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  • The Future of Hispanic Studies:An Interactive Conversation with Journal Editors
  • Benjamin Fraser and Christine Henseler

This collaborative interview was put together in three stages. First, we approached ~40 journal editors asking for their participation in launching a dialogue on the state of Hispanic Studies journals. Second, we wove together the paragraph-length written responses to six questions and we placed them on several Google drives during which time authors had the opportunity to modify their own statements. What you are reading now reflects a final effort by all participants to create a readable and informative conversation. We hope to move these insights online where we encourage continuing conversations to unfold, communities to be built, and further efforts to result in positive and practical change.

Our motivation for pursuing this collaborative interview was a shared sense that Hispanic Studies as a whole could benefit from an assessment of its current state and future direction. We believed that this assessment would be all the more effective if it drew upon the greatest number of voices—although we regret that we were not able to draw input from all editors of Hispanic Studies journals. We have drawn our conviction from our own work in pushing the boundaries of the field and often working outside of them. You will not read much of our own perspectives in the interviews themselves—as we have been careful to foreground the responses of our colleagues in the field. That said, it is our belief that the collaborative interviews that follow are particularly revealing. That is, despite the evident [End Page 135] and reassuring, forward-looking perspectives of all those interviewed, the responses in fact showcase what we consider to be a wide range of vantage points from which the future of Hispanic Studies publications can be rethought.

As is made clear in the discussion related to questions one (“interdisciplinarity”) and two (“pushing the boundaries”), there are nuances in how these notions are understood by experts throughout the field. Some voices speak from relatively traditional literary positions, while others are already working beyond the field in unanticipated ways. Both positions bring strength, experience, and insight to the table. Some participating journals represented in these conversations have considered themselves to be interdisciplinary for decades; others have more recently sought to become so. What is most important here is to see that, in all cases, the way one conceives of “interdisciplinarity” and “boundaries” is highly dependent not merely on the individual choices of editors and the nature of a given publication venue, but on the realities of submissions received, the strengths and perceptions of editorial boards and individual peer reviewers, and—in the end—the larger relationship between Hispanic Studies and other fields. What arises from these interview questions is a sense of the collectivity, of the community of Hispanic Studies as a whole, in the widest sense possible.

Questions three (“Reaching Out”) and four (“Reenvisioning”) in fact stress the link between interdisciplinary publishing and institutional disciplinary realities—even if most believe this link to be indirect. While some interviewees press urgently for interdisciplinary collaboration, others insist that it already exists—reaffirming the need to embrace the changing landscape of Hispanic Studies in large-scale and necessarily collective terms. Question five (“Digital Media”) zeroes-in on the issue of technological changes in publishing, already evident in previous discussion, and in the last part of this interview (“Final Thoughts”) we asked for editors to list other questions they would like to see answered.

It is necessary to state clearly that the purpose of these interviews has been to galvanize interest in reconsidering the dimensions of Hispanic Studies as a field. The intent—one which seems to be supported by discussions included here—has been neither to preserve the perceived disciplinary limits of the field nor to abandon whatever it may be that holds us together in theoretical, thematic, linguistic and institutional terms. Instead, we have sought to begin the process of re-imagining Hispanic Studies through a collective dialogue that has been absent for too long. That we have chosen to focus on journal publishing, specifically, should not be seen as a way of sidestepping the issues affecting the greater...