German Publisher De Gruyter Fires Philosophy Editor, Eliminates Philosophy Dept (Updated)

Walter De Gruyter, the large German academic publishing firm responsible for a variety of philosophical publications, including the Kant and Leibniz Academy editions, the complete works of Nietzsche, and authoritative editions of many other canonical authors, along with many journals, has fired its longtime philosophy editor, Dr. Gertrud Grünkorn, and has eliminated philosophy as its own department, consolidating it under “Classical Studies.” In response, a number of philosophers (currently more than 120) have signed on to a letter to De Gruyter objecting to these developments.

The letter states:

We are surprised and dismayed to learn of the dismissal of Dr. Gertrud Grünkorn as Editorial Director of Philosophy at De Gruyter. As philosophers publishing with De Gruyter we have been working together very successfully with Dr. Grünkorn for many years, building a relationship based on trust. Dr. Grünkorn has an impressive network in academic philosophy, especially in Germany, but also in the US. She has always ensured that publication projects of great importance to the publisher as well as to the academic community at large, such as critical editions of collected works, monographs, edited volumes, book series and academic journals, are handled with exemplary care from acquisition to publication. For us as authors and editors publishing with De Gruyter, the dismissal of Dr. Grünkorn is therefore an extremely disturbing sign.

We have also learned that the editorial department of philosophy has lost its independence and was reassigned to the department of classical studies. This restructuring is very worrying to us. If philosophy is assigned, or even subordinated, to another department, the competent professional support of our publications no longer seems to be assured.

With Dr. Grünkorn’s dismissal and the internal restructuring it is feared that De Gruyter will not be able to serve as the home to nationally and internationally acknowledged philosophical publications it has been in recent decades. It is difficult to avoid the impression that the publisher will give philosophy less space and importance in its future program. This prospect is all the more worrying as De Gruyter, after the market concentration of recent years, is one of the few remaining renowned companies publishing German-language philosophy in an internationally visible way. We fear that with the dismissal of Dr. Grünkorn an important forum for the publication of philosophical writings could be lost. For these reasons, we would like to ask the publisher Walter de Gruyter to rethink and reverse its decision to dismiss Dr. Grünkorn.

The letter was brought to my attention by Robin Celikates, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Amsterdam and a book review editor at the De Gruyter journal, Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophiewho authored the letter along with several other philosophers whose work has been published by De Gruyter.

You can view the letter here. If De Gruyter has published work of yours, you may write to Professor Celikates to add your name to the list of signatories.

UPDATE: Eric Merkel-Sobotta, who works in Communications at De Gruyter, submitted a comment which I thought was worth including here in the post:

An open letter currently circulating, which regards organizational changes at De Gruyter, has come to my attention through various social media channels.

The sentiments expressed by the authors of this letter confirm that De Gruyter is an important partner for the Philosophy community – particularly because of our international reach and professional in-house editorial staff. We are indebted to our contributors from the scholarly community who have allowed us to build this reputation.

In addressing the concerns of this community, there are a number of misleading statements in the open letter that we would like to rectify. Although we cannot comment on internal personnel issues, we would like to stress that this internal reorganization in no way means “less space and importance” or the loss of an important forum for the Philosophy community.

We can assure you that De Gruyter´s longstanding commitment to scholarship in Philosophy remains undiminished. De Gruyter is home to a broad range of disciplines in the Humanities and we will continue to support, nurture, and promote Philosophy as we always have.

We will also continue to provide all authors writing across the broad spectrum of the academic fields with a home for their important books, journals and editions by editorial staff trained in their disciplines.

In order to guarantee our independence far into the future, we must adapt to the changing academic community, and this includes changes to how we are organized internally. A strengthened position will enable us to offer the international Philosophy community the best publishing environment for their work.

As one of the few independent publishers in Philosophy and the Humanities and Social Sciences, we are determined to maintain our key role in academic discourse. We encourage you to support us in this endeavor by continuing to entrust us with your valuable scholarly contributions.



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