At the moment, the OAC includes a social networking site and a repository for self-archiving and other activities. Keith Hart and I would like to propose another initiative: the Open Anthropology Cooperative Press.

For us, the OAC is in many ways a re-invention of the small-triple-a, the amateur anthropological association, in the digital age. We would like to do the same for Prickly Pear Pamphlets: “We emulate the passionate amateurs of history who circulated new and radical ideas to as wide an audience as possible and we hope in the process to reinvent anthropology as a means of engaging with society.”

In the first instance, we would publish short and longer pieces online, while leaving future developments as open as the OAC itself. As part of the OAC, the Press would aim to remain true to the PPP prototype and would seek to give expression to new and radical ideas in anthropology from the young and old, the unknown and famous. We would like to open the idea to discussion and also solicit volunteers from the OAC membership to serve on the editorial board.

Justin

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Thanks for the wonderful idea Justin and Keith. Just wanted to discuss the issue of publishing from a slightly different point of view. My reflection concern my status as junior anthropologist who has lots of saying and mountains of data written and is facing the dilemma of publishing certain material quickly (after seeing others going to the same field site or getting interested in close topics) vs. publishing it in good journals (which may have a very long queue) or well-established presses. With the quick circulation of ideas and the greatest importance given to innovative paradigms which are nevertheless already'out there' we are facing more the need of publishing promptly yet still hold in your hands a publication valuable for job hunting purposes. Any suggestion?
Giovanni,

We will certainly include your concerns in our deliberations, once we get there. My personal solution to quick publishing is to post everything I write on my website as soon as it happens. This then leads to some evasion when the same stuff is published later in orthodox channels. I agree that we should place a high priority on quick turnaround, but I doubt if we could soon meet the need for accredited publications in the academy.

Giovanni da Col said:
Thanks for the wonderful idea Justin and Keith. Just wanted to discuss the issue of publishing from a slightly different point of view. My reflection concern my status as junior anthropologist who has lots of saying and mountains of data written and is facing the dilemma of publishing certain material quickly (after seeing others going to the same field site or getting interested in close topics) vs. publishing it in good journals (which may have a very long queue) or well-established presses. With the quick circulation of ideas and the greatest importance given to innovative paradigms which are nevertheless already'out there' we are facing more the need of publishing promptly yet still hold in your hands a publication valuable for job hunting purposes. Any suggestion?
Oh, that's a good question, Vanessa. I must add: What about Archaeology?

Vanessa Campanacho said:
My compliments for the idea!
In the moment i have just one question: is it going to have only texts from social and cultural Anthropology or it will envolve anothers areas of Anthropology, like Medical Anthropology and Physical Anthropology? Or is it something to decide later?
Thanks
I would say anthropology in the broadest possible sense and that would include for sure medical and physical anthropology and archaeology. I have little time for the attempt to separate social/cultural anthropology from the rest, but then I am not the boss, just the friend of the proposer. Anything you could find here on the OAC and, if you look at our Groups, that really means Anything.

Vanessa Campanacho said:
My compliments for the idea!
In the moment i have just one question: is it going to have only texts from social and cultural Anthropology or it will envolve anothers areas of Anthropology, like Medical Anthropology and Physical Anthropology? Or is it something to decide later? Thanks
Vanessa, We are not planning to produce a journal at present, although this may emerge down the line, but rather individual pieces, short or long. Thanks for volunteering. You may now find yourself on an editorial board, if we get that far.

Vanessa Campanacho said:
Thanks for answering my question.
If it will really include Physical Anthropology i would like to be a volunteer. I am writing that because it is the area where i am doing my master.
I dont have experience in working in a jornal, but i would like to help, and learn with investigators who have much more experience! Thanks
Are we talking about something that would produce paper documents (books, or issues of journals) or just be all-electronic?

Something that might be totally unworkable but cheap and interesting would be just allowing people to submit article-length manuscripts and then have them "peer-reviewed" by the OAC itself. There could be a monthly or quarterly deadline, everything would go up, and then individual OACers could "promote" articles of which they thought highly. Sort of like a journal/blog: some blogs are well-written, witty, interesting, etc. and get lots of readers; others, not so much.

