The politics of publishing: a case study from Nepal
In 1994-95 Nepali historian Pratyoush Onta put together a team of four scholars to start a journal about Nepal. They gave it the name Studies in Nepali History and Society (SINHAS) and arranged for it to be published by a new commercial publisher based in Kathmandu, Nepal. First published in 1996, SINHAS is now entering its second decade of publication. The experience of editing SINHAS, doing research on the state of South Asian Studies in India (Onta 2001), and on the state of Nepal Studies in the UK (Onta 2004a, 2004b) have expanded Pratyoush's interests in the general politics of academic knowledge production, distribution and consumption. British anthropologist Ian Harper was interviewed by Onta in relation to this (Harper 2004) and shares similar interests around the politics of knowledge and questions of epistemology and ethics.
Harper and Onta have been jointly thinking about the politics of knowledge generation about Nepal for some time now. In this piece, recorded as a conversation in Kathmandu in 2004, they start with the implications of publishing on Nepal in prestigious journals outside of Nepal. Issues arise over tensions around choosing where to publish, questions of quality and the review process, something about which there should be more empirical and academic discussion. Finally, Pratyoush recounts his experience of setting up, and maintaining SINHAS.