SX Blog


What Is Journal Work?: A Small Axe Conversation

15 October 2016

On Friday, 16 September 2016, the Small Axe community gathered at the Sulzberger Parlor at Barnard College to celebrate fifty issues of Small Axe by convening a series of panels interrogating the function and place of journal work among Caribbean academics and beyond. Vanessa Pérez-Rosario, managing editor of Small Axe, convened the occasion, and moderated the event throughout the day.

David Scott, director of Small Axe Project and editor of Small Axe gave opening remarks on the nature of intellectual giving and receiving within the critical framework of the journal community. Over the course of Small Axe's history, Scott has worked to reorient the community of journal work, into one where learning is accessed in the relationship of giving and receiving; creating an expansive and overlapping communal rethinking of the Caribbean. His opening remarks were echoed throughout the day, from a variety of panelists and speakers who have contributed to Small Axe over the last twenty years.

The first panel, entitled "What is Journal Work?" was moderated by Vanessa Agard-Jones, former Small Axe managing editor. Discussion ranged from the future of journal work, the means of journal production, to the role of scholars in digital work. Panel discussants included editors and founders of notable journals: Louis Chude-Sokei of The Black Scholar; Lowell Fiet of Sargasso; Kaiama L. Glover and Alex Gil of sx: archipelagos; Sean Jacobs of Africa is a Country; Kelly Baker Josephs of sx salon; Patricia Saunders of Anthurium; Ashwani Sharma of darkmatter; and Kuan-Hsing Chen of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies: Movements.

The second panel of the afternoon, entitled, "Small Axe Celebration" was moderated by Nijah Cunningham, current Coordinator of the Small Axe Project. Panelists spoke on the conditions of knowledge production within disciplines, their boundaries, and the imaginaries where journal work may intercede through Caribbean modernities past, present, and future. Likewise, panelists highlighted the important work of Small Axe over the past twenty years, like the comprehensive intellectual biographies and interviews conducted by Scott published in the journal, and it's consistent work in individual inquiry through collaborative and editorial practice. This work is anticipated to only push further through the shifting new territories of the Small Axe Project's expansion into multi-lingual publications, and interdisciplinary platforms like sx salon, sx archipelagos, and sx visualities. Discussants included: Hazel Carby of Yale University; Silvio Torres-Saillant of Syracuse University and Latino Studies Journal; and Brent Hayes Edwards of Columbia University.

The occasion concluded with a reception, and participants and contributors over the years continued the conversation about the future of journal work—with Small Axe placed importantly within the history of Caribbean journals. That evening there was a lovely dinner with participants at Solomon & Kuff, where the congenial ambience of scholarship and collegiality remained.

You can watch a full recording of the event here.