Sanford Levinson on Public Monuments and 20th Anniversary Edition of Written in Stone

Sanford V. LevinsonSanford Levinson is Professor of Law at the University of Texas Law School. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today (with Cynthia Levinson). The 20th anniversary edition of his book Written in Stone addresses debates and conflicts over the memorialization of Confederate “heroes,” with a new preface and afterward that take account of recent events. In this guest post, Levinson meditates on some of the newest controversies, including protests surrounding UNC-Chapel Hill’s “Silent Sam” and sports team mascots.

I am immensely grateful to the Duke University Press for giving me the opportunity to publish a 20th anniversary edition of Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies, with a greatly augmented afterword (and new preface as well).  As I noted in the preface, my original suggestion in 2016, when I floated the idea of a new edition, was to prepare about 5000 words that could be submitted in August 2017, with publication taking place in late winter or early spring.  Instead, in part because of what happened in Charlottesville and afterward, the additional material totals around 20,000 words, taking into account events that occurred as late as the summer of 2018, just before the book went to press. As John Lennon is said to have said, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans!

But, already, I have sent emails to my editor, Miriam Angress, suggesting, only half-jokingly, that we begin thinking of a 25th anniversary edition in 2023, for the simple reason that the central topic—how do sometimes drastically changing societies come to terms with monuments, building names, and other such efforts by previous ruling elites to shape a certain view of the society that reflected their own hegemony?—constantly generates brand new, and challenging, examples.

So even in the relatively brief period between the time the book went to press and its publication in October, new examples have arisen from around the world.  Consider the response in Lithuania to a book written by the American granddaughter of a Lithuanian “hero” who had valiantly opposed Soviet hegemony; indeed, he was executed by the Soviets.  In the course of her research, she discovered that he had also been a vigorous anti-Semite and collaborator with Nazis during World War II. An almost full-page story in the New York Times detailed the anguish these discoveries caused the granddaughter, who had expected to write a hagiographic biography of her esteemed grandfather, but who believed that historical facts had priority.  As one might imagine, many present-day Lithuanians do not want to be told that their hero, suitably commemorated in statuary and the names of schoolhouses, might have had feet (at least) of clay. Older readers might remember the great film Who Shot Liberty Valence?, the most memorable line of which is a newspaper editor’s saying that when faced with a choice between reinforcing the legend or writing about the perhaps disillusioning truth, “print the legend.”  Memorialization is quintessentially about myth-making and preservation; suggestions to tear down, or even supply more nuance, to monuments is to attack myths that are important to lots of people. It is not surprising that they resist having their illusions (or outright delusions) shattered.  

Within the United States, students at the University of North Carolina tore down the statue of “Silent Sam,” the anonymous figure commemorating soldiers in the Confederate Army that fought to secure North Carolina’s independence from the United States (and also, of course, to maintain the system of chattel slavery).  This triggered a strong response from the conservative Republican legislature, and it remains to be seen what the ultimate outcome will be with regard to a possible restoration of the statue. The University of Mississippi quickly announced that it would change the name of one of its buildings when it was discovered that the generous benefactor who contributed to its construction (perhaps on condition that it would be named after him) had sent out racist tweets.  A California state college that memorialized “Prospector Pete” as a quintessential participant in the great California Gold Rush of 1849 decided to remove the statute (and change the name of some sports teams from the “Forty Niners”) when informed by a number of Native American students that from their perspective these invading miners were basically imperialists who had destroyed the existing Indian culture and, therefore, deserved no public honor. One might wonder if San Francisco’s professional football team will now receive any of the criticisms that have been long directed at the Washington football team’s use of a racist term as its name.  And Stanford University announced that it would change the name of the street on which it is officially located from Junipero Serra Way to Jane Stanford Way. Father Serra, the most important force behind the settlement of California by Catholic missionaries (and the missions they built throughout the state), is also now regarded by many in California as an agent of imperialism and cultural destruction.

As suggested in the new materials for the Second Edition, the rise of the #MeToo Movement has also called into question a number of namings of buildings at universities and elsewhere.  One can be confident that that many more examples will emerge in the future. One suspects that the reports discussed in the text by the New York Mayor’s commission on public monuments, or by select committees at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton will be avidly read elsewhere, as will former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s truly great speech explaining the removal of  Robert E. Lee from his pedestal atop Lee Circle in that city. The physical removal provides the truly wonderful cover of the new edition of Written in Stone.

