The Gates: The Politics of Academic Citations, Reviewing & Publishing – #EOTalks Panel

The Gates: The Politics of Academic Citations, Reviewing & Publishing – #EOTalks Panel

Join us on zoom on Jan. 21, 10 to 11:30 Toronto-time for a special #EOTalks panel. This event is co-sponsored by Rhea Classical Review.


The production of academic knowledge is commonly conceived according to a communal, Enlightened ideal whereby experts’ work ought to be engaged with and vetted by their peers in order for it to be considered of ‘good’, ‘objective’ and ‘scientific’ quality. This manifests itself in the normalization of practices such as citation and blind peer-reviewing, as well as in the hierarchy of prestige associated with publishing venues. Within this system, some presses and journals have become ‘prestige’ brands all onto themselves. Meanwhile, other (non peer-reviewed, non Euro-American) publications and public-facing scholarship remain looked down upon in many academic circles and considered of ‘lesser’ quality by in hiring/tenure committees.

While citations, peer-reviewing, and the work of academic presses and journal editors are in many ways highly valuable and necessary quality-control mechanisms, the Eurocentric roots of most academic canons, the neoliberalization of the academic publishing market, and the fetishization of ‘big names’, ‘high ranking’ and Euro-American presses and journals can also become mechanisms of oppression and repression.

What happens when citation, reviewing, and publishing become loci of occlusion, silencing, gatekeeping, nepotism and status quo? What are the (ethical, affective) costs of the increasing neoliberalization of academic publishing? Who are current, Eurocentric models of scholarly writing, citing, reviewing and publishing really serving? What happens when these models are challenged? What do Indigenous and non-Eurocentric ways of learning, teaching, and communicating teach us regarding what producing meaningful knowledge actually means beyond the ivory tower? These are some of the questions Usama Ali Gad, Chelsea Gardner, Nadhira Hill, Ellen Muehlberger and Lucia Nixon will discuss with Girish Daswani on January 21, 10 to 11:30am Toronto-time on zoom.

Panelists (in alphabetical order)

Usama Ali Gad (@usamaligad)

I am a tenured Lecturer of Papyrology and Greco-Roman Studies at Ain Shams University (Cairo, Egypt), as well as the co-founder of Everyday Orientalism and the founder of Classics in Arabic. Due to my nontraditional academic background, I do have a broad range of interests, including in translation studies, Heritage and Foreign Language Teaching, ancient history, papyrology, Greco-Roman heritage in Egypt, Digital Classics, Orientalism, Classics and Nationalism and the idea of Cultural Studies in general.

Chelsea Gardner (@archaeoctopus) is Associate Professor of Ancient History at Acadia University and an archaeologist working in the Mani peninsula in Southern Greece. She is the host of the Peopling the Past Podcast, and one of the founders of Rhea Classical Reviews (@RheaClassical), an online, open access book review journal that prioritizes emerging and underrepresented scholarly voices in Ancient Mediterranean Studies.

Nadhira Hill (@nadhirawho) is a PhD candidate studying Greek archaeology at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation project focuses on households, drinking practices, ceramic production, and cultural interaction in 5th and 4th century BCE Greece. She is the founder of Notes from the Apotheke, a blog to share her experiences as a Black student in Classics and to amplify the work and voices of other BIPOC in the discipline. Nadhira has written for Eidolon and the Jugaad Project, has been featured on Peopling the Past, and was awarded the Women’s Classical Caucus’s Public Scholarship Award for 2021-2022.

Ellen Muehlberger (@emuehlbe) is professor of History at the University of Michigan. She specializes in early Christianity and the languages of the ancient Mediterranean world.

Lucia Nixon (@LuciaNixon) has worked and written about (sacred) landscape archaeology, archaeology and gender, chronologies of desire and how they colour views of the past, present, and future, intersectional sexism and Orientalism in archaeology in Greece. She is co-director of the Sphakia Survey (with Jennifer Moody) and has taught archaeology in Canada and the UK, including archaeology and gender. She was also a Fellow of the Canadian Institute in Greece and Senior Tutor at St Hilda’s College, Oxford.


Girish Daswani (@girishdaswani) is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto/UTSC. Apart from writing blogposts for EO, he is working to complete his book on activist, artistic and religious responses to political corruption in Ghana. He is also writing a comic book (with Bright Ackwerh), a documentary-film (with Mutombo da Poet) and, in order to sooth his restless spirit, songs. Girish is the founder of Africa Proactive and Human Stories.

Somes questions, answers and cues from the chat (anonymized and edited accordingly)

Q: What kinds of advise would you give your graduate students?

Q: My question is kind of vague and concerns publishing and the job market. It is unfortunately true that most hiring committees privilege candidates that have (preferably single-author) published papers in major journals. Even if we all agree that this is a problematic system, how can we ethically navigate this system and also be attractive candidates on the market?

Some of the answers shared: co-authorship, cite widely, give advice and share experiences that go beyond the traditional world of academia, look outside your canon, draw on your own life-worlds, politics.


Q: I would like to ask if anyone in the panel or audience has thoughts about the issue of how to approach/refuse the citation of ‘problematic’ (for lack of a better word) scholars.

Q: I have a question that comes at this from a different direction, and that is how do we ethically cite very problematic authors (for critique, for example)? To give some background … I’m currently writing… about how homophobic professionals, authors and scholars structure people’s experiences which means that I’m citing people who I don’t want to support in any way and I think a lot about how downloading their articles and having them in my footnotes actually impacts journal impact factors and how to get around computer algorithms.


