Feminist Futures of Peer Review

by | Sep 1, 2023

It’s no secret that the standard peer review model is in crisis.

Press acquisition editors, conference planners, tenure review committees, and journal editors are struggling to find enough peer reviewers to cover their massive backlogs.

At the same time, faculty reviewers are overwhelmed and exhausted by the deluge of new responsibilities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, state attacks on tenure and diversity, austerity politics, and commercial publishing models that incentivize more and more research output at the expense of care and sustainability.

This is of course compounded for those of us in marginalized subject positions as we’re often fighting fires on multiple fronts at once.

Despite these challenges, intersectional feminism has long provided alternative models and futures for peer review though, including approaching review as collective support, making visible the racially gendered labor of reviewing, and using review to signal-boost and deeply engage with the work of marginalized scholars.

On Sepember 25, 2023, Ideas on Fire hosted a panel discussion with 4 interdisciplinary feminist scholars—April D.J. Petillo, Josen Masangkay Diaz, Dolores Inés Casillas, and Cathy Hannabach—about how they are navigating peer review in our contemporary moment and collectively building intersectional feminist futures to support engaged research and critical thinking.

The conversation revealed diverse tactics for reforming the peer review practice that authors, editors, publishers, and reviewers alike can adopt to create more sustainable futures for scholarly publishing.

Video and resources

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    Josen Masangkay Diaz in front of text includes Josen's name and the University of San Diego

    Josen Masangkay Diaz is an associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of San Diego.

    Her research and teaching focus on questions of race, gender, and subjectivity as they relate to histories of colonialism, liberalism, and authoritarianism.

    Her book Postcolonial Configurations: Dictatorship, the Racial Cold War, and Filipino America (Duke University Press, 2023), analyzes the formation of Filipino American subjectivity within US–Philippine Cold War politics.

    April Petillo smiling at the camera, with April's name and Northern Arizona University

    April D. J. Petillo is an assistant professor of public sociology at Northern Arizona University whose research and community work foreground a “tribal feminist critical race theory informed by anti-settler colonialist sentiments.”

    Her work is inspired by community social justice, and she is passionate about creating student-centered learning environments focused on real-life applicability.  She specializes in Native American/Indigenous studies, comparative/critical ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, law and policy, critical trafficking studies and queer theories.

    She is the co-editor with Heather R. Hlavaka of Researching Gender-Based Violence: Embodied and Intersectional Approaches (NYU Press, 2022) .

    She is also co-editor of Feminist Anthropology, a ground-breaking interdisciplinary journal that brings to both anthropology and scholarly publishing more broadly a fierce commitment to gender equity, inclusion, and radical possibility.

    Dolores Inés Casillas in front of trees, with her name and University of California, Santa Barbara

    Dolores Inés Casillas is a professor of Chicana and Chicano studies and director of the Chicano Studies Institute (CSI) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on immigrant engagement with US Spanish-language and bilingual media, the representation of accented Spanish and English languages within popular culture, and the integration of ethnic studies within K–12 schools.  

    She is the author of Sounds of Belonging: US Spanish-language Radio and Public Advocacy (NYU Press, 2014), co-editor with María Elena Cepeda of the Companion to Latina/o Media Studies (Routledge Press, 2016); and co-editor with Mary Bucholtz and Jin Sook Lee of Feeling It: Language, Race and Affect in Latinx Youth Learning (Routledge, 2018).  

    She is also a co-convener for the Latinx Sound Cultures Research group for the Crossing Latinidades Humanities Initiative and director of the Spanish and Bilingual Radio Caucus for the Radio Preservation Task Force hosted by the Library of Congress.

    Cathy Hannabach working on a computer, with her name and Ideas on Fire

    Cathy Hannabach is the founder and CEO of Ideas on Fire, where she helps interdisciplinary academics write and publish awesome texts, enliven public conversations, and create more just worlds. Passionate about interdisciplinary indexing and editing, she leads a transnational team helping scholars make an impact.

    She hosts Imagine Otherwise, highlighting those bridging art, activism, and academia in the service of social justice.

    Author of Blood Cultures: Medicine, Media, and Militarisms and Book Marketing for Academics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), her research and commentary appears in outlets including Social Text: PeriscopeStudies in Gender and Sexuality, Cultural Politics, New Learning Times, the BBC, Women and Performance, Contra*, and Dismantle Magazine.

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    Cathy Hannabach is the founder and CEO of Ideas on Fire as well as the host of the Imagine Otherwise podcast.

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