As long as people participated, you'd quickly separate nutty stuff written in ALL CAPS!!! (which no-one would read) from scholarly work, and then within the scholarly work some things would emerge as particularly exciting. The whole thing would stand or fall on readers reading; but doesn't all scholarship? There is a problem, of course, that in such an international forum articles in Spanish (let alone Latvian) would be at a real disadvantage; but again, that is already a problem in international scholarship at large.

At the end of the year, there could be a journal called something like "The OAC Yearbook" featuring the top 5 or 10 most-promoted articles from each calendar year. It wouldn't immediately be the same as getting an article in a top established journal, but it seems like the kind of thing that could be the future of academic publishing. It would still involve technical work (setting up a format for the uploading of articles, archiving each month's or quarter's bunch of articles and then posting the new ones), but not so much intellectual vetting by some overworked (and insular) circle of dedicated worker bees. It might take a couple of years to catch on, too, but ... well, this is where I should volunteer my mad IT skillz but I don't have any so I can only talk the talk, not walk the walk. Does this sound interesting to anyone who might know how to make it happen?

For book publishing, I have no ideas.
Thanks Keith but then my question (take me as the devil's advocate) would be: why someone (especially junior anthropologists) would publish great material with OAC press instead of going through the orthodox channels? What about striking a deal with some press and proceed like this: 1) quick online publishing in an online OAC peer-reviewed journal; 2) have a publisher printing the single issues or an annual collection of the articles the following year. At that point, the old issues could be taken offline and accessed only through the publisher's website. That would allow for a quick turnaround, open access for a limited amount of time and contributions would still be valued as 'official publications' (in press or published). Having said that, I am available for helping on this or other options...
Kathleen,

The short answer is that we have not yet decided on online/print, journal/books etc, since a lot will depend on the enthusiasms and commitments of the people who join the enterprise. Consider yourself signed up, technical skills regardless. We do have in mind relying heavily on in-house OAC contributions and editorial work. In the first instance, an editorial board would consist of volunteers from the OAC membership. From this would be drawn in any given period a smaller working committee. There would have to be one or more editors-in-chief, but the position could circulate.

When Justin and I started talking about a new publishing outlet, we had in mind pieces longer than article length, pamphlets or even book length. At first, we would probably stick with online publishing which is plenty of work in itself without the problem of moving print copies.

I mentioned elsewhere an online journal I am familiar with (my wife is an editor-in-chief). Once you get into regular deadlines for issues, it's a real treadmill, believe me and the work of website management and correspondence really requires at least a half-time specialist each who are paid by a grant or some other means. ethnographiques.org had a special mission: to develop multimedia ethnographic publication online in French, while being more open to the anglophone world than most French publications (this involves translation). Their success came from quickly being recognized as an excellent and unusual publishing outlet. But it also involves a hellova a lot of conferencing and mindboggling labour. I know because I watch and hear. The people who have stuck with the journal know each other well and get on together. They all live and work on or near the Swiss/French border. We would face different social conditions and indeed we already have.

So it seems to me that we should start by publishing an occasional papers series that could be elastic in length. The issue of language is crucial. Spanish usually comes up because it is also a lingua franca like English. We might be able to rustle up an editorial board that could handle (from the membership so far) Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Norwegian, Chinese. There may be others. But here too there is a problem of establishing a common standard. It may have to be English to start with.

I am responding off the top of my head. I have some publishing experience and seniority, but the idea is to mobilize the energies of younger anthropologists who are possibly going places I could never imagine.


Kathleen Lowrey said:
Are we talking about something that would produce paper documents (books, or issues of journals) or just be all-electronic?
Something that might be totally unworkable but cheap and interesting would be just allowing people to submit article-length manuscripts and then have them "peer-reviewed" by the OAC itself. There could be a monthly or quarterly deadline, everything would go up, and then individual OACers could "promote" articles of which they thought highly. Sort of like a journal/blog: some blogs are well-written, witty, interesting, etc. and get lots of readers; others, not so much. As long as people participated, you'd quickly separate nutty stuff written in ALL CAPS!!! (which no-one would read) from scholarly work, and then within the scholarly work some things would emerge as particularly exciting. The whole thing would stand or fall on readers reading; but doesn't all scholarship? There is a problem, of course, that in such an international forum articles in Spanish (let alone Latvian) would be at a real disadvantage; but again, that is already a problem in international scholarship at large.
At the end of the year, there could be a journal called something like "The OAC Yearbook" featuring the top 5 or 10 most-promoted articles from each calendar year. It wouldn't immediately be the same as getting an article in a top established journal, but it seems like the kind of thing that could be the future of academic publishing. It would still involve technical work (setting up a format for the uploading of articles, archiving each month's or quarter's bunch of articles and then posting the new ones), but not so much intellectual vetting by some overworked (and insular) circle of dedicated worker bees. It might take a couple of years to catch on, too, but ... well, this is where I should volunteer my mad IT skillz but I don't have any so I can only talk the talk, not walk the walk. Does this sound interesting to anyone who might know how to make it happen?

