Why do we publish anthropology? Do we publish to communicate our ideas, or to move up the ranks of academia? We all know the basic narrative: In order to land a job and move up the socio-economic ladder of academicanthropology, we all need to publish. As the saying goes: publish or perish. So everyone — from graduate students onward — joins in and perpetuates this particular academic habitus. But is the current system working? We may all be publishing (or working toward it), but that does not mean that we have really avoided the “perish” part of the equation. The problem, as Harry Wolcott pointed out almost two decades ago, is that we are stuck in an insular, closed system. Our current publication regime is primarily geared toward internal conversations and our own political economies. We are, in essence, talking to ourselves. We keep our conversations separated from wider audiences through habit, and also via a slew of self-imposed barriers (journal articles closed off through pay walls, writing style, overall use of media). This paper is about rethinking not only why we publish, but also how we publish. The goal is not to dismiss the importance of traditional venues for publication (books, journal articles, edited volumes), but instead to explore how we can start opening up and sharing our anthropological conversations with wider audiences through the creative use of a range of media-based tools and platforms.
Anderson, R. (2012). Publishing without Perishing: Sharing Ideas and Challenging the Closed System of Academic Anthropology. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, San Francisco, November 13–18.