Anthropology in Action

Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice

Outgoing Editors: 
Andrew Dawson, University of Melbourne, Australia
Simone Dennis, University of Adelaide, Australia
Incoming Editors: 

Dr. Pardis Shafafi, French National Centre for Scientific Research, France 
Dr. Samira Marty, Binghamton University, US

Subjects: Applied Anthropology 

Published in association with the Association of Social Anthropologists’ (ASA) Apply Network

Latest Issue Table of Contents

Volume 30 (2023): Issue 3 (Dec 2023): Entangling Data while Entangling Disciplines. Guest Editors: Roberta Raffaetà, Giovanna Santanera, and Francesca Esposito

Volume 31/ 2024, 3 issues per volume (spring, summer, winter)

Aims & Scope

Anthropology in Action (AIA) is a peer-reviewed journal publishing articles, commentaries, research reports, and book reviews in applied anthropology. Contributions reflect the use of anthropological training in policy- or practice-oriented work and foster the broader application of these approaches to practical problems. The journal provides a forum for debate and analysis for anthropologists working both inside and outside academia and aims to promote communication amongst practitioners, academics and students of anthropology in order to advance the cross-fertilisation of expertise and ideas.

Recent themes and articles have included the anthropology of welfare, transferring anthropological skills to applied health research, design considerations in old-age living, museum-based anthropology education, cultural identities and British citizenship, feminism and anthropology, and international student and youth mobility.


Anthropology in Action is indexed/abstracted in:

  • Anthropological Index Online (RAI)
  • Anthropological Literature (Tozzer Library – Harvard University)
  • Bibliometric Research Indicator List (BFI) – Level 2
  • Cabell's Directory
  • Emerging Sources Citation Index (Web of Science)
  • European Reference Index for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (ERIH PLUS)
  • IBR – International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences (De Gruyter)
  • IBZ – International Bibliography of Periodicals (De Gruyter)
  • MLA Directory of Periodicals
  • MLA International Bibliography
  • Norwegian Register for Scientific Journals, Series and Publishers
  • Scopus (Elsevier)
  • Social Services Abstracts (CSA/Proquest)
  • Sociological Abstracts (CSA/Proquest)
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (CSA/Proquest)

Outgoing Editors: 
Andrew Dawson, University of Melbourne, Australia
Simone Dennis, University of Adelaide, Australia

Incoming Editors: 
Dr. Pardis Shafafi, French National Centre for Scientific Research, France 
Dr. Samira Marty, Binghamton University, US

Book Reviews Editor: 
David Orr, University of Sussex, UK

Editorial Board
Rob Borofsky, Hawaii Pacific University, US
Simon Coleman, University of Toronto, Canada
Deane Fergie, locuSAR, Australia
Thomas Hylland Eriksen, University of Oslo, Norway
Rachael Gooberman Hill, University of Bristol, UK
Anna Lavis, University of Birmingham, UK
Tess Lea, University of Sydney, Australia
Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University. US
Sharon MacDonald, Humboldt University, Germany
Christine McCourt, City, University of London, UK
Jenny Morgan, Stirling University, UK
Sarah Pink, Monash University, Australia
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, University of California Berkeley, US
Cris Shore, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
Jonathan Skinner, University of Surrey, UK

Advisory Board
Pat Caplan, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK
Stefania Cardinale, Independent researcher and project manager, Milan, Italy (ASA Applied Network co-convener)
Dawn Chatty, Oxford University, UK
Mark Lindley-Highfield, University of the Highlands and Islands, UK (ASA Applied Network co-convener)
Christopher McKevitt, King's College, University of London, UK
Cynthia Sear, University of Melbourne, Australia
Susan Wright, Aarhus University, Denmark


Manuscript Submission

Please carefully review the submission and style guide PDF here before submitting. Scholars interested in reviewing books should consult the notes for reviewers here.

The editors welcome contributions for publication, both articles of general interest and ones related to theme issues. Authors should submit articles as Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or Rich Text Format (rtf) files to the online submissions system:

Authors must register with the journal on the submission website prior to submitting, or, if already registered, they can simply log in. On registering as an Author, authors have the option of also registering as a Reviewer (to be called upon to undertake peer reviews of other submissions).

You are welcome to contact the editors, Andrew Dawson ( and Simone Dennis ( to clarify whether your proposed article is suitable for submission, along with any other queries. Articles should normally be 5,000 to 6,000 words, but shorter pieces are also welcome. 

Please also supply an abstract for your article (125 words) together with five to eight keywords. You should at the same time submit a brief biographical note and contact details (including email and postal address) up to the planned date of publication. If your plans change significantly and you are likely to be away, please inform the editor as soon as possible.

View Guest Editor Guidelines Here.

Have other questions? Please refer to the various Berghahn Info for Authors page for general information and guidelines including topics such as article usage and permissions for Berghahn journal article authors.

Ethics Statement

Authors published in Anthropology in Action (AIA) certify that their works are original and their own. The editors certify that all materials, with the possible exception of editorial introductions, reviews and some types of commentary, have been subjected to double-blind peer review by qualified scholars or practitioners in the field. While the publishers and the editorial board make every effort to see that no inaccurate or misleading data, opinions or statements appear in this journal, they wish to make clear that the data and opinions appearing in the articles herein are the sole responsibility of the contributor concerned. Authors and contributors are expected to follow ethical principles in their work at all times and should refer to the current ASA or AAA or other relevant professional ethical guidelines. For a more detailed explanation concerning these qualifications and responsibilities, please see the complete AIA ethics statement.

