26 February 2016
Academic thought in the South
Continuing the theme set by its acclaimed recent exhibition - West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song – the British Library will be challenging preconceived ideas about Africa and the broader global South with another event. This time, in conjunction with the Academic Book of the Future project, we will be hosting the conference The Academic Book in the South on academic book production.
At the British Library we spend a lot of time dealing with the changing world of academic publications. We have extensive collections of academic books published all over the world. We acquire books from across the global South, in all major languages, and our historic and contemporary holdings are very strong. The book covers shown below give a flavour of these collections.
Left: ʻAbd al-Munʿim Mājid, Nuẓum al-Fāṭimīyīn wa-rusūmuhum fī Miṣr (Cairo: Maktabat al-Anjlū al-Miṣrīyah, 1973); Right: Luṭfī Jaʻfar Faraj ʻAbd Allāh, ʻAbd al-Muḥsin al-Saʻdūn wa-dawruhu fī tārīkh al-ʻIrāq al-siyāsī al-muʻāṣir (Baghdad: Wizārat al-Thaqāfah wa-al-Funūn, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻIrāqīyah, 1978)
These two 1970s texts deal respectively with the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt (973-1171) and the history and politics of modern Iraq. In Arabic
As the publishing environment changes radically, we know that our thinking about the future of academic publications and, more broadly, effective dissemination of academic thought is incomplete without a truly global dialogue. After all, academic research is geared more than ever to tackle global challenges. This is an exciting ambition across all academic disciplines – from improving health outcomes across the world to finding new paradigms for politics, economics and culture in a fast-changing world.
If this ambition is to be realised, it has to include an effective global system to disseminate new academic ideas in all their diversity. This is why we need to build and strengthen our understanding of academic book authorship, publication and circulation, through dialogue with colleagues in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
While our contacts across the world tell us that there are common challenges, there is a lot that we do not know. This is why we are pleased to host The Academic Book in the South, a two-day conference taking place at the British Library on 7th-8th March 2016. This event will investigate the current situation and future prospects of the academic book in the global South.
This event will offer a unique opportunity to hear from the speakers and participants across Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, including: Walter Bgoya, Sukanta Chaudhuri, Abhijit Gupta, Sari Hanafi, Shamil Jeppie, Akoss Ofori-Mensah, Mark Muehlhaeusler, Padmini Ray Murray and Nureldin M. Satti.
Shamil Jeppie and Souleyman Bachir Diagne (eds), The meanings of Timbuktu (Cape Town; Senegal: HSRC Press in association with CODESRIA, 2008).
A collection of essays on the manuscript cultures of Timbuktu, Mali, and the surrounding region. In English
Will today’s ubiquitous digital technologies and open access provide us with a new environment, which will alleviate geographic inequalities in knowledge production and distribution? Will this lead to new opportunities for arts and humanities scholars to make their voices heard as we try to navigate new global complexities? Or is digital change just homogenising the world of academic publications and suppressing the diversity of academic voices?
Join us for a debate and to find out how academics, publishers and librarians in the global South perceive these issues.
This conference is organised by The British Library in collaboration with Professor Marilyn Deegan, Kings College London and Dr Caroline Davis, Oxford Brookes University.
This event is an outcome of the Academic Book of the Future research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The conference is now open for registration and full details are available on the British Library website, along with a provisional conference programme. The conference fee is £30.00 (£15.00 student rate) for the two-day event, which includes registration, lunch and refreshments.
Maja Maricevic, Head of Higher Education, British Library