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HAU turns it up to 11
Our Decennial Volume
Download full issue here
We begin the second decade of Hau’s offerings with a special issue of critical reflections on the oeuvre of the great Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, especially his ideas about "transculturation", put together by Stephan Palmié, Joan Bestard Camps, and Jaume Mascaró Pons, with contributions by Gerard HortaConsuelo Naranjo OrovioJeffrey KahnGlenn BowmanRamon SarróJorge Pavez OjedaSergio O. Valdés BernalAmanda VillepastourOlivia Maria Gomes da CunhaJoão Pina-CabralRoger Canals and an afterword by Charles StewartCaribbean–Mediterranean counterpoint.

The special issue features primarily research articles from anthropologists working on the Caribbean and Mediterranean regions, and contains a reprint of Verena Stolcke's 1993 Sidney W. Mintz Lecture with a subtle Ortizian reading of the then sprouting and now burgeoning cultural fundamentalism of the political right in Europe.

Transculturation, the concept of merging and converging cultures, is an early example of “theory from the South,” written against more assimilationist notions of "acculturation" and, as Stolcke says in her new introduction to the Mintz Lecture, was explicitly designed to reject North American hierarchical and racist models of cultural change.
Read Palmié's incredible introduction to the special issue
Our unedited scholarship has Warren Thompson introducing an unpublished and an undoubtedly classic essay by Marilyn Strathern on the structuralist question: "Is Hagen compensation to Western destitution as gift is to commodity?". Originally written in 1985, the article examines dispute settlement and violence in the Mount Hagen area of the Papua New Guinea Highlands. It brings us back to the enduring themes of her oeuvre—the inapplicability of concepts like individual and society, and the importance of gifts and social relations, emotion and gender. As Warren Thompson suggests, the point of compensation in Hagen is neither the pursuit of an abstract ideal such as “justice” nor a form of a “law,” but rather a mode of working on social relationships in a series of exchanges that never end.
Read Strathern's "The mediation of emotions"
We publish two translations of Peking University's Gao Bingzhong, on the development of the concept and practice of "overseas ethnographies" as well as the social sciences in China, with an introduction by Andrew B. Kipnis on the audiences of academic anthropology in China. Chinese anthropologists have been poorly represented in the World Anthropologies movement. The essays included here introduce Gao’s embrace of “overseas ethnography”—that is, ethnographic research and writing on countries outside of China by Chinese researchers. In his arguments for the value of overseas ethnography, we can find a postcolonial critique of the hegemony of Anglophone anthropology and a post-socialist critique of postcolonial posturing, as well as an assertion of Chinese cultural confidence.
Read Bingzhong on the recent turn to "Overseas ethnography" in China
Anthropology faces attacks on our relevance and value in a variety of national settings from a wide range of standpoints. We cannot shrink away from these attacks, but must reflect and respond. In last year’s volume, we began the Currents section of the journal to address issues around the globe in a manner that is more timely than a typical journal article, but deeper and more anthropological than journalism or blogs. Currents collections consist of four to ten essays on pressing topics or events that are lightly refereed, that are of a length between three thousand and five thousand words, and that use ethnographic research to address critical issues in the contemporary world rather than theoretical issues in the social sciences alone. In this issue, we invite our readers to a related type of essay, called Re-Currents, in which they can respond to previously published Currents sections, either because of a difference in opinion or in light of more recent developments. The standards for ethnographic grounding, length, and refereeing remain the same. See the editorial note Decennial reflections by Luiz Costa, Raminder Kaur, Andrew B. Kipnis, and Mariane C. Ferme), for more information.

The Currents section put together by Raminder Kaur and Victoria Louisa Klinkert presents a panoply of takes on Decolonizing ethnographies, with contributions by Yasmeen Arif on ontologies, Vineeta Sinha on the "savage slot", Mwenda Ntarangwi on ethnographic representation, Abdellah Hammoudi on distance and double critique, Olivia Maria Gomes da Cunha on the burning of Brazil’s National Museum to ruins in September 2018, Damani Partridge on the North American city Detroit, and Victoria Louisa Klinkert on  the contradictions of "humbling".

