Publishing After Progress


Rebekka Kiesewetter

Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University


‘Progress’ …. might well have the character of a quicksand, suffusing the very modern mode of evaluation from which the values of global development, infinite growth, scientific advance, technological innovation, salvage accumulation, and ethical betterment are derived. And it is one which simultaneously infuses and animates well-meaning dreams of cosmopolitan redemption, stories of innocence and reconciliation, and proposals for new contractual obligations: what we call ‘progressive’ politics. Rather than an idea, then, ‘progress’ is more akin to a world-ploughing machine that has rendered the ground for collective living and flourishing too loose and granular to provide any further sustenance.

(Savransky, 2021)

The ongoing commercial and technological consolidation of academic publishing–evolving under the rhetoric of internationalisation, excellence and progress–continues to endanger knowledge equity and diversity (Chen et al., 2019). This special issue aims to open out beyond the modernist and capitalist ideas of humanity and scientific progress as the primary forces of change that are concomitant with this consolidation. It also seeks to challenge the technoscientific desire for the global alignment, quantification, and evaluation of scientific knowledge and productivity that is expressed in current programmatic one-for-all solutions for academic publishing: for example, in the global alignment of open access and open science policies, tools, and technologies; the introduction of uniform quality markers for research; or the promotion of English as the scientific lingua franca.

Over the last two decades, radical open access and open science movements and academic communities promoting epistemic justice and experimental publishing (such as the COPIM/OBF or OCSDNet projects) have converged with various publishing activisms (in digital activism and autonomous grassroot organising, for example) critiquing the technocapitalist ‘monification‘ (Savransky, 2021) of the world. They have done so through feminist, post-hegemonic, and ecologically-minded perspectives (Adema, 2021; Jefferies & Kember, 2019; Kiesewetter, 2023; Hillyer et al., 2020; Méndez Cota, 2023; Rabasa, 2019; Rivera Garza, 2013).

For instance, the anthology Whose Book Is it Anyway? A View from Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity, problematises the technicism and commercial orientation of mainstream discourses on open access publishing that pervade most governments and higher education institutions. The authors call on us to think beyond human and technological ‘progress’ and copyright issues, and to focus for once on moral, political and social rights as well as concrete strategies, practices, and methods for academic-led publishing and editorial practices driven not by profit and progress thinking, but by solidarity, critique, and creativity. From this feminist intersectional perspective, developed in the After Open Access Manifesto, the issue is no longer to be for or against copyright, or even open access, but to inaugurate and sustain new types of research and a more just future for academic publications within and beyond discourses of digitisation.

These and other engagements mark a vital contrast between the abstract viewpoint of ‘progress thinking’ and the concept of situatedness. Editorial and publishing processes (including writing, editing, translation, and distribution) have emerged as experimental and exploratory sites for political, socio-cultural, and aesthetic organising, creative activism and disruption, where knowledge equity and diversity are being practically articulated as part of the publishing process with effects that deserve to be reflected upon. In this context, this special issue wants to further explore how individuals and communities – inside and outside of academia – in their editing and publishing practices have started to radically contextualise their experience of living and working in a ‘world after progress’ marked by humanitarian and planetary emergencies.

This special issue calls on contributions that document and reflect on the emergence of critical experimental practices in publishing and the digital posthumanities which have a feminist, post-hegemonic, and ecologically-minded orientation and commitment to intervene in political and cultural debates on open access and open science. The goal is to map emergent discourses on, as well as practices, protocols, and methods for, inaugurating and sustaining new types of research and a more just future for academic publications across geographies and languages. We especially also invite contributions from outside of the traditional open access and open science discourses.


Topics include but are not limited to:

Dilemmas of situated knowledges and scaling small in a ‘planetary age’

Debates on value, evaluation, and re-evaluation in academic publishing

Writing, editorial, publishing, and tech activisms in the post-digital sphere (including historical and non-academic precedents and trajectories)

Challenges in action oriented collaborative research, editorial, and publishing praxis in view of aggravating ecological and humanitarian emergencies

Experimental, iterative and processual publishing in academic settings

Intersectional and post-hegemonic critiques of instrumentalist understandings of technology and intellectual work in academic settings

Feminist ethics in academic-led publishing

Socioenvironmental dimensions of academic publishing





Abstract submissions are due on 8 January 2024 and should be addressed to Rebekka Kiesewetter (

Submit Drafts (6,000-9,000 words): by 31 March 2024

Open Peer Review: throughout April 2024

Revised Articles / Essays: 1 June 2024

Publication:  Early July 2024

All contributions, including abstract and short author bios, should be sent to Rebekka Kiesewetter (

For this special issue, we are able to accept papers written in English, Spanish, Italian, and German.

Please follow the editorial guidelines for submissions.


Selected References

Adema, J. (2021) Living Books: Experiments in the Posthumanities. Cambridge Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Chen, G., Posada, A., & Chan, L. (2019) ‘Vertical Integration in Academic Publishing: Implications for Knowledge Inequality’, in L. Chan & P. Mounier (eds), Connecting the Knowledge Commons—From Projects to Sustainable Infrastructure: The 22nd International Conference on Electronic Publishing – Revised Selected Papers. Marseille: OpenEdition Press.

Hillyer, R., Albornoz, D., Posada, A., Okune, A., & Chan, L. (2020) ‘Toward an Inclusive, Open, and Collaborative Science: Lessons from OCSDNet’, in M. L. Smith & R. Seward (eds), Making Open Development Inclusive: Lessons from IDRC Research. Cambridge Massachusetts: MIT Press. pp. 357-379.

Jefferies, J. & Kember, S. (eds) (2019) Whose Book Is it Anyway? A View from Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers.

Kiesewetter, R. (2023) Reading Differently: Expanding Open Access Definitions Towards Greater Knowledge Equity. [Doctoral dissertation]. Coventry University.

Méndez Cota, G. (ed.) (2023) Ecological Rewriting: Situated Engagements with The Chernobyl Herbarium. London: Open Humanities Press.

Rabasa, M. (2019) The book in movement: Autonomous politics & the lettered city underground. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Rivera Garza, C. (2013) Los muertos indóciles. Necroescrituras y desapropiación. Barcelona: Tusquets Editores.

Savransky, M. (2021) ‘After progress: Notes for an ecology of perhaps’, Ephemeral Journal 21(1).