Will biological anthropologists start publishing in American Anthropologist again?

1 minute read

Adam Van Arsdale and Mary Shenk put out a call in American Anthropologist for more biological anthropologists to submit their work to American Anthropologist: “Biological and Evolutionary Perspectives in American Anthropologist: An Editorial Provocation”.

As sections of AAA, the Biological Anthropology section and the Evolutionary Anthropology section have seen declining membership over the past decade, collectively representing fewer than six hundred active members. This decline can be seen within the pages of American Anthropologist as well. Ironically, the past two biological anthropology year‐in‐review pieces published in the journal (Gokcumen 2018; Nelson 2017) cite a total of just three articles published in American Anthropologist, two of which are themselves reflections of the kind of mixture of introspection and identity crisis that have come to dominate many of the conversations around biological anthropology's place within anthropology since the time of Boas: a copy of Alan Goodman's AAA presidential address, “Bringing Culture into Human Biology and Biology Back into Anthropology” (2013), and Wiley and Cullin's “What Do Anthropologists Mean When They Use the Term Biocultural?” (2016).

During the 1990s, American Anthropologist published some of the most important papers on modern human origins. I’m proud of my 2003 article in the journal that reviewed this history, which was an important contribution to my early career record. It was especially neat to have this article included in the “virtual issue” last fall, “Genetics, Biology, and Race: Understanding Human Difference”.

With that kind of innovative publishing, the journal has a chance of recovering some of the attention of biological anthropologists. It’s a pity that the American Anthropological Association has not taken the chance to move this journal to an open access policy, but I can’t see it being very long before that change happens.