Anthropology gets a little more open (access)

Anthropology gets a little more open (access)

Still locked, the gate pulls open ever so slightly more. Photo: Ryan Anderson, 2020.

There’s news in the world of open access anthropology. The gates have opened, just a bit more. Maybe now, finally, is the time for a bigger shift toward more anthropologists supporting and advocating for open access scholarship. While we do have some excellent OA options in anthropology (such as Cultural Anthropology), we could use more. Well, good things are happening. A couple days ago, Berghahn Anthropology announced a new open access initiative:

We are VERY excited to announce that the Berghahn Open Anthro initiative will be implemented in 2020! All 13 #anthropology journals will be fully #openaccess starting with the 2020 vols. Read the press release: @acorsin @KUnlatched

— BerghahnAnthropology (@BerghahnAnthro) January 23, 2020

This is great to hear, and I look forward to hearing more about how this all plays out. As some of you know, this is one core issue that we have covered on this site and even more on its previous iteration. Expect more.

Personally, I’ve been a bit quiet on the OA front (and blogging in general) for the past couple of years. But things are changing. The Anthrodendum folks are looking to reignite the fires around here, and this will include more coverage of open access publishing and why it matters.

For now, I’ll leave you with Keith Hart’s words on open access and anthropology, from my interview with him back in 2012. I opened the interview asking Keith to talk broadly about his take on open access. Here’s his response:

Obviously I am in favor of it. The form that the discussion takes in contemporary anthropology seems to be specifically American, where the contradictions of established practice are most acute. In the most general sense, OA is a strategy of resistance to privatization of the commons, any commons. As such it is central to the intellectual property wars. But here I think we are talking about a much narrower issue of how to make research publications freely available without undermining their role as cultural capital in academic career advancement. This reflects the interests of a mass of unemployed young researchers who can’t afford to pay for information and yet still hope to find academic employment some day. The tension is between maintaining the intellectual commons and conserving ideas as private property. The situation is exacerbated in American anthropology by the peculiarly obdurate policy of the professional association (AAA) which elevates a closed regime of private production for profit above sharing knowledge with the general public.

Here’s to a renewed strategy of resistance to the closing of our academic commons. Onward, anthropology.