For book publishing, I have no ideas.
Hi Giovanni, Thanks for volunteering. The problem with your suggestion is that it boxes our initiative into expanding the options for careerists while remaining close to the existing model of academic publishing. I have experience, firsthand and secondhand, of the problems of dealing with these people and I have no desire to get involved with them now.

Justin mentioned the importance of the idea of 'amateur' in past and future efforts. Amateurs, whoever they are, do it for love, but usually they do it because the existing specialist outlets would not consider them. Among the first Prickly Pear pamphlets, I published an undergrad essay (Patrick Wilcken) and work by two unknown young West Africans (Ato Quayson and Gabriel Gbadamosi). Sahlins, Schaffer and Strathern all published stuff with us that was otherwise unpublishable in that form. So all I can say to you is, if you have great stuff you can publish elsewhere, go ahead. But we will establish a standard of originality and unorthodoxy, combining the unknown and the famous, that will make people want to be published by us. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be in this game.

As an aside, when I was at Yale in the 70s, I founded a programme for the Comparative Study of Culture and Society with David Apter and Fred Jameson. It is hard to credit today, but Fred was in it because the French department would not let him lecture on Levi-Strauss and Marx and had no place for his graduate students with similar interests. The academic division of labour always places restrictions of this sort on innovative intellectual work and my commitment is to creating collaborative spaces like this one where people have more freedom to express themselves. Your suggestion is too close to the conventional pattern for my taste and your question likewise.

Giovanni da Col said:
Thanks Keith but then my question (take me as the devil's advocate) would be: why someone (especially junior anthropologists) would publish great material with OAC press instead of going through the orthodox channels? What about striking a deal with some press and proceed like this: 1) quick online publishing in an online OAC peer-reviewed journal; 2) have a publisher printing the single issues or an annual collection of the articles the following year. At that point, the old issues could be taken offline and accessed only through the publisher's website. That would allow for a quick turnaround, open access for a limited amount of time and contributions would still be valued as 'official publications' (in press or published). Having said that, I am available for helping on this or other options...
Thanks for your articulated response Keith. I understand my proposal may been seen as too close to the orthodox channels but I mainly intended to raise the issue of making the press attractive for anyone concerned with finding a job. I guess senior anthropologists and established academics would not be very interested in my point. If people will understand the idea that the Press would publish original pieces including 'manifestos', critical and counter-tendency essays, the Press would establish a good reputation in the field and be useful for career purposes too. Indeed Prickly Pear pamphlets are still well regarded. Please don't take my emphasis on career as an obsession but as a call for keeping the feet on the ground. I appreciate the online proliferation of alternative forms of academic publications. Unfortunately, when Departments have to decide whether to shortlist you or not they will read your CV and look for big names such as JRAI, AA, CA or if you have a book in Press and think RAE, ESRC and AHRC. Correct me or not (you are definitely more familiar with the system than me) but if I published ten pieces of excellent work online or through alternative routes or unknown publishers, I would still be penalised towards someone who has 'just' two JRAI articles and one book in press with OUP. What I see around are concerns for Impact Factors, rankings of 'A', 'B' and 'C' journals and discussions of whether two articles in an 'A' journal would be worth more than editing a collection. Maybe it's because I worked in Tibet but I see similarities with my informants obsessions with a 'mathematics of merit'. Having said all this (again, take me as devil's advocate - I still remember that you published one of the first pieces on the concept of informal economy in Cambridge Anthropology, basically a student journal), your point is well taken: there should be a venue to publish unorthodox work. Unfortunately all brilliant junior anthropologists I know seems more concerned to send off articles to big journals than to write experimental or unorthodox pieces . I see broken Phd students at the last stage of their dissertations just concerned in publishing anything that could get them a Fellowship or a postdoc to write that book that could then get them a lectureship. In practice, unorthodox pieces seems a desire of more mature and established academics. Take me as a Bourdieuan here, Keith. I always search for the 'scholastic fallacies' and the material conditions which make certain tastes 'good'.

