Advisory Board Meeting in September 1998


Our long-term goal was to "grow our own" future editors for the journal by working collectively to found the journal and learning first-hand what editing the journal entailed. The Women's Studies Program had a commitment to create a pipeline of feminist faculty of color who could join the local board as one of their primary commitments in the Program, and who could explore pre-tenure their interest and aptitude for becoming editor later in their careers. In our discussions, President Simmons was particularly eager to enhance the tenure prospects of young women of color nationwide by providing another first-rate venue for publication and to employ Meridians as well as a key element in implementing Smith's own diversity goals. Because all of the Smith faculty of color in the founding collective were untenured when we began the project, we proposed that we might initially need a visiting senior editor during the first several years of publication, but that greater stability for the journal would come from having an able pool of Smith faculty trained and willing to serve in the long-term future. The plan would also make the cost of the journal more affordable over time.

Our first search for a senior editor conducted in the spring of 1999 was
unsuccessful. Although we solicited nominations from our editorial boards, wrote personal letters to women of color who served on editorial boards of feminist journals with President Simmons' signature, posted the job ad widely on electronic lists, and wrote to women's studies and ethnic studies programs across the country, we had a very small applicant pool from which to choose. Although Meridians' mission was uniformly applauded by all we contacted, we attributed the small pool to our lack of substantial funding and the lack of a tangible product. We did, nonetheless, gain a much more complete understanding of what we needed in a senior editor through the search process.

The qualities we sought in a senior editor were these: someone who shared our
vision of the inclusive, interdisciplinary, provocative journal Meridians could be; an established scholar whose interests and contacts extended beyond her own field of research and thus would enable her to solicit the range of materials we desired to publish; someone with experience on a feminist journal and familiarity with the protocols of the review process; someone who could work collaboratively with the local editorial group to realize our goals and who could follow-through independently to realize the blueprint for the journal we'd outlined in our proposals; someone with the energy and commitment to make Meridians her first priority recognizing from our own experience the labor-intensive effort of soliciting high-quality essays for a fledgling journal; someone who could give Meridians positive visibility on campus and beyond; a scholar and teacher at a point in her career who could relocate to Smith for two years; someone who could further the larger Smith goal of enabling women faculty of color to create an intellectual community with broad-ranging contacts and to participate in shaping the future of the journal.

First Issue

In the summer and fall of 1999 we worked most intensively on gathering the materials for the first issue. We tested the editorial review process as we reviewed nearly 180 unsolicited manuscripts since our first call for papers in 1998, and we succeeded in meeting our goal of setting a new benchmark among academic journals for timely decisions, almost all complete within three months from submission. Our steadily expanding network of peer reviewers proved as knowledgeable and generous as we'd hoped. Reader's reports were detailed, sympathetic yet candid about needed revision, constructive in content and tone. As one contributor commented on her anonymous reviewers: “their comments represent some of the most nuanced responses I have received during the editorial process for articles submitted to a variety of journals. . .I look forward to further comments from your obviously savvy editorial board.”

Editorial Group

Each member of the editorial group took responsibility for aggressively soliciting a stellar piece for the first issue, recognizing that the profile of the first issue would in large part shape of the issue who our subscribers and future contributors would be. We were committed to including recent graduate students as well as known authorities in a field, and all of our contributors willingly participated in several rounds of revision and wrote (and rewrote) our introduction. Each of the members of the collective read each of the pieces we considered for the first issue. Together we made the final selection, prioritized necessary revisions, designed the shape of the issue, and wrote (and rewrote) our introduction. Finally we enlisted members of our international advisory board to reflect on the key terms of our title--feminism, race, transnationalism--to chart what these terms have contributed to progressive social movements and to identify the challenges ahead for women around the world. This opening "counterpoint" highlights the central mission of Meridians to illuminate both the intersections and contradictions of these terms in the specific lives of women.

Editor Search


Our second national search for a senior editor in the winter of 1999-2000, once funding for the start-up phase was secure and Meridians' mission more widely known, yielded stronger candidates and a larger pool and enabled us to make a stellar appointment. Kum-Kum Bhavnani, who began a two year term as senior editor in residence at Smith College in July 2000, is Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at UC, Santa Barbara, and chair of the Women, Culture and Development Program there, a program she founded with fifteen other faculty. Her contributions as researcher and teacher to the analysis of racism in feminist theory and to developing a new paradigm for development studies make her an ideal choice for the position. She brings outstanding editorial experience from her membership in the Feminist Review editorial collective, her experience as a founding and then associate editor of Feminism and Psychology, and as a guest editor for special issues of Signs. She has edited important collections on race and gender in their complex dimensions and intersections with politics, youth culture, and feminism. Dr. Myriam Chancy came on board as the next editor in 2002, followed by Prof. Paula J. Giddings in 2004.

Managing Editor

Elizabeth Hanssen became managing editor (75% time) in February of 2000. For the first seven months of the Ford grant, the journal had depended on a succession of two temporary half-time staff members in this position. Ms. Hanssen's exceptional qualifications are a very good match for our needs. Having the position filled with someone of this caliber and with her long-term commitment to the journal brings much needed stability and continuity to all of the operations of the editorial office.

Campaign Goal

The depth of the institutional commitment Meridians gained even before its inaugural issue was published can be measured by the College's 2003 capital campaign. Meridians was ranked among the highest priorities for new initiatives at the College. The campaign goal is to establish an endowment by the end of the campaign in 2003 to produce sufficient income to cover the salaries and operating expenses (exclusive of production costs met by subscription revenue) of the journal.

To be continued...

Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism
Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063 | phone: 413.585.3388
| fax: 413.585.3362 | meridians@smith.edu
Published by Indiana University Press