(OPE-L) 25 years of _Studies in Political Economy_

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Mon Nov 15 2004 - 12:01:49 EST

The Canadian journal _Studies on Political Economy_ is celebrating
its 25th year of publication. Happy birthday _SPE_!

See the content below that begins with "SPE at 25"  to get
some sense of the history and meaning of SPE.

In solidarity, Jerry

PS:  speaking of birthdays,  there is a nice communication in the 
Spring, 2004 (Volume 68, #1) issue of _Science & Society_ by 
Ajit on the 20th anniversary of _Research in Political Economy_.
20 years. Well done, Paul Z!


Current Issue - #74 ** Mail date: the week of November 15, 2004

    * SPE at 25
    * Colin Leys, Jeanne Laux, Mel Watkins, John Saul, Wendy Larner

    * In Memoriam: Paul Sweezy, 1910-2004
    * Michael A. Lebowitz, Gregory Albo, Fletcher Barager

    * What Happens when Public Goods are Privatized?
    * Elmar Altvater

    * Of Borders and Business: Canadian Corporate Proposals for North
American "Deep Integration"
    * Christina Gabriel and Laura Macdonald

    * Power Relations Under NAFTA: Reassessing the Efficacy of Contentious
    * Jeffrey Ayres

    * Forum: Reorganizing Unions
    * Andrew Jackson, Pradeep Kumar, Gregor Murray, Charlotte Yates, Chris

    * "Israel is the New Jew:" The Canadian Israeli Lobby Today
    * Reg Whitaker

    * After Oslo: The Present Phase of the israeli-Palestinian Conflict *
Avishai Ehrlich

SPE at 25

Studies in Political Economy first appeared in the spring of 1979, 25
years  ago. The impetus for starting the journal came in 1978 when Phil
Ehrensaft,  an editor of the now defunct Cahiers du Socialisme, approached
Leo Panitch  about starting a parallel journal in English. The idea was
that each  journal would be independent but that the editors would attempt
to include  articles, in translation, from the other journal. Phil was to
act as the  board liaison with Cahiers. The idea of the new journal,
including its  name, was fleshed out by Leo, Reg Whitaker, Colin Leys,
Grant Amyot, and  Rianne Mahon over lunch at "The Happy Four," a Chinese
restaurant near  Carleton University. The addition of Liora Salter, Alan
Moscovitch, Wallace  Clement, Mel Watkins, John Saul, Hugh Armstrong, Jim
Sacouman, and Henry  Veltmeyer gave the board a pan-Canadian reach. As
various board members  left the editorial board, many to join its advisory
board, new names were  added, often bringing the influence of new
intellectual and political  currents to the journal. From an original
focus on debates internal to what  was then called "the new Canadian
political economy," the journal opened up  to feminist critiques; an
engagement with poststructuralism; intersections  of race, class and
gender; international political economy; political  ecology, and culture.
We celebrate 25 years of publishing with pride, and,  with the editorial
board revitalized by a new generation of political  economists, look
forward with enthusiasm to the next 25.

Colin Leys (Joined SPE's editorial board in 1978)

I have always felt that being invited to join in starting SPE in 1978
saved  my sanity. In those days, Queen's University, where I had recently
arrived,  was still stuck in the 1950s, and working on SPE with a group of
progressive social scientists felt like a holiday in fresh air. Once a 
month, I would drive up to Ottawa on a Friday afternoon and stay with Leo 
Panitch--then at Carleton and sharing a house with Donald Swartz--and
spend  Saturday morning with the editorial collective. Three times a year,
we  would also spend the afternoon stuffing the new issue into envelopes
to  mail out to subscribers. For the first two or three years, Rianne and
I  were the manuscript editors. The idea was to establish SPE as a
well-respected Canadian outlet for the work of progressive Canadian social
 scientists whose work didn't conform to mainstream ideas, and eventually
we  succeeded. SPE rode on the wave of Left nationalist sentiment
generated in  the 1960s--many of those in Ottawa were in the Ottawa
Committee for Labour  Action (OCLA) which derived from the Waffle--and at
the January board  meetings, I got to know some of the most interesting,
committed, and  congenial people from across Canada. The debates were
often excited. It  took me, as a well-behaved Englishman, some time to
realize that calling  someone a "schmuck" was a term of endearment. I hope
present and future SPE  editors have as much fun.

