Asiatica Association – A Brief History
When I started the electronic journals I was working at Harvard University with Michael Witzel, the Wales Professor of Sanskrit. He had just started publishing the excellent Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies, of which I am the Managing Editor. We planned the International Journal of Tantric Studies, of which he is the Managing Editor, and we started utilizing the Harvard Computer Facilities. Soon after the beginning, the first telephone calls arrived from the administration checking on us. Moreover, Harvard technicians were incredibly slow to open our mailing lists -- they usually took 2-3 days to open a new email account. Then a letter arrived: due to internal politics, a dean asked me to refrain from working on the journals as the Editor-in-Chief or the Managing Editor.
At that time Dr. Ludovico Magnocavallo, our Technical Editor, was one of the system administrators of Arcadia, the computer laboratory at the Polytechnic of Milan in Italy. He offered to move our sites and mailing lists to Arcadia and we enthusiastically agreed. Furthermore, in June 1995 we established the new electronic Journal of South Asia Women Studies, a few months before the First International Conference on Dowry and Bride Burning in India (Sept. 30 - Oct. 2, 1995). Soon after, Dr. Magnocavallo left Arcadia to find a paying job. The director of the laboratory did not want to let him go. The result was that a couple of months later the director, without informing us, asked somebody to delete our mailing lists and close our site. However, we had already copied the members' accounts. It was easy to move them to our present, commercial provider.
Since Autumn 1995 we have been there. We learnt the lesson, and we are now totally free and independent from any institutions, even though sometimes we collaborate with them. This means that we can choose the contributions, format, collaborators and the editors we like. The only people who can control our production are our readers. Our electronic journals have two main perquisites: rapidity of diffusion (the time from the first approach with authors and publication has never been longer than a couple of months), and autonomy (nobody imposes his/her policy on us). We have to pay for the provider and the copy editor though.
Due to the great success of our journals, we decided to collect the issues, to edit and to print them, and to distribute them as hard copy volumes. We established the Asiatica Association as a non-profit, non-governmental, cultural organization, to give a formal and legal framework to our work. We also decided to expand our work. The Asiatica Association is open to all bona fide scholars whose interest is the knowledge of Asian countries and the encounter between Asian values, Human Rights values, and Western values. The association has been established on May 13, 1997 according to the Italian law.
In April 2001, the Asiatica Association has become an ONLUS, the Italian Government term for 'non profit organization having a social utility'. This means that all the money collected with memberships and donations will be exclusively employed to pursue our social and cultural mission, and donations are entitled to tax exemption under the Italian law.