by Agnes Brazal, Editor of Body and Sexuality, Pastoral and Theological Perspectives of Women in Asia.
The EWA book publication is an important dimension of our mission to make the voices of Asian women theologians heard not only within the Church and the Academe in Asia, but also internationally. This task of representation, however, is not an easy one.
In the bid to gain more international recognition for EWA, we initially applied to publish with Orbis (to be in partnership with an Asian publisher). We were not successful in this endeavour. One of the reasons Orbis gave was the length of the collection (300 pages then, single spaced). For the book to be marketable, we learned that less than 200 pages is the maximum. Orbis also said that they do not accept publication of conference proceedings. There was however the nagging question left as to whether the content was also too controversial for Orbis to publish.
We thought of trying it out again with an international publisher but this time reducing the number of articles. Andrea and I myself did not continue writing anymore our articles, so as not to further lengthen the collection, and to be in solidarity with those whose articles have not been included in the publication. We also tried to reduce the length of the essays, in response to the critique of Orbis. I am sure many of the authors were shocked to see the red marks meaning delete on their articles. I personally think, however, that shortening the articles was a good move. Even if in the book version, we still failed to reach the marked 200 pages (we ended up with 314 pages), the articles now are more concise and readable.
For our second try, our manuscript was accepted for publications by Peter Lang. However, we have to pay at least $3500 as subvention and this came at a time when EWA was not sure of getting enough funds for this conference. We deemed it wise therefore to just publish with Ateneo de Manila University Press, whose review board also approved our manuscript. We learned later as well that Ateneo Press is linked with University of Hawaii Press which will market our books in the United States. Because we have a trade outlet in the US, our book will also be advertised with the amazon.com. Within Asia, another trade outlet that will be marketing our books is Gerakbudaya enterprise in Malaysia which distributes books to Hong Kong and India. Ateneo Press will try to get St. Paul’s or ISPCK to sell our books as well. We shall also be giving free copies of our books not only to theological libraries and women theologians in Asia but also in other continents.
I would like to thank EWA for the honor of editing this particularly exciting volume. It was also a joy to work with Andrea as co-editor. We are both very detailed but we applied our sensitivity to details in different aspects of the book. Our work rhythms also blend harmoniously.
Editing job, as we discovered, is more than just a matter of grammar and typos; it is indeed a task of representation. As editors, we express our basic convictions …especially when, setting aside the academic merit of a paper, questions arise as to what articles to include or exclude…. I will be very honest in saying that while working on this anthology, I was both excited and anxious….always thinking how to tread the fine line between being prophetic at the same time respectful of the magisterium… The issue of how to deal with the magisterium vis-à-vis EWA publications has been discussed within the EWA Coordinating Team at least twice this year…In the end, I consider this compilation a wager….it hopes to represent and maintain EWA as a free space…where women theologians in Asia have a place in “an open synagogue of learners where there is a never ending banquet of wisdom to share.”
Agnes M. Brazal