Twenty-five years ago, in the spring of 1992, the first issue of “Spagna contemporanea” – the first and only Italian journal devoted to Spanish history – came to press. Of perhaps more lasting significance, the project was also eagerly embraced by one of Torino’s most prestigious cultural institutions, the Istituto di Studi Storici Gaetano Salvemini, with the journal becoming the voice of the Istituto’s newly founded Spanish studies section.
The mission of the project was to publish a bi-annual journal on what we might call late modern and contemporary Spanish history and culture, covering roughly the period from 1750 to today. It began with two guiding principles: a journal planned and written in Italy, on the Spanish history of the last two and a half centuries, could be neither just another Italian historical journal, nor a Hispanic studies publication among others.
“Spagna contemporanea” was thus envisioned as a publication-conduit that could help identify interlocutors across diverse academic, disciplinary and geographical fields. In so doing, the Journal implicitly employed the comparative approach in establishing a connection between the historical processes in the two countries rather than between individual events, thereby contributing to the increase of the scientific and cultural relationships and to the strengthening of personal ties between scholars of both Spain and Italy.
The Journal deals with Spanish contemporary history in a very broad sense, including every aspect of civilization (culture, literature, cinema, social and political problems, etc.), so we are not strictly bound to a limited view of Spain or “historical” fields. Additionally, we were, if not the first the first historical journal, then one of the first Humanities journals in Italy to adopt double-blind peer reviewing of our texts.
“Spagna contemporanea” thus set a standard common elsewhere and recently garnering the top classification (“A”) by the Ministry of Education’s Commission for the Contemporary History Journals. A few days ago we published our 50th issue, with articles and essays on every aspect of contemporary Spanish history and society. While we give voice mainly to Italian and Spanish scholars (about 50% of every issue is in Spanish), the publication does also provide a forum for scholars from other countries (France, UK, Germany, USA etc.) engaged in Spanish studies.
The Journal has also fostered more direct international scholarly exchanges among hispanist historians. Since the year 2000 the Journal has organized a series of international historical conferences, many of whose proceedings have been published. In 2014, the Journal hosted the ASPHS’s annual conference in Modena, with the as yet unsurpassed record of 120 panels for 427 participants from all over the world.
Even as this important anniversary prompts us to reflect upon our past, we continue to look forward, and an important piece of news about the future of the Journal that may be especially interesting for ASPHS members is that, as of issue 51 the Journal will now accept submissions in English, which shall be judged and eventually published according to our standing double-blind referee system.
In this way we hope to increase the Journal’s accessibility and the exchange of scientific knowledge about Spanish history on both sides of the Atlantic – hopefully to deepen the already existing good relationships between historians located in very distant places. We may perhaps differ in our respective approaches to the subject, and in the treatment of the matter, but we remain eager to widen the boundaries of our shared knowledge.