A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture

Cultivating Inclusivity: A Response from the Managing Editor

Scot Barnett, Indiana University

As protests continue across the country in defiance of systemic racism and police brutality, and as more and more people rise up to say, “enough is enough,” we at enculturation express our solidarity with these efforts and affirm, without hesitation, that Black Lives Matter and that justice for some is justice for none. We condemn racism in its many forms and acknowledge the fact that power and privilege are unequally distributed in this country, resulting in the violent marginalization of people of color and other oppressed groups. As an academic journal, we also acknowledge that academia is not immune from these inequities—far from it, in fact. As an institution, academia, which includes its publishing apparatuses, is complicit with structures that amplify and empower some voices at the expense of others. If we are serious about combatting systemic racism and supporting antiracist movements, we, as a journal, must look inward to our own practices even as we continue to advocate for change in the culture at large.

Academic journals are, by their nature, exclusive. Not all submissions can be published, and difficult choices have to be made at various stages in the review process. But just because journals are exclusive does not mean that they must therefore be exclusionary. Journals like enculturation have the opportunity—indeed, the responsibility—to expand and diversify their publications, to empower as wide a range of voices as possible to speak about issues pressing to the journal’s readers. What we choose to publish matters: it communicates what we value about the field and who we believe has something important to say to the field. At enculturation, we have published articles and special issues addressing race, difference, and advocacy over the past several years. And yet, like many other academic journals, we can do better. And we must do better. 

enculturation is unique in many ways; not only is it one of only a handful of online, open-access journals in the field, but for over twenty years it has provided an important space for emerging and established scholars to publish theoretically rich, and sometimes risky, work in rhetoric and writing studies. This legacy is important, and it is one I plan to uphold during my tenure as managing editor. At the same time, and during this critical moment in our nation’s history as we grapple with the realities of systemic racism, the journal can do more in support of antiracist and decolonial efforts. Specifically, we can do more to interrogate our own editorial practices, to open up opportunities for diverse participation in the journal, to further diversify our editorial board, and to amplify diverse voices and perspectives in our issues. As the managing editor of this journal, I recognize that we (myself included) must do better, and I commit to working with the editorial team to ensure that we are working toward these goals and encouraging as wide a range of scholarly projects as possible in the journal.

These are difficult and trying times, and they call out for novel methods of engagement and fresh theoretical orientations from which to understand the rhetorical realities of our world today. To this end, we, as the editorial team, encourage authors, especially historically marginalized members of the field, to continue submitting articles, reviews, responses, and sonic projects that speak to issues of inequity, systemic racism, and advocacy from wide range of rhetorical perspectives. We also encourage colleagues to submit proposals for special issues that address topics related to the legacies of systemic racism in the field, its manifestations in current debates in the field, and future antiracist possibilities for the scholarship, service, and teaching we do in the field. As an editorial team, going forward, we will actively work to solicit articles and proposals as well. And with respect to our editorial practices, we will be asking authors—at all stages of the review process—to diversify their bibliographies and to engage work from underrepresented scholars in their manuscripts.

As the editorial team, we accept these responsibilities and will continue to work toward increased equity and representation in all aspects and at all levels of the journal. As Lisa A. Flores argues, while there may be an abundance of scholarship on race in the field, too often “this work flourishes in the spaces between, outside, and beyond the ‘canon,’ tokenized in readers and syllabi in that familiar pattern of one is enough” (5-6). The marginalization of such work is not specific to any one journal or syllabus, but rather reflects, in Carmen Kynard’s terms, the widespread culture of “disciplinary whiteness” that “reproduces racist logics” within its knowledge-making institutions (3). In his contribution to a special forum on #RhetoricSoWhite in Quarterly Journal of Speech, Godfried Agyeman Asante argues that countering these logics requires us in rhetorical studies to “interrogate the normalized characteristics of Whiteness embedded in the field’s disciplinary norms and forms of knowledge production, such as meritocracy and citational practices, that devalue what Bernadette Marie Calafell terms the ‘Other perspective’” (485). In his introduction to this same forum, Darrel Wanzer-Serrano suggests that this form of critical self-reflection must take place “with an eye toward producing and sustaining ‘racial equality’ so that different groups can stand ‘on a relatively equal footing,’ even if that means that ‘in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently’” (471).

Contesting disciplinary whiteness and enabling equity across the profession is not just the work of journals and editorial teams, but journals wield particular power in academia due to how publication and citation practices are enmeshed in hierarchies of knowledge and value. Publication and citation practices reproduce institutional racism, as Paula Chakravartty and her colleagues remind us, and this in turn “has material consequences on the field’s quality of knowledge and on the social, emotional, professional, economic, and political lives of people of color who have traditionally been marginalized within the academy” (257). What Chakravartty’s detailed study of scholarly publishing today (and others like it) suggest is that cultivating equity and justice demand, first and foremost, that we acknowledge the realities of institutional racism and, in response, work consciously and continuously to ensure that the value of publication and leadership within the profession is distributed as equally as possible among scholars in the field. 

You can read more about our editorial changes, including new tips for prospective authors, on our updated About and Submissions pages. We hope these changes will continue to grow and improve enculturation for its readers, authors, and the field at large, even as we recognize that the hard work of overturning systemic racism, both inside and outside of the academy, is ongoing and must never end.

On a personal note, I am equal parts humbled and thrilled to be joining the enculturation team. I have a long history with this journal as both a reader and an author. My very first publication, a book review, appeared in enculturation, and as a graduate student—and eventually as a faculty member and mentor to graduate students—I have consistently reached for enculturation and its open-access content for the most recent, cutting-edge work in rhetorical theory, composition, and writing studies. What I have always loved about this journal is its willingness to push boundaries while at the same time providing space for emerging scholars to showcase their work. Over the past two decades, many friends and colleagues have volunteered their time and expertise to this journal, and with that work have helped enculturation become an indispensable resource for the field today. During my tenure as managing editor, I pledge to honor that work by leaning into the history of this journal which, as I see it, was always meant to give voice to those who are working critically, experimentally, and progressively to challenge the field to think otherwise, to consider new perspectives and new ways of seeing the world. This is why I believe enculturation is one of the academic venues best suited for the important work of this time, and I look forward to working with our authors, editorial team, board members, and reviewers to create spaces for meaningful conversation about where we are and where we need to go.   

Sincerely and in solidarity,

Scot Barnett
Managing Editor of enculturation
Associate Professor and Director of Composition, Indiana University

Works Cited

Asante, Godfried Agyeman. “#RhetoricSoWhite and US Centered: Reflections on Challenges and Opportunities.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol. 105, no. 4, pp. 484-488.

Chakravartty, Paula, Rachel Kuo, Victoria Grubbs, and Charlton Mcllwain. “#CommunicationSoWhite.” Journal of Communication, vol. 68, 2018, pp. 254-266. 

Flores, Lisa A. “Between Abundance and Marginalization: The Imperative of Racial Rhetorical Criticism.” Review of Communication, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 4-24.

Kynard, Carmen. “Teaching While Black: Witnessing and Countering Disciplinary Whiteness, Racial Violence, and University Race-Management.” Literacy in Composition Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, 2015, pp. 1-20. 

Wanzer-Serrano, Darrel. “Rhetoric’s Rac(e/ist) Problems.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol. 105, no. 4, pp. 465-476.