Growing Seeds: What's New at 'Meridians'

'Meridians' editor Ginetta E.B. Candelario (right), professor of sociology and Latin American studies, and the journal's editorial assistant, Leslie Marie Aguilar, at the new Henshaw Avenue location.

Meridians, Smith’s pioneering journal of scholarship by and about women of color, begins the academic year with a new campus location, new editorial leadership and a new publisher.

Professor Ginetta Candelario, who began work as editor of Meridians in July, says the changes help advance the journal’s mission to spotlight issues of feminism, race and transnationalism.

Meridians exemplifies how Smith supports women of color feminisms,” says Candelario. “That role is more important now than ever.”

Candelario is joined at the journal by award-winning poet and poetry editor Leslie Marie Aguilar, Meridians’ new editorial assistant.

Beginning next year, after more than a decade with Indiana University Press, Meridians will be published by Duke University Press—the premier academic press for issues covered by the journal.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to an open house at Meridians’ new headquarters at 18 Henshaw Avenue (B2) on Friday, Sept. 22, at 3 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Here’s what Candelario and Aguilar had to say about what’s new at Meridians.

What advantages does your new location offer?

Candelario: “The new space allows us to be more integrated in the life of the campus. We started out way back when in a tiny office on Elm Street, then moved into Wright Hall. This space is more conducive to the kind of community-building we want to do with the journal—bringing in more people to support and be part of our work.”

Aguilar: “One of the goals of our open house is to reintroduce Smith students to Meridians. We want them to be able to come in and ask us questions about publishing and about how to get papers published. We hope this location will be seen as communal space where we can host writing groups, start a library and bring authors in for readings. We want students to see Meridians as their home-based journal—a place where they can learn.”

What’s new on the editorial side?

Candelario: “Meridians is unique in that, in addition to research about women of color, we also publish creative fiction and nonfiction. Every one of our covers also features an original, beautiful artwork by a woman of color. Growing the creative work of the journal is something we’re looking forward to doing. Another new direction is multilingualism. We want to be publishing articles in more than one language—Spanglish, for example.”

Aguilar: “We’re also expanding our advisory board to reflect our commitment to transnationalism. That’s always been part of our mission, so that readers aren’t just looking across the ocean at a place, but are hearing from scholars from around the globe.”

What is something that hasn’t changed at Meridians?

Candelario: “Our mission. Meridians has always been about providing a pathway for scholarship by women of color and transforming the face of the academy. Women of color are still incredibly underrepresented in academia. The numbers really have not shifted in 30 years. The journal has been successful in drawing work from a range of scholars—from rock stars in their fields to those relatively new to the academy. We know publishing is still necessary for success in academia. The support we’ve received from President Kathleen McCartney this year will help us find ways to expand our mission.”

What’s it like to be publishing a print journal in an era of digital media?

Aguilar: It’s still important to have a print publication and an archive of past issues. In the future, we want to think about opportunities for adding a digital component to the journal. Kayla Foney ’17 has curated a special issue of Meridians titled “making the meme: on new media and digital blackness,” which exemplifies the type of multimedia content we are hoping to publish moving forward. Kayla’s issue will be published on our website in the near future and will serve as a template for future student endeavors in digital-print publication.

Why is it important to have a journal devoted to scholarship about women of color?

Candelario: “This is a moment when higher education and academic freedom are under assault—when scholars are literally receiving death threats. Now more than ever, Meridians plays an important role in providing a space for women of color and letting us know that we are in community. There’s a line from a poem by Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos that says ‘they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.’ That’s what we do at Meridians—and at Smith. We grow seeds.”