by Paul D. Barclay, author of Outcasts of Empire: Japan’s Rule on Taiwan’s “Savage Border” 1874-1895
At UC Press, open access—the free, immediate, unrestricted, online access to peer-reviewed research and scholarly work—is central to our mission. In celebration of 2017 International Open Access Week (October 23-29), we are highlighting open access publishing initiatives at UC Press, including our Collabra and Luminos publishing programs. This year’s OA Week theme “Open in order to . . . ” is an invitation to answer the question of what concrete benefits can be realized by making scholarly publications openly available. Follow the full blog series here. #OAWeek #OpenInOrderTo
Based on my ten years of experience as the editor of a digital archive of historical images (East Asia Image Collection), I’ve seen open-access publishing bring together researchers, archivists, and people with personal connections to our materials across vast distances. Thanks to the internet’s ubiquity, persistence, and capillary reach, library staff at the Puli Municipal Library in central Taiwan, and the National Showa Memorial Museum in Tokyo, as well as several private collectors, have found us and since become partners.
In addition, the old photographs, postcards, prints and slides on our website brought descendants of a Canadian missionary, an American Consul, and a Japanese bureau chief, all of whom lived in colonized Taiwan during the 1930s, into contact with us. These viewers, as well as the family of a prominent Taiwanese dissident, have provided our team with advice, corrections, and additional materials while we helped them learn about their family histories.
I predict that the publication of Outcasts of Empire: Japan’s Rule on Taiwan’s “Savage Border” 1874-1895 (forthcoming in November) on the Luminos open access platform will engender similar types of collaborative relationships, because digitally born content is always just a click away, anywhere in the world where an internet connection exists. More importantly, however, is that the work will reach people I wish to repay for their patience and openness regarding the research for this book. Outcasts is a study of indigenous peoples in world history, viewed through the prism of several native-newcomer encounters in rural Taiwan. Its subject matter, as I’ve learned at workshops, conferences, and field trips involving the descendants of the book’s protagonists, is of great interest to Taiwan Indigenous Peoples, their Han neighbors, and Japanese citizens as well. Open access is the best vehicle for making Outcasts available to the peoples most affected by the stories related in its pages.
Unfortunately, brick-and-mortar bookstores or museum shops that stock academic books are concentrated in a few large cities, while traditional online commerce only operates within the context of a copyright, delivery, and distribution infrastructure that leaves much of the planet’s population underserved. Therefore, I think the Luminos platform has the potential to improve relationships between authors and the communities they write about and to become the occasion for more open-ended collaboration than previous publication models have allowed for.
Paul D. Barclay is Professor of History at Lafayette College. He is also general editor of the East Asia Image Collection, an open-access online digital repository of historical materials.
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