Pro-colo­nial­ism pa­per: how did it get pub­lished?

THE (Times Higher Education) - - LETTERS -

We are writ­ing to com­plain about the re­cent pub­li­ca­tion of the ar­ti­cle “The case for colo­nial­ism” by Bruce Gil­ley in the jour­nal Third World Quar­terly (“Pro­colo­nial­ism pa­per outcry prompts au­thor to ‘re­quest with­drawal’”, www.timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­, 22 September). While we do not be­lieve that the ar­ti­cle should have been pub­lished in any aca­demic jour­nal, our com­plaint is in terms of the venue of pub­li­ca­tion and the ed­i­to­rial process be­hind its pub­li­ca­tion, and thus ques­tions of aca­demic rigour, ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency, as well as the con­tent of the ar­ti­cle it­self.

While we find the ar­gu­ment and many of the claims made in the ar­ti­cle un­con­vinc­ing and of­fen­sive, we are par­tic­u­larly sur­prised to see such con­tent pub­lished in this par­tic­u­lar jour­nal, with­out any real en­gage­ment on the part of the au­thor with the cri­tique of colo­nial­ism he re­jects, or on the part of the jour­nal with some form of in­tro­duc­tory fram­ing.

Although the jour­nal’s aims and scope state that it is “not averse to pub­lish­ing provoca­tive and ex­ploratory ar­ti­cles”, the ar­ti­cle’s ar­gu­ment in favour of colo­nial­ism con­tra­dicts the ori­gins of the jour­nal “as an in­tel­lec­tual venue for anti-colo­nial thought, to build ideas against colo­nial­ism”, and its rep­u­ta­tion as the “home of the Third World Prize, the Ed­ward Said Prize; the home, in other words, of val­ues against this es­say” (as ed­i­to­rial board mem­ber Vi­jay Prashad has stated). Ar­gu­ments against pub­lish­ing this par­tic­u­lar ar­ti­cle in this par­tic­u­lar jour­nal are there­fore not ar­gu­ments for cen­sor­ship or against aca­demic free­dom, as the au­thor has tended to ar­gue pre­vi­ously. Rather, there is both a prob­lem of venue and sci­en­tific in­tegrity, and such ar­gu­ments should be sub­mit­ted else­where, and sub­mit­ted to a process of peer re­view.

It seems clear that the ar­ti­cle shouldn’t have got through the process of peer re­view, and there­fore shouldn’t have been pub­lished, cer­tainly not in this par­tic­u­lar aca­demic jour­nal.

We are sig­na­to­ries to the pe­ti­tions, and as well as seek­ing the pa­per’s re­trac­tion, we are call­ing for the ed­i­tor/s in­volved to apol­o­gise for fur­ther bru­tal­is­ing those who have suf­fered un­der colo­nial­ism.

We also ask, for the sake of ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency, for the ed­i­tor/s re­spon­si­ble for the pub­li­ca­tion of this ar­ti­cle to jus­tify their de­ci­sion to pub­lish, to ex­plain the process fol­lowed in reach­ing that de­ci­sion, and to stand down from their ed­i­to­rial po­si­tion/s. We be­lieve that such ac­tions are nec­es­sary to rec­om­pense for the of­fence that the ar­ti­cle has and will cause, and to en­sure that such his­tor­i­cal re­vi­sion­ism for what is a crime against hu­man­ity not go unchecked.

Lina Al­varez

Univer­sité Catholique de Lou­vain Omar An­chassi

Uni­ver­sity of Ex­eter

Laia Ar­naus

Ber­gis­che Univer­sität Wup­per­tal and 39 oth­ers

For the full list of sig­na­to­ries, visit www.timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­tion. com

It seems clear that the ar­ti­cle shouldn’t have got through the process of peer re­view

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