more on CUP

Mon, 19 Feb 1996 12:59:54 -0500

The following is reconstructed from memory, via verbal sources as well as the
New York Times (yesterday, Sunday). An anthropologist--I forgot her name or
her affiliation as a tenure-track person--submitted a book manuscript to
Cambridge University Press. It concerned her ethnography of Macedonians in
Northern Greece. The manuscript, which was under consideration by CUP for two
years, was recently rejected. The rejection, however, as admitted by CUP, had
nothing to do with its scholarly merits. In fact, on the basis of scholarship,
the manuscript was fine. However, the author wrote about Greek oppression, or
discrimination, of Macedonians, which did not square well with official Greek
policy. She had received at least one threat earlier by a political group
while in Greece. (I think it was, understandably, a group on the right of the
political spectrum.) CUP decided NOT to publish the book solely because they
feared for the safety of their staff in Greece--in other words, the book might
anger some on the political fringe, and on that basis, was rejected. As a
result, several anthropologists on the CUP editorial board have
resigned--S. Gudeman (Minnesota) and M. Hertzfeld (Harvard). Others are trying
to pull their manuscripts out of CUP. Given British indignation at the Rushdie
incident, CUP's actions seem a bit odd. (By the way, Univ. Chicago, I believe,
offered immediately to publish her book.)

Essentially, the manuscript was worth publishing, but it was denied due to
political intimidation.

(As a side note, the New York Times article implied that CUP has somewhat of a
monopoly in Greece in terms of English scholarly publications, and also
administers a widely taken English Language examination. Thus, they feared
economic reprisals, too.)

I encourage you all to visit the library and see the actual New York Times
article, as it is possible that I have not conveyed accurately the entire

But it does seem to merit a certain amount of discussion, I would think, in
this forum.

(The above, by the way, is simply my attempt at conveying information; I am
rather uncertain what to think about the incident, at least given the amount
of information contained in the newspaper article.)

Eric Silverman
DePauw University

P.S. I will post more accurate information tomorrow, as I left my copy of the
Times at home.