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Posts from the ‘Neoliberal Patterns’ Category

Good News | Bad News

On the good news front, students, faculty, staff, and friends associated with the Mathers Museum of World Cultures continue to come together to do good work and illustrate why museums are good places to gather, talk, think, study, and try to make a difference. As I move into my fourth month as the museum’s director, I feel so thankful for everyone’s interest in, and support of, the museum’s efforts. Here are some highlights from recent days.

Last Saturday the museum hosted a great “Meet the Collection” event. The focus was the museum’s collection of handmade chairs by Chester Cornett. This collection was assembled by folklorist Michael Owen Jones during his doctoral research at Indiana. Some chairs came to the museum at the time of Jones’ initial student research, but others were recently donated by this now distinguished UCLA scholar. Jon Kay, James Seaver, and Ellen Sieber all contributed remarks that led to a wider group conversation to which Joanne Stuttgen, Pravina Shukla, Henry Glassie and others contributed valuable questions, observations, and historical reflections.

A recent IU press release describes a 2nd Meet the Collection event as part of the series of events celebrating the museum’s 50th anniversary. The next gathering focuses on the museum’s collection of Aboriginal Australian bark paintings and will feature remarks by Earlham College art historian Julia May. The gathering will be held at the museum from 2 to 3 pm on Saturday, April 27. Please join us if you can. (The IU press release linked to here focuses on the upcoming Treasures of the Mathers Museum exhibition. I will focus on that in an future post.)

More good news at the museum was reported in the latest issue of Inside IU Bloomington. Bethany Nolan wrote a great article profiling the work the students in my Curatorship are doing studying the ethnographic collection given to the museum by the late Vincent and Elinor Ostrom. The quotes that the students gave Bethany would be music to any teacher’s ears. Alumni of this graduate course are now doing great things as museum professionals and it is exciting to teaching it again, particularly in a spirit of hopefulness. Public folklore and museum anthropology–these are fields that have roots that extend back to the time before the fields became rooted in academia. They were alt-ac (ie. alternative to academic careers) before these fields even had an “ac” track. As neighboring humanities disciplines begin (sometimes for the first time and in a spirit of panic and despair) to seriously consider non-academic careers for their graduate students, it is great to point to a deep tradition of engaged research-based public humanities work in museums and to be able to illustrate the skills required and the path ways that can be taken.

It helps to have role models. A graduate of my department, Michael Mason, has just been named Director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian. He is moving over to this new leadership role from the National Museum of Natural History, also at the Smithsonian, where he has been serving as Assistant Director for Exhibitions. (Read all about it in a recent Smithsonian press release.) I do not want to get ahead of the institution that has just hired her, but a current student in my department has just been hired into an impressive postdoctoral fellowship aimed at bridging academic and museum work in New York City. At the other most distinguished end of the career spectrum, one of our department’s most innovative and impactful graduates is Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. Barbara is in the news constantly now because she is playing a central role in the development of the (soon to open) Museum of the History of Polish Jews. As core exhibition designer for the museum, she is drawing upon all the lessons she has learned over an amazing career as a Jewish ethnographer, cultural theorist, museums studies specialist, public folklorist, and NYU professor of performance studies. Reporting on the (incredible) museum (to be) and her work is ubiquitous, but one can dip into it in a recent Tablet magazine story “Curator of Joy and Ashes” to gain a sense of the amazing effort.

Back home at the Mathers, I feel like we are having success.

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Review: A Companion to Folklore

Today the Journal of Folklore Research Reviews (JFRR) published my review of A Companion to Folklore edited by Regina F. Bendix and Galit Hasan-Rokem. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). It was an honor to be asked to review such a key volume in the field. Find the  review online here: http://indiana.edu/~jofr/review.php?id=1416

Occupy and Open Access in Anthropologies (and Elsewhere)

I wish to express thanks to Ryan Anderson  [@ethnografix] for his editorial work on the online magazine Anthropologies [@AnthroProject]. Specifically I would like to highlight the publication’s new issue (#12), which is thematically focused on “Occupy and Open Access.” I really appreciate Ryan’s invitation to contribute to the issue. My essay is titled “We are the One Percent: Open Access in the Era of Occupy Wall Street.” In it I try to explore the mutual resonances of the Occupy and Open Access movements.

