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With season's greetings, we are delighted to present: 

 Law, Iconoclasm, and the (a)moral

Winter 2020, Volume 10, Issue 3

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Coming in again at almost 500 pages is our final issue for the year 2020, with a detailed editorial note, a Currents section (India's Constitutional Crisis), nine research articles (by Pina-Cabral, Lipowsky, Tateo, Brahinsky, Paerregaard, Kroesbergen-Kamps, Bartole, McCarthy, Armstrong and Agulnik), a Colloquium (Iconoclasm, Heritage, and Restitution), a Debate on (a)moral anthropology, a new occasional Festschrift section, inaugurated in honour of Aihwa Ong, a Book Symposium on Erik Mueggler’s Songs for Dead Parents: Corpse, Text, and World in Southwest China and last but not least a translation with a special introduction to Paul Kirchhoff's 1932 “Kinship Nomenclatures and Kin Marriage”.

With contributions by Raminder Kaur, dyuti a, Fathima Nizaruddin, Ravi Sundaram, Sanjay Srivastava, Farhana Ibrahim, Shaheen Bagh, Syed Mohammed Faisal, Hilal Ahmed, João Pina-Cabral, Andreas Lipowsky, Giuseppe Tateo, Josh Brahinsky, Karsten Paerregaard, Johanneke Kroesbergen-Kamps, Tomi Bartole, Neil Armstrong, Peter Agulnik, Annie McCarthy, Anna Brus, Michi Knecht, Martin Zillinger, Z. S. Strother, Placide Mumbembele, Ramon Sarró, Silvie Memel-Kassi, Peter Probst, Syna Ouattara, Irafiala Touré, Rosalind Morris, Nicolas Langlitz, Kristine Van Dinther, Fiona C. Ross, John Borneman, Nicolas Langlitz, Daromir Rudnyckyj, Jerome Whitington, Lisa M. Hoffman, Chris Vasantkumar, Stephen J. Collier, Daromir Rudnyckyj, Michael G. Peletz, Louisa Schein, Damani J. Partridge, Jerry Zee, Alfred Montoya, Jerome Whitington, Andrew Lakoff, Anke Schwittay, Caitlin Zaloom, Piers Vitebsky, Jean M. Langford, Carlo Severi, Anne E. McLaren, Michael Puett, Ryan Schram, Erik Mueggler, Dwight Read, and Paul Kirchhoff. 

A big gift from and a big thank you to all our authors.

Remember to freely download any or all the articles until the third week of January. The University of Chicago Press publishes one free-access journal: HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. This model provides one month of free access after the release of each new issue, and then requires a subscription for continuous access to content. All HAU Journal content published from 2011-2017 remains open access.

Editorial Note Call: Festschriften in future issues

In this issue, we have inaugurated a new occasional section dedicated to Festschriften, honorific collections for distinguished anthropologists, by and large organized by former students and colleagues. In these, we expand our commitment to keeping in view the history of our discipline—already exemplified by our reissue or translation of early, difficult-to-find publications in the field. We invite our readers and authors to rethink this form, perhaps opening it up to debate and having a more critical bent than the traditional celebratory festschrift, and contact us with suggestions of anthropologists to whom we might dedicate such a collection in future issues.

We are also pleased to welcome back Deborah Durham as Deputy Editor of the journal. She had done the bulk of our copyediting for this final issue of the year, and her return to the Hau project will bring needed consistency and predictability to this aspect of the journal’s production.

HAU's Free Access and Open Global South Access Programmes

The Society for Ethnographic Theory is firmly committed to the idea that access to knowledge and publishing quality must be achieved by ediating gratuity with sustainability. The journal pursues this ideal with two innovative models, where a balance between high publishing standards, knowledge sharing and sustainability is achieved without relying on unpaid labour, famished departmental research budgets and individual membership dues.

