The printed version of the 2020 edition of Southern African Humanities is now available!
Every year, the dedicated staff of the Department of Human Sciences produce the highly-rated inter-disciplinary journal, Southern African Humanities. While papers are published year-round online, the journal is only printed at the end of the annual cycle and appears in the following year. While the online papers are meant to be published as quickly as possible without compromising the academic and editorial processes, the printed version is meant to be a high-quality, limited-run, bespoke product. This means that the journal is printed by old-fashioned lithography rather than digital techniques. There are only a handful of printers left who can still print by this technique in South Africa and fortunately, one of the best, is located in Pinetown. As the cost is expensive, only a small print-run of 200 copies is produced each year and most of those are distributed to subscribers and the exchange-partners of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s Library.
The cost of operating and printing academic journals has steadily resulted in many journals being handed over to large production houses with support staff scattered all over the world. While such actions have driven down the cost, they have come with other costs—they can often seem impersonal and turnaround times can be lengthy. The Department of Human Science took a decision in 2018 not to outsource the journal and to continue to strive to produce an interdisciplinary journal of exceptional quality. Dr Geoff Blundell, Head of Human Sciences, states the following: “The journal is a work of passion, undertaken by the three curators in the department—Drs Laue, Wintjes and Whitelaw along with an excellent team of outsourced copy-editors, layout personnel, academic referees, and a world-class editorial board. It takes an inordinate amount of time to produce the journal each year and Whitelaw, Wintjes and Laue produce the journal while undertaking fieldwork, exhibitions, their own research, co-supervising students around the country and the many other activities that they and the collections team do…so much so, that we have considered outsourcing the production. However, we recognized that the quality would not be the same and something special would be lost. I mean..look at this—the quality of reproduction in the print is outstanding and the images, many of which are printed in full-colour, look better than most academic books, let alone other academic journals. Add the journal’s excellent global ratings to the mix and who wouldn’t want to publish in this?” The latest volume includes papers on /Xam territories, /Xam narratives, fermentation and alcohol in southern African archaeology, Nama and Damara beliefs and practices, the coastal archaeology of the Western Cape and Sotho-Tswana pottery traditions in southern Africa.