Adieu à Tout Ça: The Editor-in-Chief Takes His Leave
Here, in the middle of my 12th year, I conclude my term as Editor-in-Chief of Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, the Journal that I saw as a home for my sort of work when starting my career after finishing at Berkeley. As is often said, “Where did the time go?” My leave taking, borrows, in French, from the Founding Editor’s (Arthur Kleinman) leave taking. I hand over the Journal to Rebecca Lester (PhD, MSW), anthropologist and psychiatric social worker, who will steer the ship starting in the New Year (2019). Aside from the leave taking, my task here is to thank the many people who made this a very successful run, indeed.
When I began my editorship, CMP had some 450 print subscribers and 8000 downloads per annum. In today’s publishing world, what is valued are downloads as journals look to become on-line only. Today, CMP has fewer than one hundred print subscribers but a most impressive 110,000 downloads, and rising, per annum. CMP may become one of the first on-line-only journals, the wave of the near future, in the social sciences of health and elsewhere. In that field, CMP has grown to now stand at the forefront.
What We Have Wrought
The improved status of CMP is, in part, due to the many changes made to it to remake it, as I conceived it, as a journal to serve as a venue for and a catalyst of a new synthesis of the social sciences, the history and philosophy of (bio)science, bioethics and medical humanities. Such may be sensed from the Quotes of the Volume published over the years that derived from scholars from a variety of different disciplines but whose quotes voice remarkably comparable perspectives, whether from an anthropologist, a historian of medicine, a psychoanalyst, sociologist, psychiatrist, bioethicist or others. This was one way I promoted a synthetic venue, not a ‘transdisciplinary’, or ‘multidisciplinary’ one, or whatever other label one might use for a faux union of difference. The synthesis suggests that there is a common pathway to take from many roads leading to it, with CMP being one such pathway, and that each is equally enlightening and illuminating for the others concerned with the cultural and social construction of (concepts of) health and of illness. The Journal, then was concerned with the social and cultural nature of medical ‘facts’ past and present, and their ethical implications.
In this light, I developed a number of different categories for the submissions to CMP. These were to show various sources of our ‘knowledge’ and understanding rather than implicitly asserting that all papers concerned discovered, asocial, natural facts. The various categories of papers in the Journal thus included Original Research Articles, to be sure, but also many others. These were Opinion pieces, Communiqués and Circumstantial Deliveries. Other categories of contributions were Illness Narratives: Stories of Patients and Healers, Caregivers and Researchers (depending upon the piece), Instrumentalities, Cultural Case Studies and the Honors Essay. CMP continued the traditions of Clinical Case Studies and Book Reviews. Several other informational elements were added to the Journal as well. These included Quotes of the Volume, Dedicatory Notices, Comings and Goings, and Meetings of Note. Most of my additions noted above will probably cease with the present volume and issue.
In any enterprise, there are many people to be thanked and who worked in a variety of capacities. First and foremost, I must thank Dr. Brandy Lane Schillace who served as my Managing Editor for all but the last year of my tenure as Editor-in-Chief. Brilliant and capable, Brandy did a yeoperson’s work, most especially in the first year of my editorship and this while writing a novel (since published along with several others), her dissertation in English and teaching four writing classes! Brandy has gone on to become the Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Medical Humanities, and they are damn fortunate to have her in that capacity.
Other very bright and capable people served as Associate and/or Assistant Editors under Dr Schillace’ direction and who, as their citations indicate, have largely gone on to greater things than studenthood at CWRU and working at CMP. These include Catherine Osborn, BA, BS, MA, a PhD candidate at CWRU; Stephanie McClure, PhD, MPH (now Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education, St. Louis University, USA); Nadia El-Shaarawi, PhD (now Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Colby College, USA); and M. Ariel Cascio, PhD (now Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute de Recherches Clinique de Montréal, Québec, Canada). And then, there are the supernumeraries to thank who worked briefly in various capacities at the Journal and include Julia Knopes, MA, PhD candidate (Blog and Social Media Editor), CWRU; Sonya Petrakovitz, BA, BS, MA, PhD Student (Blog and Social Media Editor), CWRU; and Kristi Ninnemann, MA, MPH, PhD candidate (Editorial Assistant), CWRU.
I also thank my Consulting Editors who encouraged and supported my efforts at the beginning of this editorial journey; they are Peter Whitehouse (Neurologist) and Eric Juengst (Bioethicist) and with whom I have co-written a number of papers, and latterly, Eileen Anderson-Fye (anthropologist). All were helpful to me at various times and are good minds, good company and of good cheer. Also, I thank my home institution for providing office space for the duration for the work of the Journal. Finally, I thank the many people on the Editorial Board who signed on and helped give stature to the Journal and who reviewed some of our submissions, though I did not overly rely on them for that! To all, thank you and adieu.