Original Research

Editing for change: From global bibliometrics to a decolonial aporetics of form in South African journal publishing

Willemien Froneman, Stephanus Muller
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 7 | a175 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v7i0.175 | © 2022 Willemien Froneman, Stephanus Muller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 December 2021 | Published: 28 July 2022

About the author(s)

Willemien Froneman, Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Stephanus Muller, Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


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Abstract

The scholarly journal is an increasingly homogenised global institution marked by pro forma writing, standardised processes of review and production and uniform design aesthetics. Recognising that this model does not necessarily serve the interdisciplinary agenda of a small community of music scholars in South Africa, the journal South African Music Studies has resisted absorption into large corporate publishing houses. The importance of remaining independent became clear in 2015 and 2016 when the most important student revolts since 1976 forced the editors to reconsider the responsibility of the journal to publish content that responded in interesting and significant ways to the national #FeesMustFall crisis. This paper discusses some of the strategies followed by the editors to foreground – and indeed, to privilege – Africa-centred modes of writing and reasoning during this turbulent time. These decolonial strategies included reconceptualising the role of editor as a proactive figure and employing novel modes of structural and visual design. Not without its pitfalls, this editorial approach and its resultant controversies raised important legal questions about freedom of expression and about the scholarly journal as an institution of knowledge production and transformation in Africa.

Keywords

South Africa; decolonial music scholarship; #FeesMustFall and academe; decolonising academic publishing; SAMUS: South African Music Studies; publication metrics

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