I am honored to lead the new editorial team of the Latin American Research Review (LARR). The new team receives an intellectually vibrant and prestigious journal from the outgoing editor in chief, Philip Oxhorn. Since its inception in 1965, LARR has been guided by an impressive list of editors, including Richard P. Schaedel and Thomas F. McGann at the University of Texas, Austin (1965–1974), John D. Martz and Joseph S. Tulchin at the University of North Carolina (1974–1982), Gilbert W. Merkx at the University of New Mexico (1982–2003), Peter M. Ward, back at the University of Texas, Austin (2003–2006), and Philip Oxhorn at McGill University (2006–2016).
To build on such a distinguished tradition and to prepare the journal for the next fifty years, the new team will pursue two important goals. The first one is to preserve and expand LARR’s intellectual diversity, securing its position as one of the most innovative interdisciplinary journals dealing with Latin America. The second goal is to facilitate LARR’s transition into the new era of open access and digital publishing. This note describes the actions that the new team is already undertaking to achieve those goals.
Building on LASA’s Intellectual Diversity
The Latin American Studies Association represents a large and diverse community, with over 12,000 members in 2015. LASA members belong to some thirty-five academic disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities; about 47 percent of them live in Latin America, 42 percent in the United States, and 11 percent throughout the rest of the world. Engaging the intellectual interests of such a heterogeneous crowd is a challenging enterprise. At the same time, this rich community gives LARR a unique foundation to remain one of the most dynamic journals in the fields of Latin American and Latino/a studies.
To capitalize on such diversity, the new team operates with six associate editors who enjoy great editorial autonomy in their respective fields. Three editors work in the humanities (anthropology, history, literature and cultural studies) and three in the social sciences (economics, politics and international relations, sociology). They are all distinguished scholars who bring different academic perspectives and institutional backgrounds to our enterprise:
- Anthropology: Mónica Espinosa Arango, Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia)
- Economics: José Molinas Vega, Ministry of Planning (Paraguay)
- History: Michel Gobat, University of Pittsburgh (United States)
- Literature and Cultural Studies: Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel, Rutgers University (United States)
- Politics and International Relations: Flavia Freidenberg, UNAM (México)
- Sociology: Gioconda Herrera, FLACSO (Ecuador)
LARR’s most popular section continues to be its book review essays. In charge of preserving this tradition we have a scholar of great intellectual reach, Fabrice Lehoucq at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (Political Science). In addition, I am pleased to announce the creation of a new documentary film review section, edited by Claudia Ferman at the University of Richmond (Latin American and Film Studies). Documentary reviews will begin publication in 2018 and will take the form of critical essays covering films on a common theme.
A related initiative to leverage the diversity of our academic community will be the publication of topical dossiers. It is difficult to find a topic sufficiently appealing to the tastes of our broad group of readers to motivate a single special issue of LARR every year. To allow for greater diversity, we will replace the publication of an annual special issue with the publication of topical dossiers as part of our four regular issues. The dossiers will complement the standard set of papers scheduled for publication, and they will include four or five papers on a common subject (about 50,000 words in total). All papers will be subject to the regular peer review process, but we will invite our readers to propose topics in agreement with the associate editors in the relevant fields. The last special issue coordinated by Phil Oxhorn will be published in 2017, and the publication of dossiers will begin in 2018.
The Journal of the Future
Our second challenge is to take LARR into a new era. LARR is moving into an open access format, meaning that readers all over the world will have free access to the publication. This process began under the previous editorial team and open access publication has begun in 2017. LASA’s Secretariat has signed a contract with Ubiquity Press to host the journal.
The new platform, called Latin America Research Commons (http://larcommons.net/) will host LARR and other publications, including the Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies (published by the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies, MACLAS), the Latin American Literary Review (published by LALR Press), and a new series of open access books edited by Philip Oxhorn and Florencia Garramuño for LASA.
The phasing out of the print version of LARR, known for over half a century, means that our readers will experience the journal in new and exciting ways. Although we will preserve the organization of material in volumes and issues, readers will have access to digital articles available in PDF format (and thus printable) as well as HTML. Article files will contain full information about the author and the issue, to facilitate the circulation of papers among readers. Authors will be encouraged to disseminate copies of the articles through their personal websites or institutional repositories upon publication in the journal.
Our strategy to expand the impact of the journal in the digital age includes an increasing use of social networks to promote LARR’s contributions. Social media coordinator Paloma Diaz-Lobos (University of Texas, Austin) is actively in charge of our accounts in Twitter (@LARRLASA) and Facebook. In order to contribute to the mission of the journal, we have also created a LARR blog co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (http://www.panoramas.pitt.edu/larr). The blog publishes short pieces by our authors in order to disseminate their ideas to a broader audience.
I want to finish this note by thanking the University of Pittsburgh, particularly the Center for Latin American Studies, the University Center for International Studies, and the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences for their encouragement of this enterprise. Several colleagues at LASA, including Gilbert Joseph, Philip Oxhorn, Milagros Pereyra-Rojas, and Joanne Rappaport, were also very supportive during the transitional phase. Most of the material to be published in 2017 was reviewed and accepted by the previous editorial team, and some of the changes will only become visible in 2018. Fifty years from now, LARR will look very different from the 210-page volume published in the fall of 1965. But true to its origins, it will remain one of best interdisciplinary publications on Latin American studies.