Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

Judith Bovensiepen,
University of Kent
Martin Holbraad, University College London
Hans Steinmüller, London School of Economics

Subjects: Anthropology, Political and Social Theory, Social Sciences

 Available on JSTOR 

Call for 2022 Special Issues

Latest Issue Table of Contents

Volume 65 (2021): Issue 2 (Jun 2021): Calculation and Agency: Ontologies of Divination. Guest Editor: William Matthews

Social Analysis
Volume 65, Issue 3 – 2021

Suspicious Surfaces and Affective Mistrust in the South Caucasus
Florian Mühlfried

Sovereignty, Prefigurative Politics, and Basques’s Joy to Decide
Julieta Gaztañaga

Violence, Rumor, and Elusive Trust in Mocímboa da Praia, Mozambique
Ana Margarida Sousa Santos

Material Compromises in the Planning of a ‘Traditional Village’ in Southwest China
Suvi Rautio

Uncertainty, Risk, and Merit-Making: Tea Economy and Religious Practices in a Southern Yunnan Bulang Community
Zhen Ma

Anthropological Entrapments: Ethnographic Analysis Before and After Relations and Comparisons
Alberto Corsín Jiménez

Toward a Critical and Comparative Anthropology of Disability: Exemplary Persons in the Ethnographic Record
Joshua Reno, Kaitlyn Hart, Amy Mendelson, and Felicia Molzon

Volume 65 / 2021, 4 issues per volume (spring, summer, autumn, winter)

Aims & Scope

Social Analysis is an international peer-reviewed journal devoted to exploring the analytical potentials of anthropological research. It encourages contributions grounded in original empirical research that critically probe established paradigms of social and cultural analysis. The journal expresses the best that anthropology has to offer by exploring in original ways the relationship between ethnographic materials and theoretical insight. By forging creative and critical engagements with cultural, political, and social processes, it also opens new avenues of communication between anthropology and the humanities as well as other social sciences.

The journal publishes four issues per year, including regular Special Issues on particular themes. The Editors welcome individual articles that focus on diverse topics and regions, reflect varied theoretical approaches and methods, and aim to appeal widely within anthropology and beyond. Proposals for Special Issues are selected by the Editorial Board through an annual competitive call.

Before submitting articles to Social Analysis, authors are advised to read the Editor’s detailed advice as to what makes a good submission.


Social Analysis is indexed/abstracted in:

  • Anthropological Literature (Ebsco)
  • Anthropological Literature (Tozzer Library – Harvard University)
  • Bibliography of Asian Studies (Association for Asian Studies)
  • Bibliometric Research Indicator List (BFI) – Level 2
  • Biography Index (Ebsco)
  • British Humanities Index (ProQuest)
  • Current Abstracts (Ebsco)
  • Current Bibliography on African Affairs (Baywood)
  • European Reference Index for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (ERIH)
  • International Bibliography of Social Sciences (IBSS)
  • International Political Science Abstracts Database (Ebsco)
  • IBR – International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences (De Gruyter)
  • IBZ – International Bibliography of Periodical Literature (De Gruyter)
  • Left Index (Ebsco)
  • MLA Directory of Periodicals
  • MLA International Bibliography
  • Norwegian Register for Scientific Journals, Series and Publishers – Level 2
  • Periodicals Index Online (ProQuest)
  • Scopus (Elsevier)
  • Social Services Abstracts (ProQuest)
  • Social Sciences Abstracts (Ebsco)
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (Web of Science)
  • Social Sciences Index (Ebsco)
  • SocINDEX (Ebsco)
  • Sociological Abstracts (ProQuest)
  • South Pacific Periodicals Index
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (ProQuest) 

Judith Bovensiepen, University of Kent, UK
Martin Holbraad, University College London, UK
Hans Steinmüller, London School of Economics, UK

