DIALOGUES: Towards Decolonizing Music and Dance Studies

Decolonization of High-Impact International Journals of Music


Ijeoma Forchu (University of Nigeria)


Ijeoma Forchu




Christian Onyeji
Felicia Ezeugwu
Kingsley Ilo
Ijeoma Forchu
Elizabeth Onyeji
Chidubem Onyekwelu (University of Nigeria)

Academic and scholarly outputs from institutions of learning are documented and disseminated in different media: books, periodicals, monographs, electronic slides, and so on. For the most part, periodicals in the form of journal publications are quite prominent and highly regarded in academia. This is due to the insistence on peer-review mechanisms as a critical norm and as a force for authentication and quality assurance regarding research. This tradition has been maintained over time in different knowledge cultures and locations, and is supported by academia globally. Prior to the twenty-first century, African and Nigerian scholars enjoyed access to publishing in international journals. Nigerian musicologists still celebrate Meki Nzewi, Akin Euba, Samual Akpabot, Lazarus Ekwueme, Richard Okafor, Joshua Uzoigwe, and others whose articles in notable journals around the world continue to serve as standard reference materials. This trend has changed in recent times, though, as journals have begun making glaring distinctions between writers from the Global North and those from the Global South.

Low acceptance rates of research submissions from Africa is common now, which makes most scholars, particularly those from Nigeria, weary of discrimination and continual rejection from gatekeepers. The stringent requirements of journals do not take into account specific challenges faced by scholars in many different global sociocultural contexts. High-impact journals are intolerant of submissions that do not meet their requirements, which are constructed on Western structures and norms. This is a form of mental imperialism/neocolonialism/colonization of academia through its research outputs. It seems that if research does not match the requirements of the West, it is not worthy of publication. Access to publishing is denied based on West-centric notions, or should we say, bias. The majority of Nigerian scholars face critical challenges regarding access to and acceptance in academic journals. African scholars are compelled to adopt Western models in article writings, consolidating a dependency syndrome. The presenters on this panel draw attention to challenges African scholars face regarding access to publication. They take the position that practices of high-impact music journals around the world are exclusionary, colonizing, and negatively impact access to and dissemination of research and scholarly outputs from disadvantaged global contexts and cultures - the work of scholars from places and cultures that are currently dramatically underrepresented in academic publishing. The presenters on this panel are strongly disinclined to parochial Euro-centric perspectives and pressures for research to comply with European structures. They are inclined to more liberal and accommodating structures that weigh the impact of unequal socio-economic access and human development indices on research facilities, funding, and outputs in journal publications. The objective would be to find ways of enabling greater access to academic publication for Nigerian musicologists and researchers. This session, therefore, calls for a paradigm shift and a transformation in all spheres of high-impact journal publication practice.


Further References

Curry, Stephen. 2018. “Let’s Move Beyond the Rhetoric: It’s Time to Change How We Judge Research,” Nature 554 (7691): 147. Accessed January 2022. https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018Natur.554..147C/abstract.
Davis, Phil. 2012. “Publish-or-Perish Culture Promotes Scientific Narcissism.” Accessed January 2022. https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/05/07/publish-or-perish-culture-promotes-scientific-narcissism.
Ekwueme, Lazarus Nnanyelu. 1973. “African music in Christian liturgy: The Igbo Experiment.” African Music: Journal of the African Music Society 5 (3). https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v5i3.1655.
Ekwueme, Lazarus Nnanyelu. 1974. “African-Music Retentions in the New World,” The Black Perspective in Music 2 (2), 128-144. https://doi.org/10.2307/1214230.
Euba, Akin. 1970. “New Idioms of Music-Drama Among the Yoruba: An Introductory Study, Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council 2: 92-107. https://doi.org/10.2307/767427.
Euba, Akin. 1967. “Multiple Pitch Lines in Yoruba Choral Music,” Journal of the International Folk Music Council 19: 66-71. https://doi.org/10.2307/942189.
Gargouri, Yassine; Chawki Hajjem, Vincent Lariviere, Yves Gingras, Les Carr, Tim Brody, Stevan Harnad. 2018. “The Journal Impact Factor: A Brief History, Critique, and Discussion of Adverse Effects.” Accessed January 2022. https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018arXiv180108992L/abstract.
Nzewi, Meki. 1980. “Folk Music in Nigeria: a Communion,” African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music 6 (1): 12-22.
Uzoigwe, Joshua and Israel Anyahuru. 1986. “Conversation with Israel Anyaguru, Igbo Master Musician.” The Black Perspective in Music 14 (2): 126-142. https://doi.org/10.2307/1214983.


The importance of publishing the research of African scholars lies in their foregrounding Africa as a starting point for interrogating existing knowledges, as well as developing new insights into major local and global challenges of sustainable development. It is imperative to not isolate African scholars; their knowledge contributes a critical part to the whole global system. To this end, African scholars, as well as local and international impact journal editors, have different roles to play. Nigerian scholars should continue to seek opportunities to publish in journals within and outside Nigeria. They need to ensure that their articles attain high quality, relevance, and value, that they are significant to their localities as well as the global community. It is essential that processes surrounding high impact journal publication be reviewed and decolonized. High impact music journals all over the globe, including the ICTM journal, need to be more objective and inclusive when gatekeeping and reviewing articles from certain cultural locations, particularly Nigeria. Each manuscript should be judged on its own individual merit. Journals should endeavour to determine the most acceptable means and context of a publication to ensure accuracy, reliability, reception, and value in academic circles as well as avoid semblances of neo-colonization and destructive scholarship methods. It is important for high impact journals to be aware of challenges faced by African scholars, and be willing to provide an accommodating platform for them within appropriate scholarly practices.


Questions to Consider

When we talk about the impact of a journal, one may ask, impact for whom? Does impact rely on the West for its determination?

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