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Practicing Anthropology journal Call for Contributions–Focus on “Practice”

CALL for Contributions

Practicing Anthropology Issue 40.1 (January 1, 2018)


The current editorial team for Practicing Anthropology (Judith Freidenberg, Shirley Fiske, and Amy Carattini) is ending its 3-year term in December 2017.  We want to publish our final issue on “practice,” to contribute to an open dialogue on the historical and contemporary meanings of the term—practice—since PA is nearing nearly 40 years of uninterrupted publication. 

This Call for Papers has derived, in part, from our long-standing participation and interest in the practice of anthropology, from continuing dialogues over the decades, and more recently from email threads among PA Board Members, practitioners and faculty on the University of Maryland listserv at the outset of our editorial regime, and from a session organized by the Co-editors at the 2017 SfAA meetings.  The session had a stimulating discussion on “what is in a name – what is practice?”  The bullets below are from the session in order to stimulate collective thinking in the hope of penning an essay or opinion piece:

  • “Practice is a set of skills that somebody is willing to pay for.”
  • “Practice is understanding how things work.”
  • “We need to define minimal standards of expertise to practice. You need to have ethnographic experience (fieldwork), and know how to write it up.”
  • “Practice is a professional arm of anthropology that focuses on problem-solving or addressing issues, generally at the behest of a client or employer.  It is generallyoutside of academia.”
  • “The differentiation between ‘academic anthropologist’ and ‘practitioner’ is an artificial separation.”
  • “The idea of one model [of practice] is a false idea. It’s really a number of ‘trails.’

Call for Papers

The field of Practicing Anthropology has come a long way since the early days of the SfAA publication dedicated to communication among the “community of practice.”  The first issue of Practicing Anthropology was thirty-nine (39!) years ago, in October, 1978.

We invite you to collaborate on this theme issue with essays, short articles, commentaries, and back-and-forth dialogue among individuals and groups of applied and practicing anthropologists.  We want to highlight thoughtful dialogue on any of the following topics:

(1) the historical roots of PA as a newsletter of practice; its role in fostering practice, and how the practice of anthropology evolved since 1978 when PA started;

(2) Commentaries on whether practicing anthropologists apply or use fundamentally different skills than applied anthropologists in academia, and why (or why not) that is important.

(3) Essays and commentaries on how (or whether) practice adds to the body of knowledge in the profession of anthropology.

(4) The plethora of terms — Are there key distinctions between’ applied anthropology,’ ‘public anthropology,’ ‘professional anthropology’ and the ‘practice’ of anthropology?  Have those differences melded over time or have the schisms widened? Are these useful distinctions?

(5) Does “practice” have to be employment generally outside of academia or outside of Anthropology Departments?  Why or why not.  Does the practice of anthropology mean that one has to have a client or employer who asks for the data and provides insights?  Does having a client cause disciplinary and/or ethical issues?

 (6) We specifically invite young anthropologists starting their careers in practice. We would like to hear how the younger generation sees the experience and components of practice in your career.  For example, do you see the divisions in ‘applied’ and ‘practicing’ anthropology as more “artificial” than based in reality?   Have these terms/divisions affected your ability to market yourselves in looking for a job in various sectors, or have they helped?

The co-editors particularly encourage small groups/networks of people to choose a single issue and respond to each other, so that readers get the benefits of a series of views on a topic.  We urge you to organize yourselves in order to develop conversations around such topics as (e.g.) the need to have clients in the development of a professional arm of anthropology and what that means; or whether the terminological divisions are more confusing than useful, or more useful in distinguishing your work. We appreciate small groups such as graduate student associations that may want to write a piece collectively for the group to have voice.  Of course, these are examples of topics that have a variety of opinions around which to organize, but be creative and develop your own lines of argumentation.  Please let us know your interests and if we can help develop ideas.

Please send your proposal/abstract of intent ideas to the Co-editors with a copy to the Editorial Assistant at practicinganthropology@gmail.com.  Co-editors are Judith Freidenberg (jfreiden@umd.edu), Shirley J. Fiske (sfiske@umd.edu), and Amy Carattini (amycarattini@gmail.com).


August 7th, 2017:  Please send a brief “proposal/abstract of intent” (2-3 paragraphs) to any member of the editorial team with a copy to Amber Cohen.  The co-editors will review all the abstracts to help structure the thematic issue, and we will get back to the proposers within a week with suggestions (e.g. for collaboration or focus).  

August 31st: Draft manuscripts due. These will be reviewed and edited (if necessary) by the co-Editors,  and returned to the authors for changes. 

September 15, 2017: Revised manuscripts due to Editorial Assistant Sara Downard at (practicinganthropology@gmail.com) and sent to SfAA for copy editing.

Publication date:  January 1, 2017

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