Small Axe Archipelagos
The transformation of the academy by the digital dispensation presents challenges to customary ways of learning, teaching, conducting research, interpreting documents, and presenting findings. It also offers immense opportunities in each of these areas. New media enable oration, graphics, objects, and even embodied performance to supplement existing forms of scholarly production as well as to constitute entirely original platforms. Opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration have expanded enormously, information has been made more accessible, and research made more efficient on multiple levels. We scholars are called upon now, with some urgency, to adapt our investigative and pedagogical methods to an academic climate deluged by a superabundance of information and analysis. This has created opportunities for open-ended and multiform engagements, interactive and continually updating archives, databases, cartographic applications that enrich the geographic imagination with historical information, and online dialogues with our colleagues and the wider public.
The need for such engagements is especially immediate among the people of the Caribbean and its diasporas. Information technology has become an increasingly significant part of the way that those in the region frame pressing social problems and political aspirations. Aesthetic media like photography and painting—because they are relatively inexpensive and do not rely necessarily on formal training—have become popular among economically dispossessed and politically marginalized constituencies. Moreover, the Internet is analogous in important ways to the Caribbean itself as a dynamic and fluid cultural space: it is generated from disparate places and by disparate peoples; it challenges fundamentally the geographical and physical barriers that disrupt or disallow connection; and it places others and elsewheres in relentless relation. Yet while we celebrate these opportunities for connectedness, we also must make certain that our work in the digital realm undermines and confronts rather than re-inscribes forms of silencing and exclusion in the Caribbean.
Our own impetus for creating a new platform arises from this continued need to raise the voices of those working to understand the impact of technology on our scholarly and cultural pursuits. At this very hybrid moment, caught between the analog and the electronic, systems of production, validation, and distribution of our scholarly and cultural work have reified to benefit large monopolies—indexers, database brokers, software vendors—whose ultimate motive is profit. In order to keep these large economic sectors thriving, access has been regimented. As Caribbean scholars, we find ourselves in the double-bind of a new master's house, both infrastructurally and historically. Stewards of an archive that cannot be disentangled from The Archive housed at major global institutions—whose mechanical image lies outside our control—and of our fragile, opaque archives in their saltpetered warehouses at the margins, we have commited to join those who are active in the design of our future memory.
As the academy increasingly embraces the "digital turn," we ask the following: How might we, as editors, publishers, and ourselves Caribbeanist scholars, encourage and facilitate our colleagues’ investment in the production and dissemination of the knowledge they generate? How will we go about cultivating both producers and reviewers of quality digital scholarship, and how will we help to ensure that this scholarship is recognized and rewarded by the profession? How might we encourage collaboration with, increase accessibility for, and otherwise work to narrow the gap between Caribbeanist researchers, especially those in the North Atlantic academy, and the communities we are committed to serving?
To answer these and other urgent questions, we need in this moment to engage two critical functions: to understand and to build. For us, these functions do not follow one from the other, but rather operate in tandem. As such, we have thought through our platform with the same critical eye we cast on the archive, and our resulting infrastructure embodies our principles. We are fully open access and charge no author fees. Our authors retain their copyright. We pursue best indexing, accessibility, and archival practices. We emphasize the primacy of "sustainable authorship in plain text." Our website and PDFs are generated from the same markdown files using Jekyll and ConTeXt, respectively. The resulting website is light-weight and mobile-friendly, acknowledging the importance of mobile phones, bandwidth differentials, and data costs in the Caribbean. We version and share our software and data freely on GitHub. We have reduced the workflow for producing a journal to a small team and a small budget, and we offer our production knowledge to those who would ask for it.
As we build and understand, we do so illuminated by first light of the long arc of Caribbean remembrance, from Maroon communities to the recent collaborative efforts to build a Digital Library of the Caribbean. We do so remaining ever vigilant to materialist, ecological, identitarian, and liberatory considerations. We do so, in the last instance, fully conscious of our decades-old wrangling of computers—from Kamau Brathwaite's Sycorax to the ingenious scholar-hackers of today's Havana. Our cutting edge comes, then, not from a misguided sense of techno-utopianism—or worse, techno-determinism—but as a new small axe, hacking away still at that master's house.
Indexing and Open Access Policy
sx archipelagos is an open access journal, which means that all content is freely available without charge to users or institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission from the publishers. Authors retain their copyright and agree to license their articles with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
All articles are peer-reviewed using the double-blind method. All digital projects are peer-reviewed single blind. Project reviews are edited by the journal editors.
We provide DOIs for all articles. Citation information and DOIs can be found on the drawer sidebar for each individual articles. Each article also provides metadata in the following standards in the HTML code:
- Dublin Core (For general metadata needs)
- Open Graph (For social media distribution)
- Highwire Press (For Google Scholar)
The technological stack used for sx archipelagos is offered with an MIT license, except for the aggregate design connecting our platform to the Small Axe Project. All of our data is open on our Github repository.