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On Museum Anthropology Review

I am very happy to report that the final material for Museum Anthropology Review 5(1-2) was published today, bringing the 2011 volume/issues to a close.

This was the first time that an issue was published with an initial bundle of content and then added to as the year progressed. This represents a kind of transitional strategy bridging older journal publishing norms, in which an issue is prepared and then released into the world as a fully prepared bundle, and the newer pattern in which content is prepared and released into the world as soon as it is ready, item by item. The older pattern has certain hallmarks that many are still fond of, including sequentially paginated pages (in paper-like PDF format) and a table of contents in which articles appear at the top and reviews appear at the bottom. For authors, this format makes for objects that look familiar (to custom-minded observers) on such things as C.V. and annual reports. The cost, of course, is delay in publication, as works pile up in preparation for being bundled up as issues.

The newer approaches leverages the advantages of digital publication platforms and get information in circulation as quickly as possible, something that helps the research community in many ways.

MAR is moving from the older to the newer framework and will probably use the approach adopted for volume 5 again at least for volume 6 next year. This means that volume 6(1) will appear as soon as possible and will initially contain a group of materials from the “top” of the table of contents. Additional reviews will be added to the issue’s table of contents up until the point that additional articles or other content from the top of the table of contents are ready. At that point the effort will switch over to issue 6(2).

Publishing a combined “1-2” issue for 2011 was a valuable step for me personally–beyond these considerations. It allowed me a bit more time this summer to work on other projects, something that I have sorely needed to do. While I had the help of a wonderful graduate student/editorial assistant through the middle of 2010, last academic year (2010-2011) was the first in which I handled the day to day editorial tasks on my own. This was fun and informative, of course, but there is only so much time in the day and it was nice to be able to focus this past summer on other obligations. The combined issue helped make that possible.

From a substantive point of view, 5(1-2) is full of interesting stuff and I am very thankful to the many authors, peer-reviewers, librarians, editorial board members, publishers, and other friends of MAR who have made it possible.

At 154 pages volume 5 is only #4 of 5 in terms of page length, but with 42 discrete contributions it covers a lot of interesting territory, from Captain Cook to the alternative globalization movement; from the history of shoes to the material realities of the current economic crisis. As has been true throughout the MAR experiment, contributions cover a wide diversity of world regions and theoretical, topical, and disciplinary concerns. I am especially proud of the ways that the journal continues to showcase work by the most distinguished senior scholars–generous colleagues such as Richard Bauman, Keith Hart, Marsha MacDowell, Edward T. Linenthal, and Aldona Jonaitis–alongside leading younger scholars, including folks like Karin Zitzewitz, Beth A. Buggenhagen, Elizabeth Hutchinson and so many others. I am also happy that the journal brings together, in what I think is a healthy way, the twinned and entwined concerns that are its focus—museum studies and material culture studies. Rooted in anthropology and folklore studies, MAR has been an effective meeting ground for scholars working in a great many fields. Alongside its folklorists and anthropologists, 5(1-2) features scholars representing the fields of comparative literature, history, art history, fashion studies, architecture, design, communications studies, and religious studies. This diversity is a great strength.

Also speaking to the journal’s diversity aspirations, 5(1-2) was the second issue to feature content in a language other than English. MAR 4(1) had included both French and English versions of Christian Bromberger’s commentrary on the Musée du Quai Branly and now, with 5(1-2) MAR has published a book review concurrently in Portuguese and English. Thanks go to author Lori Hall-Araujo and translator Roberta Crelier for the work on Lori’s review of Mestre Vitalino e artistas pernambucanos.

In conclusion, I wish to especially thank the authors of the issue’s peer-reviewed articles. Richard Bauman’s “Better than any monument”: Envisioning Museums of the Spoken Word is a great contribution to the history of the field, exploring the intersections of linguistic anthropology and museum anthropology. The paper continues his vital research work on the social history of early recording technologies and their intellectual and cultural ramifications. Thanks go to Carrie Hertz’ for her Costuming Potential: Accommodating Unworn Clothes. The article is a rich contribution to contemporary material culture studies, particularly relating to questions of consumption, circulation, reuse, and disposal.

The submission mailbox is always open. Please consider Museum Anthropology Review as a robust not-for-profit, gold open access publishing option for your work in museum and material culture studies.

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