- Letter From the Editor
Welcome to the latest issue of the Journal of Latin American Geography.
As you may remember from our Call for Papers in early 2017, this issue of JLAG was conceptualized as a Special Issue on Decolonizing Latin Americanist Geography. Despite anticipating a robust response to this call, there were few submissions. It is worth reflecting on what that means for the future of Latin Americanist Geography.
Following sustained calls for the decolonization of academic knowledge in the Area Studies literature, Martha Bell and I issued a call for articles in Spanish and Portuguese that would use the pages of JLAG as an exercise in the decolonization of academic knowledge in the Americas. While we did receive a number of very interesting proposals, only two of the projects came to fruition (Monti et.al. and Molina Camacho in this issue). We are very pleased to offer these articles as a sample of the potential for sustained research in this area.
There are a number of reasons that complicate the attempts of a North America-based journal to decolonize academic knowledge. It may be that JLAG does not have enough visibility in Latin America to attract scholars who are pushing the boundaries of decolonial studies. The paucity of abstracts from the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, Chile, and Colombia might indicate that we are missing connections with significant populations of Latin American geographers. That we never received a full-length text from a Brazilian scholar could be due to the fact that JLAG is not indexed (and cannot be as the USA has no national index) in Brazil’s national index, SCiELo, within which scholars must position their contributions in order to receive “points” in a notoriously bureaucratic academic system.
Even though the proposed special issue would have had no English-language texts, it might also be that JLAG’s ontological Northern base makes it impossible to seriously challenge the colonialty of knowledge in the region. Many universities in Latin America do not have the finances to subscribe to “journal bundles” in which JLAG is included via Project Muse. While we make every effort to get universities free access to JLAG, it requires constant communication and outreach from the editorial team, CLAG membership, and scholars throughout the region.
These are some of the issues that the Editorial Team has been grappling with over the past year and we regret that the special issue on Decolonizing Latin Americanist Geography did not come to fruition. However, the absence of a special issue does not mean that this issue is not special, and here I highlight a few innovations that point the way for the next year.
As will hopefully be apparent, we have changed our layout rather dramatically. By moving to a two-column format and working with new fonts, we hope to make JLAG easier to read. Not only does the two column format allow for quicker scanning, it allows [End Page 5] us to do a few more interesting things with the presentation of graphics and makes for a sharper appearance.
Beyond the visual changes, we have continued with the production of incisive thought pieces in JLAG Perspectives, and now have introduced a new section called JLAG Retrospectives. As CLAG approaches its 50th anniversary and JLAG moves into its 17th volume, we are calling upon our senior scholars to reflect upon an article published in these pages at least ten years ago. In this way, we open up a rare opportunity to evaluate how prior scholarship has stood the test of time and to provide readers with a longitudinal update. Mary Brook-Findley answered our call for the first Retrospectives piece and we are very pleased with the outcome. We expect there to be a long line of senior scholars waiting to reflect on their past contributions to JLAG.
And finally, the collection of articles, perspectives, retrospectives, and book reviews in this issue is truly remarkable. JLAG continues to publish a rich variety of geographic scholarship and is one of the few academic journals that solicits, edits, copy edits, and publishes in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. We remain a fiercely independent publication dedicated to the full expression...