Decolonial Subversions is an open access and multilingual platform committed
to decentring western epistemology in the humanities and social sciences. It is the organic development
of the Editors’ previous editorial work at The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research (ISSN
2517-6226) promoting rigorous and open access academic publication for a wider reach. The journal is
envisioned as a radically subversive initiative that tries to minimise the reproduction of
publishing practices that perpetuate inequalities in the global production and distribution of
knowledge. It eschews all article processing fees to enable everyone to submit their research and share
their ideas and to receive constructive and informed feedback, provided that their work falls within the
remit of the journal and achieves its criteria of research integrity and rigour. The motivation is not
merely to facilitate publication for lower-income contributors located in either industrialised or
lower-income countries, but also to stress that knowledge should be free and freely shared for wider use
Decolonial Subversions is conceived as a platform for the expression of historically silenced knowledge systems at the margins—whether in western, eastern, northern or southern geographies—where research can be disseminated without the constraints set by publication criteria typical of western industrialised societies. Furthermore, individuals from within and outside academia can share their research and thinking without the necessity of mastering English or complying with rigid styles and formats. Such criteria have historically made it difficult for researchers who operate beyond western European and North American systems of thinking to produce and publish research that employs non-mainstream conceptual repertoires and that brings to the fore issues of local priority not necessarily understood or espoused in the mainstream.
In order to break the current cycle of self-affirming western epistemic hegemony, the journal favours analyses from scholars who have bridges to the cultural and cosmological contexts they speak from and actively reference non-western, female and other marginalised sources in lieu of antiquated Anglo-American (predominantly male) voices. However, the journal acknowledges that even historically marginalised voices do not eschew power hierarchies and do not necessarily represent the full gamut of diverse (and often contradictory) perspectives. The journal does not consider anyone representative of any group or culture but wishes to promote knowledge-making that is centred on lived experiences and that is transparent about the positionality from which the researcher/author researches, speaks and writes. Authors are thus encouraged to consider and discuss how their own identities, worldviews and roles in the research process influence or inform their methodological and theoretical choices.
Toward achieving this, in addition to the traditional peer review process, the journal has pioneered a new open review process that encourages transparency and a higher degree of dialogue between reviewer and author. While this is not ideal, it allows authors to be transparent about the ‘I’ in the research presentation, under the understanding that anonymity can mask and contribute to the continuation of discriminatory power dynamics. It can also foster exchange of ideas and understandings informed by different positionalities between reviewers and authors, as a prelude to wider exchange with the platform’s international readership. Where the authors opt for anonymity, reviewers remain anonymous, but we carefully select reviewers with diverse characteristics and backgrounds to counteract mono-directional bias.
As another way of decentring western epistemology and diversifying knowledge-making, authors are encouraged to submit their contributions in local languages, where an English version can also be provided, or translate contributions in English to local languages as pertinent to the communities of research. More specifically, the journal encourages:
- Contributions in a local language accompanied by an English translation
- Contributions in English accompanied by a translation in a local language pertinent to the research
- English contributions provided that they incorporate substantial content (up to 50%) in a local language (such as songs, linguistic analyses, etc.)
Authors are encouraged to work with indigenous research partners acquainted with the
cosmological and linguistic frameworks they work in. Established authors are, in turn, encouraged to
collaborate with early-career researchers or students who can serve as translators, thus facilitating
their training and providing them with opportunities for publication. The aim is to subvert current
hierarchies, firstly between established academics and emerging researchers and secondly, between
researchers from industrialised societies and local researchers, research assistants, translators or
other research personnel. The journal is adamant that translators be fully acknowledged for their
work and duly identified. Where authors are proficient in both languages, they are invited to
provide their own translations with the proper contextualisation.
By encouraging submission in languages relevant to research communities and English, the journal aims to facilitate a substantive dialogue between researchers cross-culturally and to expand the boundaries of academia. By using the existing lingua franca it is hoped that knowledge from the margins can influence the Anglophone centre. Conversely, the prominence conferred to local languages is anticipated to question and subvert the default centrality of English. Local systems of knowledge are expressed through unique concepts, which only the respective local languages can convey with the proper connotations. Juxtaposing these local conceptual repertories to what could be their English translation evidences the inherent limitations of any linguistic translation.