Editorial Assistant: 
Laura Burke, University of Kent, UK

Editoral Board:
Omolade Adunbi, University of Michigan, USA
Tom Boylston, University of Edinburgh, UK
Michael Cepek, University of Texas at San Antonio, USA
Allen Chun, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
Ulrika Dahl, Uppsala University, Sweden
Nélia Dias, ISCTE - Lisbon University Institute, Portugal
Carlos Fausto, National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Caterina Guenzi, EHESS, France
Ghassan Hage, University of Melbourne, Australia
Laurie Hart, UCLA, USA
Penelope Harvey, University of Manchester, UK
Holly High, Deakin University, Australia
Hannah Knox, University College London, UK
Eduardo Kohn, McGill University, Canada
Atsuro Morita, Osaka University, Japan
Johannes Neurath, INAH, Mexico City, Mexico
Patrick Neveling, Bournemouth University, UK
Esra Ozyurek, University of Cambridge, UK
Maja Petrovic-Steger, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Slovenia
Knut Rio, University of Bergen, Norway
Rupert Stasch, University of Cambridge, UK
Soumhya Venkatesan, University of Manchester, UK
Wang Mingming, Peking University, China

Founding Editor: 
Bruce Kapferer, University of Bergen, Norway

Manuscript Submission

Before submitting articles to Social Analysis, authors are advised to read the editors' detailed advice as to what makes a good submission, as well as the journal’s submission and style guide.

Article submissions should be sent to the editors at All contributions are externally refereed by scholars of international repute. We place a premium on the rapid processing of manuscripts, and contributors can expect to be appraised of their manuscript’s progress at every stage. For further information, please contact the editors.

When considering whether to submit an article to Social Analysis, authors should take into account the journal's Aims and Scope.

General Guidelines

Articles should be submitted by e-mail as word attachments, formatted as Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format files. Submissions should be 6,000 to 8,000 words (including endnotes and references) and include an abstract of not more than 125 words and 5 to 8 keywords.

The journal's style guide is available in PDF format: Social Analysis Style Guide. This includes submission requirements of artwork (illustrations, maps, tables, and figures). The guide is based on The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), 16th edition, and uses US punctuation and spelling, following Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Manuscripts accepted for publication that do not conform to the Social Analysis style guide will be returned to the author for amendment.

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

Special Issues

Social Analysis publishes up to two Special Issues per year. These are selected through an annual Call for Special Issue Proposals.

Our current call for proposals is available above. The shortlisting of proposals will be conducted in consultation with the journal's new Editorial Board. The guest editors of shortlisted proposals will be invited to submit the complete manuscript of the Special Issue. The manuscripts will then go to peer review, and the final selection will be announced.

Special Issue proposals should be up to 2,000 words and include (a) a brief description of the theme and focus, including an explanation of the rationale for its selection of articles; (b) an account of its contribution to the existing literature; (c) an explanation of how the Special Issue addresses the journal's Aims and Scope; (d) abstracts of no longer than 125 words for each article, indicating expected word length (including endnotes and references); (e) an indication of the state of the manuscript at the time of proposal (e.g., whether drafts of the articles are already available, whether the introduction has been written, whether an afterword is pending).

Please note that Special Issues can have a total word count of no more than 66,000 words (including endnotes and references). So, including the introduction, this would typically include 8 articles of up to 8,000 words each, or 9 to 10 substantially shorter articles.

License Agreement

As part of the Berghahn Open Anthro initiative, articles in Social Analysis are published open access under a Creative Commons license.

Authors must visit our License Options page to select and download their preferred license agreement. Completed and signed forms should be sent to

Ethics Statement

Authors published in Social Analysis certify that their works are original and their own. The editors certify that all materials, with the possible exception of editorial introductions, book reviews, and some types of commentary, have been subjected to double-blind peer review by qualified scholars in the field. While every effort is made by the publishers and the editorial board to see that no inaccurate or misleading data, opinions or statements appear in this journal, they wish to make it clear that the data and opinions appearing in the articles herein are the sole responsibility of the contributor concerned. For a more detailed explanation concerning these qualifications and responsibilities, please see the complete Social Analysis ethics statement.

Annual Subscriptions

Volume 65/2021, 4 issues p.a. (spring, summer, autumn, winter)
ISSN 0155-977X (Print) · ISSN 1558-5727 (Online)
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Studies in Social Analysis

General Editor:

Martin Holbraad, University College London

By forging creative and critical engagements with cultural, political, and social processes, anthropology explores the potential of social analysis to open new paths for thinking about human phenomena.