Jeanne Laux (Joined SPE's editorial board in 1990)

SPE: Where the intellectual is political Where politics means people Where
 social is not only an "-ism"

Mel Watkins (Joined SPE's editorial board in 1978)

The story of SPE "from conception to thriving age of 25" is a chapter, and
 a most important one, in the creation of the New Canadian Political
Economy  as an intellectual paradigm. When does a new scholarly project,
in a world  where legitimacy comes from being a distinct discipline or
paradigm,  succeed so well that, even if avowedly interdisciplinary, it
becomes a  paradigm in its own right? Numerous criteria come to mind: when
a course  can be taught in it; when scholars working in it have their own
professional association that holds its own meetings; when publications
are  sufficient to warrant a bibliography; when there is a separate
journal  where researchers can publish their results: the better to get
tenure; when  there is a program in which degrees can be granted and
theses written, and  when--and this is the ultimate capstone--there is a
textbook to facilitate  the common instruction of the next generation.
There is not space here to  demonstrate that the New Canadian Political
Economy has, beginning in  approximately 1970, met all of these criteria,
with the possible exception  of the last. A decisive moment occurred when
Leo Panitch and Reg Whitaker  took leadership in founding SPE as the
official refereed journal of the  political economy network, and Carleton
University became its home. The  rest is already history. Then, and now,
we need to keep the context (the  material and cultural circumstances) in
mind. The New Canadian Political  Economy grew out of the dissent of the
1960s and grew with the social  movements, including the current
anti-globalization and anti-war protests.  The moral is clear: the
practice/praxis of political economy requires not  only studying the world
with a critical stance, but working actively to  change it for the better,
so write for SPE. Edit it. Read it. Draw  inspiration for the struggle and
from the struggle.

John Saul (Joined SPE's editorial board in 1978)

I have always considered it an honour to have been involved in the
founding  of SPE and to have had the opportunity to play some small role
as both  editor and contributor during its first fledgling years. To be
sure, my own  ideas for its development were, at the time, somewhat at
odds with those of  my fellow editors. I envisaged less a New Left Review
of the North than a  rather more overtly and actively political journal.
Instead of fighting for  such a vision, engaged with other things
(including other editorial  collectives, first at This Magazine and
subsequently South Africa Report),  I chose to drift away. The editors
were correct: there was a need, as they  grasped, for a top-flight
refereed journal of the Left in Canada and for  sustained production of
strong materials on the terrain of political  economy that would, even if
at a remove, help undergird Left political  practice. Important
contributions have been made by innumerable authors in  SPE's pages, and
real and important debates sustained. The journal has  served as a testing
ground for new generations of Left-scholars, eager to  have their
political commitments inform their scientific practice and to  have their
scientific practice inform their political commitments. In  consequence, I
was pleased when, several years ago, the editors asked me to  return to
the fold as a member of the advisory board. I won't claim that  this has
given me any very active role to play in the current workings of  SPE, but
it feels good all the same to be once again associated with such  an
important Canadian initiative.

Wendy Larner, University of Auckland (Joined SPE's international advisory 
board in 2003)
It is a privilege to be asked to contribute to the 25th anniversary
edition  of Studies in Political Economy. As readers will know, SPE as a
high  quality interdisciplinary journal serves as an important locus for
critical  engagements that have influenced political economic scholarship
through  Canada and well beyond. SPE represents an intellectual vision
that has  always been broad in its scope, encompassing not only Marxist
and  neoMarxist analyses, but also supporting feminist and
poststructuralist  engagements. The sustained commitment to an open
reviewing process is also  exemplary. Perhaps less visible to readers is
the important contribution  SPE has made to the building of academic
community during a period when  institutional pressures have often pushed
otherwise. The events and forums  organized by SPE, many of which have
actively involved graduate students,  illustrate the important work a
journal can do to draw together people  across disciplinary and
theoretical boundaries in order to further  intellectual understandings.
It is notable that many of the early  contributors to SPE are now leading
Canadian scholars, and that a new  generation is following in their
footsteps. In this regard, SPE exemplifies  the intellectual and
institutional initiatives required to develop relevant  and rigorous
analyses of economy, society, state, and culture. While the  next 25 years
will inevitably bring challenges for the journal, given the  strong basis
established to date I am confident that Studies in Political  Economy will
continue to challenge our understandings and stimulate debate.



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