Archive for Current Anthropology

Current Anthropology and Communicating Climate Knowledge

We at the Wenner-Gren Foundation are very proud of our sponsored journal Current Anthropology, published by the University of Chicago Press. In honor of the release of the April issue of CA, we’re pleased to announce that the issue’s Forum on Anthropology and the Public will be available for all as a downloadable open-access article.

This interdisciplinary forum addresses the communication of cultural knowledge of environmental change. Titled “Communicating Climate Knowledge: Proxies, Processes, Politics,” the forum is the product of discussion at a Climate Histories conference held at the University of Cambridge in 2011.

The forum features two lead pieces by Simon Schaffer, a historian of science, and Kirsten Hastrup, an anthropologist, which highlight the role of agents and proxies—indicators that enable the representation and assessment of a certain environmental setting.

Hastrup’s article examines the role ice plays in climate knowledge for arctic peoples. She argues that the ice itself makes as powerful a case for a changing climate as science ever could. “I would suggest that the ice is its own argument; it is not for us to argue its case—it would only be a faint echo of its own powerful impression upon the Arctic world,” she writes. “Whatever climate history one wants to tell, it begins and ends with ice.”

Schaffer offers a historical account of mountains as proxies for western understanding of climate. He describes the work of the nineteenth century scientist John Tyndall in bringing his mountaintop discoveries to the public at large. Schaffer argues that the challenge for science then and now is finding ways to communicate knowledge that is often “judged remote, socially, geographically, and temporally.”

The two lead pieces are followed by five interdisciplinary commentaries that engage with the lead articles through new ethnographic material and a set of reflections by leading scholars of different disciplines, including a lead scholar of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “We hope these cross-disciplinary exchanges will encourage further conversations and new approaches to action,” Diemberger said.

The forum is available free to all.

In addition to this piece, the entirety of April’s gold-covered Supplementary issue, “The Biological Anthropology of Living Human Populations: World Histories, National Styles, and International Networks” is available as open access.

(Thanks to UChicago Press’ Kevin Stacey for his help with the text of this post.)

Special Guest Editorial – Mark Aldenderfer of Current Anthropology

A special guest editorial by the editor of Current Anthropology, Mark Aldenderfer.

Changes Coming to Current Anthropology

One measure of the success of a journal is the number of manuscripts submitted. Current Anthropology does very well indeed on this criterion: over the past three years, the journal has seen upwards of 200 manuscripts of article length.  I’m pleased that authors see the journal as a publication venue for their research, but this large number of submissions creates new problems in these times of fiscal constraint: a relatively high rejection rate compared to other anthropology journals and a lengthening queue for publication.

» Read more..

Current Anthropology Special Issue: The Origins of Agriculture

The Origins of Agriculture: New Data, New Ideas

Edited by: T. Douglas Price (Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin–Madison) and  Ofer Bar-Yosef  (Harvard University)

This 4th supplementary issue of the Wenner-Gren Symposia Series in Current Anthropology  brings together a diverse international group of archaeological scientists to consider a topic of common interest and substantial anthropological import—the origins of agriculture. The volume is the outcome of a Wenner-Gren Symposium, (number 141) held from March 6-13, 2009, at the Hacienda Temozon,  Yucatan, Mexico. The group included individuals working in most of the places where farming began. This resulting volume is organized by chronology and geography. The goal was to consider the most recent data and ideas from these different regions in order to examine larger questions of congruity and disparity among the groups of first farmers. There is much new information from a number of important areas, particularly Asia. Findings highlight at least 10 different places around the world where agriculture was independently developed, and the antiquity of domestication is being pushed back in time in light of these discoveries. The volume emphasizes the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to such large questions in order to assemble as much information as possible and anticipates that the results and consequences of the symposium and this supplementary issue will have long-term ripple effects in anthropology and archaeology. The Wenner-Gren Symposia series is available through Current Anthropology as open access, permitting an international community of scholars to access and share these findings.

See the Table of Contents and access full texts here.