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Pasts, presents, and futures of critical publishing: Marking 20 years of ephemera


In 2001, the first issue of ephemera was published and a new journal was born. Against the growing tide of big publishing houses buying up academic journals, offering administrative support in return for copyright, the central ambition of ephemera has been to ensure open access to peer-reviewed, high quality research for all. ephemera provides its content free of charge, and charges its readers only with free thought. 

For over two decades, ephemera has been dedicated to publishing well-crafted contributions that engage with theoretical and conceptual understandings of the politics of organizing in the broadest sense. In doing this, ephemerahas been a pioneer in introducing alternative and unorthodox themes such as post-growth, affective labour, and financialization of the university as well as producing new critical perspectives on established topics such as anarchism, anonymity, whistleblowing, and corruption.   

Claiming a position from the margins and operating at the borders of organization studies, ephemera has challenged the alienation of academic labor and worked against the de-politicization of organizational issues. This is reflected in the way ephemera is run. The journal is fully independent of any publishing company or corporate interests. Everything – from reviewing and proof-reading to cover design and web upload – is done by the editorial collective, without outsourcing any part of the journal production process to third parties. We continue to believe that the craft of running a journal by ourselves is central to reconfiguring the politics of academic work.

Against the academic spectacle of publication and ranking where “efficiency, productivity and competition have become more and more central to our physical and intellectual lives” (Bazin et al., 2018: 1122), ephemera is driven by a sense of community around both the production and diffusion of knowledge that troubles and pushes the boundaries of the field. Enhancing our collective capacity to resist the commodification of academic work, this journal – and the collective behind it – seeks to regain a sense of intellectual purpose both within and outside the confines of the university.

The fact that ephemera has now existed for 20 years calls for considerations about what it means to publish critically. With this Special Issue we are not so much interested in celebrating the history and accomplishments of the journal, but rather in discussing pasts, presents, and futures of critical publishing. We therefore invite contributions from people who know ephemera well, and from people who are not familiar with the journal but care about the future of critical publishing. We encourage a range of contributions that reflect backwards and forwards, taking stock of critical publishing today or playfully unfolding what it may look like tomorrow. We welcome submissions in different formats, ranging from full papers to notes, discussion pieces, essays, conversations, art works and more. 

Possible themes include: 

·       Pasts, presents and futures of critical publishing

·       Current political landscapes in and beyond academia

·       Activism and alternative organizing in and beyond academia

·       Craft and integrity in research practices and methodologies

·       Writing and criticality – pushing boundaries of academic dogmas

·       Politics of writing, reviewing, editing and publishing

·      Independences and interdependencies in academic work


Deadline for the submissions is 15 February 2021. We invite especially short contributions (around 3000-5000 words). Longer ones (around 7000 words) are also welcome. For additional questions, please contact Justine Grønbæk Pors, jgp.mpp AT, Karolina Mikołajewska-Zając, kmikolajewska AT, Yousra Rahmouni Elidrissi, y.rahmounielidrissi AT or Mie Plotnikof, mp AT All contributions should be submitted to the special issue editors. Contributions will undergo a double-blind review process. All submissions should follow ephemera’s submissions guidelines, available at: 


Bazin, Y., G. Islam, M. Parker and Y. Gabriel (2018) ‘The (academic) society of the spectacle (of publication): Unplugged’, M@n@gement, 21(3): 1118-1134.

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