HAU's original idea to foreground the book symposium and forgo the book review, is almost a decade old too and has provided detailed engagement and questioning of field-setting—or mysteriously popular—monographs. Our lates book symposium is on Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbin's outstanding Waste siege: The life of infrastructure in Palestine, with comments by Rosalind Fredericks on occupation, Kali Rubaii on military creep, Munira Khayyat on waste weaponization, and a reply by the author.

HAU's inaugural issue was published in 2011. Since then we have published almost 1000 articles and contributions. 

Browse our journal archive

Levitate through its quantity, assess its quality.

Where blogs come to life and potentially disappear within a handful of years, journals find their raison d’être in the span of at least a human lifetime. The very long-term is the horizon of academic publishing. Or at least it should appear as such; since only this horizon may persuade scholars and future authors to trust a publisher to gather and release their best work. In a recent American Anthropologist Year in Review article, they listed HAU as member of a family of renowned and field-defining apical ancestry. Examples range from the American Anthropologist (founded 1899) to Anthropological Quarterly (founded in 1921 by the Catholic University of America), Current Anthropology (founded in 1959 by Sol Tax), American Ethnologist (a 1972 spin-off of the American Anthropologist, originally published from the 1930s to the 1950s by both AA and AES, the oldest professional anthropological organization). The only European-based relative in the set is the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (formerly Man), established in 1901.

One cannot help but to wonder how HAU managed to be hailed in this prominent upper echelon just a few years after our foundation and to become the highest ranked anthropology journal in Europe— according to Google scholar—in less than a decade.

HAU's method has always been to point out, paraphrasing Ludwig Wittgenstein, when theory has gone on holiday. HAU pursued the ideal of forming intellectually ambitious scholars with wide ethnographic and archival erudition who would rise to the challenges of their own world by proposing comparative generalizations applicable on a large geographic scale. Although an ethnographic theory can’t be apolitical or avoid a genuine confrontation with its colonial heritage and power structures, it can be, however, interested in the inner beauty of precise language and arguments, or raise in awe for the existing corpus of collected customs and most diverse ways of life. This journal’s achievement, the one that will last, is the recording of the astonishing records of multifariously beautiful societies and their alleged roles in the history of humanity.

We hope that in the next ten years HAU will be able to continue the path it set for itself to become the journal of a truly global anthropology, subverting established academic hierarchies and colonizing approaches and pointing toward new possibilities for the collective construction of a truly ethnographic theory from the Global South. Inside HAU there are various ideas about ideals, but these include someone like Curt Nimuendajú, the German scholar from the academic periphery, who went to Brazil and spent his life doing meticulous, detailed ethnographic studies and creating some of the most important collections of South American artifacts. Though a fieldworker through and through, Nimuendajú maintained regular correspondence with Robert Lowie and Lévi-Strauss, and his data were crucial in some of the early 20th century discussions on kinship. His name, Nimuendajú, is a Guarani name (that he had legally changed) which means “he who is without a home/country.” Nimuendajú is one of our figures of ethnographic theory from the South: one that has the ethnographic credentials and holds the ambivalent position of being both from the centre and for the periphery; a fieldworker who nonetheless held his weight in high theory debates.
In early 2018 we embarked on a new phase of the HAU project, one that allowed us to continue our commitment to open access publication, an international anthropology, and the development of ethnographic theory. In May 2017, twenty members of the HAU Advisory Board were called to vote about the offer received by University of Chicago Press: to move to a unique “free access” subscription model that would guarantee the long-term sustainability of the journal, and the preservation of the intellectual mission of the Society for Ethnographic Theory. 

The University of Chicago Press publishes one free-access journal: HAU. This model provides one month of free access after the release of each new issue, and then requires a subscription for continuous access. All HAU Journal content published from 2011-2017 remains open access. The journal now appears in both digital and print format.

The Society of Ethnographic Theory's goal is to advance the comparative study of people’s modes of existence through a speculative inquiry into the indigenous systems of thought and the conceptual apparatuses arising through the use of the ethnographic method. These goals are achieved by encouraging ethnographic research and theoretical development in the discipline of anthropology through the publication of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic TheoryHAU Books, and other publishing and academic initiatives.

Hau Books is committed to publishing the most distinguished texts in classic and contemporary sociocultural anthropology and related works relevant to anthropologists. In partnership with The University of Chicago Press and Knowledge Unlatched, Hau Books makes its titles available in print editions, open-access PDFs, and e-books. We invite you to visit All Titles to browse our rich catalogue, explore details about each book, and access copies in the format you prefer.

