theoretical frameworks and applied to literature across historical periods, nationalities, and genres, creating new interpretations of familiar works.

dying-in-full-detail-coverIn analyses of digital death footage—from victims of police brutality to those who jump from the Golden Gate Bridge—Jennifer Malkowski’s Dying in Full Detail considers the immense changes digital technologies have introduced in the ability to record and display actual deaths—one of documentary’s most taboo and politically volatile subjects.

Mark Rifkin’s Beyond Settler Time disrupts settler temporalbeyond-settler-time-cover frameworks. Rifkin explores how Indigenous experiences with time and the dominance of settler colonial conceptions of temporality have affected Native peoplehood and sovereignty, thereby rethinking the very terms by which history is created and organized around time by.

magic-of-concepts-coverIn The Magic of ConceptsRebecca E. Karl interrogates the concept and practice of “the economic” as it was understood in China in the 1930s and the 1980s and 90s, showing how the use of Eurocentric philosophies, narratives, and conceptions of the economic that exist outside lived experiences fail to capture modern China’s complex history.

Kaushik Sunder Rajan, in his latest book Pharmocracyworks atpharmocracy-cover the confluence of politics and racial capitalism. He traces the structure and operation of what he calls pharmocracy—a concept explaining the global hegemony of the multinational pharmaceutical industry. He outlines pharmocracy’s logic in two case studies from contemporary India to demonstrate the stakes of its intersection with health, politics, democracy, and global capital.

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Recent Journal Issues on Gender, Violence, War, and Religion

The intersection between gender, violence, war, religion, and race are featured in several recent special issues of Radical History ReviewSocial Text, and the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. Read more about the issues featured and sample several articles made freely available.

ddrhr_126In bringing together a geographically and temporally broad range of interdisciplinary historical scholarship, “Reconsidering Gender, Violence, and the State,” a special issue of Radical History Review, offers an expansive examination of gender, violence, and the state. Through analyses of New York penitentiaries, anarchists in early twentieth-century Japan, and militarism in the 1990s, contributors reconsider how historical conceptions of masculinity and femininity inform the persistence of and punishments for gendered violence. The contributors to a section on violence and activism challenge the efficacy of state solutions to gendered violence in a contemporary US context, highlighting alternatives posited by radical feminist and queer activists. In five case studies drawn from South Africa, India, Ireland, East Asia, and Nigeria, contributors analyze the archive’s role in shaping current attitudes toward gender, violence, and the state, as well as its lasting imprint on future quests for restitution or reconciliation. This issue also features a visual essay on the “false positives” killings in Colombia and an exploration of Zanale Muholi’s postapartheid activist photographyRead the introduction, made freely available.

stx129covprintIn “Race/Religion/War,” a special issue of Social Text edited by Keith P. Feldman and Leerom Medovoi, contributors query long-standing entanglements among the respective epistemologies of race, religion, and war as they organize modern strategies of knowledge and power. They investigate how a logic of permanent warfare underwrites both the international intensification of Islamophobia and the emergence and deployment of an expanding set of security apparatuses whose categorical, geographic, and historical permeability define warfare as radically open-ended. At the same time, the issue seeks to draw attention to long genealogies of race, religion, and war that both contextualize their contemporary braiding and offer political countermemories against which we can make sense of our baleful present.

Drawing on diverse critical traditions, its contributors raise questions such as: What is the relationship of the race/religion/war triad to the modern history of the militarized state? How have certain forms of war-making produced some kinds of race-making or religion-formation, while perhaps unmaking others? Does racial modernity emerge out of the secularization of religious war? How are the religious and racial dimensions of modern colonialism and settler colonialism co-articulated? Read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

ddmew_12_3In the most recent issue of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, “The Gender and Sexuality of Militarization and War,” contributors focus on the gender and sexuality of militarization, war, and violence. Topics include the gendered representations of violence during and after the 2011 revolutions in Syria and Egypt and how they have impacted men and women, reading Israeli, Iraqi, and Yemeni literature to understand fraught and often violent relationships between Jews and Israelis and Muslims and Arabs, and examining the meanings attached to women’s performance of identity, citizenship, and political agency in Turkey in the early twenty-first century.

