Monday 17 June 2019

Focus on NIAS Press: A day in the life of a publishing assistant. By Adela Brianso Junquera

The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), an integrated part of the University of Copenhagen, is an academically independent Nordic research and resource centre, focusing on modern Asia from a predominantly social sciences perspective.

NIAS Press is a globally focused publisher with the rigorous academic standards expected of a university press, but with the speed and decisiveness of a commercial publisher. Its lists cover all areas of Asian Studies, but it specialises in publishing innovative research on modern east and southeast Asian society.

This week, we'll be exploring NIAS Press in a series of three posts. In this first post, Adela Brianso Junquera talks about her working day.

Adela is a publishing assistant at NIAS Press. A master’s student of global health at the University of Copenhagen, she works part-time as a student assistant. In her free time, she is the co-editor of the global health blog, Eye on Global Health. Before moving to Copenhagen, she studied social anthropology and politics in Edinburgh.

So, over to Adela...

Each working day at NIAS Press varies widely. As a publishing assistant, I am in charge of doing everything needed so that NIAS Press books land in loving readers’ hands: from sending copies to authors and contributors to ensuring that the books are reviewed by relevant publications. Under the caring eyes of Gerald Jackson, the editor-in-chief at NIAS Press, I have a relatively high degree of freedom to carry out my job. That freedom, together with the fact that our market is as wide as the world, can get a bit scary. Luckily, every challenge presents an opportunity.

I like arriving early to our office in the social sciences campus at the University of Copenhagen. In the quiet office, I read the papers and make connections between the news and our existing and upcoming books. In an effort to produce and share relevant, timely knowledge, NIAS Press encourages its authors to write opinion pieces about news stories or current issues that are relevant to their research. From the legalisation of gay marriage in Taiwan, to the environmental emergency in Cambodia, and to the poor working conditions of domestic workers in Singapore, I share, comment and email away.

My colleagues begin to arrive, and the office fills up with conversations and laughter. I research upcoming conferences and edit a flyer for an anthropology symposium to be held in Indonesia in July, where NIAS Press will display a few of its books. I email the Global Migrant Literature Festival about collaborating at one of their events in 2020. I notice that nominations for a book prize are due in two weeks. I write it down in my planner.

Time to take care of our books: The Performing Arts of Indonesia, an edited volume on arts in the Riau Islands, is coming out next month. I compile a list of possible reviewers and invite them to read the book. Once this is done, I move on the next task: Han Xin’s Challenge, translated by Vibeke Børdahl and Liangyan Ge, is off to the printer in only a few days. I request the shipment of copies to reviewers all over the world.

I glance at the clock and it is almost lunchtime. Every NIAS working day, at 12.30, everybody gathers at our long table for lunch. Academics, administrative staff, research guests and project coordinators all sit down, leave their worries in the office, and share a moment. NIAS runs a support programme for Asian Studies (SUPRA) which comprises multiple forms of research support specially aimed at students and researchers. Today, two guest scholars from the SUPRA programme share their research findings during lunch. First, I get to hear about sexual violence and displacement among the Rohingya populations in Myanmar. The second half is lighter: the researcher talks about cultural adaptation and originality regarding the Moomins cartoons in Finland and Japan.

After lunch, I begin preparing for the upcoming Asian Dynamics Initiative conference at the University of Copenhagen. Before I can finish my to-do list for it, a few reviews of our books come in. I read them, compile their key points on our common drive and schedule posts in our social media channels. Gerald shows me what he is working on: the cover design for a book coming out later this year. I feel fortunate to be part of the process from before a book is published to the moment when it reaches its readers. In NIAS Press, small is beautiful.

Over coffee, I talk to Hannah, who is my fellow publishing assistant and in charge of special projects. Her main task at the moment is to develop a new website for NIAS Press and update our ways of working so that we can focus even more on the authors. We catch up over what we are both busy with, and share ideas for the website design.

At the end of the day, I have a video call with Klaas Stutje, whose book Campaigning in Europe for a Free Indonesia is also off to the printer very soon. Klaas, who is based in the Netherlands, tells me about his research, and his motivations to write a book about Indonesian history. We plan a book launch in Amsterdam and a few radio interviews to promote his book. Our conversation leaves me with excitement. These calls are one of my favourite parts of being a publishing assistant. Before I leave the office, I schedule another video call with author Margaret Kartomi for next week. As I put my coat on, I scribble a few things for tomorrow on my planner. Phew! Another day at NIAS Press has ended.