The Neo-Colonial Political Economy of Scholarly Publishing: Its UK-US Origins, Maxwell's Role, and Implications for Sub-Saharan Africa
Keywords:Scholarly publishing, Academic journals, Global science, Universities, Colonialism, Decolonisation, Impact metrics, Distribution rights, Copyright, Fair use, Fair dealing, Robert Maxwell, United Kingdom, United States, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa
The prevailing dynamics of today's global scholarly publishing ecosystem were largely established by UK and US publishing interests in the years immediately after the Second World War. With a central role played by publisher Robert Maxwell, the two nations that emerged victorious from the war were able to dilute the power of German-language academic publishing-dominant before the war-and bring English-language scholarship, and in particular English-language journals, to the fore. Driven by intertwined nationalist, commercial, and technological ambitions, English-language academic journals and impact metrics gained preeminence through narratives grounded in ideas of "global" reach and values of "excellence"-while "local" scholarly publishing in sub-Saharan Africa, as in much of the developing world, was marginalised. These dynamics established in the post-war era still largely hold true today, and need to be dismantled in the interests of more equitable global scholarship and socio-economic development.
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