All best,

Giovanni

PS On another note, I think Berghahn has a series of pamphlets called 'critical interventions'.

Keith Hart said:
Hi Giovanni, Thanks for volunteering. The problem with your suggestion is that it boxes our initiative into expanding the options for careerists while remaining close to the existing model of academic publishing. I have experience, firsthand and secondhand, of the problems of dealing with these people and I have no desire to get involved with them now.
Justin mentioned the importance of the idea of 'amateur' in past and future efforts. Amateurs, whoever they are, do it for love, but usually they do it because the existing specialist outlets would not consider them. Among the first Prickly Pear pamphlets, I published an undergrad essay (Patrick Wilcken) and work by two unknown young West Africans (Ato Quayson and Gabriel Gbadamosi). Sahlins, Schaffer and Strathern all published stuff with us that was otherwise unpublishable in that form. So all I can say to you is, if you have great stuff you can publish elsewhere, go ahead. But we will establish a standard of originality and unorthodoxy, combining the unknown and the famous, that will make people want to be published by us. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be in this game.
As an aside, when I was at Yale in the 70s, I founded a programme for the Comparative Study of Culture and Society with David Apter and Fred Jameson. It is hard to credit today, but Fred was in it because the French department would not let him lecture on Levi-Strauss and Marx and had no place for his graduate students with similar interests. The academic division of labour always places restrictions of this sort on innovative intellectual work and my commitment is to creating collaborative spaces like this one where people have more freedom to express themselves. Your suggestion is too close to the conventional pattern for my taste and your question likewise.

Giovanni da Col said:
Thanks Keith but then my question (take me as the devil's advocate) would be: why someone (especially junior anthropologists) would publish great material with OAC press instead of going through the orthodox channels? What about striking a deal with some press and proceed like this: 1) quick online publishing in an online OAC peer-reviewed journal; 2) have a publisher printing the single issues or an annual collection of the articles the following year. At that point, the old issues could be taken offline and accessed only through the publisher's website. That would allow for a quick turnaround, open access for a limited amount of time and contributions would still be valued as 'official publications' (in press or published). Having said that, I am available for helping on this or other options...
Giovanni said "I guess senior anthropologists and established academics would not be very interested in my point."

Seniors such as myself do not undergo such reviews, and so we can publish were we want. Much of my recent publishing has been at Middle East Strategy at Harvard. But we are very interested in your point, first, because we remember being in the same situation, and, second, because we have students and junior colleagues who face such evaluations.

I think you are correct to say that assessors in general will look to long established, prestigious, and highly selective publication sources for judging academic standing. They make take other things into account as well, but I would not put my reliance on unconventional sources.

This makes it difficult to break out of the conventional pattern. I think OAC has got to ask what it can do comfortably, and how that can fit into intellectual and professional trajectories. Would it be too simple to suggest that conventional publication sources could be used for more conventional production, and OAC for more experimental attempts? A junior academic could participate in both without jeopardizing standing.

