GAINESVILLE, Florida  – Kakali Bhattacharya, professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education, has been chosen as the incoming editor of the journal Departures in Critical Qualitative Research.

“It’s so exciting to be able to create a supportive environment for different types of scholars who are otherwise marginalized,” she said. “I thought that I could offer a space for educational researchers … to invite people to come from a place of wholeness and do their work and legitimizing it is such an honor, such a privileged position to be in.”

Passionate about de/colonizing education and qualitative research, Bhattacharya is excited about what her time with the journal will mean for her field, particularly for other multiply-marginalized people. She will begin her three-year appointment in January 2022 and could extend to the full five years, the maximum, for which the position can be held.

Recently awarded the Mid-Career Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Georgia Mary Frances Early College of Education, Bhattacharya has already left a lasting mark on her field and sees this editorship as an opportunity to use her experience to help expand critical qualitative research opportunities for marginalized academics, especially academics of color.

Kakali Bhattacharya

Kakali Bhattacharya

“Those three to five years to shape a field is very important to me,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of scholars of color who are qualitative methodologists, there’s just a handful of us and we all know each other. I’ve been doing this work for a good 20 years, counting graduate school,  and it’s a very lonely space.”

Published by the University of California Press, Bhattacharya’s editorship over the next three to five years will emphasize UF College of Education’s standing as a leader in critical qualitative research. The emphasis on justice oriented qualitative research, along with a graduate certificate and doctoral program in formation led by Bhattacharya and her peers at UF provide a strong anchor for the journal.

“Dr. Bhattacharya is an amazing, innovative and accomplished scholar,” Dean Glenn Good said. “The UF College of Education is delighted with her appointment as the incoming editor of the journal Departures in Critical Qualitative Research! We look forward to the transformative insights and knowledge that will be disseminated under her editorship.”

Bhattacharya was approached by the current editor, Devika Chawla of Ohio University, about joining the journal and she knew this would be a great opportunity to leave a mark on the field. The inaugural editors for this journal were scholars in various liberal arts fields, whose work pushed the boundary of qualitative and  critical qualitative research, according to Bhattacharya. She plans on continuing this work by inviting scholars from education and social science fields to consider this journal for their cutting edge critical, creative, and de/colonial qualitative research.

She is excited for the opportunity to lead a more “avante garde” journal where she will be able to work with researchers utilizing less traditional writing styles.  She hopes to be able to create a space for scholars who break away from oppressive traditions to share their cutting edge work.

“I want to look for people who break rules,” she said. “People who break apart from traditional ways of doing qualitative research that silences and fragments them and challenge certain ways of making knowledge.”

To highlight the voices of not just the published authors in the journal but other academics, Bhattacharya plans to collaborate with academics to shape themes behind special issues highlighting different niches in qualitative research. 

“It’s really rewarding to expand my capacities, go beyond my comfort zone, and hold space for others when they do the same,” she said. “This is what’s driving me, it’s so important and so connected to my purpose. It’s a very privileged place to be in where I am invited to do passion projects.”

In addition to this editorship, Bhattarcharya has recently released a book she co-edited with Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, Professor at Linfield University in Oregon. The book, “Civility, Free Speech, and Academic Freedom in Higher Education,” features essays from marginalized faculty and staff members on their experiences. 

“The topic had been very close to me because this idea of civility can be used well when talking across differences but can also be used to attack people,” she said. “Like if people were to say something that was challenging certain status quos, then people can be attacked with you’re not being civil, you’re not being nice.”

To provide an interdisciplinary perspective within higher education, the book includes stories from not just academics – but communications, liberal arts, and psychology professionals in higher education.

Bhattacharya hopes that these essays will illuminate the discourse on free speech and civility within academia and how it has become a means of suppression for many. 

“These are historically situated and contemporary issues and will probably remain problematic until we fully dismantle different systems of oppression,” Bhattacharya said. “Until we do that, we need to have these narratives, advocacy, and empirical research so that we understand how we get ourselves here.”

“Civility, Free Speech, and Academic Freedom in Higher Education” can be found for purchase on Amazon.