Opening Anthropology: part 1 of an interview at Savage Minds

Ryan Anderson: And where does the creation of the Open Anthropology Cooperative fit within all of this (the question of Open Access)?  How and why did that come about?

Keith Hart: In the 90s, after launching Prickly Pear Pamphlets (the predecessor of Marshall’s Prickly Paradigm), I founded a mailing list called the amateur anthropological association or the small-triple-a (motto: amateurs do it for love). It was supposed to be the anti-AAA, giving a place for outsiders as well as professionals and students. It lasted a few years. Then in May 2009, Kerim Friedman expressed his disappointment over the AAA’s foot-dragging in a blog post. (The same issue was brought up again in 2012 by you, Matt and others at SM).  Kerim’s post led to a heated denigration of the AAA’s impenetrable bureaucracy. Chris Kelty said it had become a mini-welfare state for its employees; a “neurotic institution” run by non-university staff. Casual griping quickly spread to Twitter, where a loose network of anthropologists had already formed. Before long, quasi-revolutionary suggestions were made to start a new, open, less bureaucratic and more inclusive worldwide community of anthropologists. Twitter was ideal for spreading the news and gaining momentum, but more space and organization were needed when the discussion actually became a movement to build a new network for anthropologists. Justin Shaffner and I set up a forum on The Memory Bank website with that in mind.

See the full interview here (the first of three parts).

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Commentary at SM...  I do not know for sure, but I can speculate about two factors. One has to do with an OA enthusiasm gap between the SM leadership and the SM readership. The second has to do with the interview genre, particularly when serialized. The easy part on this front may stem from the "to be continued" aspect. Readers may want to see where things go before jumping in for discussion. There may also be generic factors associated with commenting on an interview--even when it is actually a co-constructed document rather than a straight discussion transcript. The OA interview and pseudo-interview projects that I have been involved in have consistently been much "appreciated" and little (publicly) discussed (in contrast to shorter, more provocative, more provisional blog posts--that are intended as conversation starters). As with all materials published in these ways, the ratio of readers who comment to readers who do not is really high. That is really normal, as anyone with access to the underlying statistics has learned. This fact relates too to the metrics being discussed for impact vis-a-vis article-form scholarship too.

I am thankful for this interview and am eager to read part two.

Good points about the commentary issue, Jason.

I wonder how many of our Europe-based OAC members will be attending the IUAES Congress in Manchester, UK, this August ( I ask because I know that there will be a significant presence there of anthropologists from China and Japan, who speak English and are very nice people to know. I am still in the afterglow of a delightful and interesting two days at a meeting of the International Forum for Business Anthropology organized by Drs. Hirochika Nakamaki from the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in Jaan and Zhang Jijiao, from the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. They are both movers and shakers in their respective worlds of Japanese and Chinese anthropology and will be there. I will be happy to provide introductions for anyone who would like to meet them. If you are serious about networking beyond the usual Euro-North American sphere....

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