During the current global pandemic, a series of transitions have taken place at Social Analysis. Judith Bovensiepen from the University of Kent and Hans Steinmüller from the London School of Economics have joined Martin Holbraad, University College London. The three of us will edit the journal from this issue onward as a team, supported by our editorial assistant, Alonso Zamora Corona, and the staff at Berghahn.
Since its inception in 1979, Social Analysis has been at the forefront of anthropological debates. Under the leadership of different editors and editorial teams, the journal has published seminal work in social and cultural anthropology. As per its name, the main thread for over four decades has been the refinement of social analysis, tying anthropological debates to general issues in the humanities and the social sciences. Not limited to particular schools, approaches, or traditions of anthropological research, our editorial approach is unified by a commitment to the kind of social analysis that is based on ethnographic evidence and theoretical precision. How ethnography and theory are related remains a core challenge for anthropological research.
The journal has distinguished itself in particular by publishing special issues, and we will continue this tradition. Two special issues will be published each year, chosen on the basis of an open call for proposals. Additionally, we encourage a steady stream of stand-alone articles for two regular issues that are published annually. Other formats include think pieces, first book symposia, and translations.
Editors and publishers have to engage with current debates in the discipline about the politics of citation, as well as decolonization initiatives being undertaken by many Anthropology Departments in order to promote an actively anti-racist agenda, which is shamefully overdue. We embrace these moves and are acutely aware of how much work needs to be done. Academic journals need to be proactively open to authors and readers from diverse backgrounds and academic traditions, actively seeking out, welcoming, and promoting their work. To this purpose, the work environment, the publishing process, and citation practices have to be critically scrutinized.
As an editorial team, we seek to ensure fairness and transparency in all aspects of peer review and publishing at Social Analysis. In our work we are bound by the oversight of our publishers at Berghahn and rely on the collaboration of our editorial board. We are committed to exploring possibilities to include new authors, publish ideas that break with the received wisdom set by Euro-American academic practice, and bring the journal to diverse readers. We do this, for example, by putting additional editorial work into promising articles by early career scholars from different parts of the world, as well as more established contributors whose ideas or writing styles might be at odds with mainstream anthropological norms.
In the last decade, academic publishing has changed radically, and there are now numerous open access initiatives in anthropology, some of them highly successful. Current research should not be hidden behind paywalls but instead should be accessible for anyone interested in anthropology. Open access is not just a matter of public visibility or research impact, but also one of equitability and diversity. As part of a pioneering initiative undertaken by Berghahn, as of its last issue Social Analysis has gone full open access—free and available to anyone who has access to the Internet, anywhere in the world. Berghahn's initiative is a path-breaking effort that relies on the collaboration of libraries, authors, and readers. To ensure the financial viability of this model, we need your support. Please ask your librarian to sign up for the Berghahn Open Anthro initiative if they have not done so already. It will make a difference for the future of the journal and, hopefully, for the future of the discipline.