Radical Open Access II – The Ethics of Care
Two days of critical discussion about creating a more diverse and equitable 
future for open access
The Post Office
Coventry University
June 26-27 2018
Organised by Coventry University’s postdigital arts and humanities research 
centre The Post Office, a project of the Centre for Postdigital 
Find out more at: 
Attendance and participation is free of charge but registration is mandatory. 

Co-curators: Culture Machine, Mattering Press, Memory of the World/Public 
Library, meson press, Open Humanities Press, punctum books, POP
Speakers: Denisse Albornoz, Janneke Adema, Laurie Allen, Angel Octavio Alvarez 
Solís, Bodó Balázs, Kirsten Bell, George Chen, Jill Claassen, Joe Deville, 
Maddalena Fragnito, Valeria Graziano, Eileen Joy, Chris Kelty, Christopher 
Long, Kaja Marczewska, Frances McDonald, Gabriela Méndez-Cota, Samuel Moore, 
Tahani Nadim, Christopher Newfield, Sebastian Nordhoff, Lena Nyahodza, 
Alejandro Posada, Reggie Raju, Václav Štětka, Whitney Trettien
Radical Open Access II is about developing an ethics of care. Care with regard 

  *   our means of creating, publishing and communicating research;
  *   our working conditions;
  *   our relations with others.

Radical Open Access II aims to move the debate over open access on from two 
issues in particular:
THE QUESTION OF ACCESS. At first sight it may seem rather odd for a conference 
on open access to want to move on from this question. But as Sci-Hub, aaaarg, 
libgen et al. show, the debate over access has largely been won by 
shadow-libraries, who are providing quick and easy access to vast amounts of 
published research. Too much of the debate over ‘legitimate’ forms of open 
access now seems to be about how to use the provision of access to research as 
a means of exercising forms of governmental and commercial control (via audits, 
metrics, discourses of transparency and so on).
the environment, and the damage that humans are doing to the planet (i.e. the 
Anthropocene). But it also takes in debates over different forms:

  *   of organising labour (e.g. platform cooperativism);
  *   of working – such as those associated with ideas of post-work, the 
sharing and gig economies, and Universal Basic Income;
  *   of being together – see the rise of interest in the Commons, and in 
experiments with horizontalist, leaderless ways of self-organizing such as 
those associated with the Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and the Dakota Standing 
Rock Sioux protests.

In 2015 the 
 international Radical Open Access Conference addressed an urgent question: how 
should we set about reclaiming open access from its corporate take-over, 
evident not least in the rise of A/BPC models based on the charging of 
exorbitant, unaffordable and unsustainable publishing fees from scholars and 
their institutions? The conference saw participants calling for the creation of 
new forms of communality, designed to support the building of commons-based 
open access publishing infrastructures, and promote a more diverse, 
not-for-profit eco-system of scholarly communication. With these calls in mind, 
the Radical Open Access 
 (ROAC) was formed immediately following the 2015 conference as a horizontal 
alliance between like-minded groups dedicated to the sharing of skills, tools 
and expertise. Since then it has grown to a community of over 40 scholar-led, 
not-for-profit presses, journals and other projects. The members of this 
alliance are all invested in reimaging publishing. And what’s more, are 
committed to doing so in a context where debates over access—which in many 
respects have been resolved by the emergence of shadow libraries such as 
Sci-Hub—are increasingly giving way to concerns over the commercial hegemony of 
academic publishing. So much so that the issue addressed by the 2015 
conference—how can open access be taken back from its corporate take-over? —now 
seems more urgent than ever.

In June 2018, Coventry University’s postdigital arts and humanities research 
centre, The Post Office, will convene a second Radical Open Access conference, 
examining the ways in which open access is being rendered further complicit 
with neoliberalism’s audit culture of evaluation, measurement, impact and 
accountability. Witness the way open access has become a top-down requirement - 
quite literally a ‘mandate’ – rather than a bottom-up scholar-led movement for 
change. Taking as its theme The Ethics of Care, the concern of this second 
conference will be on moving away from those market-driven incentives that are 
frequently used to justify open access, to focus instead on the values that 
underpin many of the radical open access community’s experiments in open 
publishing and scholarly communication. In particular, it will follow the lead 
of Mattering Press, a founding member of the ROAC, in exploring how an ethics 
of care can help to counter the calculative logic that otherwise permeates 
academic publishing.

What would a commitment to more ethical forms of publishing look like? Would 
such an ethics of care highlight the importance of:

  *   Making publishing more diverse and equitable - geographically, but also 
with respect to issues of class, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality?
  *   Nurturing new and historically under-represented cultures of knowledge - 
those associated with early career, precariously employed and para-academics, 
or located outside the global North and West?
  *   Ensuring everyone is able to have a voice – not least those writing on 
niche or avant-garde topics or who are conducting hybrid, multimodal, 
post-literary forms of research, and who are currently underserved by our 
profit-focused commercial publishing system?

Indeed, for many members of the ROAC, a commitment to ethics entails 
understanding publishing very much as a complex, multi-agential, relational 
practice, and thus recognising that we have a responsibility to all those 
involved in the publishing process. Caring for the relationships involved 
throughout this process is essential, from rewarding or otherwise acknowledging 
people fairly for their labour, wherever possible, to redirecting our volunteer 
efforts away from commercial profit-driven entities in favour of supporting 
more progressive not-for-profit forms of publishing. But it also includes 
taking care of the nonhuman: not just the published object itself, but all 
those animals, plants and minerals that help to make up the scholarly 
communication eco-system.

Radical Open Access II is community-driven, and is being co-organised and 
co-curated by various members of the ROAC in a collaborative manner. It 
includes panels on topics as diverse as: Predatory Publishing; The Geopolitics 
of Open; Competition and Cooperation; Humane Metrics/Metrics Noir; Guerrilla 
Open Access; The Poethics of Scholarship; and Care for the Commons. The 
conference is free to attend and will also be live streamed for those who are 
unable to be there in person.

Dr. Janneke Adema

Research Fellow Digital Media | Centre for Postdigital Cultures| School of 
Media and Performing Arts | Faculty of Arts and Humanities | Coventry University

Book Review Editor, Cultural Studies

ade...@uni.coventry.ac.uk<mailto:ade...@uni.coventry.ac.uk> | ++447808738388




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