Why political scientists and linguists are now talking about language politics in the Himalaya

by Selma K. (‘Sam’) Sonntag

Why a book on The Politics of Language Contact in the Himalaya and why now? The title of the book might provide some answers. As the title indicates, the contributions to the book address: 1) politics, 2) language contact, and 3) the Himalaya region. Most important are the connections between the three.

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The Shifting Politics of Representations of the Himalaya: From Colonial Authority to Open Access

By Mark Turin

On an uncharacteristically sunny afternoon in late September, 50 students, staff and faculty gathered at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies in Vancouver to celebrate the launch of The Politics of Language Contact in the Himalaya.

Since the event, I have been asking myself what it means to launch a book in the digital age, in particular when the entire volume is already—and intentionally—freely available online for all to read and download. The unveiling of this open access volume has afforded me an opportunity to reflect on our goals and the choices we made as editors.

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Why the politics of language needs examples from beyond the Global North

by Rémi Léger, Simon Fraser University

I was invited to reflect on and situate The Politics of Language Contact in the Himalaya in the broader multidisciplinary debate on the politics of language. Let me preface my thoughts and comments with two important caveats. The first is that I am a political scientist, particularly a political theorist, whereas most of the authors involved in this book project are anthropologists, linguists and sociolinguists. My training in contemporary political theory and theories of linguistic justice necessarily influences my reading of the broader debates and of the chapters in this edited volume.

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History of International Relations: A Non-European Perspective – Erik Ringmar

by Maddie Janjo

International Relations (IR) can be defined as the study of the interconnectedness of nations on a global level, merging the disciplines of economics, history, political science and law to examine such topics as human rights, globalisation, security and the environment. Primarily, IR seeks to understand the origins of war, the maintenance of peace, the nature and exercise of power within the global system and the changeability of each participant in international decision-making.  

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OBP to Take a Leading Role in £2.2 Million Project to Develop Open Access Book Publishing

By Lucy Barnes

On 14th June, Research England announced the award of a £2.2 million grant to the COPIM (Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs) project, which is designed to build much-needed community-controlled, open systems and infrastructures that will develop and strengthen open access book publishing. As a founder member of ScholarLed, one of the COPIM partners, we will be taking a key role in this project and our co-Director Rupert Gatti will be leading work packages on the dissemination and archiving of open access scholarly books. (For more details about the COPIM project and the aims of the various interlinked work packages, see the ScholarLed statement released on 17th June.)

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Open Book Publishers’ statement on Knowledge Unlatched and the Open Research Library

by Lucy Barnes and Rupert Gatti

On 16 May 2019, Knowledge Unlatched announced the beta launch of a new hosting platform for Open Access books, the Open Research Library (ORL). Our books are a prominent part of this nascent project, both on the website and in the marketing associated with the launch, and this, together with Knowledge Unlatched’s claim that they are ‘working with publishers and libraries worldwide’, might give the impression that we are actively participating in and endorsing the platform. However this is not the case: we were not informed or consulted about this project at any stage; we were not told that our books would feature on this platform; and we do not support ORL. In fact we have grave concerns about its approach and business model, and those of Knowledge Unlatched (KU), which we will set out here.

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Allusion/Echo and Plagiarism: Walking the Fine Line

by R. H. Winnick, author of Tennyson’s Poems: New Textual Parallels (OBP, 2019)

In the three-volume second edition (1987) of Tennyson’s complete poems, editor Christopher Ricks cites more than twelve hundred instances where phrases and short passages are similar or identical to those occurring in prior works by other hands. These similarities are sometimes as minimal as two or three words, but in some cases extend to several words in the poems.  My own work on Tennyson’s textual parallels, benefiting from the proliferation of digitized texts and the related development of powerful search tools over the three decades since that edition was produced, has identified hundreds more.  Like those previously identified, each of these new instances may be deemed an allusion (meant to be recognized as such and pointing, for definable purposes, to a particular antecedent text), an echo (conscious or not, deliberate or not, meant to be noticed or not, meaningful or not), or merely accidental.  Unless accidental, these new textual parallels tell us more about Tennyson’s reading and shed further light on his thematic intentions and artistic technique.  But do they also tell us that Tennyson, for all his talent as a poet, was also a plagiarist on a grand scale?

