Editing a journal is more than just work in a transactional sense, it is a work of self and if fortunate enough, a work of the heart. I will begin this piece on the premise that a journal, and this one, in particular, has its own life force, its own auto/biography. Here, I hope to breathe life into one version of that story as an opportunity to reflect upon what is needed as the new editor of Auto/Biography Review to keep the plot moving forward.
We might think of a journal as a biographical object that contains many social biographies. These include its conception at a time and place within a set of relationships and an ongoing lineage of those who have taken care of it and passed it on. There are academic identities vested in journals with stakes at play; it may have loosened some ties and strengthened others along the way. A journal will also have technological and economic biographies such that we could trace its publishing record so far and evaluate its response to a changing academic publishing climate.
The journal has long been associated with the BSA Auto/Biography Study Group and may well be one of the last bastions of the hardcopy journal that has remained. The journal, originally Auto/Biography was published by SAGE until 2006. In 2007 it changed to Auto/Biography Yearbook and later to Auto/Biography Review in 2018 under the editorship of Andrew Sparkes. When the baton was passed my way, it was with the hope that I would not only sustain the academic content but also the lifespan of the journal by bringing it into the world of online publishing. I felt the weight of this privilege beyond the academic and technical skills needed. As a hardcopy journal, I knew that it felt personal to many. It was cherished for its beautiful front cover that would drop ceremoniously on the doormats of those who had purchased it once a year. There was also something about holding it and reading it in the order the editor intended. The articles, like tracks of a music album, held a larger purpose collectively than individually. I have the sense it was not likely to be read on the go by most, but instead mused over and enjoyed with a good cup of tea in its entirety. When thinking of Auto/Biography Review in this way, we are reminded that people and the things they value cannot easily be disentangled, if at all.
But the tides of publishing change require new directions to ensure the longevity of such important work that illuminates the social context of individual lives while also allowing space for individual stories to be told. Giving stories new ways to materialise in the world is at the heart of auto/biography and sociology. And so begins a new chapter for Auto/Biography Review which now has an open call for papers for a rolling article submission for two electronic issues per year. The journal is sociologically orientated but welcomes contributions from a range of intersecting disciplines, and fields, including but not restricted to history, geography, law and politics, psychology, health and healthcare, youth and social work, education, work and employment, business and management, literary criticism, and the arts. In the coming year, we are particularly interested in publishing works on lockdown moments and the unheard voices of the COVID-19 pandemic, and those which adopt creative new approaches or new topics of contemporary relevance.
I do not take it lightly that I have been entrusted with editorship of this journal that requires intricate welding of past, present and the future. The new editorial board seeks to reflect this, and I look forward to new relationships, such as with BSA publications manager, Alison Danforth. If I am to succeed as editor of Auto/Biography Review I feel that I will fare well to acknowledge that for many this journal invokes memories and illuminates the embedding of material things such as journals with subjectivities, stories, and social relationships over time.
Dr Carly Stewart is Head of Department for Sport and Event Management at Bournemouth University. She is a co-convenor of the British Sociological Association Auto/biography Study Group and editor of Auto/Biography Review. Carly is the author and co-editor of Women’s Artistic Gymnastics: Socio-Cultural Perspectives: Routledge.