Anthropology in 1979
TOP FIVE IN FREQUENCY OF AUTHORSHIP IN JOURNALS
THE MAJOR THEMES IN JOURNALS by NUMBER OF ARTICLES
2 Medical Anthropology
3 Cognitive Anthropology
KEY THEMES IN ANTHROPOLOGY DURING 1979
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 Anthropologist, Man, 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 journals American 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 biannual Ethnos 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.
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