Press Release: Cultural Anthropology Goes Open Access

DURHAM, N.C.—Cutting-edge analysis of everyday political strife, the impact of crisis on ordinary people, and the changing trends in science and technology around the world is no longer a privilege limited to those who have access to academic institutions. Today, Cultural Anthropology goes open access, meaning that readers everywhere can gain the insights of the journal’s scientific articles free of charge.

With the publication of its February 2014 issue (Volume 29, issue 1), Cultural Anthropology, the journal of the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA), is now freely available to anyone with a connection to the Internet. Previously, only subscribers to the journal—primarily members of the SCA, the American Anthropological Association, and those with access to subscribing research libraries—could read articles published in Cultural Anthropology.

Cultural Anthropology is the first journal published by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to transition to open access. The editors hope this move will expand the audience of the journal to curious readers—academic or not—who would not normally have access to the latest research in anthropology. In addition, SCA President Marisol de la Cadena expressed her hope that the move will influence how anthropological research is conducted: “I hope open access will contribute to the extension of Cultural Anthropology’s intellectual reach, and that this in turn will influence the society’s practice and that of anthropology at large.”

Launched in 1986, Cultural Anthropology publishes peer-reviewed articles at the forefront of anthropological research, critical analysis, and academic writing. The journal endeavors to expand the form and content of anthropological thinking and writing. The current issue of the journal explores topics as diverse as the effects of boredom among homeless populations in Bucharest, the ethical underpinnings of the Egyptian Revolution, and the precarious life of garbage scavengers in Rio de Janeiro. Cultural Anthropology has emerged as one of the most widely cited and respected journals in anthropology under the editorial stewardship of a series of prominent anthropologists. AAA President Monica Heller hopes the move to open access will continue the journal’s tradition of innovation: “This is a very exciting moment. AAA strongly supports the pilot project to make Cultural Anthropology open access, and is eager to learn from this wonderfully innovative experiment."

The journal will be hosted on the SCA website,, which has become an innovative venue for the publication of non-peer-reviewed anthropology in its own right. The website, which began as a means of providing supplemental materials for articles in Cultural Anthropology, now provides the platform for the journal's experiment in visual anthropology, the Photo Essays section, and for Curated Collections of past articles. Other features of the SCA’s online presence are the AnthroPod podcast, featuring conversations with anthropologists for a general audience, and screenings of documentary videos. In addition, Theorizing the Contemporary and Hot Spots host edited series on events of global significance, such as the protests in Brazil and Turkey. The website had over 240,000 visits in the past year, and with Cultural Anthropology‘s move to open access, the editors expect to see the audience of both the peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed content grow.

For more information on Cultural Anthropology’s transition to open access or to arrange an interview, please contact SCA President Marisol de la Cadena, Cultural Anthropology editors Anne Allison and Charles D. Piot, or managing editor Timothy Elfenbein.