Giovanni da Col said:
Thanks for your articulated response Keith. I understand my proposal may been seen as too close to the orthodox channels but I mainly intended to raise the issue of making the press attractive for anyone concerned with finding a job. I guess senior anthropologists and established academics would not be very interested in my point. If people will understand the idea that the Press would publish original pieces including 'manifestos', critical and counter-tendency essays, the Press would establish a good reputation in the field and be useful for career purposes too. Indeed Prickly Pear pamphlets are still well regarded. Please don't take my emphasis on career as an obsession but as a call for keeping the feet on the ground. I appreciate the online proliferation of alternative forms of academic publications. Unfortunately, when Departments have to decide whether to shortlist you or not they will read your CV and look for big names such as JRAI, AA, CA or if you have a book in Press and think RAE, ESRC and AHRC. Correct me or not (you are definitely more familiar with the system than me) but if I published ten pieces of excellent work online or through alternative routes or unknown publishers, I would still be penalised towards someone who has 'just' two JRAI articles and one book in press with OUP. What I see around are concerns for Impact Factors, rankings of 'A', 'B' and 'C' journals and discussions of whether two articles in an 'A' journal would be worth more than editing a collection. Maybe it's because I worked in Tibet but I see similarities with my informants obsessions with a 'mathematics of merit'. Having said all this (again, take me as devil's advocate - I still remember that you published one of the first pieces on the concept of informal economy in Cambridge Anthropology, basically a student journal), your point is well taken: there should be a venue to publish unorthodox work. Unfortunately all brilliant junior anthropologists I know seems more concerned to send off articles to big journals than to write experimental or unorthodox pieces . I see broken Phd students at the last stage of their dissertations just concerned in publishing anything that could get them a Fellowship or a postdoc to write that book that could then get them a lectureship. In practice, unorthodox pieces seems a desire of more mature and established academics. Take me as a Bourdieuan here, Keith. I always search for the 'scholastic fallacies' and the material conditions which make certain tastes 'good'.

All best,

Giovanni

PS On another note, I think Berghahn has a series of pamphlets called 'critical interventions'.

Keith Hart said:
Hi Giovanni, Thanks for volunteering. The problem with your suggestion is that it boxes our initiative into expanding the options for careerists while remaining close to the existing model of academic publishing. I have experience, firsthand and secondhand, of the problems of dealing with these people and I have no desire to get involved with them now.
Justin mentioned the importance of the idea of 'amateur' in past and future efforts. Amateurs, whoever they are, do it for love, but usually they do it because the existing specialist outlets would not consider them. Among the first Prickly Pear pamphlets, I published an undergrad essay (Patrick Wilcken) and work by two unknown young West Africans (Ato Quayson and Gabriel Gbadamosi). Sahlins, Schaffer and Strathern all published stuff with us that was otherwise unpublishable in that form. So all I can say to you is, if you have great stuff you can publish elsewhere, go ahead. But we will establish a standard of originality and unorthodoxy, combining the unknown and the famous, that will make people want to be published by us. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be in this game.
As an aside, when I was at Yale in the 70s, I founded a programme for the Comparative Study of Culture and Society with David Apter and Fred Jameson. It is hard to credit today, but Fred was in it because the French department would not let him lecture on Levi-Strauss and Marx and had no place for his graduate students with similar interests. The academic division of labour always places restrictions of this sort on innovative intellectual work and my commitment is to creating collaborative spaces like this one where people have more freedom to express themselves. Your suggestion is too close to the conventional pattern for my taste and your question likewise.

Giovanni da Col said:
Thanks Keith but then my question (take me as the devil's advocate) would be: why someone (especially junior anthropologists) would publish great material with OAC press instead of going through the orthodox channels? What about striking a deal with some press and proceed like this: 1) quick online publishing in an online OAC peer-reviewed journal; 2) have a publisher printing the single issues or an annual collection of the articles the following year. At that point, the old issues could be taken offline and accessed only through the publisher's website. That would allow for a quick turnaround, open access for a limited amount of time and contributions would still be valued as 'official publications' (in press or published). Having said that, I am available for helping on this or other options...
Giovanni da Col said:
Thanks for your articulated response Keith. I understand my proposal may been seen as too close to the orthodox channels but I mainly intended to raise the issue of making the press attractive for anyone concerned with finding a job.

Hey Giovanni,

I like the way you fight your corner and you certainly have a point. Academic life is like flies on the window: all those on the outside are trying to get in and all those on the inside to get out. I have long been aware that my perspective on these issues is not that of most young job seekers and, as Philip says after you, it would be good here on the OAC to attempt some sort of synthesis of the two extreme positions. It's a question of dialectics and I oscillate between two strategies: 1. the only way out of here is to make a revolution at the expense of the status quo (I think my last post had a whiff of that) 2. Walk on two legs, one foot in the bureaucracy and one in the world (or market or whatever), shifting your balance as you move along. I'm up for both and would like to hear more from people like you and Kathleen, arguing the case for trying to get in at all.

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