There have even been suggestions that Austin, Texas consider changing its name, given that Stephen F. Austin held slaves and that one impetus for the secession from Mexico that created the Republic of Texas over which Austin presided was to assure the maintenance of chattel slavery.  One can doubt that Austin will in fact change its name, any more than Ohio will seek a more anodyne name for its state capital honoring Columbus, the subject of significant and ambivalent discussion by the New York Mayor’s committee. The only thing one can be confident of is that the problems posed by monuments and namings will not be going away in the foreseeable future anywhere in the world.  

Read the introduction to Written in Stone free online, and purchase the paperback for 30% off using coupon code E18STONE.

The Queer Commons

glq_24_4_coverThe most recent issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, “The Queer Commons,” edited by Gavin Butt and Nadja Millner-Larsen, is now available.

The conventional idea of the commons—a resource managed by the community that uses it—might appear anachronistic as global capitalism attempts to privatize and commodify social life. Against these trends, contemporary queer energies have been directed toward commons-forming initiatives from activist provision of social services to the maintenance of networks around queer art, protest, public sex, and bar cultures that sustain queer lives otherwise marginalized by heteronormative society and mainstream LGBTQ politics. This issue forges a connection between the common and the queer, asking how the category “queer” might open up a discourse that has emerged as one of the most important challenges to contemporary neoliberalization at both the theoretical and practical level.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction, made freely available.

An Interview with Soha Bayoumi, Sherine Hafez, and Ellen McLarney, editors of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies

Soha Bayoumi, Sherine Hafez, and Ellen McLarney are editors of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 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. We sat down with Soha, Sherine, and Ellen to discuss their vision for the journal’s future, as well as what brought them to editorship at JMEWS in the first place.

DUP: How would you like to shape the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies for the future?MEW_14_3_cover

Ellen: I think gender is one of the most defining issues when it comes to the study of the Middle East historically, intellectually, and academically. And it’s been a question that’s been kind of abused and used. All of our work centers on gender and I think that we would like to revolutionize the field in a way that causes people to rethink its importance. We’re not just talking about Orientalist tropes or oppression, repression, and liberation—we’d like to look at gender in new ways.

Sherine: I think gender is the underlying principle of social organizations all over the world, especially in the Middle East and in Muslim-majority countries. It’s been highly politicized, and it continues to be politicized in new ways all the time. So it’s important to track these changing modes of the politicization of gender and how gender is at the core of new nationalist movements and postcolonial and anticolonial trends.

Soha: We’re also really interested in highlighting theoretical contributions from the field and pushing it forward to show that feminist theory and gender studies in the Middle East don’t have to rely on prepackaged theoretical constructions produced in intellectual centers of the global North. We can actually generate novel ways of thinking about gender and feminisms from the Middle East as well. And we want to push the boundaries of the field—not just to think about it as regional studies or area studies, but also to think about, as Sherine said, postcoloniality in general as it interacts with gender and thinking about gender in the global South.

Sherine: Our regular section Third Space shows how much artists and activists shape this conversation and how it’s not just academia or institutions disseminating information or policies: it’s a feedback loop.

Ellen: And one of the advantages of area studies is its interdisciplinarity. We can approach these questions from multiple methodological angles. So we’re really hoping to bring these multiple disciplinary perspectives to the question of gender.

Sherine: We’re trying to intervene in the epistemology of gender in the Middle East and Muslim world because it’s such a salient topic and so central not just to the region but also globally, because both local and global forces intersect in gender. So we’d like to highlight those connections as well and include various interlocutors on the subject of gender from international scholarly institutions and universities from the Middle East and North America.MEW_14_2_cover.png

DUP: Why were you interested in becoming editors of the journal?

Soha: I come from a background that is interested in science and technology studies and the history of science and medicine. These are fields that are not necessarily the first fields you think about when you think about gender studies or feminist studies. As someone interested in studying gender within STS, I found it very appealing to be a part of this and to try and bring in some of the voices of people I know working in these fields. Especially when it comes to the Middle East, I have in mind scholars who may not necessarily think of themselves as or market their work directly to feminist scholars abroad, or who don’t think of their interlocutors as being feminist scholars abroad, but who definitely engage with questions of gender at a very deep level in their work. I wanted to bring some of those voices in and I thought that it would be an exciting opportunity to share that collaborative platform with two very well-established scholars of gender.

Ellen: I was here at Duke University while the prior three editors were working on the journal. I watched what they did with it and I was on the editorial board. I admired what they were doing and see myself now as helping to follow up on that legacy. I know everyone’s talking about doing new things, but I’m just hoping that we can do as good of a job. I was standing on the edges watching and so I’m excited to be a part of it now and am grateful to Soha and Sherine for bringing me on board.

Sherine: There were a couple of reasons that I was interested. First, I believe that women of color have to be theory makers. For a very long time the field of gender in the Middle East and Muslim world has been dominated by content studies, studies that basically regurgitate data. Of course, there have been seminal works and advances in theoretical trajectories, but I was hoping to further that and intensify the focus on theory. The second reason is that since the Arab uprisings have happened, I’ve been motivated to engage more with the public sphere in any way I can. I felt that even though this was a very busy time in my professional career, it was not something I could turn down. This was a moment for me to make an intervention, and I’m working with three amazing people, including our managing editor Shireen Hamza, whom I could not do without, and of course my two coeditors. This is an opportunity not just to make an intervention but also to grow professionally and learn from them and from our loyal readership.

Open Access Week Q&A with Director Steve Cohn

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Today our Director Steve Cohn answers questions in honor of Open Access Week, a global event dedicated to discussion and education about Open Access within the scholarly and research community and to the expansion of access to research and information across disciplines. Steve Cohn got his start in publishing as the managing editor of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, which he brought with him to the Press in 1984 as the Press’s eighth journal (we now publish over fifty), and which the Press continues to publish today. He came to the Press as the Journals Manager, and after building and strengthening that program he became Director in 1993. Steve led the Press back from a period of financial insecurity in the nineties, through the transition from print to digital formats, and through significant growth and expansion of its publishing program.

Why is it important that Duke University Press experiment with Open Access?

Given the way our world is changing—with many librarians, funding agencies, and governments pushing towards a fully open-access publishing environment—we feel it is imperative that we begin experimenting with open-access publishing, even though we see no way for open-access publishing to be feasible (or desirable) on a broad scale for the sort of publishing we are now doing.

Mainly for that reason, but also because we believe that demonstrating ways to publish open-access projects successfully can allow us to attract some excellent projects that we could not otherwise have attracted, we have begun publishing both journals and books in open-access arrangements, in each case insisting that the OA arrangement must be financially sustainable over the long term.

What was the Press’s first venture into OA publishing?

Our longest-running OA project by far is the Carlyle Letters Online (CLO), the electronic database that has mainly superseded the long series of printed volumes (now nearing fifty) that began in 1970 and will continue to be published steadily at the pace one volume per year, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, until we reach the end of this voluminous set of letters from Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle in a few more years.

The CLO is widely considered to be a model “lives and letters” database, much used, much loved, and much imitated. We hope it can soon start to serve as the model and the base for a much wider set of annotated letters, diaries, and other Victorian life-writing.  

What open access initiatives have been most successful for Duke University Press?

In the realm of journals, we have concentrated our open-access efforts on what are alternatively called diamond or platinum models, i.e., models that do not depend on author payments as their source of sustainability. In the areas we publish in primarily—the humanities, the interpretive social sciences, and mathematics—most authors do not have grant funding to cover OA charges, as they do in the sciences; so they would have to pay article fees out of their own pockets.

The model for those efforts is our very successful publication of Environmental Humanities, a journal that is supported through annual contributions of $5,000 each from five academic centers scattered among Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. (Magazines for Libraries said, “Environmental Humanities is one of the most beautifully realized open access journals I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing. This is a title whose URL should be shouted from the rooftops: it’s that good.”)  

This is a model we are promoting for other open-access journals that want to work with us, and we have recently signed an agreement with Judith Butler and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs for taking on a fledgling journal called Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, which we expect will be equally successful.

How do you decide whether to participate in an OA initiative? What are your criteria?

Our criteria for publishing an OA project of any sort are the very same criteria we use for choosing to take on any publishing project: the project must be intellectually significant and it must be financially sustainable. Both our OA books and our OA journals pass through the very same peer-review processes, including final approval by our faculty board, as everything else we publish.

The books we have published in OA form have almost always already been through the approval process long before they are chosen for OA publication. The main OA funding programs for books that we now use—Knowledge Unlatched and TOME—have so far been focused on already-accepted books that are well along in the production process by the time they are chosen for receiving the financial support that will allow the access to be opened up.

