Born in Africa and bred in the diaspora, Transition is a unique
forum for the freshest, most compelling, most curious ideas about race.
Since its founding in Uganda in 1961, the magazine has kept apace of
the rapid transformation of the black world and has remained a leading
forum of intellectual debate. Now, in an age that demands ceaseless
improvisation, we aim to be both an anchor of deep reflection on black
life and a map charting new routes through the globalized
world. Transition is a publication of the Hutchins Center at Harvard
University, published three times annually by Indiana University Press.

Transition aims to speak to the broader intelligentsia and the educated lay public through jargon-free, readable prose that provides both insight and pleasure.

We accept submissions year-round on a rolling basis.  We generally respond to all submissions within four months.  Due to volume, we are unable to provide updates on the status of submissions unless more than four months have passed.

Transition publishes writing by and about Africa and the African diaspora, with an eye towards a global perspective. Please familiarize yourself with our Archive and read a recent issue to gain a sense of both the content and style that we seek.

General Submission Guidelines

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  • Transition does accept simultaneous submissions.  Please notify us immediately if you need to withdraw a piece because it has been accepted elsewhere.
  • Transition does not accept multiple submissions within a four-month period.  Within a season, an author may submit one packet of 5-7 poems, 1 short story, 1 essay, or 1 interview.  Multiple submissions will result in all submissions being rejected.
  • Transition now only accepts electronic submissions through Submittable.  Submissions sent by physical mail will be recycled unread.
  • Expect to revise.  With the exception of poetry, Transition almost never publishes work in the form it was originally submitted.  Authors of work under consideration may receive editorial feedback and requests to revise prior to final acceptance.
  • All submissions should include a brief cover letter that includes a short author bio.
  • For all submissions, please include the following information in your cover letter and in the top left corner of the first page of all documents:

Email address
Title of the work
Word count (or page count, for poetry)

  • Pages should be numbered and include the author’s name on every page.
  • All text submissions must be in .doc, .docx, or .pdf file format.  Images may be submitted in .jpg, .tiff, .gif, or .png.
  • Use 12pt. Times New Roman font unless there is a stylistic reason to do otherwise.

Transition pays contributors with one print copy of the issue in which their work appears, and the opportunity to reach a broad, international audience.

The bonds we forge over time, space, in the midst of struggle, and sometimes across borders and barricades, are the focus of this issue. How has solidarity formed across similar and diverging narratives between two people, between groups of people, or between species—to piggyback on our current, themed issue, SPECIES. 

We welcome new perspectives on historic partnerships as well as unexpected examples of identification, cooperation, and collaboration. How do we know that we have the same fight? Can we pinpoint the moments where we learned and decided that we are on the same road? In this issue on solidarities, we seek to explore and investigate relationships both longstanding and nascent, in interview, personal history, memoir, poetry, and every type of essay. 

Our ideal length for non-fiction prose is 6000 words.  Although we occasionally publish shorter pieces, we almost never publish longer pieces.  Unlike academic journals, we believe that the mode of expression is just as important as the content. Academic clichés, locutions, and jargon, in addition to authorial intrusions such as “I am going to argue...,” “In the second section of this paper I will...,” etc., are best avoided, since they tend to disrupt the narrative flow.
We expect the nonfiction pieces published in Transition to display the virtues of high-quality literary fiction, especially narrative prose, which leads the reader naturally from one sentence to the next. Rich description and attention to voice, tone, imagery, and word choice are all appreciated. We also welcome provocative points of view that stimulate debate.

N.B. As a nonacademic journal, we do not run footnotes or give strict bibliographic documentation for the ideas expressed in our essays. One way to cite quotations or reference scholars is by incorporating the reference into the sentence; for example, “As Edward Said reminds us in Culture and Imperialism, ‘Appeals to the past are among the commonest of strategies in interpretations of the present.’”

We publish short stories as well as excerpts from forthcoming novels.  In general, fiction must have some obvious link to the editorial mission of Transition to publish by and about Africa and the African diaspora.  We typically publish fiction of up to 6000 words.
Please submit 5-7 poems at a time.  We publish poetry from and about Africa and the Diaspora. For non-English-language poetry, we prefer to run the original language version along with its literary translation into English.  Submission of translations should specify whether or not the translator has already secured permission to publish the translation and original.  We rarely publish new translations of poems that are already widely available in English.  In such cases, the submission cover letter must include a compelling argument from the translator on why their version is revelatory.
We continuously seek new, unpublished work from photographers and artists and look for images that inform, innovate, startle, and speak.

Please submit:
  • Five to ten high-resolution (300 dpi) images for which you would grant Transition permission to publish
  • Caption information for submitted images (Title. Materials. Size. Courtesy (if any). Copyright year, artist name.)
  • A short bio (150 words or less) in an MS Word document
  • Contact info, including name, address, email and phone
Should your image(s) be selected to appear in Transition, a member of the staff will contact you to make further arrangements for publication.

Although Transition is unable to pay contributors, we provide the opportunity to reach a broad, international audience by including a brief profile on each artist whose work is used to complement our text pieces.

Please note that most artwork and photography in Transition appears in black and white, and we can use only high-resolution images (300 dpi). Others will be discarded.

We love to publish interviews by and with scholars, writers, artists, filmmakers, activists—anyone doing something interesting and unique in the black world.  All interviews should be preceded by a short (150-250 words) introduction that incorporates a bio of the interviewee, with the interview following in standard interview format (Q & A). We publish interviews in the 6000 word range.