Professor Klaus Neumann has published an article in the inaugural edition of Z’Flucht, a new refugee studies journal in Germany: “Das Journal of Refugee Studies. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte eines Forschungsfeldes”, Z’Flucht: Zeitschrift für Flüchtlingsforschung vol. 1, no. 1 (2017): 140-157.
The Journal of Refugee Studies is the most important international academic journal in the field of refugee studies/forced migration studies. Its establishment in 1988 helped to consolidate refugee studies as a distinct field of study. In this article, I reflect on the 29-year history of that journal, focusing on its interdisciplinary reach, its role as a forum for applied research, and its attempt to feature the voices of refugees. I argue that the journal has published the outcomes of research about refugees (rather than research conducted by or done in collaboration with refugees), and suggest that it would be worth repeating the founding editor’s experiment to let refugees speak about – and conceptualise and theorise – their experience. I suggest that a new journal such as Z’Flucht may want to privilege the publication of articles that are ambitious in their scope. It could also learn from one of the strengths of the Journal of Refugee Studies and encourage authors to reflect on their practice as researchers and writers.