2006 - The Year of Open Access Anthropology?
(post in progress) 2005 was the year anthropology finally became visible on the internet. 2006 was the year of a more public, political and open access anthropology?
More and more anthropologists want to make their research available online. Two years ago, the open access movement was only known to some geeks. Now, more and more academics know of its existence and support its agenda. I've even read about Norwegian researchers who boycott publishers that don't support Open Access (only in Norwegian). Recently, Norwegian libraries rejected Blackwell journals because of high prices and at the same time promoted their digital archives.
The bloggers at Savage Minds and Anthropology.net campaigned for more open access with New Open Access Anthropology Website, mailinglist, chat and t-shirts including a blog.
A new Open Access journal called After Culture - Emergent Anthropologies was announced and a few months ago, I've discovered Anpere - Anthropological Perspectives on Religion another new Open Access Anthropology Journal and shortly afterwards lots of new theses on indigenous research in MUNIN - the digital library of the University in Tromsø (Northern Norway).
Earlier, the American Anthropological Society was heavily criticized for its opposition to Open Access. Concerning their reluctance to use digital technology to disseminate knowledge, Jane Mejdahl from the new Danish Anthropology group blog Matters Out Of Place wondered if anthropologists were the last primitive tribe on earth. To promote anthropological blogging, anthropology.net established the first Anthropology Blog Carnival.
Politics and Public Anthropology
Last year, anthropology seemed to have become politicised. American anthropologists stood up against torture and the occupation of Iraq and used anthropology to show that the Bush administration is lying about the "war on terror" in the Sahara.
Furthermore, anthropologists criticized both the erosion of free academic speech in the USA, how censorship threatens anthropological fieldwork and the neoliberalism in academia, when Walmart's management principles run an anthropology department.
In 2005, many debates arose on how CIA sponsers anthropologists to gather sensitive information. In 2006, we could read about anthropologists who are engaged for the US war in Iraq and "embedded anthropology" in the Canadian military.
It's difficult to say if anthropologists have been more visible in mainstream media during the last year. We might remember that Didier Fassin criticized anthropologists for their silence during and after the riots in France. Maybe Indonesia can be an example. To link themselves to the non-academic world, anthropologists discuss politics and succeeded according anthropologist Fadjar I. Thufail. In Mexico, anthropologists who demonstrated against human rights abuses were beaten by the Mexican police.
Conferences and cosmopolitanism
Personally, I was engaged in discussions about conference culture. My post How To Present A Paper - or Can Anthropologists Talk? received more comments than any other post before. Shortly afterwards I went to the conference Anthropology and Cosmopolitanism at Keele University where I heard many weak presentations and wrote the post What's the point of anthropology conferences?. My summary was later published in Anthropology Today and was commented by Don Moody. Concerning presentations, "the cure is a strong chairman and a system of lights", he wrote.
I've written lots about cosmopolitanism, for example For an anthropology of cosmopolitanism or Thomas Hylland Eriksen: Cosmopolitanism is like respecting the ban on smoking in the public. Owen Sichone showed at the conference that poor African migrants are no less cosmopolitan than anthropologists and David Graeber argued that democracy is no 'Western' idea and questioned the terms "Western civilisation" or "Western values".
There were of course lots more interesting news last year.
I especially enjoyed reading Jan Kåre Breivik's book about deaf people as a forgotten cultural minority and Marianne Gullestads most recent book where she defines the five major challenges for anthropology
2006 is also the year when Clifford Geertz has passed away.