This issue of the Cambridge Journal of Anthropology is the first under my tenure as the new editor. The journal began life in 1973 under the title Cambridge Anthropology. The first issue aimed to provide a forum for University of Cambridge ‘undergraduates, research students and staff in which ideas and different theoretical approaches can be developed’ (Cambridge Anthropology 1973: ii). I inherit the journal forty-five years later, during which time the scope of the journal has expanded.
In 2012, the journal was relaunched with Berghahn in the form that you see before you, as ‘an international peer-reviewed journal, with a geographically broad input’ (McDonald 2012: 1). Under the guidance of my predecessor Maryon McDonald, the journal has flourished in its new incarnation. The quality of the research articles has been high, and the journal has largely focused on the publication of coherent and thought-provoking special issues. The previous editor set herself the daunting task of taking the journal out of Cambridge and into the world. She implicitly sets me the challenge to continue her efforts.
The next step for the journal is to broaden its scope still further and engage a wider community of authors and readers. To this end, the journal’s new editorial board is tasked with expanding our presence in areas of the academy that have not previously been central to the journal’s profile. With the exception of the current issue, all special sections will be selected via an open call for proposals that are peer reviewed by every member of the editorial board. We actively encourage special issue proposals from all scholarly traditions and geographical regions. My aim in the coming years is for the length of our special sections to become shorter, in order to accommodate a larger number of stand-alone papers.
It is reasonable for the reader of a journal to ask, ‘what (and who) do you publish?’. The answer in this instance is clear. No editorial premium is placed on the politics or current popularity of a given style of work, the reputation of an author or their relationship to other scholars. The journal pays no regard to where an author was trained, where they are employed (if at all), whom they know and whether they are well liked. We also do not encourage work that addresses any specific family of topics, or school of thought.
The journal does, however, encourage a particular type and standard of work. This is the only criterion by which work is judged, and that criterion is applied evenly to all submissions. The journal encourages the submission of rigorous articles that use original ethnographic research to generate new ideas, and challenge existing understandings of human social life. This is a way of saying that an article submitted to the journal should have an argument and an original point. Articles should not largely restate things that have been said by other scholars, and should not rely on making observations that could be evident to people that have not done the research or read the article. Send us an article if your work has enabled you to figure out something new that is not already clear to other people.
This first issue opens with a special section on decolonizing the curriculum, which asks how the production of knowledge relates to structures of race, gender and location. The collection speaks to pressing discussions about the political and intellectual life of academic research, learning and teaching. The special section is made up of an introduction by myself, essays by Zeus Leonardo, Jovan Scott Lewis, Ritty Lukose, Heidi Mogstad and Lee-Shan Tse, Adam Branch, and Keith Hart, followed by an afterword from Ghassan Hage. The issue then proceeds to Jelle Wouters’ stand-alone research article about Naga engagements with electoral politics in Northeast India. The issue ends with Pierre Du Plessis’ review of John Hartigan’s Care of the Species: Races of Corn and the Science of Plant Biodiversity and Sanal Mohan’s review of Luisa Steur’s Indigenist Mobilization: Confronting Electoral Communism and Precarious Livelihoods in Post-Reform Kerala.
I hope that you find the issue interesting. If you would like to know anything about the journal, then please contact me and ask.