The passing of SET member Manuka Henare

The Society of Ethnographic Theory was deeply saddened by the loss of Dr Manuka Henare who passed away on the 23 January 2021. We sent our condolences to his family. His life and and his path to great scholarly achievements was extraordinary.

He received his PhD at age 63, titled The Changing Images of Nineteenth Century Māori Society: From Tribes to Nation.

In a wide-ranging interview he recounts what led him down the scholarly path: 'Then, for me, there was another important step when, in 1988, I was in Kawakawa talking to Ta Hemi Hēnare of Ngāti Hine. He was in his late 70s at the time and I was raising the question of whether there was any way to record the knowledge that he’d been sharing with us for years. I realised later that was an insensitive question to put to a man of his age.  But he said: “Mānuka Hēnare, I have an even better idea. One day the Treaty of Waitangi is going to be a big constitutional issue. And the 1835 Declaration of Independence will become a major matter of historical importance to Mãori people. You should go to university and get a PhD on He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga.”

Ta Hemi knew that, when the issue of the Declaration came up, there could be some debate and concern about the lack of scholarship about the event. So he was pushing me towards that research.  And that’s how that happened, mate. Here I was in my 40s and thinking: “Oh God”. But I did what I was told. I started my university studies and completed the PhD on that 1835 Declaration and, in the meantime, started talking about He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti o Waitangi.  I’m now very proud of the fact that more and more Māori and Pākehā are conscious of that very important historical event when our people declared Nu Tireni to be a free and independent country. And more New Zealanders have become aware of how it shaped the Tiriti o Waitangi.'

In 1996, he became the first lecturer in Māori business development to be appointed to the University of Auckland Business School. He was teaching the Postgraduate Diploma in Business (Māori Development), known as the Te Tohu Huanga Māori Programme where he saw the opportunity to foster research on the history of the Māori economy.

We are saddened by the loss of a highly appreciated and respected SET member.

At the same time we would like to welcome new members that have recently joined the Society for Ethnographic Theory, including Pascale Bonnemère, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Federico Neiburg, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and Albert L. Refiti, Auckland University of Technology.

In memoriam Marshall Sahlins and Paul Rabinow

We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Marshall Sahlins and Paul Rabinow in April 2021, two of our most distinguished contemporary anthropologists. HAU has lost not only two friends but two champions of anthropological theory that grows out of ethnographic engagement—precisely the kind of scholarship HAU promotes. Most recently, Marshall Sahlins contributed to HAU books, co-authoring (with David Graeber) On Kings, a major reconsideration of the power, meaning, and role of this ubiquitous political type in premodern societies. Paul Rabinow (with Anthony Stavrianakis), contributed to a HAU Forum devoted to his work on the anthropology of the contemporary. We will miss Marshall and Paul, above all for their insights and scope and their courage to disagree and advance arguments.

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

The issue includes a festschrift for the late Paul Rabinow with contributions by some of his many students and admirers. Only last year we published his Adornian “late style" lecture on Haltung that hoped for and outlined a way to bypass the prevailing governmental mechanisms of the academy.


In the next issue, we will introduce another section to the journal, the Festschrift. A well-known genre for the discipline, it has however floundered as too many scholars offered weak collections of flattery for their teachers and publishers balked. We revive it here with the understanding that the purpose of the genre is to introduce the wider significance of modes of writing and teaching ethnography that are associated with particular scholars. The Festschrift provides another mode of connecting the past and the future of ethnography—recalling a Nietzsche quote that served as one of HAU's founding and guiding ideas: "Original minds are not distinguished by being the first to see a new thing, but instead by seeing the old, familiar thing that is over-looked as something new."

The editorial collective will consider collections of both shorter and longer essays dedicated to interpreting the oeuvre of particular scholars. Proposals will be evaluated not so much in terms of the fame of the scholar honored, but in terms of how the essays illuminate a particular style of research and pedagogy that is of interest to the wider discipline.

The inaugural Festschrift will be dedicated to Paul Rabinow. Only last year we published his Adornian “late style" lecture on Haltung that hoped for and outlined a way to bypass the prevailing governmental mechanisms of the academy.
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