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Maryon McDonald

This first issue of a new volume of the journal – volume 31 – takes us into the biosciences and into discussions about climate change. In so doing, this issue incorporates a diversity of voices from within anthropology and beyond it.

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Maryon McDonald

In Social Anthropology, we are perhaps wearily aware now of certain dualities – nature and culture and subject and object amongst them - that ought long since to have been taken out of our analytical tool kits and treated ethnographically instead. Unsurprisingly perhaps, important elements of this were first effected by anthropologists studying Europe and then later refined and elaborated, albeit sometimes in a less ethnographic vein, by that largely ANT-fed beast known as STS (Science and Technology Studies) or more recently by AST (Anthropology of Science and Technology). At the same time, space has been made within both the social and natural sciences for the mutual articulations by which each might not simply incorporate the other but both can imagine themselves to be composing, together, some new middle ground.

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Maryon McDonald

This is a new journal but it also follows in some grand footsteps. Cambridge Anthropology existed for nearly four decades, from the early 1970s until 2011, as an in-house forum in Cambridge encouraging innovation and debate, in pages littered with now famous names. That forum ceased publication last year, although some of those names will be reappearing in the current journal. This issue re-launches Cambridge Anthropology as an international peer-reviewed journal, with a geographically broad input. These pages will continue to offer space to try out new ideas and material, to publish new ethnography, and to set new agendas. It is still a space therefore in which to inspire and to praise, to engage in serious debate, to get angry if necessary, to fly kites, to urge new directions, or to take colleagues’ contributions to task.

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Maryon McDonald

The anthropology of ‘religion’ was once a central topic in anthropology. It persisted through the heady days of structuralism in a seemingly exotic triad of myth, symbolism and ritual, only to emerge with its analytical boundaries in question. In a poststructuralist world, other analytical priorities and formulations then seemed to take over but ethnographies of religion continued to pose interesting questions. We have moved the topic back to centre stage in this issue with an article by Joel Robbins in which he calls for attention to the question of how religions disappear. Aparecida Vilaça, Simon Coleman, and Don Seeman then offer their own comments and critique from within anthropology, along with an historian of religious conversion, Máire Ní Mhaonaigh. Robbins then has a chance to respond, pulling issues together and illuminating further as he does so.

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Maryon McDonald

This is the first issue of this journal following the Brexit referendum vote in the U.K. It is perhaps fitting therefore that we have a Special Issue on diplomacy. The articles in this Special Issue (guest edited by Magnus Marsden, Diana Ibañez-Tirado and David Henig) deliberately try to move away from a perspective that would assume diplomacy to be the sole province of nation-state representatives or something that takes place only behind the closed doors of presidential or governmental offices and embassies. Instead, the focus here is on ‘unofficial’ and ‘everyday diplomacy’. The articles show how ethnography can highlight the often unrecognised grass-roots work that goes on to maintain trade and civility, to construct cosmopolitanisms, and to negotiate tension and conflict.

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Maryon McDonald

This issue is quite a milestone: we have reached the thirty-fifth volume of the journal. We will come back to that in the next issue and, to celebrate, there will be a free gift. If there is such a thing… For the moment, our current issue is a Special Issue guest edited by Rachel Douglas- Jones and Justin Shaffner: it is devoted to the topic of ‘capacity building’, and we find an anthropological examination of promises in its pages.

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Maryon McDonald

Happy Birthday! This issue completes the fifth volume of The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, launched in 2012. It is also the last issue I will edit. I have enjoyed five years of fun and scholarship editing this journal but five years is a long stint and it is time to pass the baton. In 2018, Andrew Sanchez will take over. The current editor expresses grateful thanks to the Associate Editors, the Editorial Board, the Reviews Editor and all the contributing authors, reviewers and readers who have ‘done the discipline’ through these pages over the past five years. Our special thanks go to Berghahn for their support and efficiency.

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Maryon McDonald

There has been a certain dizziness wrought by ‘turns’ in Social Anthropology of late – one of these being the ‘ontological turn’. In the first article of this issue, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro – perhaps the enfant terrible of the ontological turn – sets out what he sees as being at stake in this turn and tries to meet some of the critics head-on. In an article provocatively entitled ‘Who is Afraid of the Ontological Wolf?’, he outlines some of the complexities whilst suggesting to readers that anthropology ‘is always about sticking one’s neck out through the looking glass of ontological difference’. The article originated as the 2014 Annual Marilyn Strathern Lecture and the author acknowledges a debt to Strathern – one of ‘more fat pigs than I could ever hope to assemble.’

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Maryon McDonald

There has been much debate about the ‘ontological turn’ in anthropology, to the point, some might say, of near intellectual numbness. However, in the opening article of this issue, by Aparecida Vilaça, we ask readers to think this through in a new way. Vilaça’s article examines whether one can talk literally and empirically of an ‘ontological turn’ amongst a group of people in Amazonia who have converted to Christianity. The argument employs more than one source of ‘ontology’ in anthropology and the answer is tantalising and instructive.

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Maryon McDonald

The Special Section that follows focuses on temporal agency and does so in a new way through the idea of ‘time-tricking’. This collection of articles, guest edited by Felix Ringel and Roxanne Moroşanu, draws ethnographic attention to ways in which people attempt to modify, manage, bend, speed up, slow down or otherwise structure or restructure the times they are living in. Examples are taken from the UK, Greece and Yemen. The ‘deadlines’ that journal production imposes readily become part of the ethnography, too. More generally, Laura Bear’s Afterword to this section suggests that a focus on time-tricking can help us to understand the technologies of imagination, the ethics and the inequalities of what is generally seen as secular and ‘capitalist’ modern time.