But even if we knew from the first that a book would be published OA, we would take it through the same review and approval process; and also we would design, edit, produce, market, and sell it in all the same ways as a book that had no open access.

How do you find ways to make OA book publishing financially sustainable?

So far, we find it impossible to imagine receiving funding that would be sufficient to pay all the costs for our very labor-intensive methods of book publication. Our books are expensive to produce, given the amount of time and care we put into them, and the unlatching amounts provided so far by OA funding sponsors like Knowledge Unlatched and TOME are not nearly sufficient to cover our full publishing costs (including staff time). So, with the exception of a few early and not very successful experiments, all of the books we publish in open access form electronically are also for sale through all our usual sales channels: we print them like any other book we publish; and we also offer them for sale in electronic formats in all the usual ways.

This is sometimes called “hybrid” OA publishing. We expect that the subventions or “unlatching fees” that enable us to open these books up can cover the revenue losses that come from electronic availability, as people choose to use the OA version rather than buy a copy. But we definitely do not expect those fees—on the order of $15,000—to be our sole source of sustainable income on these books, as it would not be nearly enough. With 75 books that are hybrid OA now on the market, we are starting to be in a position to collect good data on the effect of electronic OA publishing on the sales of these books. The ability to measure the effect of OA in a hybrid publishing arena is crucial for us to be able to assess whether a payment of something like $15,000 is enough to cover our revenue losses when we open the electronic access.

Althusser’s 100th Birthday

Today is the 100th birthday of Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, whose thought has been greatly influential to many Duke University Press scholars. We’re pleased to share a selection of scholarship connected to his work.

978-0-8223-7024-6In Althusser, The Infinite Farewell, Emilio de Ípola contends that Althusser’s oeuvre is divided between two fundamentally different and at times contradictory projects. Reading For Marx and Reading Capital alongside Althusser’s lesser-known writings, de Ípola reveals a subterranean current of thought that flows throughout Althusser’s classic formulations, which leads Althusser to move toward an aleatory materialism, or a materialism of the encounter. De Ípola revitalizes classic debates concerning major theoretico-political topics, including the relationship between Marxism, structuralism, and psychoanalysis; the difference between ideology, philosophy, and science; and the role of contingency and subjectivity in political encounters and social transformation.

978-0-8223-6907-3The publication of Reading Capital—by Louis Althusser, Étienne Balibar, Roger Establet, Pierre Macherey, and Jacques Rancière—in 1965 marked a key intervention in Marxist philosophy and critical theory, bringing forth a stunning array of concepts that continue to inspire philosophical reflection of the highest magnitude. The contributors to The Concept in Crisis—who include Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, and Fernanda Navarro—reconsider the volumes reading of Marx, interrogating Althussers’s contributions in particular, and renew its call for a critique of capitalism and culture for the twenty-first century. Retrieving the inspiration that drove Althusser’s reinterpretation of Marx, The Concept in Crisis explains why Reading Capital’s revolutionary inflection retains its critical appeal, prompting readers to reconsider Marx’s relevance in an era of neoliberal capitalism.

978-0-8223-6296-8Although Haitian revolutionaries were not the intended audience for the Declaration of the Rights of Man, they heeded its call, demanding rights that were not meant for them. This failure of the French state to address only its desired subjects is an example of the phenomenon James R. Martel labels “misinterpellation.” Complicating Althusser’s famous theory, Martel explores the ways that such failures hold the potential for radical and anarchist action. The Misinterpellated Subject reveals how calls by authority are inherently vulnerable to radical possibilities, thereby suggesting that all people at all times are filled with revolutionary potential.

978-0-8223-5400-0Based on meticulous study of Althusser’s posthumous publications, as well as his unpublished manuscripts, lecture notes, letters, and marginalia, in Althusser and His Contemporaries Warren Montag provides a thoroughgoing reevaluation of Althusser’s philosophical project. Montag shows that the theorist was intensely engaged with the work of his contemporaries, particularly Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, and Lacan. Examining Althusser’s philosophy as a series of encounters with his peers’ thought, Montag sheds new light on structuralism, poststructuralism, and the extraordinary moment of French thought in the 1960s and 1970s.

