‘Scholars from the periphery’ often pay a price — unintentional but no less real — for their geography. In this post, Amon Barros and Rafael Alcadipani, both professors at Fundação Getulio Vargas’s Sao Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP), reflect on their paper, “Decolonizing Journals in Management and Organizations? Epistemological Colonial Encounters and the Double Translation,” published in Management Learning.
The idea for publishing “Decolonizing Journals in Management and Organizations? Epistemological Colonial Encounters and the Double Translation” in Management Learning emerged almost naturally from our everyday interactions with “international” academia. Our school is heavily focused on increasing its global reach. Although we recognize our privileges for having this opportunity, we also live with the challenges emerging from entering new frontiers and becoming “native.” We always highlight among ourselves and our students that when you are aiming for an international audience, you need to be prepared for at least three challenges. First, the language barriers; second, the translation of ideas that goes beyond writing and communicating in English and includes learning new aesthetics for writing a manuscript. Finally, the difficulties emerging from being read as an “other” someone coming from a different place sometimes borders xenophobia.
We also realized that networking and politics impact which papers are accepted or rejected. Being from Brazil puts people in a disadvantageous position to build up successful networks that can help foster publications in top international journals.
We believe that our piece successfully developed these ideas and brought up the need for journal communities, including editors and reviewers, to think of new and more inclusive ways of bringing diverse research and scholars and broaden the scope of their conversations. For instance, they could assign associate editors that can evaluate an idea in its original language before asking for full papers in English or even having an entire process conducted in a different language. Although our proposals might sound fancy to some, social sciences are heavily dependent on communicating ideas through written words, sometimes unable to rely on numbers or formulas.
Additionally, it is essential to stress the material costs of being an international scholar. Most academics coming from outside rich countries cannot afford to even dream of participating in these areas. However, in Brazil, the pressure is increasing for forced internationalization, which sometimes leads researchers, especially young scholars, into a dead-end. Also, the community must recognize that some of the difficulties international scholars face do not come from lack of talent, or inability to communicate in English, but often not-so-subtle gatekeeping coming from prejudice. If we do not talk about it openly, we will not challenge those terrible practices and create mechanisms and incentives for greater inclusivity.
Our piece is innovative because we take the point of view of scholars from the periphery who tries to publish in “international” journals and participate in an academic setting that is different and sometimes distant from the Brazilian reality. We share and expose the difficulties of this process. By doing that, we indicate the colonial logics which per passes many academic journals and international arenas and propose feasibly actions that can be taken to try to make journal publications less unequal.