New Electronic Journals and Early Pan-Africanist Dreams: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Resources in Pan-African Studies

By Robinson, Marsha R. | Journal of Pan African Studies, March 2013 | Go to article overview

New Electronic Journals and Early Pan-Africanist Dreams: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Resources in Pan-African Studies


Robinson, Marsha R., Journal of Pan African Studies


"E-journal" is a popular term that refers to journals that are produced for electronic distribution via the internet. Some are electronic versions of journals that are published on paper. Some electronic journals are produced exclusively for electronic distribution. Major publishing houses such as Brill and Sage Publications, in addition to university presses, have adopted this alternative publication method. The format seems to be a natural evolution from the electronic databases on which many of us rely. A significant development has been the decision to create open-access electronic journals. Publishers do not charge a fee for access to the content of open-access journals. In some parts of the world with low bandwidth or slower data transfer rates, internet access is relatively expensive. The cost of down-loading an article in such areas is prohibitive enough but it is relatively surmountable compared to the cost of traditional subscriptions to academic journals. This open-access option benefits humanity by increasing the number of people around the world who can acquire, apply and refine the knowledge that is shared in these journals. In other words, open access and other e-journals are a leap forward toward the democratization of global knowledge production.

There is a need to be concerned about the continued production of these journals. Because some journals are still available in print and by subscription, some publishers delay the internet version until several years after the release to subscribers of the printed version. This delay between the subscribers' version and the open-access distribution is sometimes referred to as a "moving wall." Another concern is the entrepreneurial aspect of publishing. Many journals begin but they do not all survive the second or fifth year. Others succumb to funding issues or low readership. In these situations, one must be concerned about archiving e-journals. The humanitarian benefits of sharing knowledge through e-journals far outweigh these concerns.

In fact, this democratization and globalization of knowledge, especially within the African diaspora, is a beautiful manifestation of the dreams of early Pan Africanists. This became ever clearer to me as I searched for e-journals about Africa-descended people on the continent and in diaspora. In researching this essay, I searched for scholarly e-journals of the new millennium. Some published their first edition in 2012. Others adopted the electronic format in 1999 or later. Some were located through keyword searches. Others were gathered from databases such as African Journals Online (www.ajol.info) and the Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org). I searched for journals about Black Studies, African Studies, Africana Studies, and African Diaspora Studies. Once I assembled my initial list of journals, I then searched for those that debuted in or on the cusp of the twenty-first century. In order to arrive at a qualitative description of the journal, I examined the tables of content, the mission statement, statements from the editors, and the first article of the first edition. I noted accessibility issues such as open access or moving walls. I paid attention to the geographic location of the journal's home. I was not always able to determine if each journal continues to be produced nor did I find all of the points of comparison that I established for each journal.

My purpose for this annotated bibliography, as a historian, is to present the e-journal format as a new millennium manifestation of nineteenth century visions of three of the earliest Pan Africanists: Rev. Alexander Crummell, Dr. Martin Delany, and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. I do so in three sections. First, I review nineteenth-century proto-Pan-African goals of "lofty civilization" and "vitalizing qualities in the changeless hopes of humanity." Second, I present some e-journals as modern vehicles to deliver and distribute the information from the humanities that is necessary to achieve these two nineteenth century goals. …

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