Each journal issue will be available to download for free for one month after release and be Green Open Access (in compliance of the UKRI requisites for REF submission). Each issue will include up to 20% permanent or Gold Open Access articles, which the Society would like to dedicate to indigenous authors or scholars from the Global South.

HAU journal is published (not owned) by the University of Chicago Press through an unprecedented, hybrid open access+subscription model. The decision to move towards this model was shaped by detailed consultations with HAU's External Advisory Board in 2015-2017. UCP offered to keep the journal open access for 1 month after the release of each issue, to provide a Managing Editor, IT, marketing, typesetting support at any level, and to offer 20% of the articles per issue as permanently open access, and even free subscriptions to poor institutions. This is an unprecedented arrangement. A university press is trying very hard to invest in our initiative and preserve its mission and nature. A university press is a non-profit institution, a completely different entity from corporate behemoths like Wiley-Blackwell, Elsevier, or Taylor & Francis.

Few anthropology series today can offer the wide exposure and features that HAUBooks can offer: open access and an extremely affordable paperback printed and distributed by one of the world’s main social science university presses. Since 2015 we have released over 40 books which have been featured in the Times Literary Supplement, Wall Street Journal Online, New York Review of Books, and in all the main disciplinary journals. Its growth occurred initially with no institutional or grant support. The series can only be maintained because it is subsidized either by our HAU-NET members or grants raised by the authors. HAU Books received a “pledged grant” from Knowledge Unlatched, a Berlin-based organization supporting open access publishing. The grant is to be claimed by Knowledge Unlatched from libraries who endorsed our forthcoming titles.  

Letter to the Editors of The Chronicle of Higher Education by the Directors of the Society for Ethnographic Theory

Dear CHE Editors

We were dismayed that the Chronicle decided to publish Jesse Singal’s article on our publication HAU (How One Very Prominent Journal Went Wrong, Oct. 5, 2020) in such an inchoate state – not to mention its unfortunate timing. Given the role of CHE in upholding the importance and integrity of higher education, we would have expected to see greater insistence on situating HAU in the wider context of academic publishing. Instead, the article merely reprised the developments of a turbulent period simply in terms of a conflict between two individuals. It gives the false impression, casually smuggled in towards the end, that HAU remains substantially unchanged. Nothing could be further from the truth.

HAU came into being as a radical departure from established ways of publishing academic journals. Created by a handful of young scholars, most of them graduates and post-docs in precarious situations, it was affiliated neither with an academic institution or university nor with any professional or subject association. Its independence was its strength, enabling the journal to produce high-quality, original scholarship and very productive re-readings of older anthropological accounts. Unfortunately, that very independence also proved a temporary weakness, that sustained an informality beyond when it was healthy for the journal. This was pointed out in the report drawn up by the Executive Council headed by Carole McGranahan. When we took over as the Board of Directors in September 2018, it was clear to us that this informality had to be the first thing that had to be addressed to re-establish trust in the journal and its workings, following the media campaign launched against HAU and its founder Giovanni da Col. The world of HAU described in Singal’s piece bears absolutely no resemblance to the new organisation of the journal or the ethos of its current structure of editorial collectives.

Singal reached out in November last year to individuals working in various capacities with the journal. We read some of his earlier pieces, developed a good impression of his abilities and rigour, and became hopeful that he would produce a fair and more up-to-date account of the vicissitudes and state of HAU. We assumed that he would report on his discovery of new material about the past as well as the new developments at HAU itself. Equally, our confidence also stemmed from knowing where the piece was being published. But rather than situate the events of the past within the broader concerns of contemporary publishing and its fraught relationship with academia, the article dwelled on gossip, email exchanges, and innuendo, shallow in its ethical judgement, and betrayed its informants. Its analytical value as a sociological analysis of academic practices is underwhelming and not up to the standards of CHE.

On all counts, this was a missed opportunity.


Kriti Kapila, Anne-Christine Taylor, John Borneman, and Carlos Londono-Sulkin
Board of Directors, Society for Ethnographic Theory

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