Note from the Photo Essay Section Editors

We are excited to present the second photo essay in Cultural Anthropology’s photo essay initiative. This is the first to have gone through our experimental, modified peer-review process, and we wanted to take a moment to explain our intent for the photo essay initiative.

Our goal is to highlight the innovative ways that photography and visual representation are being taken up anthropologically, and to do so within a text-based journal at the heart of the discipline. We also aim to provide a space where a photo essay can be peer reviewed. By hosting the photo essays on the Cultural Anthropology website, we want to take advantage of the technological capacity of the webpage—including the commentary feature—to allow the pieces to shine and a dialogue to emerge.

As part of this commitment to dialogue, we have created a hybrid peer-review process that is closed when the review is conducted (double blind) and opened when the author(s) begin their revisions (author and reviewer revealed to each other). The goal is to put reviewer and author in direct discussion beyond the usual confines of double-blind review. All parties are aware of what we hope to do in the review, and the desire to extend the discussion when the photo essay is published. Once the essay is published, the discussions between author(s), reviewer(s), and editor(s) can then include the reader/viewer, through the comment field on the website. We embrace the traditional peer-review process and its promise of rigorous engagement, but also want to push it into the open.

The intention from beginning to end is dialogue.

This hybrid review process is a new approach that will likely be a little bit different with each photo essay. For this essay, we present the photo essay only, with the intent of publishing an accompanying text to it in the future. When this text is published we will also publish segments of the peer review process and the dialogue that took place between authors and reviewers. We thank everyone involved in helping to bring this photo essay to the (web)pages of Cultural Anthropology.

We hope you will take a look at Laurence Cuelenaere and José Rabasa’s compelling photo essay, “Imagining Precarious Life in Tulum, Mexico,” and will offer your thoughts and commentary on the website.

Image credit: "Peer Review," from "The Disciplinary Economy of Open Peer Review," by Christopher Long, The Long Road.