Cultural Anthropology publishes articles that represent anthropological research, critical analysis, and academic writing of the very highest order. Under the stewardship of its former editors, CA has become one of the flagship journals of the discipline, serving as both lens and cutting edge of the “cultural” tradition of anthropology. Whether beginning a new project or teaching the classics, this is where many of us turn to take stock of the field: to see what the best – or freshest – minds are working on, how theoretical debates in other disciplines are being taken up in our own, and how anthropologists are weighing in on, or intervening in, events and circumstances in the world today.
While CA aims to be both ecumenical and judicious in publishing articles that represent the range and diversity of anthropological interest today, selection of articles will be guided more than anything by quality of submission. At the same time, there are subjects that, in their timeliness or scholarly dynamism, we seek out. These include work on anthropologies of the present and of emergence, on new media/technology/digitality, on financialization and financial decline, on poverty and precariousness, on war-making and violence, on humanitarianism and human rights, on sovereignty/post-sovereignty, on critical race and sexuality studies (areas in which anthropology generally lags behind other disciplines), on post-human and cyber sociality, on the borders of area studies and disciplinary practice. We also retain the journal’s long-standing commitment to interrogating and challenging the boundaries of the discipline, and we welcome submissions that critically reassess, politically-engage and creatively enact the anthropological enterprise today. Most important is that, as voice of the field, we want that voice to both sing and hit hard – with beautiful writing, punchy analysis, masterful scholarship, soulful engagement.
The former editors, Kim and Mike Fortun, left a formidable legacy in building the digital infrastructure of the journal. Under the current editorship, CA is committed to, and indeed sees as critically important, not only maintaining but also advancing the journal’s digital interface with the future. Current plans include expanding the discussion boards and encouraging broad-scale participation, both inside and outside the discipline, where conversations are staged around pressing events, vexed disciplinary issues (ethnographic futures, digitality, human rights activism, for example), or significant new texts.
CA would also like to raise the stakes in considering what a digital future might entail, and will consider devoting an entire issue of the journal during the editorship’s first two years to creative digital submissions. That entirely virtual issue would seek out submissions, both inside the discipline and beyond, that explore the use of hypertext or visual archives or even something like a Rem Koolhaas videography of Lagos. In diverse ways, information sharing and communication with multiple others are strategically important to the future of the field. CA will be aggressive, creative, and forward-looking in outfitting and adapting to the digital future.
CA will devote one issue each year to a range of articles on the “Futures of Neoliberalism.” While fully acknowledging critiques of the term – its totalizing reach, its eliding of other histories, its privileging of political-economy, its application to almost everything today – we feel that it has also provided an enormously productive rubric for anthropologists trying to come to terms with global transformation since the end of the Cold War. Among neoliberalism’s defining features are state pullback and decentralization, NGO-ization, the privatization and marketization of almost everything, financialization and the emergence of the consumer citizen, the explosion of apocalyptic religiosities, class consolidation and growing inequality. Any anthropology of the contemporary must engage some aspect of these phenomena, and we welcome submissions that traverse this terrain in smart ways. We are interested in neoliberalism’s many histories, in those novel subjectivities and sovereignties that are emerging under its sign, in its less-dominant features and less-known origins, in emergent temporalities, in neoliberalisms from below. We also welcome challenges to the term neoliberal itself.
The ruptures in today’s landscape have opened up new possibilities – not only for violence and death but also for post-productive ways of engineering sociality and hope. We invite you to help us think imaginatively about the manner in which anthropology is engaging this new landscape.
Anne Allison and Charlie Piot