Commentary: Keywords as a literacy practice in the history of anthropological theory



Word clouds generated from the keywords and titles of articles published in American Ethnologist in the years 1982, 1992, 2002, and 2012 offer a fascinating, though partial, history of anthropological theory over the past several decades. Keyword selection also, I argue, constitutes a type of literacy practice that has been underanalyzed. In this commentary, I explore some of the ways in which the article keyword selection process is imbued with social, intellectual, political, and economic dimensions. I compare the most frequently appearing words in titles versus keywords for each of the above four years and trace the progression of two clusters of keywords: one related to language, the other related to the triumvirate of race, class, and gender.