African Arts now offers e-reader edition
Upcoming Winter 2014 edition of African Arts .

African Arts now offers e-reader edition

In its 47th year of publication, African Arts can now be read on a smartphone.

by Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications

International Institute, October 21, 2014 —
Anyone who has traveled in Africa over the past 15 years is aware of the enormous impact that mobile phones have had on communications on the continent, with multitudes of phone-based applications now available in virtually every field, from health to education to fishing (believe it or not).

African Arts, the only journal dedicated exclusively to African art in all its forms — contemporary and classical — has responded to this trend by launching a new-e-reader edition. As of its spring 2014 edition, the journal can now be purchased as single issues through Amazon for viewing on a Kindle or other device that runs a Kindle app.

The new format is designed to read on a smartphone. “I think it’s important that a journal like African Arts, which has a global readership — and especially a readership in Africa, where smartphones are a much more important means of accessing the wider world — make itself available in as many formats as possible,” says Leslie Ellen Jones, executive editor and art director.

Not only does the e-reader version add yet another digital distribution channel for the widely respected publication, it restores a reader’s ability to purchase an individual issue.

Journal history in brief

African Arts was founded by UCLA law professor Paul Proehl in 1967 — then director of UCLA’s International and Overseas Programs — as a result of a conversation he had with Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi. For its first three years, it was published in both English and French.

A unique outlet for original research on traditional, contemporary and popular African arts, the journal has always featured generous color illustrations. In fact, its articles are frequently used in the syllabi of university courses throughout the world.

As Jones has noted, “African Arts has always been remarkable for the amount of illustration included in its articles, which since the second volume has included a degree of full-color reproduction not normally found in an academic publication” (African Arts, vol. 47, no. 2).

The publication attracts contributions from leaders in all fields of African arts and has a long-standing close relationship with UCLA’s Fowler Museum, particularly the curators of its African collections. In addition to peer-reviewed articles, the journal offers book and exhibition reviews, features on museum collections, photo essays and lively “First Word” editorials. The editorials — frequently written by non-editorial staff — serve to spark animated debate on new or difficult topics.

Previous editors-in-chief of African Arts have included the stellar UCLA experts John Povey (African literature and visual arts) and Donald J. Cosentino (African performing and visual arts). Currently, the publication is edited by a UCLA team that includes Fowler Museum Director Marla C. Berns, historian Allen F. Roberts, art historian Mary Nooter Roberts, curator Gemma Rodrigues and Emeritus Director of the Fowler Museum Doran H. Ross.

Taking advantage of the digital age

Now in its 47th year of publication, African Arts has been published continuously by UCLA’s James S. Coleman African Studies Center since 1967. It has been available in both print and electronic versions since 2008 (volume 40). The electronic version is hosted on the MIT Press Journals' site for five years before migrating to JSTOR, one of the world’s premiere, subscription-based digital libraries of academic journals, books and primary sources.


The electronic version of African Arts — and now the Kindle edition — has enabled the publication to incorporate links to illustrative video materials for the first time, an invaluable complement to articles on African performing arts.

In the journal’s next edition (Winter 2014), says Jones, “We have an article on African dance that includes a sidebar of You Tube links so that readers of the electronic version will be able to click through directly to see what the author is talking about. Next year, we will have a similar situation with an article on African animation.

“Eventually, I am convinced, that the electronic editions of the journal will not only expand our means of distribution,” continues Jones, “but will radically expand the kind of research that our authors will be able to present within the ‘pages’ of the journal.”