1979

Anthropology in 1979

Kristen Alten

THE HOT DEPARTMENTS -

TOP FIVE IN FREQUENCY OF AUTHORSHIP IN JOURNALS
Mainstream

  1. Cambridge University
  2. University of Manchester
  3. McGill University
  4. University of California, Irvine
  5. University of California, Berkeley

Marginal

  1. University of Montreal
  2. University of Stockholm
  3. University of Adelaide
  4. University of Laval
  5. State University of New York, Stony Brook

THE MAJOR THEMES IN JOURNALS by NUMBER OF ARTICLES

MAINSTREAM MARGINS
1 Religion/ Ceremony 1 Social Organization
2 Marxist Approach 2 Kinship
3 Psychological Approach 2 Religion/Ceremony
4 Economics 3 Cross-Cultural Comparative Approach
5 Social Organization 4 Psychological Approach
5 Kinship 5 Gender
6 Gender 5 Economics
6 Cognition 6 Ethnomedicine
6 Cross-Cultural Comparitive Approach 6 Marxist Approach
7 Linguistics 7 Ecology

THE MAJOR SUB-DISCIPLINES
by affiliation of Authors in 4 major Journals

1 Psychological Anthropology

2 Medical Anthropology

3 Cognitive Anthropology

3 Linguistic Anthropology
4 Ethnohistory
4 Political Anthropology
4 Economic Anthropology
4 Symbolic Anthropology
5 Feminist Anthropology
6 Ecological Anthropology

 

KEY THEMES IN ANTHROPOLOGY DURING 1979
The year of 1979, according to six professional anthropological journals–American AnthropologistManAmerican EthnologistEthnosAnthropologica and Ethnology–was one of diffuse interests and approaches. While the journals, which include three from the anthropological mainstream and three from the margins, focused heavily on socio-cultural topics, the themes within that expansive category covered a wide range from ethnohistory to cultural ecology to structuralism.

While I classified the topics of the journal articles according to key themes made evident by the authors, these should not be seen as wholly independent categories. Rather they fall on a spectrum, some more interrelated than others. This can be seen by looking at the list of topics popular in the mainstream journals, American AnthropologistMan, and American Ethnologist, which included social organization, kinship, economics, and Marxist approaches. While not all of the articles, for example, on economics were Marxist in content or approach, many of those which discussed class structure and modes of production also included economic factors in their arguments, displaying their complementary nature. Among these three journalsAmerican Ethnologist showed the greatest diversity in topics presented, but American Anthropologist was the most evenhanded in its distribution of topics, with no one theme discussed in more than four articles.

 

The topic of religion/ceremony stands out as a decisive favorite among the authors in the three mainstream journals. This category includes articles written on rites of passage, marriage ceremonies and healing rituals as well as straightforward ethnographic descriptions and analyses of ceremonial events. The topic of religion has been of continual appeal to anthropologists, as the key themes of 1979 clearly illustrate. It is interesting to note, however, that few of the authors reviewed who wrote on religion considered themselves to be symbolic anthropologists, the subfield often associated with the study of ceremony. Rather, the authors approached this topic from several different angles, including historical, psychological and medical, exhibiting the universal appeal of this subject.

Among the journals which rest outside of anthropology’s more conventional center, the topics of social organization and its closely related cousin, kinship, dominated the discourse for 1979. Ethnology, which publishes quarterly as opposed to the biannualEthnos and Anthropologica, accounted almost single handedly for the strong emphasis on these topics. The other two journals stood in stark contrast to this offering only one or two articles on the same topic for the year.

Publishing articles in journals peripheral to the mainstream often offers authors an opportunity to work on cutting edge topics not yet taken seriously by those in the more prestigious center. This was not the case, however, in 1979. The only topic unique to the journals at the margins was ethnomedicine (medical anthropology). Across all six journals, the authors even seemed to approach their shared themes in similar ways, perhaps in an attempt to standardize the field’s literature and legitimate the work of authors who publish in less prestigious places.