From the preface by feminist scholar Cynthia Enloe:

These researchers reveal the diversity of women’s experiences, imaginations, images, and political analyses both within a single country, such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, or Syria, and also across the region.Women are not “just women.” These articles also underscore the interactions of diverse women, historically and socially situated women, with the diverse men of their communities, men who have been both perpetrators and targets of sexualized and unsexualized violence and who are trying to make their own sense of their roles in that violence. Reading these articles together helps us all, I think, understand how crucial it is to absorb complexities when plunging into the gendered lives of women and men making their lives in militarized societies. This is what the Syrian women civil society activists are calling on the men in Geneva to do. This is what they, together with the authors of these provocative articles, are calling on each of us to do.

Read Edith Szanto’s article from the issue, “Depicting Victims, Heroines, and Pawns in the Syrian Uprising,” made freely available.

 

An Interview with Timothy Mitchell, co-editor of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East

In early December, the editorial collective of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East gathered for their quarterly meeting at Columbia University. The journal’s managing editor, Liz Beasley, attended the meeting and spoke with Timothy Mitchell, who co-edits the journal with Anupama Rao, about his role as senior editor over the past five years.

Tell us a bit about CSSAAME. How has the journal changed since the time you took over five years ago?

ddcsa_34_3It’s an unusual journal, because it’s neither the journal of one region—it’s not a journal of Middle East studies, of African history, or of any single world region. But nor is it simply a journal of transnational studies or of the global South. It has a focus on three intersecting world regions, and we’ve tried to make that not just an accident of the title but something that defines the work it publishes. Most work we publish focuses on just one of those three regions, but we want it to be read by scholars of the other two regions—that’s something we’ve really tried to emphasize in the kind of scholarship we look for. When we get submissions that don’t do that explicitly, we try to get those submissions rewritten in such a way that, while they will still appeal to specialists of the history or the politics or the anthropology of a particular place, they will be accessible also to those who work on one of our other two regions.

We do also encourage some more specifically comparative work. We have a book review section called Kitabkhana, which usually takes a single book, or a pair of books, and includes reviewers who are from all three regions.

Kitabkhana is a new section since you’ve taken over the journal, because before it was individual book reviews.

Yes, it had a conventional book review section before. We wanted to do something different. There are many good journals that do book reviews, but we felt what we could do differently was review from the perspective of both specialists in the region that the book deals with and those who are just outside and on the borders of that region.

How does the editorial collective function?

Like certain other journals, CSSAAME is edited from a particular geographic and some extent intellectual location. We’re based at Columbia University. Not every member of the editorial board—currently there are nine members—is from the faculty of Columbia, though the majority are. And so the editorial spirit of the journal is a reflection of the intellectual community within and beyond Columbia. Some members of the collective are based elsewhere, some move between Columbia and research centers on other continents. And our contributing editors and our authors write from many parts of the world. I think the two work together symbiotically—the intellectual community in New York, which is composed of scholars who meet regularly and continue conversations across a variety of forms, and a journal that engages with scholars and ideas across multiple locations around the world. We’re trying to see how the two can develop together.

Other journals—and other Duke journals, for example—do a similar kind of thing, and have a strong base in a particular intellectual community. That’s not the way every journal should be—there are other journals that have no specific geographical location in their editorial boards. But our base in New York does give us opportunities to have conversations that extend beyond the editorial meetings and get reflected back into the pages of CSSAAME.

And Anupama Rao, CSSAAME‘s other co-editor, is here as well.

It’s fortunate that we have offices in adjacent buildings—I think it really helps on a practical level to be colleagues in the same institution and be involved in many other intellectual projects together. Of course it helps that she’s so smart, has a wonderful knowledge of scholarship across so many fields, and has a fantastic sense of what’s new and what’s interesting.

Are there any upcoming special sections that you would like to tell us about? And of all the things we’ve published in the past five years, is there anything that really stands out to you? Any work that you thought was doing something especially important?

That’s a tough one—I really don’t want to pick favorites. It’s actually another answer to your question about what we’ve tried to do differently. The other thing we’ve tried to do is publish work other than the standard academic article. So we’ve done a number of interviews—some of them have been wonderfully insightful discussions, and even historical documents. The interview that Fadi Bardawil did with Talal Asad in our pages [volume 36, issue 1] has been very widely read.