DIF_26_3_prMost readers of Althusser first enter his work through his writings on ideology. In an essay published in a special issue of differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Étienne Balibar offers an original reading of Althusser’s idea of ideology, drawing on both recently published posthumous writing and Althusser’s work on the Piccolo Teatro di Milano. Balibar’s essay uncovers the intricate workings of interpellation through Althusser’s essays on the theater. The issue includes commentaries on Balibar’s essay from five influential scholars who engage critically with Althusser’s philosophy: Judith Butler, Banu Bargu, Adi Ophir, Warren Montag, and Bruce Robbins. Read Balibar’s essay, made freely available.

Science and Literature in North and South Korea

coverimageThe most recent issue of the Journal of Korean Studies, “Science and Literature in North and South Korea,” edited by Christopher P. Hanscom and Dafna Zur, is now available.

This issue offers a groundbreaking framework for approaching the multilayered relations between literature and science both in Korea and in other sites in the modern world. Paying particular attention to the ways in which literature and science share a linguistic medium, the nine articles that comprise this special issue show how literature and science interconnect as modes of understanding and perceiving the world. This issue is a must-read not only for specialists in modern Korean literature but also for scholars of modern Korea working across all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction, made freely available.

Design Principles for Teaching History

Today we’re pleased to showcase the four books that currently comprise our Design Principles for Teaching History series, edited by Antoinette Burton. The most recent addition, A Primer for Teaching Women, Gender, and Sexuality in World History, is newly available this season.

Books in this series provide a guide for college and secondary school teachers who are teaching a particular field of history for the first time, for experienced teachers who want to reinvigorate their courses, for those who are training future teachers to prepare their own syllabi, and for teachers who want to incorporate specific topics into their history courses. These books are not intended to serve as a textbook nor advocate a particular school of thought. Rather, informed by the authors’ experiences in the classroom, they provide a guide to developing a syllabus around an integrated set of arguments and conceptual orientations. Ideal for teachers of all experience levels, the titles in this series help translate expert knowledge of a field into effective and thoughtful pedagogical strategies for a range of practitioners.

The series currently includes A Primer for Teaching World History, edited by Antoinette Burton; A Primer for Teaching African History, edited by Trevor Getz; A Primer for Teaching Environmental History, edited by Emily Wakild and Michelle K. Berry; and A Primer for Teaching Women, Gender, and Sexuality in World History, edited by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks and Urmi Engineer Willoughby.

ckn_24_3_coverAlso of interest is a newly published issue of Common Knowledge: the second part of a two-part symposium titled “In the Humanities Classroom.” The first set of case studies described particular pedagogical experiences rather than simply making general arguments about the value of the humanities. In its recently published second set of case studiesCommon Knowledge continues this approach of describing in detail the excitement and discovery that can occur in a particular humanities class but also expands upon the first to include the voices of graduate students and an undergraduate and to delineate the process by which one teacher put together an online course. This special section argues that descriptions of specific classroom experiences and of the careful planning and passionate commitment of teachers may help to cling to the moral values both professors and their students seem to need and want in troubled times. Article topics include “Teaching Western Civilization,” “Teaching an Online Course,” and “When History Meets Politics.”

Congratulations to MacArthur Fellow Wu Tsang

Congratulations to filmmaker and performance artist Wu Tsang on winning a 2018 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. Tsang is the co-author (with Fred Moten) of “Sudden Rise at a Given Tune,” the textual component of an eponymous performance by Tsang and Moten given at the Tate Modern, London on March 25, 2017. The text is featured in our journal South Atlantic Quarterly and is openly available for three months.

Tsang was the writer, director, and editor of—as well as a central character in—the 2012 feature film Wildness, which was reviewed in Transgender Studies Quarterly. Read the article here, where it is openly available for three months. She has also created a number of other films that have been exhibited or screened in many venues around the world.

The MacArthur Foundation praises Tsang for reimagining “racialized, gendered representations beyond the visible frame to encompass the multiple and shifting perspectives through which we experience the social realm.”

Watch a video of Tsang discussing her work:

On Meridians: An Interview with Ginetta E. B. Candelario and Leslie Marie Aguilar

We are proud to be the new publisher of Meridians: feminism, race, and transnationalism. “Black Lives Matter” (volume 17, issue 1), the first issue published by Duke University Press, is now availablecoverimage. We recently sat down with editor Ginetta E. B. Candelario, Professor of Sociology and Latin American & Latino/a Studies at Smith College, and editorial assistant Leslie Marie Aguilar to discuss their vision for the journal’s future.

