Statement from the new editors of the journal Social Anthropology
It is with great enthusiasm that we undertake our term as editors of the journal Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale. We are committed to this journal’s foundational goal of publishing high quality anthropological work grounded in ethnography and informed by a wide array of cutting-edge theoretical perspectives. We also approach Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale as providing a platform for debating pressing issues such as those of knowledge politics and the issues of access to knowledge that affect both the academic community of anthropologists and the wider public. As we are both affiliated with institutions in the European Union’s borderlands in Russia and Finland, and one of us is connected through research to Southern Europe, our vision of this flagship publication venue of European Association of Social Anthropologists is intertwined with a wider anthropological project of questioning and destabilising ‘Europe’ as a category — starting with the question of what exactly is ‘European’ about European anthropology. Our aim in doing so is to encourage anthropological reflection on multiple and situated meanings of ‘Europe’, expand the journal’s global reach and scope, and provide a space where different European voices can be heard and put into dialogue with one another.
The European continent is home to a diversity of anthropological schools and traditions which too often have existed in isolation from one another. There are a number of reasons for this, not least the lack of institutions and common spaces (physical and virtual) that can create bridges between different conceptual approaches and languages. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale has consistently provided one such forum, but we believe there is still work to be done. During our term, we want to push forward this dialogue by encouraging publications of scholars from so far under-represented regions such as those of southern and eastern Europe, by supporting experimental writing genres that bridge research and art, by strengthening the debate section of the journal and by inviting colleagues in other parts of the world to join our International Editorial Advisory Board. We hope all this will result in a distinct and fresh vantage point from which to develop this journal further.
There are research concerns that seem particularly visible from the edges of Europe which nonetheless resonate widely across European anthropological locations. These include new modes of sovereignty as well as multiple historical legacies of the Cold War and modern empires, north/south and east/west divides that permeate new forms of ‘cold’, ‘hot’ and ‘hybrid’ warfare as well as the ways in which borders are created, redrawn and policed. These processes comprise new figurations of politics and religiosity; they are encompassed by global economy and ecology that generate precarity across all these different fields. Anthropological understanding of these complex problems implies crossing all kinds of borders and boundaries and focusing on connections outside our comfort zones. What is urgently needed is an exploration of the rising far-right, conservative and populist ideological moods, and of those spaces where movements of protest and political resistance are visible as well as those where they are not. Equally important are ecological issues, including the examination of micro-ethnographies of climate and research into deep time which throws into sharp relief practices such as resource extraction and waste disposal. Yet above all this our aim is not so much anticipate and elicit specific research themes as to open the floor and welcome the submission of high-quality manuscripts of authors of diverse backgrounds as well as visions of what is cutting-edge and where anthropology is going. Our intent is to consolidate Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale not only as the key forum for the debate of current anthropology, but also as a space where different voices can be heard and new kinds of questions raised.
Nikolaï Ssorin Chaikov and Laia Soto Bermant