Anthropology of/in Circulation: The Future of Open Access and Scholarly Societies

Peer Reviewed


In a conversation format, seven anthropologists with extensive expertise in new digital technologies, intellectual property, and journal publishing discuss issues related to open access, the anthropology of information circulation, and the future of scholarly societies. Among the topics discussed are current anthropological research on open source and open access; the effects of open access on traditional anthropological topics; the creation of community archives and new networking tools; potentially transformative uses of field notes and materials in new digital ecologies; the American Anthropological Association's recent history with these issues, from the development of AnthroSource to its new publishing arrangement with Wiley-Blackwell; and the political economies of knowledge circulation more generally.

Editorial Footnotes

Cultural Anthropology has published other essays on the practices and cultures of academic publishing, including George Marcus’s “American Academic Journal Editing in the Great Bourgeois Cultural Revolution of Late 20th-Century Postmodernity: The Case of Cultural Anthropology” (1991), Alan Howard’s “Hypermedia and the Future of Ethnography” (1988), and Corinne Kratz’s “On Telling/Selling a Book by Its Cover” (1994).

Cultural Anthropology has also published a range of essays on alternative, emergent, and moral economies, including Mark Liechty’s “Carnal Economies: The Commodification of Food and Sex in Kathmandu” (2005), Ann Russ’s “Love's Labor Paid for: Gift and Commodity at the Threshold of Death” (2005), and Benjamin Orlove’s “Meat and Strength: The Moral Economy of a Chilean Food Riot” (1991).

Links from the Conversation

Mukurtu Project

Open Context - Metablog

Ethnomusicological Video for Instruction and Analysis Digital Archive

National Anthropology Archives

American Folklore Society - Ethnographic Thesaurus

The Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM)


The Machine is Us/ing Us (Example of YouTube as vehicle for research communication):

SPARC Author's Rights Video

Editorial Overview

Open Access publishing models and the challenges they pose to organizations like the American Anthropological Association as well as to commercial publishers are at the heart of a conversation led by Chris Kelty in the August 2008 issue of Cultural Anthropology. Kelty is author of the recently published Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke 2008). The other six anthropologists who are part of the conversation – Jason Baird Jackson, Kimberly Christen, Tom Boellstorff, Alex Golub, Michael Brown, Michael Fischer – also have extensive research and professional experience that gives them special insight on the ways digitization has changed the way knowledge is produced and can be shared. The conversation critically examines the the politics of publishing in an era of internet-based distribution, and new opportunities for all scholars, and for anthropologists in particular.

This conversation will continue online at the Anthropology of/in Circulation Blog. We encourage you to join.

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