Imagine Otherwise: Jessica Bissett Perea on Indigenous Transformations in Academic Publishing

Aug 19, 2021 | Podcast

Publishing plays a central role in higher education, primarily through the hiring, tenure, and promotion process. Because of this, transforming academic publishing means transforming how scholarly knowledge itself is produced, circulated, and applied.

The research process, writing process, and publishing process are all deeply intertwined and all offer opportunities to build the kinds of worlds we want to inhabit.

To explore how this process works and the worldmaking possibilities it opens up, in episode 139 of Imagine Otherwise, I interview Dena’ina musician-scholar Jessica Bissett Perea.

Jessica is the founder of the Indigeneity Collaboratory, an Indigenous-led and Indigeneity-centered research collective that advances relational ways of being, knowing, and doing. She’s also an associate professor in the Department of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis.

In our conversation, Jessica shares various entry points for decolonial intervention that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, editors, and publishers can explore.

First up, we chat about Jessica’s experience switching research topics early in her career. She shares practical tips on how to find the research topics that inspire you and give back to the communities you care about as well as how to think critically about your specific positionality in relation to your research.

We also tackle the writing process.

Everything from stylistic choices like capitalization and italicization to the citation politics of bibliographies offer opportunities to remake how intellectual labor is exchanged and valued.

Finally, Jessica and I turn to academic publishing itself. This is a field that has seen some encouraging progress lately but still has a long way to go toward equity and inclusion. We chat about what faculty journal editors, professional copyeditors, and authors can do to build publishing workflows that center the desires, experiences, and knowledge of marginalized populations.

This episode is the culmination of a huge range of conversations I’ve had on this show about justice-oriented knowledge production and its relationship to activism.

Whether you’re the faculty editor of an academic journal, a grad student debating whether to follow your passion, an early-career scholar writing your tenure book, or a professional editor who works on interdisciplinary scholarship like we do at Ideas on Fire, we all have a crucial role to play in the process of decolonizing the publishing and knowledge production process.

And that’s a crucial way we imagine and create otherwise.

Jessica Bissett Perea wearing a black shirt. Quote reads: The reproductive technology of citation practices brings new communities of knowledge into being and makes new connections possible, new ways of going forward possible.
Jessica Bissett Perea wearing a black shirt. Quote reads: So much of settler capitalism is based on products. It doesn’t tend to value the process. And what’s so wonderful about writing is that you don’t really know what you know until you sit down and try to express it in words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Instead of learning to write, you’re writing to learn.

Jessica Bissett Perea

Jessica Bissett Perea is a Dena’ina (Dena [Alaska Native]) musician-scholar whose work intersects the fields of Native American and Indigenous studies and music and sound studies.

She currently works as an associate professor and graduate advisor in the Department of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis.

In 2020, Jessica founded the Indigeneity Collaboratory, an Indigenous-led and Indigeneity-centered research collective working to advance relational ways of being, knowing, and doing to generate more just futures for Indigenous communities. Jessica also co-directs the Radical and Relational Approaches to Food Fermentation and Food Security research cluster, which advances Indigenous knowledges and performing arts processes to unsettle and densify modes of knowledge production and research in academia.

Her first book, Sound Relations: Native Ways of Doing Music History in Alaska, will be published in fall 2021 by Oxford University Press as part of the American Musicspheres series.

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