Daniel Lende, Barbara Fister, Kim and Mike Fortun, Laurence Cuelenaere, Doug Rocks-Macqueen, Kyle Schmidlin, and Ryan are the other contributors.

The essay by Kim and Mike Fortun is based on the presentation that Kim gave at the 2011 American Anthropological Association meetings in Montreal. Focusing on how the journal Cultural Anthropology, which she and Mike previously edited, might be transitioned into gold open access status, their essay complements my presentation on green open access strategies, which was delivered on the same occasion. The original event was a session on the present status and future prospects of the publishing program of the American Anthropological Association. (For other presentations from the event, see the links here.)

In related news, consider also checking out Chris Kelty’s recent essay on “The Disappearing Virtual Library,” the video from presentations made at the “Protests, Petitions and Publishing: Widening Access to Research in 2012″ event held at Columbia University last month, and Barbara Fister’s recent “Dispatches from the Library of Babel.”

Update: Daniel Lende has written a more detailed and sophisticated overview and discussion of the new Anthropologies issue. Find it at Neuroanthropology.

Something I Would Really Like You to Read: Codacorolla on Public Libraries Today

I believe that William Gibson is usually correct when he says that “the future is already here, it is just not very evenly distributed yet.” In the spirit of that sentiment, there is something seemingly ephemeral that I would really like you to read. You (whomever you are) are really busy and cannot be constantly badgered to go off on literary wild goose chases, so I promise not to make such special pleas all the time.

The consistently smart and helpful Miriam Posner pointed me (and her other twitter followers) to a comment made recently on a MetaFilter post dealing with:

California rejects top rate tax increase, removes all state funding for CA libraries. Funding cut for “literacy programs, InterLibrary Loans, and miscellaneous expenses such as librarian training programs and books.

You do not need to read the whose ensemble of posts and comments to get to the piece that I would like you to read. The comment, which very vividly evokes the state of public libraries and public librarians, is by librarian and MLS graduate student “codacorolla” and it can be found here:

http://www.metafilter.com/112698/California-Dreamin#4183210

I hope that someone reading this post chooses to read this comment and to factor the bigger situation that it evokes into their commitments as a citizen.

Another World is Possible: Open Folklore as Library-Scholarly Society Partnership

Preface

In the wake of the SOPA/PIPA protests, debate over the Research Works Act, the growing boycott of Elsevier by scholars in many fields, and more local discussions of the ways that various scholarly societies in my own fields of interest (anthropology, folklore studies) responded to the recent call by the [U.S.] White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for comment on public access to federally funded research, there is a great deal of additional attention being given to the changing nature of the scholarly communications (publishing) system and our hopes for its future.

One key issue centers on scholarly society publishing programs and how they can best be advanced in the present and into the future. At the 2011 American Anthropological Association meetings I spoke in two different contexts about these issues. I have shared here previously my remarks to the “Future of AAA Publishing” event (Jackson 2011b; for context, see Nichols and Schmid 2011 and Brown 2011). That presentation was on “Green Open Access Practices.”

I also spoke in the Digital Anthropologies: Projects and Projections panel organized by Mike and Kim Fortun and sponsored by the Society for Cultural Anthropology. In that event (which has been well documented by Daniel Lende (2011), my goal was to describe the Open Folklore project as both a broader community effort and as a specific digital platform, so as to illustrate a more general point about the fruitful possibilities that can come from direct partnerships between libraries and the library community and scholarly societies.

Libraries and scholarly societies now have a customer-to-business relationship and it is one that is growing ever more strained as commercial publishers become central partners in many scholarly society publishing programs. I evoked the alter-globalization motto Another World is Possible in my title because I wanted to suggest that the course that we are on is not the only one available to us. I believe, on the basis of a lot of time spent over the past five years with university librarians around the Midwestern U.S., that the research library community would much rather work with scholarly societies collaboratively in the shared real and digital spaces in which scholars and librarians (and students) already labor together rather than engage antagonistically in a neoliberal marketplace that has been shaped by the business practices pioneered by firms such as Elsevier, Springer and (yes) Wiley-Blackwell. Open Folklore is just one of many university-scholarly society partnerships that are exploring how to make this alternative framework real.

I should have just shared my presentation at the time of the AAA meetings, but I had hope that I could quickly work on it some more before getting it into wider circulation. Time has not been available for that work, but the current interest in these issues suggests that I might now have an interested audience and a second chance to share it below in the form that I presented it in Montreal.

My remarks below should not be taken as an official statement of the Open Folklore project team, the Indiana University Libraries, or the American Folklore Society. They reflect my own experience with these issues, although they of course also draw upon the rich experiences that I have had partnering with talented, committed colleagues working toward the goal of achieving Open Folklore’s aspirations. The paper below has been edited lightly just to recontextualize the language for a reader not at the original panel (meaning simple removal of language like, “so and so will probably speak later this morning about…”). I wish to take this opportunity to especially thank Mike and Kim Fortun for their remarkable service to the field as editors of Cultural Anthropology and as organizers of the Digital Anthropology event.

 

Another World is Possible: Open Folklore as Library-Scholarly Society Partnership

Jason Baird Jackson

Indiana University

Building upon shared values, facing common problems, and recognizing new opportunities, partnerships linking scholars, scholarly societies, and research libraries are a particularly hopeful development in the changing scholarly communication system. In my remarks, and as an example of current possibilities, I will quickly describe the Open Folklore project and situate it in the context of the serials crisis, the corporate enclosure of society journal programs, the erosion of the university press system, the development of open source software for scholarly communication, and the rise of the open access movement as a progressive response to these changes. For those wanting basic information on using Open Folklore associated resources in your research and teaching, I urge you to visit the Open Folklore Portal site online and to consult the instructional screencasts that my collaborators and I have shared there, and on YouTube.

By way of introduction, I can note that OF is a joint project of the American Folklore Society and the Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) Libraries. The two lead partners share as desire to make more reliable folklore scholarship—in many genres—discoverable and freely available online.  The Open Folklore team is doing this work but so are many colleagues in many places. Consulting the Open Folklore website, which I will come to in a moment, provides an eye-opening and encouraging sense of the OA work that a wide and deep network of folklorists have already been pursuing. Launched in 2010, the project has grown rapidly and made significant progress in its efforts to foster and encourage the development of an interconnected and interoperable, but also distributed and low-cost, system of open access projects and resources.

The Open Folklore project is more than its associated portal site. The project is pursuing educational projects aimed at educating scholars about open access issues. Importantly, it is also working with rights holders and publishing partners to encourage the pursuit of sustainable open access projects that comply with the basic technical standards already extant in the broader scholarly communications community. Read more

Behind the Research Works Act: Which U.S. Representatives are Receiving Cash from Reed Elsevier?

A bill (H.R. 3699) recently introduced in the U.S. Congress by  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) aims to undo open access policies at NIH and to prevent the establishment of open access policies in other federal agencies. The large publishers, as represented by The Association of American Publishers, has expressed its love for this innocuously named “Research Works Act.” Open access advocates understand it as another terrible assault on the public interest and as instrument designed to not only mislead those who do not understand how scholarly research and its communication work but to more intensively transfer public resources into private, corporate hands. I am not going to offer an analysis of the bill and its contexts here.

In this note, I just want to highlight University of California Biologist Michael Eisen’s posting about the Research Works Act. After contextualizing and characterizing H.R. 3699, he points his readers to political contribution data available via MapLight. Looking into which members of Congress have received contributions from the large, multinational scholarly publisher Read Elsevier, Eisen notes that the largest recipient of Elsevier cash is Rep. Maloney (co-sponsor of H.R. 3699). He notes:

Dutch publisher Elsevier and its senior executives made 31 contributions to members of the House in 2011, of which 12 went to Representative Maloney. This includes contributions from 11 senior executives or partners, only one of whom is a resident of her district.

Who else is on the Elsevier donation list? Any guesses? Yes, of course, Rep. Issa. (For the full list of Elsevier recipients, see here.)

Thank you to Professor Eisen for his work digging into this question.

Association of American Publishers Issues Horrible New Press Release in Support of a Horrible Bill: Where Do You Stand?

The Association of American Publishers has issued a awful new press release expressing enthusiasm for the Research Works Act, H.R. 3699 describing it as “significant legislation that will help reinforce America’s leadership in scholarly and scientific publishing in the public interest and in the critical peer-review system that safeguards the quality of such research.”

This is just the latest in an endless, dispiriting series of commercial publisher FUD campaigns and efforts at the further corporate enclosure of public resources. Advocates for the public interest in scholarship will resist H.R. 3699 and those with vested profits in the terrible status quo will support it. As with FRPAA, as always, a key question is where will the scholarly societies stand? Another is whether any more academic authors and editors will wake up and consider their role in the perpetuation of a system that is not only dysfunctional but also increasingly corrupt and immoral.

Money in politics? Corporate personhood? Policies that harm the poorest and help the most affluent? Academic authors–many of you are not connecting the dots that lead to your own practices.

Another question is where do those AAP members that are not-for-profit university presses (Chicago, California, Hawaii, North Carolina, Illinois (sigh), Texas, Tennessee) stand? Is the AAP speaking for you on this one? Don’t forget PRISM, y’all.

If robots write one of these biographies about you, will you purchase it?

Its crazy stuff like this that makes my senior colleagues so dubious about the internet in general and the changing publications landscape in particular.

I follow a twitter feed called Anthropology Books. I have never investigated who put it together and I do not know anything about it except that it has been useful to me. Using some kind of automated approach, the person or software behind Anthropology Books has been very usefully telling me (and about 1000 other folks) about “All new anthropology books posted on their publication day.” If a title seems interesting, there is a link that takes one to the book’s Amazon.com page.

Today, books with the names of famous and not-so-famous anthropologists (and folklorists) started showing up in the stream today. Alan Dundes was one that caught my eye first. He is very important figure in folklore studies and a very good candidate for a proper biography. Other names started showing up, including those of active colleagues who are basically my own age! They all had unfamiliar to me authors and publishers.  There was a flood of them today.

Looking at the books on Amazon.com, one is (sometimes) confronted with the information that “the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online.” I took this quote from the book on Dorothy Eggan. This 84 page book is selling for $47.00 and has been published by Lect Publishing. The book is credited to the editorship of Nuadha Trev. This editor shows up in Amazon.com as the person behind about 3000 books. Lect Publishing is only one of several names associated with the same basic project and Nuadha Trev is only one of several editors.

I know that others have been writing a lot recently about Amazon’s publishing toolkit. Also at issue here is the CC licensing of Wikipedia etc. content. The student publishing group that I work with here at Indiana–Trickster Press–makes great use of CreateSpace+Amazon for the publication of real peer-reviewed monographs and I am certainly appreciative of, and in debt to, the Creative Commons. These resources are not to blame for the creation of this kind of spam-like books, but I think that they represent a problem on several fronts. Perhaps it is enough to say that they give the Creative Commons, Wikipedia, Amazon, remix, and scholarly communications reform a bad name.

I would love to know who would purchase one of these books. Maybe some of them are traps designed to extract cash out of their living subjects. Here is an example. The publisher “Fedel” has just published a 108 page/$54 book on ethnomusicologist/linguist/anthropologist Aaron Fox. (He and I know people in common but are not yet acquainted.) Would Professor Fox feel like he had no choice but to purchase this book to see what it said about him? Would I feel similarly compelled if one were published on me? His is one of about 3000 titles edited by “Christabel Donatienne Ruby”, but does Christabel Donatienne Ruby actually exist?

I would also love to know about the technical infrastructure that automatically (?) assembles these books and feeds them into Amazon. Anybody understand this stuff?

Update:  Thankfully the people behind the wikipedia article for VDM Publishing seem to understand it pretty well. For background, see the entry here. See also the discussion on slashdot here.

Know Your Publisher: Annual Reports Edition #oaweek #oa

Have you read the annual reports for the largest commercial scholarly publishers? I have and I hope that you will too. These publishers generously make these key documents freely available on the open web. Here they are for some of the largest scholarly publishers, with a few notes of anthropological interest along the way.

Springer

As noted in its 2010 Annual Report, Springer established an agreement with the Anthropological Society of Paris.

Springer reported revenues of 866 million Euros for 2010. (about 1.2 billion dollars)

Annual Reports:  http://www.springer.com/about+springer/company+information/annual+report?SGWID=0-175705-0-0-0

Reed Elsevier

While it did not note any specific anthropology oriented activities in its 2010 annual report, Reed Elsevier does publish a number of scientifically oriented anthropology journals.

Reed Elsevier reported revenues of 7 billion 84 million Euros for 2010 (about 10 billion dollars)

Annual Reports: http://www.reedelsevier.com/investorcentre/reports%202007/Pages/Home.aspx

Informa (home to Taylor and Francis, which is home to Routledge)

While it did not note any specific anthropology oriented activities in its 2010 annual report, Informa does publish a variety of anthropology journals (Visual Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, Anthropological Forum, etc.) and many relevant books via its Routledge unit.

Informa reported revenues of 1 billion 226.5 million Euros for 2010 (about 1.7 billion dollars)

Annual Reports: http://www.informa.com/Investor-relations/Results–Reporting/

Sage

I cannot find an annual report for Sage Publishers. I think that this is because they are not (I think) a publicly traded company. Big news for Sage was partnering with the American Sociological Association to publish its journals beginning in 2010. Sage publishes such anthropology journals as Critique of Anthropology, Field Methods, and Anthropological Theory.

Company Information:  http://www.sagepublications.com/

Wiley

Wiley is a central partner for a number of anthropology societies, including the Australian Anthropological Society, the American Anthropological Association, the Royal Anthropological Institute. They did not specifically note any anthropological activity in their annuall report for 2010.

Wiley reported revenues of 1 billion 699 million Dollars for 2010.

Annual Report:  http://www.wiley.com/legacy/annual_reports/ar_2010/financial.html

Scholarly Communication and the Occupation of Everything

In the current context of global protest, economic failure and political transformation, anthropologists of many backgrounds are finding their voice and addressing the critical issues of the moment. For those with jobs that are being given the speedup treatment, it is hard to keep up with all of the thoughtful and provocative work being created and shared (especially online) right now. The evocative opening line of Jason Antrosio’s recent essay “Anthropology, Moral Optimism, and Capitalism: A Four-Field Manifesto” hints as the gestalt.

A spectre is stalking Capitalism–the spectre of Anthropology. All the Powers of Capitalism have bound themselves in a crusade against this spectre: the Florida Governor and the U.S. President, Dominique-Strauss Kahn and the IMF, Wall Street and Congress.

My thanks go to everyone who is tracking, discussing, fostering, and hosting these discussions. I hope other key nodes in the conversation will forgive me if I single out the Neuroanthropology bloggers Daniel Lende and Greg Downey for their vital work.

Open Access Week and Occupy Everything both continue and I still cannot muster time to read or say much. Rex Golub at Savage Minds is right when he observes that I always bury my lead. He might also note that I say everything too obliquely. So, for tonight, here is a restatement of my previous post in less opaque language.

Going forward from here, if your anthropological research tells you that large corporations are part of the problem, then please do not publish your discoveries or your proposals on this point in books and journals published by large corporations.

 

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