New electronic journals and early pan-Africanist dreams: an annotated bibliography of selected resources in pan-African studies.

Author:Robinson, Marsha R.
Position:Bibliography
 
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"E-journal" is a popular term that refers to journals that are produced for electronic distribution via the internet. Some are electronic versions of journals that are published on paper. Some electronic journals are produced exclusively for electronic distribution. Major publishing houses such as Brill and Sage Publications, in addition to university presses, have adopted this alternative publication method. The format seems to be a natural evolution from the electronic databases on which many of us rely. A significant development has been the decision to create open-access electronic journals. Publishers do not charge a fee for access to the content of open-access journals. In some parts of the world with low bandwidth or slower data transfer rates, internet access is relatively expensive. The cost of down-loading an article in such areas is prohibitive enough but it is relatively surmountable compared to the cost of traditional subscriptions to academic journals. This open-access option benefits humanity by increasing the number of people around the world who can acquire, apply and refine the knowledge that is shared in these journals. In other words, open access and other e-journals are a leap forward toward the democratization of global knowledge production.

There is a need to be concerned about the continued production of these journals. Because some journals are still available in print and by subscription, some publishers delay the internet version until several years after the release to subscribers of the printed version. This delay between the subscribers' version and the open-access distribution is sometimes referred to as a "moving wall." Another concern is the entrepreneurial aspect of publishing. Many journals begin but they do not all survive the second or fifth year. Others succumb to funding issues or low readership. In these situations, one must be concerned about archiving e-journals. The humanitarian benefits of sharing knowledge through e-journals far outweigh these concerns.

In fact, this democratization and globalization of knowledge, especially within the African diaspora, is a beautiful manifestation of the dreams of early Pan Africanists. This became ever clearer to me as I searched for e-journals about Africa-descended people on the continent and in diaspora. In researching this essay, I searched for scholarly e-journals of the new millennium. Some published their first edition in 2012. Others adopted the electronic format in 1999 or later. Some were located through keyword searches. Others were gathered from databases such as African Journals Online (www.ajol.info) and the Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org). I searched for journals about Black Studies, African Studies, Africana Studies, and African Diaspora Studies. Once I assembled my initial list of journals, I then searched for those that debuted in or on the cusp of the twenty-first century. In order to arrive at a qualitative description of the journal, I examined the tables of content, the mission statement, statements from the editors, and the first article of the first edition. I noted accessibility issues such as open access or moving walls. I paid attention to the geographic location of the journal's home. I was not always able to determine if each journal continues to be produced nor did I find all of the points of comparison that I established for each journal.

My purpose for this annotated bibliography, as a historian, is to present the e-journal format as a new millennium manifestation of nineteenth century visions of three of the earliest Pan Africanists: Rev. Alexander Crummell, Dr. Martin Delany, and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. I do so in three sections. First, I review nineteenth-century proto-Pan-African goals of "lofty civilization" and "vitalizing qualities in the changeless hopes of humanity." Second, I present some e-journals as modern vehicles to deliver and distribute the information from the humanities that is necessary to achieve these two nineteenth century goals. Finally, I present some journals that focus more on the social science aspect of this vision.

Nineteenth Century Proto-Pan-Africanism

Rev. Crummel set the pattern of a Pan Africanist's life by claiming his African and American heritage for he lived in the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa. He was a true cultural steward. After fifty years of ordained ministry in West Africa and the United States, he devoted his last years to establishing the American Negro Academy (March 1897) in Washington, DC. Rev. Crummel charged the first class and each succeeding generation of Africana scholars with a particular mission for the benefit of the human race. Thus,

What is the great difficulty with the black race, in this era, in this land? It is that both within their ranks, and external to themselves, by large schools of thought interested in them, material ideas in divers forms are made prominent, as the master-need of the race, and as the surest way to success. Men are constantly dogmatizing theories of sense and matter as the salvable hope of the race. Some of our leaders and teachers boldly declare, now, that property is the source of power; and then, that money is the thing which commands respect. At one time it is official position which is the masterful influence in the elevation of the race; at another, men are disposed to fall back upon blood and lineage, as the root (source) of power and progress. Blind men! For they fail to see that neither property, nor money, nor station, nor office, nor lineage, are fixed factors, in so large a thing as the destiny of man; that they are not vitalizing qualities in the changeless hopes of humanity. The greatness of peoples springs from their ability to grasp the grand conceptions of being. It is the absorption of a people, of a nation, of a race, in large majestic and abiding things which lifts them up to the skies. These once apprehended, all the minor details of life follow in their proper places, and spread abroad in the details and the comfort of practicality. But until these gifts of a lofty civilization are secured, men are sure to remain low, debased and grovelling [sic]. (1) I write this review on the one hundred fifteenth anniversary of Rev. Crummel's address. The e-journals included in this essay therefore evince degrees of continuity with the founding ideals of the American Negro Academy and they do so because of the people who have gone before us and cleared the way for hundreds and thousands of researchers of Africana and Pan African studies who continue to labor and to teach "vitalizing qualities in the changeless hopes of humanity."

Dr. Martin Delany (1812-1885), a West Virginia native, acquaintance of Rev. Crummel and adviser to President Abraham Lincoln, is another person who modeled the life of a Pan Africanist, namely that of living on several continents and consequently inhabiting an intellectual space that is greater than any one nation's boundaries or culture. An advocate of creating colonies of free African Americans away from American enslavement, he lived for a time in Canada and evaluated prospects for repatriation to the African continent. Delany was troubled by the ravages to some African polities because of the Atlantic slave trade and he expressed his views in his report on the Niger Valley and West Africa. Furthermore, Dr. Delany may be one of the earliest modern people to envision the African Union and to predict its challenges in economic development of its human, vegetable, animal and mineral capital. Hence, he posit that.

Africa is our fatherland and we its legitimate descendants. ... I have outgrown, long since, the boundaries of North America, and with them have also outgrown the boundaries of their claims. I, therefore, cannot consent to sacrifice the prospects of two hundred millions [his estimate of the population of the African continent], that a fraction of five millions may be benefitted, especially since the measures adopted for the many must necessarily benefit the few. Africa, to become regenerated, must have a national character, and her position among the existing nations of the earth will depend mainly upon the high standard she may gain compared with them in all her relations, morally, religiously, socially, politically, and commercially. I have determined to leave to my children the inheritance of a country, the possession of territorial domain, the blessings of a national education, and the indisputable right of self-government; that they may not succeed to the servility and degradation bequeathed to us by our fathers. If we have not been born to fortunes, we should impart the seeds which shall germinate and give birth to fortunes for them. (2) In Delany's words, we have the germs of anti-colonialism, the rise of the African Union, and the idea of African Renaissance. We also have an idea that will likely be addressed more fully in Africana Studies departments that are developing doctoral programs in African Diaspora Studies, namely the right of return of those who were born in the diaspora, even those...

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