- Editor’s Note
Biography has been appearing every three months (more or less) for forty-three years, which means we have some fairly well-established principles and procedures. But over the past decade, innovation has kept pace with routine, and most recently accelerated, in response to the greatest threat to any naive sense of normal that we, and so many others, have ever faced.
Relatively recent experiments include our face-to-face seminars, which have brought contributors together in Honolulu and London to produce several special issues. The formula has worked—two of the resulting projects received the Best Special Issue of the Year award from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.
Circumstances shaping two of our special issues also led us to make them freely available on Project Muse. Envisioned and co-edited by Biography co-editor Cynthia G. Franklin, “Life in Occupied Palestine” could only circulate in Palestine itself if it was open access—hard copies were blocked. As for our most recent issue, “We Are Maunakea: Aloha ʻĀina Narratives of Protest, Protection, and Place,” we wanted to ensure that it was widely and easily available to the kiaʻi and their allies here in Hawaiʻi and around the world.
Anna Poletti’s appointment as the first Biography co-editor whose academic home was not the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has also been a major event. In addition to adding their expertise and judgment to the selection of our regular contents, they have directed our first forum, which appears in this issue. Their introduction lays out incisively what this recurring feature will add to our repertoire. They are also serving as the co-editor for our first special issue that will appear simultaneously as a book. The subject is Graphic Medicine, and the number, variety, and quality of the volume’s graphic contributions convinced us that subscribers, general readers, and libraries would welcome a larger format, well-produced hard copy in color.
Biography will continue to produce its longstanding annual bibliography of critical and theoretical work on life writing, and its very substantial International Year in Review. Guided by co-editor John David Zuern, it offers a generous sampling of essays detailing lifewriting trends around the world. And as we have since 1978, we will provide a venue for unsolicited manuscripts—two appear in this issue—and for a very substantial number of reviews responding to the range of lifewriting publications. Nineteen appear in this installment alone. [End Page vii]
The pandemic has of course posed some formidable challenges to all of our efforts and innovations. Two face-to-face special issue seminars—one planned for Finland in 2020, and the other in Honolulu that same year—had to be cancelled or postponed, as virtually all travel, national and international, ground to a halt. So too did our usual operations at the Center for Biographical Research, as the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa rightly closed down on-site operations. For more than a year after March 2020, then, all of the Center’s functions, including our weekly seminar series, now in its thirty-fourth year, have been carried out virtually, with Center Director Craig Howes the only person actually present on site. But even as our co-editors, our Managing Editor Paige Rasmussen, and our Graduate Assistant Zoë Sprott have variously struggled with long COVID, taken well-deserved sabbaticals, experienced the joys and challenges of new parenthood under strict lockdown, and faced long separations from family and friends, we have not only kept the journal alive, but successfully carried out most of our ongoing and planned innovations. And to our surprise, the thirty or more sessions in our weekly seminar series actually attracted much larger audiences as virtual events, including participants from all over the world.
Thanks to full vaccination, and the comparatively successful efforts in Hawaiʻi to deal with the virus, as of June 2021 we are carefully returning to face-to-face editorial work on the production side. We look forward to a future for the Center and Biography that will reflect and respond actively to how the recent past has in so many ways...