1994

Anthropology in 1994

Alexandru Anton-Luca

THE HOT DEPARTMENTS -

TOP FIVE IN FREQUENCY OF AUTHORSHIP IN JOURNALS
Mainstream

  1. UC Irvine (6)
  2. CUNY, NYU (4)
  3. UCLA, University of Iowa, Duke (3)
  4. 17-way tie for 2 authors*
  5. 72-way tie for 1 author

Marginal

  1. Universite Laral (4)#
  2. University of Chicago, University of British Columbia (3)
  3. UC Santa Barbara, Stockholm University (2)
  4. 23-way tie for 1 author~

I could not find any record of department affiliation for three articles.
*     University of Miami, UCSD, University of Kentucky, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Washington State University, Boston University, University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Chicago, University of New Hampshire, University of St. Andrews, Brunel University, Trinity College, Gallaudet University, Kenyon College, Bard College.
#     One article authored by four members of the same department.
~     University of Minnesota, University of Hawaii, University of Iowa, UC San Diego, Auburn University, University of Miami, CUNY, Western Washington University, University of Maine, UCLA, University of Glasgow, Kutztown University, Yale University, University of Windsor, Nordland Research Institute, Bucknell University, East-West Center, SUNY at Stony Brook, University of Winnipeg, University of New Brunswick, Service Canadien d’Ethnologie, University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, University of Copenhagen, University of Oxford.
Four authors published twice in center journals: Susan Greenhalgh, Paul Stoller, Filip de Boeck, and S.P.Reyna. Two authors crossed the center-margins divide: Paul B. Roscoe and Edward LiPuma. No author published twice in the marginal journals.

 

THE MAJOR THEMES IN JOURNALS by NUMBER OF ARTICLES

MAINSTREAM MARGINS
Religion and ritual (16)

 

Material culture; Global consumerism (6)

 

Ethnohistory (15)

 

Religion and ritual (5)
Methodology (14)

 

Kinship; Hegemony and politics (4)
Hegemony and politics (12) Body and Performance
Body and performance; Identity; Ethnicity (9)

 

Identity and Ethnicity (1)

 

Material culture; Global consumerism (8)

 

gender, sociobiology (1)

 

Trade and economy; Cultural ecology (7)

 

 Methodology (1)
Linguistics, theory (6)

 

 Ethnohistory (1)

 

Gender (5) Social structure and change (1)
Kinship; Social structure and change (3)  Cultural ecology (1)

   

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

1 Cultural anthropology

2 Social anthropology

3 Political anthropology

4 Cultural ecology; Archaeology

5 Linguistic anthropology; Anthropology of religion
6 Symbolic anthropology
7 Applied anthropology
8 Visual anthropology; Ethnohistory
9 Psychological anthropology; History of anthropology; Medical anthropology
10 Cognitive anthropology; Feminist anthropology; Biological anthropology; Quantitative anthropology

Considering the attention to the body in recent literature, I am surprised that there are not more authors claiming medical anthropology as their chief sub-discipline. This suggests that unlike in 1988 and 1991, in 1994 the body was more often conceived of as political and social rather than as personal, if I can borrow Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ formulations. Though in 1994 the body was a popular theme, it sometimes served as a metaphorical substitute for traditional themes that are more closely associated with gender, religion, and identity. The work of Scheper-Hughes and others diverges self-consciously from these latter approaches.

KEY THEMES IN ANTHROPOLOGY DURING 1994
So what do these themes and sub-disciplines mean? They have to do with a common body of authors, but how do they relate to themselves and each other? Looking at my raw data I started to see anthropology as one big pool of water with many depressions rather than as numerous little water holes. Some depressions are bigger than others, as social anthropology is more encompassing than cognitive anthropology, and some are big enough to have depressions of their own, as the anthropology of religion, visual anthropology, and postmodern anthropology are in some contexts more quickly identified as cultural anthropology.

Anthropologists fall like pebbles in these various depressions and leave their mark as indentations which can be read as kinship, methodology, identity, and so on. Some indentations are deeper and more distinct and can rarely be found outside particular depressions. Ethnohistory, for instance, is closely related to archaeology and archival work. Others are less defined and less unique to any particular depression, as theory can be conceived in almost any context, and identity is easily at home alongside the anthropology of religion, feminist anthropology, or political anthropology.

However, water currents periodically roll pebbles from one depression to another. In the course of a career, involvement with symbolic anthropology can be just a stone’s throw away from economic anthropology as in the case of John D. Kelly. But neither is there just one water current causing commotion. Academic and political currents variously succeed in budging pebbles out of their holes, sometimes emptying them (as seems to be happening to psychological anthropology), and sometimes filling them (as in the case of political anthropology) with the magnet-like qualities of keywords like hegemony and borders. More often pebbles just move around to share the company of other pebbles and exchange ideas. This moving around can result in well-trodden paths such as from linguistics to various subdisciplines of cultural anthropology but it can also result in high ridges such as that between cognitive anthropology and the recent approaches to ritual and performance in the anthropology of religion and in visual anthropology. Perhaps pebbles also sink in the sand, out of sight, and later reappear, but this is difficult to extrapolate from one year.