Q: Anyone has thoughts on how to best deal with the often gaslighting and gatekeepy referee reports that those trying to cite/work differently find themselves on the receiving end of when trying to publish in more traditional journals and presses? It has been quite a fascinating yet frustrating phenomenon to experience in Antiquity fields, to a point where I sometimes feel these fields are not « made » for me anymore.

A: This is such an important question that is so tough to answer because the simple solution is “find and support the more inclusive, respectful journals” but then we leave behind the more “prestigious” journals to the gatekeepers and it becomes a closed loop. Editors, of course, have a major responsibility here but are a part of the same system or have their hands tied.

A: Answer their points one by one and ask kindly for the reviewer to answer. Those answers will never come back and your paper will be accepted…I speak from experience. Is so fulfilling.

A: The journal editors who are here are at least open to learning, and the issue is how do we reach the gate-keepers who DON’T care? I want to echo [the] suggestion of sharing this panel directly with other journal editors, and (esp those of us in traditional positions) use our platforms to call out these processes.


Tip: For those of us who are reviewing: when you encounter a paper that is obviously trying to break the usual pattern citation, you can note it as a positive thing, marking it out for the editor. I like to use language like “you (the editor) might get a report that notes this as a negative, but there are the such-and-such reasons why I think this helps the article and also the journals’ readership” to preempt whatever “concerns” might show up in other readers’ reports. Same for tenure and promotion or grant evaluations.


Re tracking journal/presses data on gender and race:

It might be worthwhile [when] tracking gender to include a non-binary category.

It would be interesting to return to the archives of some journals and consider publishing past papers that were once rejected on accounts of bias. Esp articles by women from decades ago. What voices and opinions have we missed? Thinking specifically of women who were not able to stay in academia eventually.


Q: I teach at an undergrad institution and along with other amazing faculty we are exploring how this gate-keeping percolates to undergraduates through policies around plagiarism. I wonder if someone in the panel has thought along this way, how underrepresented students experience exclusion around not knowing “right citation”. For some underrepresented and international students this is obviously not clear, but it also not always make sense from a nonwestern perspective. How can we review those policies to keep the gates open at the undergrad level?


Two tweets by Elizabeth Chin, who is currently the editor of American Anthropologist

Some references (incl. those shared during the panel)

Sara Ahmed 2013. “Making Feminist Points“, Feminist Killjoy.

American Journal of Archaeology’s Editorial Policy and Statement of Purpose, as of 1 May 2021.

Juliana Bastos Marques, Amy L. Daniels, Mekhola Gomes, and Usama Ali Gad 2021. “#EOTalks: Classics beyond the Euro-American Gaze“, Everyday Orientalism.

Julia Belluz and Steven Hoffman 2015. “Let’s Stop Pretending Peer Review Works“, Vox.

Katherine Blouin, Usama Ali Gad and Rachel Mairs 2019. “Inside Out: An Introspective Look at Papyrology through its International Congresses“, Everyday Orientalism. The spreadsheet containing our data from 1930 – 2001 may be downloaded here: Papyrology Congresses 1930 – 2001.

Katherine Blouin 2019. “Papyri, Classics and what-not: Topics, tongues and occluded histories at the International Congresses of Papyrology“, Everyday Orientalism.

CLEAR Team 2021. “Citational Politics“, “Community Peer Review“, CLEAR.

Girish Daswani 2021. “On the Whiteness of Academia“, Everyday Orientalism.

Usama Ali Gad 2019. “Troublemakers, Visa Applications and Global Challenges“, Everyday Orientalism.

Usama Ali Gad since 2019. Classics in Arabic.

Nadhira Hill since 2020. Notes from the Apotheke blog. The first post of her “Hidden Curriculum” series can be accessed here.

Rebecca Futo Kennedy and Maximus Planudes 2020. “An Ethics of Citation“, Classics at the Intersections.

Laura Heath-Stout 2020. “Gender, Equity, and the Peer Review Process at the Journal of Field Archaeology“, Journal of Field Archaeology.

Zena Kamash 2021. “Rebalancing Roman Archaeology: From Disciplinary Inertia to Decolonial and Inclusive Action“, Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal 4.1, 1–41.

Max Liboiron 2021. “Introduction“, Pollution is Colonialism.

Alex Lichtenstein 2018. “Decolonizing the AHR“, American Historical Review 123.1, xiv-xvii. (Current AHR editorial policy, accessed 19.1.22, available here).

LSE Blog Editor 2019. “African and Development Studies: Scholarship in need of its own replication crisis“, LSE Blog.

Katherine McKittrick 2020. “Footnotes,” Dear Science and Other Stories. Duke University Press.

Ellen Muelhberger 2021. Tracking Template (Googledoc).

Ellen Muelhberger since 206. Race and Gender in the Journal of Early Christian Studies for the years 2012 to 2020.

Lucia Nixon 2020. “Messages from Mykene: Othering and Smothering. Intersectional Orientalism and Sexism in a Museum Exhibition“, Everyday Orientalism.

Angela Okune 2019. “Decolonizing Scholarly Data and Publishing Infrastructures“, LSE Blog.

Dan-el Padilla Peralta 2019. “Racial Equity and the Production of Knowledge“, Paper delivered at the Society for Classical Studies’ 2019 panel on The Future of Classics.

Rhea Classical Review’s 2021 Statement of Mission.

Jane Lawrence Sumner 2020. Gender Balance Assessment Tool (GBAT).

Linda Tuhiwai Smith 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies.

The Women’s Classical Caucus’ (WCC) Mentoring page and program.

Terry Wilson 1972, Birdcalls.

cover picture: Katherine Blouin

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