- Editors' Note
i> at Twenty
With this issue, the Journal of Women's History marks its twentieth anniversary. Given the economic perils of academic publishing, the antifeminist fallout from "culture wars" of various stripes, the corporatization of universities across the globe, and what many consider the perilous distance between women's history and feminist struggle, this is really no small feat! The publishing world is a very different place than it was when the journal's founders launched the first issue through Indiana University Press. But thanks to their tenacity and the foresight of their vision, the journal has not just survived, it has thrived—consistently reflecting the best and most innovative women's history scholarship while simultaneously pushing the field in bold new directions. From the beginning, the journal aimed to "provide a continuing forum for the most important theoretical and methodological debates within the field" and to "serve the needs and interests of a wide variety of feminist historians around the world."1 The very first issue of the journal featured an impressive array of essays, which not only grappled with the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of feminist historiography in comparative/transnational perspective, but also explored the history of women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East, and considered how those histories might be incorporated into the classroom.
There have been, it seems to us, two enduring constants in the journal's twenty–year history: an insistence on the importance of method and theory, and a firm resolve to continuously enlarge the world of women whose histories it has worked to make visible. If there has been any shift in those "constants" over the past twenty years it has been in the expanding horizon of possibilities for enlarging those worlds of women's history. When the journal began, it was very much a North American–based publication, which sought to "make available to U.S. readers a wide variety of historical literature in translation about women in other countries."2 The realities of publishing and circulation in the late 1980s and early 1990s meant that the journal's commitment to transnational dialogue in feminist inquiry could only be aimed, for the most part, at a U.S. audience and facilitated through an International Board of Advisors. By the dawn of the new millennium, however, with the flourishing of online subscriptions, e–journals, and the bundling of serial publications through JSTOR, Project Muse, and the like, it has become increasingly possible to imagine a JWH audience beyond the [End Page 8] boundaries of North America, to envision a board which includes members based outside the United States and serving in more than an advisory capacity, and to envisage author submissions arriving by e–mail attachment from all corners of the globe. We do not want to overstate the case for expanding horizons here. To be sure, the terrain of globalization has been treacherously uneven; economic disparity, unequal access to resources, to venues for publishing, and to bandwidth for downloading, not to mention the hegemony of English language scholarship and the challenges of translation, continue to limit the journal's audience in profound and enduring ways. But building upon the possibilities—uneven though they may be—made available by the e–revolution in publishing, we are now thinking about new ways of fulfilling the journal's two–decade commitment to expanding the bounds of women's history. This means imagining much larger audiences and much broader debates—some generated well outside the U.S. academy, perhaps on terms largely unfamiliar to a U.S.–based audience. Of course, with such efforts come new challenges, but they are challenges that the journal is better positioned than ever to take on, given its truly international board and its longstanding commitment to genuinely transformative women's history.
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We mark this twentieth anniversary with a new "look" in the form of a cover design that we think evokes the original design but updates it as well. Our thanks to Cope Cumpston and Frank Gutbrod who, together, guided us through a myriad of options and helped us select one from among a dizzying array of...