AAA Guide keywords have varying descriptive power, as an anthropologist’s listing of “kinship, religion, and marxism” followed by a couple of geographic names indicates. Is this a poignant statement directed at disciplinary boundaries, the evolution of a career, or both ? Should I infer a Marxist approach to religious rituals in determining characteristics of kinship religions, or the resilience of social structure divided between religious tradition and economic currents cast in Marx’s shadow ? Probably neither. In the same vein, how much or how little can one infer from A. Kimball Romney’s listing of experimental and psychological anthropology along with quantitative and cognitive anthropology ? Is he particularly concerned with exactness and is he careful to state his position vis-a-vis the more socio-cultural anthropologies or must one move even closer and look at his stature and tenure status within the department at UC Irvine ?

It took an average of 8.5 months for articles in the American Ethnologist to reach final acceptance and 29 months from initial submission to publication. The breakdown is 7 months from submission to final acceptance for the 1st issue (I excluded one article which took 3 years and nine months), 6.5 for the 2nd, 10 for the third, and 10.5 for the 4th. It appears that the submission and acceptance time periods for the articles in the first three issues overlapped, and that those for the fourth issue stretched for an extra year. This explains the 34 month waiting period for publication for the 4th issue as opposed to an average of 27 months for the first three. Overall, the two and a half year average period for an article to reach publication in 1994 means that the publication rate in the American Ethnologist does not necessarily reflect the state of the academy and is not at all indicative of fieldwork priorities in 1994.

How do these journals stack up against each other ? Well, I can carry the three marginal journals in one hand even though two of them are bound with one other year, but I need both hands for the center journals. The center journals are bigger, taller, and thicker. Whereas Ethnos and Anthropologica put out 2 issues per year, all the others put out 4 issues except for Current Anthropology, with 5. Center journals seem to be more practical financial ventures with a more solid readership, and if not this, at least a higher rate of library subscriptions.

I thought that since we went to all the trouble of marking journals as “center” and “margins,” I would find a clear divergence in ideology between the two. Differences exist, but they do not reveal one particular trend. The center journals have more space and therefore more kinds of essays and articles and many more book reviews. All of the center journals have a “comments” sections whereas only in issue 3-4 of Ethnos is a “Comment and Debate” section introduced, perhaps as a response to center journals. The Ontario-based Anthropologica is the only journal that makes a serious commitment to a language other than English, that being French. However, although all abstracts appear in both English and French, I spotted only one article and no book reviews in French in 1994. The themes explored in all journals are remarkably varied and show several trends. Anthropologica and Ethnos are the journals where one is more likely to encounter studies on developed countries such as Israel, Turkey, and Sweden, whereas the others focus on developing societies.

Two center journals underwent editorial changes in 1994. Barbara and Dennis Tedlock took over the editorial duties of the American Anthropologist starting with the third issue, and the editors’ names appear for the first time prominently on the contents page, in the style of the American Ethnologist. This editorial change also resulted in the addition of “Abstracts” and “Forum” sections, the prioritization of cross-disciplinary exchange, and the elimination of the four-field division in the “Book Reviews” section. The first installment of “Forum” (issue 3) includes a critique of the “other” in dialogue form by a male author and three articles on disciplinary boundaries, two of them discussing gender, by three women writers. The second installment (issue 4) focuses on issues concerning ethnicity and institutions. The first issue of Current Anthropology in 1994 marks the beginning of Richard G. Fox’s editorial term. Fox calls for articles by non-Western authors and promises his support for making available in CA the work of non-English speakers. He also voices his intent to give particular character to future issues of CA by soliciting articles of graduate students for one journal issue and non-anthropologists for another.

Thematically, the margins journals are more conservative than the center ones. They address traditional themes such as kinship and include modern ones such as feminism, hegemony, and global consumerism, as do the center journals. However, newer themes are to be found in center journals, which also place a brighter spotlight on methodological and theoretical critiques. Margin journals include two co-authored articles whereas center journals include fourteen. The most salient difference between our division of journals into center and margins is that if there is one center, there are “margins” and not one “margin.” Interestingly, the mixed picture drawn by institutional affiliations in the margins resonates with the editorial call made by Richard G. Fox inCurrent Anthropology (issue 1). It is for the future to tell if Fox’s idea of a more global authorship for CA is consonant with the situation one finds today in the marginal journals.