Decolonisation and Publishing Cooperation
(International African Institute)
Mary Jay (African Books Collective)
Paper short abstract:
Decolonising African studies needs to include consideration for publishing. This paper is on book publishing in Africa and co-publishing across continents. Examples are given of steps that can be taken so that researchers and publishers can participate in an equitable global publishing system.
Paper long abstract:
Decolonising African studies needs to include consideration for publishing in the African continent as well as publishing on Africa internationally. This presentation focuses on book publishing in Africa and co-publishing across continents. It will discuss the initiative 'Publishing Cooperation North-South' promoted by the African Books Collective with support from the US and UK African studies associations, some notable university presses and participation from African publishers. This initiative proposes a fair way forward for the availability of Northern-published books in Africa. We also bring experience from the co-publishing practices of the International African Institute's (IAI) book publishing programme. Both ABC's publishing cooperation initiative and the IAI's focus on publishing ethnographic work, including books comprising long-form journalism aimed at wider audiences, bring into focus the concern to connect research with the people and lands it is written about; and the African scholars and participants who have collaborated in the research. Significant North American university presses have indicated their support for co-publishing with academic publishers in the continent which can enable local distribution and bookselling. At the same time, there are real challenges, including distribution costs, funding for translation, and markets. What strategies can Northern-based researchers adopt to ensure their work is disseminated in Africa? What role should the African publisher play in evaluating manuscripts? Should academic associations promote ethical guidance and 'white lists' of committed publishers? What other steps can be taken so that both researchers and publishers can fully participate in an equitable global publishing system with a level playing field?
"Who do we write our research for?" Sharing reflections on decolonising engagement and access to research outputs in the field of African studies