CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion (J-CASTE), an open-access journal developed by Laurence Simon, Professor of International Development and Director of the Center for Global Development (Heller), will join the JSTOR Archive following the publication of its upcoming fall issue. 

JSTOR  is a digital library database with over 2,000 journals in its collection. According to its website, the archives house over 12 million books, academic journal articles and primary sources. JSTOR is widely popular in university settings and can aid students, professors and researchers of any age or discipline in researching and building knowledge.

The development process for CASTE, the Brandeis-based peer-reviewed academic journal, began in early 2020 through collaborations with the Center for Global Development and Sustainability in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and the Brandeis Library. Since then, the journal has published three issues. Volume one included two publications, “The Persistence of Caste” and “Legacy of Gender and Caste Discrimination.” Volume two’s first edition highlighted different perspectives on emancipation. 

Simon says he is excited about the collaboration as it will allow a wider audience to connect with CASTE’s content and will further educate a vast public on interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the relationships between social systems and oppression. 

“For a young journal, we were delighted to be invited to join JSTOR,” Simon wrote in an email to the Justice, further explaining that CASTE was selected due to the publication’s high value to the field, as well as recommendations from academic librarians and scholars. 

Since CASTE’s early days of development, the journal has stayed loyal to its original message, Simon said. The journal mainly examines social policies aimed towards countering exclusion and intolerance in multiple spheres, and authors featured in the journal include scholars of philosophy and ethics, theology and culture, sociology and anthropology, economics, law, health, literature and art among others. 

“We welcome critical reviews of our papers, as well as book and film reviews and commentaries,” the journal’s mission reads. 

“We have stuck to our original mission. Our “center of gravity” was in South Asia, and we will maintain that emphasis [while we continue to] expand geographically,” Simon wrote. “The issue about to be released has two articles that present an overview of caste-like social formations in other parts of the world.” 

The upcoming issue will contain a combination of multi-genre pieces and is set to publish in mid-November as the journal’s fourth issue (Vol. 2 No. 2). 

“This is a general issue with a wide variety of research papers plus poetry and book and film reviews. The list includes internationally renowned scholar Christopher Queen,” Simon wrote. Queen’s piece will cover the rise of Dalit Autobiographies, or written accounts of one’s real-life struggles. The issue will also include a 3rd installment of commentary by Brandeis Prof. Rajesh Sampath (Heller) on Ambedkar's Posthumously published ‘Philosophy of Hinduism.’ 

Along with all of CASTE’s collaborators, Simon is looking forward to the Spring issue, which is set to be released in April 2022, and, according to Simon, will include “selected papers from a high-level conference being held this month in the U.K. on Anti-Caste Thought: Theory, Politics and Culture.” 

A unique component of CASTE is the multigenerational voices published in each issue, from a wide range of disciplines. According to the website, the journal aims to “advance peer-reviewed scholarship across disciplines, provide an opportunity for young scholars to publish along with established senior researchers, and present themed issues with guest editors.” 

To Simon, giving opportunities for new scholars to publish their work helps to foster mentor relationships and give space to a diverse collection of voices. 

CASTE’s Editorial Advisory Board is composed of 30 leading scholars including economists, philosophers, ethicists, and others from 10 countries in Asia, North America, and Africa. The diversity in ages, disciplines, and backgrounds of those involved with CASTE allows the journal to maintain high academic standards while also showcasing a wide range of perspectives and research. 

Younger scholars are encouraged by Simon to tie self-reflections and personal experience to their qualitative research. 

“We publish young poets and even those who write in a more auto-ethnographic manner. Our commitment extends to our matching selected young scholars with seasoned academic mentors. And our journal sponsors an international competition annually (though suspended during the pandemic) for the Bluestone Emerging Scholar Prize,” Simon wrote. 

Accessibility remains an integral part of CASTE’s vision, a feature which the collaboration with JSTOR will expand on a global scale. 

“Many fine journals are managed by publishing houses with significant staff costs. This results in subscription costs for individuals and institutions that many just cannot afford,” Simon noted, mentioning access and downloading fees, “These financial barriers block access to important scholarship for huge numbers of university students and even established scholars throughout the developing countries as well in the U.S.”

Simon hopes that new readers of CASTE can educate themselves through the articles and gain knowledge on Brandeis’ significant history of incorporating anti-caste precautions into their non-discrimination policies. He specifically noted that Brandeis was the first university in the U.S. to use this language in their policies, as caste realities can affect some students at Brandeis and other universities. 

“The journal was founded to advance peer-reviewed scholarship into caste and other inter-generational and hierarchical oppression. Our style is to publish research that is written in an accessible manner so that people across many disciplines, ages, and levels of familiarity with caste will benefit. The South Asian caste system is a largely unknown or misunderstood social phenomenon to those for whom it is not part of their cultural background,” Simon said.