And we’ve staged discussions: there’s one that we’re in the process of publishing that came out of an essay by Partha Chatterjee that appeared in the “Provocations” section of 36:2. We invited responses to the essay, and being able to think about debates that we were interested in hearing and organizing has been a feature of what we’ve tried to do. In some ways I’m keenest about some of those things, but I don’t in any way want to slight the very serious, more conventional academic articles.

Something that is not new or particularly distinctive to the journal has turned into a very important aspect of it: most of what we publish is organized thematically, with each issue having two or three special sections. Often these arise from workshops, conference panels, or symposia that we are involved in, or hear about, or that others bring to us. We won’t ever just take the papers from a conference panel and publish them as they are. We do a lot of work continuing to develop the ideas that make the papers hang together. We’ll sometimes suggest other papers to add to a special section. That ability to do collective work, work that forms a section where the papers are speaking to each other, and not just to scholarship to the field in general, is something you can really work on in editing the journal. We are developing a conversation even through the editorial process, in the process of revision, comment, and re-revision, so that publishing is not just something that you do at the end of things. It is a process that develops the quality of the scholarship.

Do you have specific thoughts about where you want to take the journal from here? I know that the editorial collective works to pull together ideas as a group and has just discussed a potentially divisive book for a Kitabkhana, for instance. Are you looking for more controversy?

One of the directions in which we’ve tried to take the journal is to think about scholarship after area studies. Another way of putting it is what I said earlier, that this is post–area studies journal but one that hasn’t abandoned the advantages of regional specialization and specialist readership. It’s trying to continue to develop scholarship that is written from a knowledge of languages, of histories, of cultures in a specialized way but finds a way to speak to a much broader audience, to make this a journal that scholars of Europe or Latin American or East Asian history and culture would want to read as well. That’s something we want to continue to develop.

People reading this post may be thinking about sending their work to us. What are you looking for in submissions? You’ve already mentioned that you want to appeal to nonspecialists. By the same token, is there anything you do not want?

We look for a certain kind of academic writing. As editors we work hard with authors on producing a readable academic prose. Other journals do this, too, but it’s something that we’ve tried to make a hallmark of the journal. In submissions, although we’ll work with authors to revise toward the kind of writing we want—focusing on the readability of the text, the freshness of the prose—it’s something we encourage authors to pay attention to. Some of it is the business of avoiding jargon, cliché, and terms that have become used in a specific way that will not make the article easily reach a wider audience. As we’re doing this to get scholarship read outside of the narrow fields in which it would otherwise be read, we take the level of the writing seriously.

Is there any particular field or area in which you’d like to receive submissions? Anu had mentioned that she thinks we’re being known as a history journal and perhaps wanted to bring in anthropologists and others to contribute.

We get some great submissions from anthropologists, and we’d like to have more. But I’d say the field we would encourage even more than that is literature—work on contemporary or historical literature of the Middle East, South Asia, or Africa. Again, if it fits the larger mission of the journal, I think we’d really like to do more of that.

And much of that is outlined in the Mission Statement from your first issue as editors.

Yes. We’ve published one or two pieces that have been about the history of ideas and intellectual and political debates going on in particular parts of the region, like the piece we did on the Arab Left and Palestine [Anaheed Al-Hardan’s essay “Al-Nakbah in Arab Thought: The Transformation of a Concept” from 35:3]. But we’re also interested in current contributions to ongoing political debates and cultural arguments.

Another thing we’ve changed in the journal is the cover, introducing new artwork by artists from the three regions in every volume. In one case so far, we’ve accompanied that with a symposium with the artist. So Shahzia Sikander’s work appeared on the covers of volume 34, and we were able to publish an extended conversation about her work in volume 35.

That kind of engagement with contemporary cultural production, artists working today whose work we can publish, if we can do photo essays or interviews that bring in aspects of contemporary cultural movements and visual culture—we’d love to do more of that. We really are a very interdisciplinary journal. The majority of what we publish tends to be historical scholarship, work on the visual arts, or politics, literature, intellectual thought—all of those fields are part of the scope of the journal.

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