Fifteen scholars on the editorial board of Third World Quarterly have resigned over the publication of a controversial essay, according to the their resignation letter. Their departures leave the journal, which publishes essays from the field of international studies, short nearly half of its editorial board.
The essay is by Bruce Gilley, a political scientist at Portland State University, and is titled “The Case for Colonialism.” It argues that the idea that Western colonialism harmed colonized countries and their people is largely exaggerated.
The resignation letter states that the essay was published without consulting the editorial board. It also says that Shahid Qadir, Third World Quarterly’s editor in chief, told board members in an email that the essay had gone through the journal’s required double-blind peer-review process, but that he did not provide copies of those reviews upon request.
The editorial board later found out that reviewers had rejected the essay for a special issue of the journal. An editor of the journal’s “Viewpoint” section also rejected the essay, the board’s letter says.
“Thus the fact is established that this did not pass the peer-review when we have documentation that it was rejected by three peer reviewers,” the resignation letter says. “Thus, Bruce Gilley’s Viewpoint essay, ‘The Case for Colonialism,’ must be retracted, as it fails to provide reliable findings, as demonstrated by its failure in the double-blind peer-review process.”
Update (9/23/2017; 6:07 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that all members of Third World Quarterly‘s editorial board resigned. Only 15 members did so, according to the board’s resignation letter. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.