DUP: Tell us a bit about the journal’s mission.

GinettaMeridians was founded almost twenty years ago now, explicitly with the mandate and mission to publish scholarship by and about women of color, feminisms, and transnationalisms. Therefore, our philosophy is to offer a venue for interdisciplinary scholarship focused on the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, citizenship, etc. not only in the United States, but also, more broadly, transnationally and internationally. This is connected to supporting and growing the pipeline of women of color scholars and knowledge producers who are woefully underrepresented in the US academy, often in part because the questions they ask, the methodologies they use, and their theories are not status-quo-maintaining questions, methodologies, and theories. Which means that prior to Meridians, there were very few traditional disciplinary journals that were interested in their work, or that would recognize the value of the work they were doing. So like Signs, Feminist Studies, and so forth, Meridians had a broader demographic and professional development vision.

However, unlike those other feminist publications, we have always been intersectional. From the beginning, we were interested in thinking about race, nation, and transnationalism. Accordingly, our editorial philosophy is to showcase work that is fundamentally interdisciplinary, even if it’s being produced by scholars, such as myself, who might also have a disciplinary home. I’m a sociologist who is also a Latin Americanist, a Latin@ studies scholar, and a women’s studies scholar. I embrace my sociology identity, but I have never published in a sociology journal, and I probably wouldn’t, because it’s typically not a welcoming intellectual space or a home for the kind of work that I’m interested in doing.

We think women of color epistemologies are expressed through multiple genres. Meridians is unique in the sense that it offers a space for both evidence-based, research-based scholarship alongside creative and cultural work—everything from poetry to visual images, whether it’s photography, or paintings, or one-dimensional reproductions of three-dimensional works, to memoir and creative non-fiction kinds of work. We view each of these genres as equally valuable forms of knowledge. In any given issue, you’ll see a research-based piece followed by a poem that is speaking to similar or related concerns that the research piece is exploring in another way. So the philosophy then is really to showcase women of color knowledge production in all these genres and all these forms.

Leslie: This philosophy also drives our desire to increase creative writing as a key component of Meridians. Part of my being brought on board, as a poet, was to vet creative writing and poetry submissions, but it was also to increase Meridians’s visibility within my own networks and within the larger group of activist artists as well. Bridging the gap that typically exists between scholars, activists, and artists is what we’re hoping to accomplish with Meridians. I think that’s a great way that our roles complement one another—Ginetta is the scholar and I’m the creative writer.

So even on our masthead, it’s apparent that we’re trying to create and curate an intersectional space for knowledge production. That’s our vision moving forward, to braid all of these ideas in different forms of knowledge production into the cohesive project that is Meridians.

Moreover, we are committed to making the content of our journal as openly available as possible. Our recently redesigned website will showcase multimedia work related to our published content. So, for example, one of our contributors from 17:1 submitted a poem that is actually a spoken word piece. It’s one dimensional when it’s on the page; but instead of having the poem remain a static object, we invited the contributor to record herself performing the piece. We plan to host her recording on our website so that it is openly available to subscribers and would-be readers of the journal. This endeavor is meant to highlight the different ways our readership encounters the pieces published in Meridians. You don’t necessarily just have to experience them on the written page. There are different emotions elicited whether you are reading an article, or seeing a photograph, or hearing a spoken-word poem. So, in a lot of ways it’s an activist agenda.

DUP:  Ginetta, tell us about your role as editor and your overall goals for the publication.

Ginetta: I am the fourth faculty editor of the journal. However, I’ve been involved with Meridians from its inception actually, because I joined the faculty at Smith College just after Meridians was conceived, if you will, and was there when it was birthed on campus. It’s the brainchild, the baby, of what used to be the Women’s Studies program. The first editorial group was a collective of Smith faculty (whose names are listed on our masthead, by the way). From there they expanded into a Smith-Wesleyan collective because Wesleyan University Press agreed to publish Meridians. Thus, after I was published in Meridians Volume 1, Number 1, I became part of what was then the Smith-Wesleyan Editorial Group.

Now, as editor, my role is establishing the intellectual vision of the journal moving forward. I’m a Latin Americanist who also does Afro-diasporic work, a Latin@ studies scholar who does feminist work, and a women’s studies scholar who does woman of color work, so my networks are somewhat different than my predecessors. I am really interested in growing the existing transnational part of our journal’s mandate and, by extension, its multilingualism. Having languages other than English represented in our submissions, whether those are scholarly essays or creative work, is important to us. We are moving in that direction already.

