The Commons and Care (Samuel Moore and Mattering Press)

Introduction

Several projects within the Radical Open Access Collective (including Mattering Press, Goldsmiths Press, the PPJ, and Capacious) frame the work they do around open access publishing as a form of care. Here publishing is understood as a complex, multi-agential, relational practice. In various ways, these projects are concerned with considering how to attend more closely to some of the key participants in the publishing process and the practical responsibilities this might entail. This is in marked opposition to those neoliberal variants of open access publishing that focus more on individual authorial brands and measurable quantifiable outputs. In challenging such models, publishers have sought to open up and render explicit the politics of scholarly communication. This has been by, for example, developing an ethos in which people are paid fairly for their labour, in particular those without a direct stake in the published works themselves, acknowledging and otherwise making explicit their contributions, and redirecting volunteer efforts away from commercial profit-driven entities in favour of supporting more progressive not-for-profit forms of publishing. Through these and other means, care is used as a way for open access publishers to both reflect on their own work and begin to counter the calculative logics that permeate academic publishing. A key promise that animates these endeavours is the potential for developing publishing practices that enrich not just the careers of individual scholars but also scholarly communities. The hope is that it might be possible to build new and more horizontal alliances between authors, reviewers, publishers, readers, and the usually invisible body skilled professionals and volunteers on which so many experiments in open access publishing depend. In this panel, Joe Deville, an editor at Mattering Press, opens up these questions by exploring the potential for open access publishing to rethink their relationships with universities and how the recent wave of industrial action at many UK universities might provide some valuable lessons. This includes questioning the forms of care for scholars and scholarship many universities currently offer and the opportunities and dangers this presents for scholar-led publishing initiatives. In the panel’s second paper, Samuel Moore complicates our understanding of the scholarly commons by focusing on the relationships and struggles inherent in practices of ‘commoning’. Rather than thinking of the commons as a resource or form of governance, he argues that it is better conceived as a relational process, grounded in forms of care, that is positioned towards a shared, common(s) horizon. In the final paper, Tahani Nadim, a long time friend of Mattering Press, explores an ethics of care through the realm of the personal, focusing on the role relations of friendship play within scholarly production, and how they lie at the heart of the press. She stresses the importance of taking time for ethical deliberations, for the crafting of affective bonds, constructed and modulated through the publishing process and most importantly through books as affiliative objects.

Samuel Moore & Mattering Press

 

Joe Deville (j.deville@lancaster.ac.uk) is a Lecturer at Lancaster University. He is an editor and Trustee of Mattering Press. Alongside his interest in Open Access, his research has focused on the everyday life of debt, questions of informational mobility and methods of algorithmic prediction, and disaster preparedness and the production of risk.

Samuel Moore (samuel.moore@kcl.ac.uk) is currently writing up his Ph.D. on open access publishing and humanities disciplines in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. He also works with the Radical Open Access Collective and is a researcher on the Reading Peer Review project at Birkbeck.

Tahani Nadim (tahani.nadim@hu-berlin.de) is a junior professor at the Institute for European Ethnology in a joint appointment with the Museum of Natural History Berlin. She is part of CARMAH, the Centre for anthropological research on museums and heritage and is currently assembling “Data natures”, a new research programme examining the datafication of nature.