The focus of this series is on ‘analysis’, understood not as a synonym of 'theory', but as the fertile meeting-ground of the empirical and the conceptual. It provides a platform for exploring anthropological approaches to social analysis in all of their variety, and in doing so seeks also to open new avenues of communication between anthropology and the humanities as well as other social sciences.

Critical Interventions: A Forum for Social Analysis

General Editor:

Bruce Kapferer, University of Bergen

Short and succinct, the essays presented in these volumes excite debate on issues of global moment that impact on everyday lives in diverse regional areas and expose readers to information that is not widely available in the media.

Social Analysis is a part of the Berghahn Open Anthro subscribe-to-open initiative. Launched in 2020, this pilot has successfully converted a collection of 13 anthropology journals to full Open Access using S2O as its equitable and sustainable model of choice.

Pentecostal Networks and the Spirit of Globalization

On the Social Productivity of Ritual Forms

Author: Joel Robbins

Pentecostal Christianity has in the last several decades demonstrated an ability to globalize with great speed and to flourish in social contexts of poverty and disorganization in which other social institutions have been unable to sustain themselves. This article asks why Pentecostalism should be so successful at institution building in harsh environments. I argue that this question is more fundamental than those scholars more often ask about the kinds of compensations that Pentecostalism provides for its adherents. I then draw on Collins's theory of interaction ritual chains to suggest that it is Pentecostalism's promotion of ritual to the center of social life that grounds its unusual institution-building capacity.

Author: Leslie C. Moore

In both Qur'anic and public schools in Maroua, Cameroon, the development of competence in a second language is fundamental, and rote learning is the primary mode of teaching and learning in both types of schooling. Through the lens of language socialization theory, I have examined rote learning as it is practiced in Maroua schools and reframed it as a tradition of learning and teaching I call 'guided repetition'. In this article I discuss similarities and differences in how and why guided repetition is done, linking interactional patterns with the second-language competencies and the ways of being that children are expected or hoped to develop through Qur'anic and public schooling. While the use of guided repetition in both types of schooling is rooted in very similar goals for and ideologies of second-language acquisition, it is accomplished in culturally distinct ways to socialize novices into 'traditional' and 'modern' subjectivities.

Ritual Dynamics and Virtual Practice

Beyond Representation and Meaning

Author: Bruce Kapferer

Symbolic meaning and representational and reflexive perspectives remain dominant orientations in the analysis of ritual. While these must be crucial, this essay argues that a focus on the perceptual dynamics of rite, especially as these are located in ritual aesthetics, may expand an understanding of the force of rite. The discussion develops critically upon Victor Turner’s seminal work, suggesting ways in which ritual analyses may be redirected. The related concepts of dynamics and virtuality (distinguished from the cyber-technological kind) are developed, indicating that these may be critical for understanding how rites change or transform the situations to which they are directed. Ritual as a dynamic in virtuality that has no essential or necessary relation to the ordinary realities that surround it may, because of this fact, be greatly empowered as a force that can pragmatically intervene in ordinary realities.

Cementing Relations

The Materiality of Roads and Public Spaces in Provincial Peru

Author: Penelope Harvey

This article sets out to analyze how concrete is implicated in the transformation of public space in provincial Peru. While concrete enhances a state's capacity to produce reliable, predictable structures, there are also significant limits in relation to its connective capacity in both the material and social domains. Ethnographic attention to the relational dynamics of concrete reveals how its promise to operate as a generic, homogeneous, and above all predictable material is constantly challenged by the instability and heterogeneity of the terrains to which it is applied. The image of power that concrete affords is thus a compromised one, as the stability and predictability of this substance is secure only insofar as it is surrounded by and embedded in specific relationships of care.

Author: Bruce Kapferer

Gluckman and the Manchester School pioneered approaches in anthropology that are now commonplace. But they were interested in achieving generalizations of both a local and more global kind. Their central methodology was that of situational analysis and extended-case analysis, which are examined here as attempts to make anthropology, via its ethnographic field method, a scientific discipline that opened out to novel ideas and theories concerning the human condition. This essay critically assesses the thinking that underpinned the methodology of situational analysis and suggests some areas of redirection. The overall idea is to impart some sense of the spirit that motivated various aspects of the Manchester innovation, especially the politics that gave it some coherence, and the wider importance of its directions that are occasionally overlooked in reflections on the history of social anthropology.