We are excited to share the final post in our month-long series highlighting the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, a letter from current editors Frances S. Hasso, Banu Gökarıksel, and miriam cooke that summarizes the past three years of their editorship of the journal. Their tenure ends in May, when the editorship of the journal will shift to Soha Bayoumi, Sherine Hafez, and Ellen McLarney.
JMEWS is the official journal of the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies and has been published in three issues per annual volume since 2005. With the 2015 volume, the JMEWS Editorial Office shifted to Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Concurrently, JMEWS moved to being published by Duke University Press Journals. The new Editors took the opportunity to continue the strongest features of the journal and instantiate a new vision for structure, content, and design that aimed to widen the transnational impact of the journal theoretically and across disciplines and sites.
Structurally, we re-organized the journal into three sections: Articles, Review Essays and Reviews, and Third Space. The revised structure facilitated improvements in content because it allowed for more consistent editorial expectations for published articles, including in their engagement with relevant feminist and sexuality scholarship. Article content was also revitalized by active recruitment of thematic manuscripts and an annual open call for papers whose theme is determined by a JMEWS North Carolina-based Editorial Collective of feminist scholars. Since our editorship, JMEWS has published thematic article sections on Everyday Intimacies (July 2016), The Gender and Sexuality of Militarization and War (November 2016), Egyptian Women Writers (March 2017), Gendered and Sexual Mobilities (July 2017), and Borders and Margins (November 2017). These sections include invited prefaces written by scholars who widen the intellectual reach of the journal.
Content changes include review essays and individual reviews that discuss books as well as museum exhibits, academic panels, films, and web-based projects, facilitating provocative engagements with a wider variety of texts. Review Essays and Reviews under our editorship depend on more intentional solicitation of objects of review structured by the editorial vision.
Interventions published in Third Space, which are typically solicited and internally edited, include timely activist, creative, and scholarly interventions of different forms and lengths that vary from 500 to 4,000 words, although they are usually less than 1,000 words. This part of the journal offers thematic initiatives, such as on contemporary challenges of autonomous feminist formations from Morocco to Iran (March, July, and November 2015), implications of the Turkish military coup attempt (March 2017), and feminist reactions to the Trump presidency (November 2017). It also includes visually-based essays and wide-ranging interviews, such as between Judith Butler and Nayereh Tohidi (November 2017) and Jasbir K. Puar and Kathryn Medien (March 2018).
In a meeting of structure, design and content, Third Space includes short Art Concept essays by the cover artist and editor that connect the art with the content of each issue. Other content innovations include vibrant cover art, visual essays, and Duke Press design. These shifts in structure, content, and design have opened opportunities for productive cross-disciplinary discussions about art among the editors and the Editorial Collective.
JMEWS has benefitted from less visible shifts that affect content. The Managing Editors Tamar Shirinian (cultural anthropology) and Rachel Greenspan (literature), the first readers of all article manuscript submissions, were competitively chosen advanced graduate students trained in feminist theory. The Review Editor, Amy Kallander, is a feminist historian of North Africa who is actively involved in articulating the vision of the journal and instantiating it. We have expanded the expert reviewer base to be more international, cross-disciplinary, and multi-generational. In order to facilitate generative conversations across area studies and disciplines, we often include non-area studies or out-of-discipline expert reviewers and we encourage writing that speaks across knowledge areas, languages, and sites. Many more kinds of “stakeholders” and voices are involved in the JMEWS project as authors, including those not trained in US and European academies.
JMEWS is the official journal of the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies. This interdisciplinary journal advances the fields of Middle East gender, sexuality, and women’s studies through the contributions of academics, artists, and activists from around the globe working in the interpretive social sciences and humanities.