Note from the editor



I write this note to congratulate prize-winning AE authors, to introduce readers to new features in this journal, and to provide an update on expected changes in the larger AAA publishing program.

Several AE authors received prizes for their articles in 2013. John Borneman won the Society for Psychological Anthropology's Boyer Prize for his 2011 article, “Daydreaming, Intimacy, and the Intersubjective Third in Fieldwork Encounters in Syria.” Shaylih Muehlmann received the Junior Scholar Prize from the Anthropology and Environment Section of the American Anthropological Association for her 2012 article, “Rhizomes and Other Uncountables: The Malaise of Enumeration in Mexico's Colorado River Delta.” Rheana Parreñas was awarded the 2013 General Anthropology Division Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship for her 2012 article, “Producing Affect: Transnational Volunteerism in a Malaysian Orangutan Rehabilitation Center.” The runner-up for that same prize was Duana Fullwiley, for her 2010 article, “Revaluating Genetic Causation: Biology, Economy, and Kinship in Dakar, Senegal.” Congratulations to these AE authors on this well-deserved recognition!

Other good news includes robust revenues, article downloads, and manuscript submission numbers; rising impact factor; high website traffic; rapidly expanding social-media engagement; and substantial involvement by international readers, subscribers, authors, and editorial board members. Half the manuscripts accepted for publication between July 1, 2011, and January 1, 2014, were from countries other than the United States.1

This collective endeavor is only possible thanks to AE's talented authors, reviewers, editorial board members, and staff as well as the generous support of the AES board of directors and the AAA's publications staff. As one of the AAA's two most profitable journals (the other is American Anthropologist), AE is in a strong financial position as we look ahead to changes in the overall AAA publication program.

Transitions in AAA publishing program

The AAA Executive Board accepted the recommendation of the Committee for the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing (CFPEP) to shift all member copies of the journal titles covered in the current Wiley-Blackwell agreement to an all-digital format in 2016.2 Print subscriptions will be available at cost to AAA section members. The AAA is working with Wiley-Blackwell to enhance AnthroSource so it supports full-text search, allows HTML text to be read easily on tablets and smart phones, and enables more multimedia options. All AAA sections that sponsor journals have been asked to submit five-year publishing “sustainability” plans to the CFPEP's Publishing Oversight Working Group by July 2014. In addition, the AAA has hired a scholarly publishing consultancy to propose changes to the internal allocation of the Wiley-Blackwell royalty. The AAA has requested two alternatives for cost and/or royalty sharing, and AAA section leaders have been invited to talk with the consultant about the allocation formula. Open access can be a part of a section's five-year plan, AAA Publishing Director Oona Schmid states, “as long as the plan is also clear about costs and sustainability” and could start in 2018 or later.3

CFPEP has provided ample lead time for the digital transition that all AAA journals will undergo, and the American Ethnological Society welcomes the opportunity to work with other AAA sections as all of us reflect together on the next phases of our publishing program.

New AE virtual issues and author interviews

AE has launched a series of virtual issues, which are thematic collections of previously published articles that are made available at no charge in Wiley Online Library for a one- to two-month period. Our first virtual issue, “In/Visibility: Projects, Media, Politics, 2012–2013,” was published in February 20144 and was guest edited by Samuel Martínez, program chair of the 2014 AES spring conference in Boston on the same theme. The “In/Visibility” virtual issue includes articles by Julie Soleil Archambault, Aisha Bello-De Jesus, Heath Cabot, Francisco Ferrándiz, Wenzel Geissler, Zeynep Devrim Gürsel, Angie Heo, Suncem Kocer, Micaela di Leonardo, Lilith Mahmud, Shaylih Muehlmann, Keith M. Murphy, Peter Redfield, Madeleine Reeves, Robert Samet, Shalini Shankar, and Michal Kravel-Tovi. These authors, as Martínez puts it in his introduction, explore “visibilization and concealment, and their ambiguous thresholds, as prompts to new questions in the domains of politics, the economy, religion, media, social inequality, citizenship, security, human rights, and humanitarianism…. Those emergent questions insist that visibility and invisibility are active processes, not merely empirical states or static qualities of appearance or nonappearance.” Future virtual issues are likely to address topics such as the anthropology of corporations, ontology, digital media, and music.

