offensive_publication

Τhe chronicle of an “offensive” publication

The editorial team

issue 1

On October 31, 2016, members of the Editorial Boardcontacted the Greek National Documentation Centre (EKT) in the course of our search for a platform to host our new journal. There were several reasons we opted for the EKT platform: it would provide us access to a unified journal management infrastructure, enable us to disseminate our journal on a platform with a national audience and also secure some stability for our journal content in a rapidly evolving digital environment (via DOI, indexing). Furthermore, we agreed with EKT’s policy of free and open access. Finally, given that our journal does not have a steady funding source, we decided to claim this minimal infrastructural support for our publishing initiative. After written communication with EKΤ, regarding both the subject of the proposed journal and technical matters regarding the use of the platform, we began the process of setting up the journal on EKT’s e Publishing/ e-Journal platform. On December 2, 2016, members of the Editorial Board visited the offices of EKT in Athens for an information session and, following that meeting, on January 2, 2017, the National Documentation Center/ EIE and the Editorial Board of the journal signed a Framework of Collaboration for the development of electronic academic journals (#2017_EKT_ΠΣ01). According to the aforementioned Framework of Collaboration, the Editorial Board was exclusively responsible for the content of the journal and no reference was made regarding approval by EKT of content uploaded to the platform. Ιn March 2017 as we continued our preparations for the launch of the journal, we engaged in further conversations with EKT regarding technical aspects of the platform and, particularly, the possibility of uploading video content to the platform. In order to test these technical –and solely technical– features of the platform, we sent EKT a video from the first issue of the journal. This video presented some of the activities of AMOQA, the Athens Museum of Queer Arts. On March 20, 2017, we received an e-mail response from EKT that informed us, vaguely, that the video “has content that cannot be published on the platform because it would generate controversy within the organization”! Alarmed by this development, on April 10, 2017, we submitted an official request concerning the terms and conditions for e-Journal publishing, the (institutional) body responsible for these terms and the process according to which the particular decision had been made. Not until July 14, more than three months after we submitted our query, did we receive a response (an e-mail again, not on official letterhead) that the terms of use of the service had been “updated” and that, according to these new terms, the video we had sent to EKT was considered “offensive”. In response to that message, which in essence proclaimed a drastic and unilateral modification of the terms of our collaboration with EKT, on October 27th, we sent the following letter to EKT, withdrawing our journal from the Centre’s platform, since given the new facts of the situation, it would be impossible to implement the Framework of Collaboration that EKT and the Editorial Board had agreed upon and co-signed on January 2, 2017:

Following up on your electronic response (e-mail July 24, 2017) to the Editorial Board of the journal Feministika2, we would like to notify you of the decision of the Editorial Board and the publisher of the journal, the Centre for Research on Women’s Issues “Diotima”, to withdraw our journal from the EKT platform and, thus, for the Framework of Collaboration we signed with EKT to not go into force.

On the part of the Editorial Board, we are opposed to the terms that you have set regarding the publication of the particular video and more generally the policy that those terms portend. Contradicting every academic protocol for review and production of critical discourse, a supposedly “open” platform, “supported by all the taxpayers of Greece” (as you have reminded us in oral communication), instead of “hosting content” has proceeded to make interpretations, have opinions and arrive at decisions circumventing the peer review process and the decisions of the Academic and Advisory Boards, as well as those of the Editorial Board.

We would also like to note that we were particularly struck by the fact that EKT, with the excuse of being “discomfited” by the video, was compelled retroactively to create “terms of use” in order to justify the right of the “platform” to censor and restrict the circulation of ideas in the public sphere based on particular cultural –and certainly not natural or given– ideas about what is “proper”. Indeed, instead of promoting dialogue, along with disagreement, which we consider a fundamental feature of a democratic public sphere –and in the final analysis the very reason for the existence of journals– the platform demanded a priori consent and “restraint”. Instead of defending and promoting the principle of polyphony, the platform took as a given that the author of every article should have signed a “contract” with the journal! The aforementioned practices and their concealment behind a technocratic discourse regarding the “proper functioning of the platform” hardly constitute a “spirit of cooperation”.

In conclusion we consider that the Editorial Board has been subject to discrimination as regards equal access to public assets and services, such as the public platform provided by EKT –for indeed we too are Greek “taxpayers”. Ironically, this exemption was effected through the very practices of exclusion, stigmatization, sexism and racism to which our journal aims to draw attention. Finally, we would like to inform you that given the political sensitivity of this matter, we plan to publish this letter in the first issue of our journal and to submit this matter to the test of public dialogue.

The Editorial Board of the journal

We have yet to receive a response to our letter from EKT. Οn the occasion of this “event”, we could not but reflect on the long genealogy of stigmatization of feminist, queer, anti-sexist, anti homophobic and anti transphobic discourse through the tactical and normative invocation of the “offence” and “disruption” of the standards of public discourse (at times, also of “public morality”). These are practices of delimitation and preemptive normalization of public discourse, through which the possibility for critique is reduced. It is not at all coincidental that these practices foster a public discourse that conceals and reproduces naturalized gendered and sexual norms and biases. At the same time, these practices make imperative a critical approach to the process by which the “offensive” is defined. Why indeed is the publication of an anti-homophobic video automatically deemed offensive and its non-publication not considered offensive? Which subjects are considered here as “offended” and possibly affected? Is it not actually offensive that the field of critique of heteronormative mono-logue is being circum scribed? Which gendered categories delimit the “admissible” in public discourse and which operate to exempt it from probable future critical conflicts and challenges? In response to the banal restriction of the non-heteronormative, we assert and perform our right to public presence and critical publicity.

Notes

1 In our initial communications with EKT we referred to our collective as an ‘Editorial Board while in our original agreement with EKT the Centre for Research on Women’s Issues “Diotima” had assumed the (required by EKT) role of our ‘publisher’. After we decided to withdraw the journal from the EKT platform and in the course of applying for an ISSN from the National Library of Greece, we were informed that we could publish the journal independently but would need to assume the role of publisher ourselves. Hence, the current appellation of our editorial collective as ‘Publishing Team’.

2 Φεμινιστικά/Feministika was the original name of the journal. After withdrawing the journal from the EKT platform, the Publishing Team decided to change the name to φεμινιστιqά/feministiqά.