- Editor's Note
As an academic journal, we fairly frequently receive requests from groups of scholars to publish a special issue on a topic or subregion within the Middle East. For years, our policy was to try to encourage them instead to submit their papers individually—with the idea that we would publish in thematic clusters if they all passed peer review. Not only did we have concerns about special issues' compatibility with our review process and timing, we worried that too concentrated a focus on a topic or area might detract from the broad, regionwide, and interdisciplinary scope we try to offer our readers. Then, this spring, I received an email that changed my mind.
Zahra Babar from Georgetown University Qatar's Center for International and Regional Studies, whom I had worked very well with on two of the best articles we published during my tenure as Managing Editor,1 was seeking my ideas for journals that might publish a special issue with six papers on citizenship that CIRS had compiled in the context of a research project. Reading the abstracts, I was impressed by the papers' breadth, in terms of geographic scope, the contributors' varied disciplinary backgrounds, and the versatility of the topic. Indeed, citizenship is far from a niche concern only of interest to a subset of scholars, it is an institution that serves as a useful lens to look at the politics of countries in the Middle East, since every society has its own concepts of citizenship that have evolved based on its own politics and historical circumstances.
After discussing the idea with my colleagues and some members of our editorial board, I decided that we should consider the offer. Zahra and I set up ground rules, a division of labor, and a review process. In the interest of keeping the papers together, we created an expedited version of the Journal's double-blind review process wherein we sent out invitations to an expert on each paper's topic all on the same day. Reviewers evaluated each paper on its scholarly contribution and gave recommendations on ways to improve the content, which authors followed up on. We determined that at least three of the papers had to make it through review in order to proceed with the special issue and that we could still publish those that passed even if the issue as a whole did not. Thankfully, five of the six papers were approved by their reviewers, and here we are.
Thus far, the special issue has been a positive experience for us at The Middle East Journal, and I hope that you and the rest of our readers will share our enthusiasm. In addition to the special issue content, complete with an introduction by Zahra, you will find our usual Chronology of the developments in the region as well as a particularly interesting collection of Book Reviews and our interns' annotations of Recent Publications. We will be continuing in the new year with regular issues, though we do look forward to collaborating with partners on special issues in the future. [End Page 527]
1. "The Cost of Belonging: Citizenship Construction in the State of Qatar," vol. 68, no. 3 (Summer 2014): 403–20. https://doi.org/10.3751/68.3.14; "The 'Enemy Within': Citizenship-Stripping in the Post–Arab Spring GCC," vol. 71, no. 4 (Autumn 2017): 525–43. https://doi.org/10.3751/71.4.11.