Now available on the journal's website ( are interviews conducted by editorial interns Deniz Daser and Meghana Joshi with AE authors Heath Cabot, Didier Fassin, Micaela di Leonardo, and Hugh Raffles. In these conversations, authors reflect on what inspired or motivated their particular research projects as well as on wider theoretical shifts and debates in the discipline. They explore dilemmas of ethics, theory, method, activism, and the challenges of writing for varying audiences. More interviews will follow!

Editor's term extended to July 2015

It is my pleasure to report that my term as editor of American Ethnologist has been extended by a year to July 1, 2015. Searches for new editors begin about eighteen months in advance of the actual transition, and it is likely that a new AE editor will be identified during the spring of 2014. I will continue to accept manuscript submissions until mid-2015, and I will be responsible for the content of all four AE issues in 2015. As is customary, the new editor will honor manuscript decisions made by the current editor.

In this issue

The articles in this issue are diverse in scope, but they also overlap thematically in their attention to “movement” in its varied senses (from the political to the physical, by people, produce, or insects) and to materialities (infrastructures, houses, food, automobiles). Catherine Lutz takes aim at the “U.S. car colossus,” examining how automobiles shape as well as reflect social and economic inequality on a massive scale. Samuel Byrd provides a close-up view of U.S. inequalities from the vantage point of a particular community in his study of ambivalent, informal political expression among Latino immigrant musicians in Charlotte, North Carolina. African immigrants in Europe and their ties to one another and to nonmigrant kin are the focus of Maria Abranches's and Jennifer Cole's articles. Abranches analyzes remittances and gift relations involving migrants from Guinea-Bissau to Portugal, while Cole explores how Malagasy marriage migrants in France stay connected with and maintain distance from one another and family in Africa. A different kind of familial transformation attracts Judith Bovensiepen's attention in her study of political and ontological shifts entailed in the reconstruction of ancestral origin houses in Timor-Leste since the end of the Indonesian occupation in 1999. Sequelae of political violence figure in the articles by Nicholas Copeland and Alex Fattal as well. Copeland reinterprets Mayan political agency since the 1996 peace accords that ended decades of counterinsurgency war, as he examines political affect and experiences of heterogeneous sovereignties among Mayan farmers in northwest Guatemala. Fattal analyzes the political work of videos, the limits of openness on YouTube, and reconfigured publics in the context of Colombia's deadly conflicts between the military and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Political dimensions of infrastructure are central to Antina von Schnitzler's and Julie Chu's articles. Through analysis of a water-rights case brought by Soweto residents against the City of Johannesburg, South Africa, von Schnitzler explores the growing centrality of a “moral–legal language of human dignity” in political struggles over the entitlements of citizenship. Chu reveals how infrastructures shape surprising political sensibilities, as she tracks the “mundane and material effects of disrepair in citizen–state struggles” in China. Ann Kelly and Javier Lezaun extend the infrastructure theme into multispecies entanglements as they examine a mosquito control program and city politics in postcolonial Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

These articles offer innovative contributions to contemporary theorizing of new materialities, citizenship, media, human rights, law, multispecies ethnography, informal politics, violence, migration, and more.


  1. 1

    They include Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Israel, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

  2. 2

    This paragraph is a close paraphrase of AAA Director of Publishing Oona Schmid's e-mail communications to AAA journal editors and section leaders in late 2013 and early 2014.

  3. 3

    To help in considering this possibility, Schmid recommends viewing a January 2014 webinar about various publishing alternatives: Hugh Jarvis moderated the webinar, and Amy Harper, Brian Hole, Matthew Gold, and Christ Stein made presentations. See also Weiss 2014 and other discussion of the journal Cultural Anthropology's 2014 transition to open access:

  4. 4