DUP: What are some of the highlights over the past year in your role as editor?

Ginetta: We recently transitioned to Duke University Press, so our first year working together was really about closing out the relationship with our former publisher and fulfilling commitments. In some ways Leslie’s and my first issues were 16:1 and 16:2, but they didn’t feel like they were truly ours, because we were finishing someone else’s recipe. That’s why in my “Editor’s Introduction” to 17:1, I say that it really feels like our first issue—because we curated it fully, and those contributions came in under our editorship.

Another highlight is that we’ve reconstituted our Editorial Advisory Board into a Smith-Duke board to honor and celebrate the relationship with Duke University Press.

Finally, we also instituted the Paula J. Giddings Best Essay Award that we’ll be presenting for the first time at this year’s National Women’s Studies Association conference. Paula will be present to deliver the award to the junior scholar whose article was selected by our Editorial Advisory Board.

Leslie: Another highlight for the journal has been bringing back student internships and providing cocurricular opportunities for Smith College students. We are providing pathways to professionalization, consistent with Meridians’s mandate to mentor women of color. Reinstituting these internships is one way that we’re amplifying Smith’s mission to educate women of promise for lives of distinction, but also to diversify the pipeline for the larger publishing community. Seeing our interns blossom has been a highlight for me as their supervisor, and I am looking forward to seeing where they’ll go after having Meridians as a guide and a reference. That’s been something we’ve been really proud of this past year.

DUP: How do you see the journal evolving over the next few years?

Ginetta: A central agenda for us is to internationalize the transnational aspect of the journal. One of the things that we are moving to next, in terms of our priorities, is reconfiguring our Transnational Advisory Board so that half of the board comprises scholars, cultural workers, and knowledge producers located outside the United States, in the major regions of Africa, in the Indian subcontinent, in China, the Middle East, and the Asian Pacific Island area. Not only will they contribute to the work we’re doing, but Meridians will be visible in the worlds that these individuals are inhabiting as knowledge producers across the globe. The hope is not just that we will be part of the conversations that are happening in those places but also that folks producing there will send their submissions to us. That is one of our big agendas: growing our international presence and the presence of the international in our journal.

Leslie: Also, part of our forward vision is to highlight the founding goals of Meridians. This is evident in our decision to bring back subsections—“In the Archives,” “Counterpoint,” “Media Matters,” etc.—within the journal. There’s something sort of poetic in that choice, a retrospective looking back in order to see where we’re headed.

DUP: Tell me more about your first fully curated issue of Meridians.

Ginetta: “Black Lives Matter,” Volume 17, Number 1, is the first issue that we fully curated. It is a black women’s activism and resiliency issue, because that’s where we’re at in this historical moment. This issue both commemorates and historicizes the presence and work of these feminists in the US and elsewhere across the world and their ties to us—the fact that we are part of a broader international transnational feminist community of knowledge producers, and that we’ve been influencing one another and supporting one another. We’re trying to honor and commemorate while also sustain hope moving forward. We’re very excited about the issue.

DUP: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?

Leslie: We’re in the process of developing a creative writing award at the moment. If you’re accepted into the journal you’re automatically in the pool of applicants for this particular award. We’re still working on the finer details, but that’s where Meridians is hoping to go, in order to highlight the creative aspect of Meridians, and showcase it a bit more moving forward.

 

 

Congratulations to MacArthur Fellow Lisa Parks

Parks_2018_hi-res-download_smallCongratulations to MIT media scholar Lisa Parks on winning a 2018 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship! Parks is the co-editor (with Caren Kaplan) of the recent book Life in the Age of Drone Warfare and co-editor (with Elana Levine) of the 2007 collection Undead TV: Essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She has also contributed essays to several other collections we have published.

Parks is the author of the 2005 book Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual. The MacArthur Foundation calls it “a groundbreaking analysis of satellite use, including live international transmissions, 978-0-8223-3497-2_pr
archeological excavations via remote sensing, and satellite images documenting mass graves in Srebrenica during the Bosnian conflict.”

The MacArthur Foundation praises Parks for “extending the parameters of media studies and revealing the ways in which media technologies have come increasingly to define our everyday lives, politics, and culture.”

Watch a video of Parks discussing her work: