Many excellent graduate students with whom I have the honor of working receive only modest or no assistantship or fellowship aid. Historically, many have supported themselves in part during graduate school with government-backed student loans. This has always been a source of anxiety for me, but matters grew worse for U.S. students earlier this year when the major federal loan program changed its structure so that graduate students receiving such loans must begin paying them back immediately rather than after graduation. For students studying in the world in which I work, such a scenario is hardly possible. Even students with assistantships are just above the poverty line.
Meanwhile, more and more excellent scholarly resources ideal for the training of these students are being produced. But they are on the market at a price that no starving graduate student can afford and at which most professors would feel guilty assigning them. This reoccurring thought returned to me when I noted the publication of a very impressive looking ethnobiology textbook. It was also on my mind when I spoke last week to an editor of what promises to be the absolutely essential handbook for folklore studies. That volume will be rich beyond measure, but at 680 pages and 29 cents per page how will any of us afford to purchase it? If my library can afford it, I plan to sit and read it cover to cover in the stacks. Excellent scholars are producing excellent work, but the business model fails us, or at least our students.
A glimmer of hope came during the #AFS11 meetings. A group of folklorists have begun discussions aimed at creating an free and open access textbook for undergraduate folklore studies. One possible publication platform being discussed is connexions centered at Rice University. Hopefully folklore studies can become a leading field in the cultivation of Open Educational Resources. I cannot see how we can continue down the path that we are heading.
Indian Country Today has just published an awesome graphic feature by Roy Boney on the history of Cherokee literacy from the time of Sequoyah to the time of unicode. I do not need to go on and on and on about it. Its really great and you need to check it out.
My review of Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights by former NEA Chairman (and AFS President) Bill Ivey was recently published in JFRR (Journal of Folklore Research Reviews). JFRR is an open access fork of the established toll access folklore journal Journal of Folklore Research. JFRR publishes reviews of diverse media in folklore studies and circulates the reviews via email. They are also available in search-able form online at
My review can be found online here:
I am very pleased to note the publication of the exhibition catalog Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains. This book has been published by the Brooklyn Museum in cooperation with the University of Washington Press on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name that has been organized by the Brooklyn Museum and that will travel to the Autry National Center for the American West in LA and the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. It is a beautiful book on a topic that long been of scholarly and general interest. The project has been organized by and the catalog edited by Nancy B. Rosoff and Suzan Zeller of the Brooklyn Museum. I am taking special notice of the book here because it includes contributions from three of my close friends and collaborators. Daniel C. Swan and Michael P. Jordan (Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History) have published a chapter titled “Tipis and the Warrior Tradition,” which focused on their collaborative work with Kiowa people and organizations and Christina E. Burke (Philbrook Museum) has published a chapter on “Growing Up on the Plains,” which explores child raising and associated material culture among the Native peoples of the Plains in the context of the tipi as vernacular architecture.
Congratulations to IU Doctoral Student Kellie Hogue on the publication of her new article: “A Myth of Kinship? Reinterpreting Lakota Conceptualization of Kin Relationships vis-à-vis 19th and 20th Century Historical Narratives.” in the Journal de la Société des Américanistes find an abstract and citation information here:
Anthropologists have reason to cheer with news from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research that the biannual symposium proceedings published by the Foundation as an extension of the journal Current Anthropology will now be made available in open access form. Wenner-Gren Foundation President Leslie Aiello describes the move and the rationale behind it in a [toll wall protected] contribution to the latest issue of Current Anthropology [volume 51, page 727, December 2010] See: DOI: 10.1086/657920.
The two supplements published in 2010 are freely available via the journal’s page at the University of Chicago Press. Formatted like the journal, these are book-sized edited collections organized thematically. Discussing the history of the Foundation’s Symposium efforts, Aiello writes:
The first Wenner-Gren Symposium was in 1952, and since then, more than 170 symposia and workshops have been sponsored by the foundation. Many of these have resulted in landmark edited volumes that have made significant contributions to the development of our field (see
). In today’s electronic age, the foundation wants to ensure that its symposia continue to have a significant impact and reach the broadest possible international audience. We believe that open-access publication in Current Anthropology is the best way to achieve this goal.
This is wonderful news and a real advancement. One more reason to say thank you to Wenner-Gren for its dedication to the discipline of anthropology. Wenner-Gren joins other scholarly foundations working to advance the cause of a more just, rational, and effective system of scholarly communication.
Note: While there is not a press-release on the Foundation website regarding this shift, there is a discussion of the move to publishing the symposium in connection with the journal (rather than as edited books). This announcement also discusses several recent symposium volumes.
Ethnobotany Research and Applications is an important gold open access journal in the field of ethnobotany. It is now in the midst of publishing its 8th volume. I am pleased to note that my friend and collaborator Daniel C. Swan has just published a paper in this journal. “The North American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea Willd Pers.) – Sacred Food of the Osage People” draws upon his long-term research with Osage people in present-day Oklahoma and grows out of his studies of both Osage cultural performance and expressive culture and his interest in plant use in Native North America. The paper also reflects Dan’s commitment to open access publishing. It has been a good month for him in this connection, as earlier this month another paper of his appeared in Museum Anthropology Review, this one on the decorated boxes made and used by members of the Native American Church.
Congratulations Dan! Congratulations too to all those countless folks who would like to read such papers but who usually cannot afford to access them.
The Connexions project headquartered at Rice University is great. I tried it out as a book publishing platform last year by editing into existence a book composed of Frank G. Speck’s essays on Oklahoma and Indian Territories originally published in The Southern Workman. Speck was a anthropologist and folklorist who visited the twin territories just before statehood. The essays are really interesting for a lot of reasons that I try to describe in my introduction to the volume. Today I am just noting that Connexions has added EPUB format to the range of ways that you can freely read and use (and remix) Connexions content. This means that the little Speck book can be read using a e-reader on fancy phones and other mobile devices. Connexions also serves up content in free PDF files and free dynamic webpages. Any work can be purchased as a print on demand book too. If you do not know about Connexions, you really should check it out.
The Göttingen Interdisciplinary Research Group on Cultural Property is happy to announce the publication of an edited volume on the constitution of cultural property:
Regina Bendix, Kilian Bizer, Stefan Groth (Hg.)
Die Konstituierung von Cultural Property: Forschungsperspektiven.
Göttinger Studien zu Cultural Property, Band 1. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen 2010, 320 Seiten, Softcover, 30,00 EUR
Kann Eigentum an Kultur sinnvoll sein? Das Interesse, Cultural Property dem Markt zuzuführen oder dies zu verhindern und hierdurch kollektiven oder individuellen, ideologischen oder ökonomischen Gewinn zu schaffen, gestaltet sich unter den stark divergierenden Bedingungen, die Akteure in einer postkolonialen, spätmodernen Welt vorfinden.
Die interdisziplinäre DFG-Forschergruppe zur Konstituierung von Cultural Property beleuchtet diese seit einigen Jahren in der Öffentlichkeit mit wachsender Brisanz verhandelte Frage. Die Forschergruppe fragt nach der Konstituierung von Cultural Property im Spannungsfeld von kulturellen, wirtschaftlichen, juristischen und hiermit auch gesellschaftspolitischen Diskursen. Dies bedingt auch die in dieser fokussierten Form neue Zusammenarbeit von Fachwissenschaftler/innen aus Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaften sowie Rechts- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften. Die Unterschiedlichkeit des disziplinären Zugriffs auf einen Forschungsbereich zeigt sich in den in diesem Band vermittelten ersten Ergebnissen aus der laufenden Forschung genauso deutlich wie die Notwendigkeit, disziplinäre Standpunkte in gemeinsamer Arbeit zusammenzuführen, um den Konstituierungsprozess von Cultural Property zu verstehen.
Der erste Teil versammelt Beiträge, die den Zusammenhang zwischen Heritage Praxen und der Formierung von Interessen an Cultural Property anhand von Fallstudien aus Indonesien, Kambodscha und Deutschland beleuchten. Im zweiten Teil werden existierende Parameter des Schutzes von Cultural Property aus der Sicht von Völkerrecht, Verfüungsrecht und visueller Anthropologie untersucht. Der dritte Teil widmet sich Erkenntnissen aus internationalen Verhandlungsprozessen und ein vierter Abschnitt zeigt unterschiedliche Forschungsperspektiven auf Cultural Property.
Der Band kann auf den Seiten des Göttinger Universitätsverlages bestellt werden und ist zudem unter einer Creative-Commons-Lizenz als PDF verfügbar:
Congratulations to the contributors to, and editors of, the new issue of Museum Anthropology, which has just appeared online in Wiley Online Library. The issue focuses specifically on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA).