As academics, we spend much of our time asserting our positions as authors to define and debate scholarship. By our second or third decade on the job, most of us like to think we know good research and writing when we see it. Institutions and organizations rely on our expert judgment to educate students, hire and retain faculty, evaluate publication projects, and assess grant applications. Whereas graduate training prepared us to eventually assume these expansive and interlinked responsibilities, it did not directly cultivate our editorial skills. I realize now, as I step into the JSAH editor role, the importance of learning to assemble, adapt, and refine other scholars’ work, after judging its merit. Intellectually, editorship draws on an inclination to see the field holistically, inclusively, and imaginatively. In practice, editorship today demands active articulation of the value of expanding access, equity, and inclusion in the work that we do. I see the editor in chief foremost as the advocate in chief for authors striving to present their best work on a prominent stage; the privilege of acting as a direct consultant and promoter for the newest original research representing our field’s vast terrain drew me to the position.

Architectural history is a long game. Research and writing take years, not days. The long-haul method primes our sensibilities to address complex questions and knotty historical conditions. This is all the more reason to treat authors—our colleagues—with appreciation for the time and effort they put into producing scholarship. Not all submissions to JSAH will come out the other end of the peer-review process successfully, but the process should produce a positive intellectual exchange for both reviewer and reviewee regardless of the outcome. In the most positive cases I have witnessed from behind the double-blind review curtain, evaluators expressed appreciation for the chance to preview and support the latest research, and authors received constructive feedback that helped them clarify arguments, locate additional relevant sources, and consider other modes of analysis and interpretation. That is the first tenet for my term as editor, that we all continue to learn from one another as we collectively shape the field. And with this idealistic vision comes responsibility and dedicated work.

As JSAH actively welcomes authors who are early-stage scholars, who are writing in English as their second or third language, or who are working without institutional support and resources, the editorial process lengthens: with each submission, more rounds of peer review, content refinement, and close line editing, as well as guidance on image selection and permissions. This is all a worthy investment of time and effort to ensure a healthy, dynamic, and rigorous research field, and it matters that this kind of important work is openly acknowledged. I emphasize that the editor is supported by an international network of peer reviewers, review editors, advisory committee members, and colleagues at large who bring their diverse expertise and perspectives to the tasks. Whereas we exercise limited control over what is submitted for publication consideration, the selection of peer reviewers and the curation of each issue’s lineup are ours to determine. With the introduction of the roundtable rubric, we now have a new way to gather proactively a greater number of voices at once, and, even more notably, to feature conversation about research in the making rather than the presentation of fully finished projects. As the flagship journal of architectural history, JSAH has the responsibility of steering the field, which in concrete terms means looking out for emerging voices and registering new insights to clarify, refine, or shift terms of debate in architectural history. I am dedicated to making room for the first word, no less than the final word, on critical subjects.

It should not be a surprise that the JSAH Roundtables, all written after the proliferation of public demonstrations across the United States and around the globe against racial injustice precipitated by the 2020 murder of George Floyd, tackle timely debates and urgent contemporary issues, most of which have so far centered on race, equity, and justice. It was especially important to me to start my term by gathering in the roundtable forum leading and rising scholars of Asian American and Pacific Islander architectural histories to shine a light on the words, actions, and cultural productions of a large community of Americans whose roots in the United States extend back more than two centuries and whose heritage also links them to other parts of the globe. As someone who works in a field adjacent to AAPI history, I would not have ventured into this territory, so vital on a personal level yet unfamiliar on an academic level, if not for the steady guidance of my roundtable coeditors Gail Dubrow and Sean McPherson. Together we experimented with a model of close editorial engagement in which we created a community of authors to share work in progress, encourage peer support, and deliver detailed feedback on multiple iterations of each essay—all toward the goal of sharpening our collective arguments and vision about the future of AAPI architectural histories. I aim to apply this editorial model to JSAH as much as possible, by fostering peer support and collective growth, to encourage crossing boundaries, applying experimental methodologies, and voicing hitherto unheard perspectives.

Many of you have seen me represent the journal as the associate editor alongside David Karmon in the past two years at SAH events both online and in person. Under David’s leadership, the journal has made strides in empowering authors, whether through choosing keywords to frame their studies or participating in roundtables regardless of junior or senior stature in the field.1 David has offered the kind of thoughtful and generous intellectual leadership that I intend to extend into my term. Which brings me next to the all-important acknowledgment of the entire JSAH team: review editors Thomas Leslie, Robin Thomas, Chanchal Dadlani, Ipek Türeli, Vanessa Grossman, and Emily Pugh (with fond farewell to outgoing editors Ann Huppert and Patricio del Real); editorial advisory committee members Flavia Marcello, Desiree Valadares, Pari Riahi, Zachary Stewart, Lawrence Chua, Julie Willis, and John Senseney (with much thanks to outgoing members Adnan Morshed and Joseph Heathcott); managing editor Ann Gilkerson, copy editor Judy Selhorst, and Opler editorial assistant Sarah Horowitz.

Architectural history is deeply nestled within humanistic modes of research and thinking, in that our work requires us to think big, think relationally, and think critically. Whereas other academic journals may already be turning to AI to assist in their work, I am confident that JSAH will continue to invest in human effort and criticality as its key priority.2 While the nudge of machine learning offers new possibilities for streamlining workflow, articulating the big questions and the big picture remains our prerogative. As we continue to witness astonishingly fast-paced changes in technology and strive to harness the efficiencies, I believe what will prevail is the methodological soundness of carefully examining primary evidence and secondary literature in depth, traveling to sites, documenting buildings, and interviewing subjects, even if these tasks take months or years to complete. Ultimately, the humanities, especially the study of the built environment, facilitate our public consciousness, and JSAH seeks no shortcut to delivering on that commitment.

1.

David Karmon, “Foregrounding Keywords at JSAH,” JSAH 82, no. 1 (Mar. 2023), 4–6; David Karmon, “Introducing JSAH Roundtables,” JSAH 82, no. 3 (Sept. 2023), 248–49.

2.

Taylor Swaak, “ ‘We’re All Using It’: Publishing Decisions Are Increasingly Aided by AI. That’s Not Always Obvious,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 27 Sept. 2023, https://www.chronicle.com/article/were-all-using-it-publishing-decisions-are-increasingly-aided-by-ai-thats-not-always-obvious (accessed 29 Sept. 2023).