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Department of Social Anthropology


Department’s in-house journal opens up conversations about definition of ‘good’ anthropology



‘Shuar political assembly in Makuma (Ecuadorian Amazonia, 2012), in preparation for a protest against extractivist policies.’ Photo by Natalia Buitron.


The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology (CJA) (formerly ‘Cambridge Anthropology’) is a vital part of the Department’s research environment.


This in-house publication has grown and thrived since its re-launch as an international peer-reviewed journal in 2012, and its incorporation into Berghahn Journals’ ground-breaking Open Anthro initiative, which includes major titles like ‘Social Anthropology’ and ‘Social Analysis’ in its portfolio. Launched in 2020 to promote genuinely equitable and sustainable models of open access, Open Anthro is now supported by 303 institutions worldwide – among them Cambridge, which recently became one of 55 institutional subscribers to the full collection.


Currently managed by co-editors Natalia Buitron and Liana Chua, reviews editor Timothy Cooper, and editorial assistant Harry Eagles, CJA has developed a reputation for publishing topical, cutting-edge research that combines ethnographic rigour with conceptual and analytical originality. It is best known for its special issues, which are selected through twice-yearly competitions. In recent years, these have included anthropological explorations of witnessing, revolution, grace, public service, suspension, trust, data politics and fakes. Standalone research articles are still very much encouraged!


One of our main goals is to open up conversations about what ‘good’ anthropology is and who/what gets to be part of it. We have been working regularly with a wonderfully supportive international editorial board, who have added great intellectual diversity to our activities and are helping raise the journal's profile beyond the Anglophone mainstream.


Our reviews section is becoming an exciting space for exploring different modes of anthropological exchange and conversation. In 2023, we introduced two new review features that offer alternative opportunities for anthropological engagement and dialogue. ‘Re-reviewed’ examines out-of-print books published over 20 years ago and/or books written in languages other than English, linking them to contemporary disciplinary conversations. ‘Widening the Frame’ goes beyond books to review films, exhibitions, podcasts, conferences, and other spaces of anthropological knowledge-making and exchange. These features have garnered lots of interest and generated some fascinating responses, such as Laura Haapio-Kirk's illustrated review of Nora Wuttke's ‘Hospital Echoes’ installation (SOAS, 2023).


Looking ahead, we aim to continue publishing excellent anthropological research while expanding conversations about what anthropology is and could be. We are excited about collaborating with the Department's podcast, Camthropod, and workshopping guidelines for evaluating multimodal ethnographic outputs (e.g., visual essays, creative writing, sonic ethnography) in conversation with anthropologists, practitioners and journal editors. We are committed to creating a supportive, constructive and transparent editorial space, so we plan to run targeted workshops on publishing in journals for early career researchers in the coming years.


The editorial team would be delighted to hear from alumni who would like to learn more about and/or support CJA’s activities – please don't hesitate to email us


- Liana Chua, Cambridge Journal of Anthropology co-editor