[spectre] cfp for a special issue of Culture Machine on Publishing After Progress

Gary Hall mail at garyhall.info
Tue Nov 21 13:42:55 CET 2023

Publishing After Progress
Guest-editor: Rebekka Kiesewetter
Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University


‘Progress’ …. might well have the character of a quicksand, suffusing 
the very modern mode of evaluation from which the values of global 
development, infinite growth, scientific advance, technological 
innovation, salvage accumulation, and ethical betterment are derived. 
And it is one which simultaneously infuses and animates well-meaning 
dreams of cosmopolitan redemption, stories of innocence and 
reconciliation, and proposals for new contractual obligations: what we 
call ‘progressive’ politics. Rather than an idea, then, ‘progress’ is 
more akin to a world-ploughing machine that has rendered the ground for 
collective living and flourishing too loose and granular to provide any 
further sustenance. (Savransky, 2021)

The ongoing commercial and technological consolidation of academic 
publishing – evolving under the rhetoric of internationalisation, 
excellence and progress – continues to endanger knowledge equity and 
diversity (Chen et al., 2019). This special issue of Culture Machine 
aims to open out beyond the modernist and capitalist ideas of humanity 
and scientific progress as the primary forces of change that are 
concomitant with this consolidation. It also seeks to challenge the 
technoscientific desire for the global alignment, quantification, and 
evaluation of scientific knowledge and productivity that is expressed in 
current programmatic one-for-all solutions for academic publishing: for 
example, in the global alignment of open access and open science 
policies, tools, and technologies; the introduction of uniform quality 
markers for research; or the promotion of English as the scientific 
lingua franca.

Over the last two decades, radical open access and open science 
movements and academic communities promoting epistemic justice and 
experimental publishing (such as the COPIM/OBF or OCSDNet projects) have 
converged with various publishing activisms (in digital activism and 
autonomous grassroot organising, for example) critiquing the 
technocapitalist ‘monification‘ (Savransky, 2021) of the world. They 
have done so through feminist, post-hegemonic, and ecologically-minded 
perspectives (Adema, 2021; Jefferies & Kember, 2019; Kiesewetter, 2023; 
Hillyer et al., 2020; Méndez Cota, 2023; Rabasa, 2019; Rivera Garza, 2013).

For instance, the anthology Whose Book Is it Anyway? A View from 
Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity 
problematises the technicism and commercial orientation of mainstream 
discourses on open access publishing that pervade most governments and 
higher education institutions. The authors call on us to think beyond 
human and technological ‘progress’ and copyright issues, and to focus 
for once on moral, political and social rights as well as concrete 
strategies, practices, and methods for academic-led publishing and 
editorial practices driven not by profit and progress thinking, but by 
solidarity, critique, and creativity. From this feminist intersectional 
perspective, developed in the After Open Access Manifesto 
(https://criticallegalthinking.com/2020/07/15/after-open-access/), the 
issue is no longer to be for or against copyright, or even open access, 
but to inaugurate and sustain new types of research and a more just 
future for academic publications within and beyond discourses of 

These and other engagements mark a vital contrast between the abstract 
viewpoint of ‘progress thinking’ and the concept of situatedness. 
Editorial and publishing processes (including writing, editing, 
translation, and distribution) have emerged as experimental and 
exploratory sites for political, socio-cultural, and aesthetic 
organising, creative activism and disruption, where knowledge equity and 
diversity are being practically articulated as part of the publishing 
process with effects that deserve to be reflected upon. In this context, 
this special issue wants to further explore how individuals and 
communities – inside and outside of academia – in their editing and 
publishing practices have started to radically contextualise their 
experience of living and working in a ‘world after progress’ marked by 
humanitarian and planetary emergencies.

This special issue calls for contributions that document and reflect on 
the emergence of critical experimental practices in publishing and the 
digital posthumanities which have a feminist, post-hegemonic, and 
ecologically-minded orientation and commitment to intervene in political 
and cultural debates on open access and open science. The goal is to map 
emergent discourses on, as well as practices, protocols, and methods 
for, inaugurating and sustaining new types of research and a more just 
future for academic publications across geographies and languages. We 
especially also invite contributions from outside of the traditional 
open access and open science discourses.

Topics include but are not limited to:

Dilemmas of situated knowledges and scaling small in a ‘planetary age’

Debates on value, evaluation, and re-evaluation in academic publishing

Writing, editorial, publishing, and tech activisms in the post-digital 
sphere (including historical and non-academic precedents and trajectories)

Challenges in action oriented collaborative research, editorial, and 
publishing praxis in view of aggravating ecological and humanitarian 

Experimental, iterative and processual publishing in academic settings

Intersectional and post-hegemonic critiques of instrumentalist 
understandings of technology and intellectual work in academic settings

Feminist ethics in academic-led publishing

Socio-environmental dimensions of academic publishing



Abstract submissions are due on 8 January 2024 and should be addressed 
to Rebekka Kiesewetter (ae2434 at coventry.ac.uk)

Submit Drafts (6,000-9,000 words): by 31 March 2024

Open Peer Review: throughout April 2024

Revised Articles / Essays: 1 June 2024

Publication:  Early July 2024

All contributions, including abstract and short author bios, should be 
sent to Rebekka Kiesewetter (ae2434 at coventry.ac.uk)

For this special issue, we are able to accept papers written in English, 
Spanish, Italian, and German.

Please follow the editorial guidelines for submissions: 

Gary Hall
Professor of Media
Director of the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University:

Website: http://www.garyhall.info

Director of Open Humanities Press: http://www.openhumanitiespress.org


Interview: (open access) ‘How To Be A Pirate: An Interview with Alexandra Elbakyan and Gary Hall by Holger Briel’: https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/pb-assets/OA%20chapters/Briel_9781802076622_ch5_OA-1687267442.pdf

Blog: 'Is Big Publishing Killing the Academic Author?': http://garyhall.squarespace.com/journal/2023/11/20/is-big-publishing-killing-the-academic-author.html

'Creative AI – Thinking Outside the Box': http://garyhall.squarespace.com/journal/2023/10/23/creative-ai-thinking-outside-the-box.html

Book series (open access): Combinatorial Books: Gathering Flowers series, edited by Janneke Adema, Simon Bowie, Gary Hall and Rebekka Kiesewetter: http://www.openhumanitiespress.org/books/series/liquid-books/

1st book in series (open access): Ecological Rewriting: Situated Engagements with The Chernobyl Herbarium, edited by Gabriela Méndez Cota: https://www.openhumanitiespress.org/books/titles/ecological-rewriting/

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