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January 16, 2007 |

In the past few years, largely because of frequent moves, I’ve been reducing the number of journals I subscribe to, and relying more on online purchases of articles or the university library. Every year I’ve been dropping the number of paper versions of journals that are added to my collection. What I subscribe to is just a handful of journals that I am either part of the editorial board of or that are part of my professional society memberships.

One of the few journals that I look at carefully each time it arrives in the mail is Cultural Anthropology. As a graduate student in the Stanford Anthropology department it was the journal I aspired to, and where all the cool intellectual debates seemed to be happening. I tried but didn’t get published in the journal in the years when I did submit articles to journals. (I stopped doing that, but that is another story.) As I grew up as a scholar and my work turned more and more interdisciplinary, it still continued to be the one journal within anthropology that I would consider whenever toyed with the idea of writing an article for an anthro audience, or putting together a special issue. So I was happy when the new editors of Cultural Anthropology, Mike and Kim Fortun, asked me to join the editorial board of the journal. And now the first issue of the journal under their leadership is up.

I’ve still never gotten published in CA, but I’m enjoying being on the working board of the journal and discussing directions the journal could take. The reason why I’ve paid close attention to CA as a graduate student and beyond is because I could count on the journal to showcase the experimental dimensions of cultural anthropology, and to focus in on the theoretical debates that were challenging some of the existing assumptions of the discipline. As someone who was always on the margins of my own discipline, I found it empowering to see a journal taking on topics such as science and technology studies, media studies, or translocality as I struggled in my self-identity as an anthropologist. Of course these topics are taken up in other anthropology journals of the discipline, but in comparison to a journal like Current Anthropology or American Anthropologist, CA has always been a more compact journal that is focused specifically on cultural anthropology, and the more innovative dimensions of our sub-field. Mike and Kim’s vision statement expresses this commitment with clarity:

Mike and Kim Fortun will strive to maintain the journal as a forum for innovative anthropological writing that helps shape new directions in the field. In their view, Cultural Anthropology occupies an important niche in what can be thought of as the ecology of anthropological publications, as a journal that actively promotes new approaches – encouraging experimentation with new empirical foci and modes of research practice, with emergent theoretical and political currents, and with new forms of anthropological writing.