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Anthropology in Action has been published as an Open Access journal since 2018. Thanks to the generous support from a global network of libraries as part of the Knowledge Unlatched Select initiative, there are no submission or article processing charges (APCs) for articles published under this arrangement, resulting in no direct charges to authors.


This article offers a synthetic overview of the major opportunities and impasses of an emergent anthropology of experts and expertise. In the wake of the boom in anthropological science and technology studies since the 1980s, the anthropology of experts has become one of the most vibrant and promising enterprises in social-cultural anthropology today. And, yet, I argue that the theorisation and ethnography of experts and cultures of expertise remains underdeveloped in some crucial respects. The body of the article defines expertise as a relation of epistemic jurisdiction and explores the sociological and epistemological dilemmas emerging from research, that poises one expert (the anthropologist) in the situation of trying to absorb another regime of expertise into his/her own. With due appreciation for what the anthropology of experts has achieved thus far, I close with a manifesto designed to prompt a reassessment of where this research enterprise should go from here. I urge that we treat experts not solely as rational(ist) creatures of expertise but rather as desiring, relating, doubting, anxious, contentious, affective—in other words as human-subjects.

'If I Receive It, It Is a Gift; If I Demand It, Then It Is a Bribe'

On the Local Meaning of Economic Transactions in Post-Soviet Ukraine


Challenging the main reports of corruption in Ukraine, this article proposes that most of the 'economic transactions' that are reported as bribe taking have a deeper meaning and can be analysed within the framework of gift exchange proposed by Marcel Mauss. This paper thus focuses on the three alleged most 'corrupted' places in Ukraine: a university, a hospital and a police control post, in order to develop a detailed analysis of the meanings behind these transactions. Furthermore, it examines the particular role that social actors take within these arrangements. Finally, I propose the recognition of a grey zone between corruptions as evident in the ethnographic examples analysed in the course of this paper.

Getting the Measure of Academia

Universities and the Politics of Accountability

Audit culture and the politics of accountability are transforming not just universities and their role in society, but the very notions of society, academics and students. The modern 'university of excellence' applies a totalising and coercive commensurability to virtually every aspect of university life, from research output and teaching quality to parking space. But more than this, the politics of accountability enmesh universities in conflicts over neoliberal transformations which are taking a wide variety of forms in different parts of Europe, North and South America, and Australasia.

'Working on Holiday'

Relationships between Tourism and Work among Young Canadians in Edinburgh


Working holiday-maker programmes have facilitated a growing cohort of mobile young people who have an ambiguous status as both worker and tourist. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among Canadian working holiday-makers in Scotland, this paper shows how working holiday-makers are situated in an ambiguous, contradictory position as working tourists, and are streamlined towards particular social and professional fields in which work-leisure boundaries are blurred. Although these blurred boundaries seem contradictory, they benefit employers who require an educated yet temporary work-force, while also meeting the desires of working holiday-makers for a lifestyle that is flexible, social, far from the pressures of friends and family, and that puts them in regular contact with other young foreigners who, like them, are at transitional points in life.

Place of Birth and Concepts of Wellbeing

An Analysis from Two Ethnographic Studies of Midwifery Units in England


This article is based on analysis of a series of ethnographic case studies of midwifery units in England. Midwifery units1 are spaces that were developed to provide more home-like and less medically oriented care for birth that would support physiological processes of labour, women’s comfort and a positive experience of birth for women and their families. They are run by midwives, either on a hospital site alongside an obstetric unit (Alongside Midwifery Unit – AMU) or a freestanding unit away from an obstetric unit (Freestanding Midwifery Unit – FMU). Midwifery units have been designed and intended specifically as locations of wellbeing and although the meaning of the term is used very loosely in public discourse, this claim is supported by a large epidemiological study, which found that they provide safe care for babies while reducing use of medical interventions and with better health outcomes for the women. Our research indicated that midwifery units function as a protected space, one which uses domestic features as metaphors of home in order to promote a sense of wellbeing and to re-normalise concepts of birth, which had become inhabited by medical models and a preoccupation with risk. However, we argue that this protected space has a function for midwives as well as for birthing women. Midwifery units are intended to support midwives’ wellbeing following decades of professional struggles to maintain autonomy, midwife-led care2 and a professional identity founded on supporting normal, healthy birth. This development, which is focused on place of birth rather than other aspects of maternity care such as continuity, shows potential for restoring wellbeing on individual, professional and community levels, through improving rates of normal physiological birth and improving experiences of providing and receiving care. Nevertheless, this very focus also poses challenges for health service providers attempting to provide a ‘social model of care’ within an institutional context.

1The term midwifery unit was adopted by the Birthplace research programme in place of the more popular term ‘birth centre’ to avoid ambiguity. In a midwifery unit care is not only provided by mid-wives but is also managed by midwives and does not normally include use of obstetric instruments or interventions. If a woman planning birth in a mid-wifery unit develops obstetric complications, or decides she wishes to have a medical intervention such as epidural pain relief, she is transferred for care to an obstetric unit. Some units called birth centres are not managed by midwives in this way.

2Midwife-led care refers to care where the midwife, rather than an obstetrician or other professional is the lead professional, who takes responsibility for a woman’s maternity care through from pregnancy to postnatal. Following the Changing Childbirth report in 1993, this was re-established as the usual model for women classified as at low risk of pregnancy and birth complications.