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Women and Migration; a vital contribution to the narrative of migration

Zsofia Hesket

Migration has been intertwined with human life from its very beginnings. The nomadic spirit of our ancestors led them from Africa to Asia between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago, and today, human beings populate all corners of the globe. Yet the impulse to leave behind one’s homeland can also be triggered by devastation, a familiar picture in recent decades. In June 2018, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that a shocking 68.5 million had been ‘forcibly displaced’ from their homes since the Second World War. Global refugee numbers have reached nearly 25.4 million as a result of conflict in Rwanda, Kosovo, Somalia and Iraq, to name but a few. But while women make up almost half of these refugee numbers, only 4% of the UN’s inter-agency appeals have been targeted at women and girls. Their perspectives have remained notoriously neglected. OBP’s forthcoming Open Access title, Women and Migration: Responses in Art and History, tries to rectify just that.

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Hölderlin, Gaskill, and the art of translation

OBP: Zsofia Hesket

Among scholars and enthusiasts of romantic literature, Hölderlin is certainly best known for his beautiful lyric poetry. Engaging themes of exile, divinity and the natural world, his poems ingeniously incorporated classical Greek syntax and mythology. He married both Greek and German linguistic traditions to create a language “foreign to, yet complicit in both”.[1] Clearly, this idiosyncrasy makes Hölderlin notoriously difficult to translate into English, and likely contributed to his other writings remaining quite unknown. With his new translation of Hyperion or The Hermit in Greece, available in Open Access, Howard Gaskill hopes to bolster interest in Hölderlin’s prose. A masterpiece of the romantic era, the novel deserves far greater recognition in the Anglophone world.  

Hyperion consists of a one-way correspondence addressed to a friend of whom we know virtually nothing. In this sense it is similar to Goethe’s Werther, another romantic classic. Yet, Hölderlin’s novel is a personal narration of events deep in the protagonist’s past, rather than a telling of present happenings. It is also set apart by its use of critical reflection, in which the character of Hyperion evaluates the experiences that have shaped his life. Returning to Greece after German exile, he takes up a hermitic existence that is peppered with remarkable relationships and encounters. Confronting and commenting on his past, Hyperion undergoes an evolution in consciousness that culminates in the realisation of his poetic vocation. Notice the characteristic theme running through Hölderlin works – in some way or other, linguistically or in the plot, he links the two countries of Greece and Germany. This ‘trademark’ unites the author’s poetry and prose, and fully appreciating his writing requires attention to the latter, too. Gaskill’s elegant translation is bound to encourage this, as it transports English-speaking readers directly into Hyperion’s mind.

With these many aspects to bear in mind, the translator is much like a juggler, performing a complex routine of mental gymnastics with each successive sentence. Gaskill does not shy away from this task. His meticulous rendition of Hyperion dares to replicate the contractions, colloquialisms and Swabianisms of Hölderlin, staying true to the rhythm of the original German. A concession to the modern reader, Gaskill introduces inverted commas to clarify which character is speaking. Hölderlin’s punctuation style is otherwise retained, leaving intact a unique characteristic of his writing. An accessible text with the charm of its native German, this translation is bound to appeal to those unfamiliar with Hyperion’s story.

Gaskill’s efforts to popularise Hyperion deeply resonate with me. Reading more foreign literature, I believe, is valuable to everyone. Not only does it expose us to a wealth of exciting stories, but it sheds light on the circumstances and perspectives of people in other countries. I have myself considered translating – and converting into plays – the works of renowned yet globally-overlooked Hungarian authors and poets, like Petőfi Sándor, József Attila, or Karinthy Frigyes. Addressing topics as universal as family, these writers also illuminate specific historical incidents, like Hungary’s revolt against the Habsburgs and its condition after the World Wars. Much like Hölderlin’s German, however, the complexities and intricacies of Hungarian are a great barrier to effective translation. This is the eternal vice of translation, and it can never be fully solved. Ultimately, it appears that all texts are destined to retain some degree of mystery for all but their native speakers.

[1] Guevara, F., Words Without Borders, August 2009,


OBP’s responses to the UUK Open Access Monographs project questionnaire

OBP has participated in the data-gathering exercise that is currently being carried out by Fullstopp Gmbh on behalf of the Universities UK Open Access Monographs working group. The questionnaire, which is available online, has been designed to collect information that will inform future OA policy decisions, and in the spirit of openness we share our responses in full below. We also share the data we provided to Fullstopp, which comprises sales data for all the print editions of our books published before the end of 2017. We also have sales information for our digital editions and readership statistics for all our titles that we are happy to make available if requested.

We are always happy to share information and data about our work – we put as much of it as we can on our website, but if you’d like to know more, please get in touch! Continue reading