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Farewell Zapruder World

by Stefano Agnoletto and Luca Peretti

Zapruder World. An International Journal for the History of Social Conflict was founded in January 2011 during a meeting coordinated by Eros Francescangeli at “Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò” (New York University). On that occasion, we decided to create a digital and English edition of the Italian journal Zapruder, which had been in existence since 2002. Both the association Storie in movimento (SIM—Histories in Movement) and its journal Zapruder were founded by historians and social activists who took part in the protest movement against the G8 in Genoa (July 2001). Zapruder World originated from this project. Today, the SIM network is still a vibrant project which has seen the participation of thousands of historians and activists over twenty years while employing horizontal, democratic, and inclusive work practices.

Originally, our idea was to publish an English-language journal which would linguistically and conceptually translate the themes and issues discussed by SIM in its journal and meetings. But this was only a part of what we hoped to do. It was even more important for us to connect with collectives and organizations of historians, social scientists, and activists in other countries which shared our same aims and ideas. We aimed to create a digital journal and a network of historians and social activists across various places, countries and continents which could explore the many forms of social conflict and reconsider the notion of social conflict itself. In so doing, our goal was simultaneously to transform the way we look at history, the way historical research is organized, and the way historical knowledge is transmitted from one generation to another. We thought of this journal as one which dealt with the history of social conflicts in their broadest sense and as a tool to connect with people from different parts of the world. The idea was also to try to produce a participatory and inclusive model of “tracing the history of social conflict” at an international level which was like the one practiced by the SIM network in Italy. This project faced many complicated challenges, including the language to use for our internal communications and the publication itself. In fact, choosing English as a language was not an easy choice: we were and are aware of the risk of cultural imperialism one runs with the choice of the English language and of the anglicization risk so common in academia, but we thought it worked better as a lingua franca than others. At every point in its history, Zapruder World has had more non-native English speakers on its editorial board than native English speakers: therefore, English is a lingua franca not just to reach out to the widest readership possible, but also for communicating among ourselves. 

A lot has changed over these twelve years. The world has indeed changed. Counting the latest issue, we have produced seven issues (see the list below), with topics ranging from anarchism to feminism, race, food, music, cinema, the welfare state, and social conflicts. Skeptical of academic rules and conventions, we have had long discussions on how to manage editorial choices and select articles. For example, for most of the issues, we decided to employ double-blind peer review as a way to reach to scholars who may otherwise be less inclined to publish for us, a practice that has always been avoided in Zapruder. In general, we have often discussed what it means to publish an international journal with democratic, inclusive, and participatory procedures. Our goal has also always been to make Zapruder World a laboratory of historiographical practices. Looking back, we could be satisfied with the contents of the journal, and less so if we looked at our ability to produce innovative practices and networks. Zapruder World has been a collective project which is largely based in Europe and in the United States (especially in California, with the fundamental contribution of Claudio Fogu and Brian J. Griffith), and it has tried to be a virtual space of interaction between and with authors and activists who are spread across various continents. In other words, it has been a concrete attempt to go beyond any kind of national/continental/cultural centrism.

This experience has come to at least a temporary end. We made a difficult and painful decision together with our parent organization SIM. Different reasons contributed to this decision: from the impossibility of finding a space between academia and activism to the inability to build a global network of scholars and activists that could sustain the project, and finally the difficulties of coordinating an Editorial Board based in different parts of the world – some of us have never met in person. While this is certainly a sad decision, we are reassured by the work carried out over these past years, with seven high-quality issues which are widely quoted and cited. Meanwhile, these issues will of course remain visible and readable in open access. And if for now it is the end, in the future, maybe with new people and energy, we hope that a new life for Zapruder World could be possible. 

List of issues: 

Volume 1 (2014), “The Whole World Is Our Homeland: Italian Anarchist Networks in Global Context, 1870-1939”, edited by the Editorial Board.

Volume 2 (2015), “Transformations without Revolutions?: How Feminist and LGBTQI Movements Have Changed the World,” edited by Sabrina Marchetti, Vincenza Perilli, and Elena Petricola.

Volume 3 (2016), “The Origins of the Welfare State: Global and Comparative Approaches”, edited by Stefano Agnoletto, Brian J Griffith, and Cristina Palmieri.

Volume 4 (2017), “Performing Race”, edited by Irene Fattacciu and Claudio Fogu.

Volume 5 (2019), “Food Fights: The Politics of Provisions in Global Perspective”, edited by Kashia Amber Arnold, Brian J Griffith, Tim Paulson.

Volume 6 (2020), “Cinema and Social Conflicts”, edited by Daniel Fairfax, André Keiji Kunigami, and Luca Peretti.

Volume 7 (2023), Music and Social Conflicts”, edited by Alessandro Pes, and Tommaso Frangioni.


Members of the Editorial Board (2011-2023): Stefano Agnoletto, Larissa Correa, Michele De Gregorio, Christian De Vito, Claudio Fogu, Brian J. Griffith, Marilisa Malizia, Sabrina Marchetti, Beatrice Mazzi, Alfredo Mazzamauro, Deborah Paci, Luca Peretti, Paolo Perri, Alessandro Pes, Angelica Pesarini, Elena Petricola, Ferruccio Riccardi, Gabriela Scodeller, Giulia Strippoli, Ilkay Yilmaz.