May 2019

By Brooke Bocast.

Volume 42, Issue 1

Editors’ Introduction: May 2019

For over two decades, Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR) has provided a forum for theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich scholarship. PoLAR has been both of and ahead of our time: our authors foreground emergent shifts in law and politics and capture alternative political visions taking shape in our interlocutors’ lives.

We write this opening editorial during a worldwide resurgence of rightist politics, new social movements, and radical shifts in law and governance. These changes raise scholarly, political, and ethical questions that will continue to define anthropology for decades to come. PoLAR’s articles and online content are central to understanding this changing terrain and defining intellectual responses within it. As we shape the next phase of political and legal anthropology, we are committed to developing the journal’s international scope and collaborative spirit.

We are excited to announce our new editorial board, a group of thinkers that exemplifies the commitments we see as central to this vision.1

These scholars will guide our project of crafting an inclusive journal that responds to the urgent call for new perspectives in theorizing the realms of politics and law. The board will help us invigorate the journal’s longstanding commitment to knowledge production that responds to the changing conditions in which anthropologists work. Together we hope to rise to the challenges of academic labor in neoliberal and precarious times. We will build even stronger bridges across scholarly conversations worldwide, contribute more robustly to interdisciplinary scholarly fields, including critical race, ethnic and indigenous studies, and broaden the range of our contributors and reviewers. Along with our online team, led by Jennifer Curtis, we will also continue to expand the diverse open access forums and genres through which we develop timely analyses of urgent issues. We believe this ethos of intentional intellectual openness makes the journal and discipline stronger, more exciting, and relevant.

We take on this editorship at a time of great concern about publishing practices and gatekeeping in our discipline and the academy at large. We see the journal as a key mentoring institution and as a space for honest conversation about the power dynamics of scholarly knowledge production. Editing begins with taking people’s writing and ideas seriously. It is an intellectual and ethical labor of care. Writing and sharing our work with editors, colleagues, and interlocutors can be both the most joyful and difficult–even painful–thing we do as scholars. It is at once energizing and creative, and the site in which we experience our institutional subjectification in the most intimate and embodied of ways. We have also seen that the journal format may exacerbate obstacles to writing and creative analysis–whether these are dominant citational logics; the anxiety of voice, authority, and authenticity; or elitism. We hope to grapple seriously with these challenges in our editorial practice.

Together we invite our readers and our authors to think with us about the experience and pedagogy of effective and affective editing. We invite you as authors and readers to reflect with us on how we can create relationships of trust and connectivity that exceed the one‐off experience of publishing. We hope our journal format can create opportunities to converse about how we detoxify the experience of writing, graduate training, and professionalization through our scholarly praxis. Collaboration, forms of justice in writing, and generosity in reviewing are a few steps in the long journey to liberate publishing from the logics of capital, and its competitive and contrastive logics. This conversation begins with recognizing that the capture of our creativity is all the more fraught for our colleagues who are making lives and careers without the certainty of tenure or long‐term contracts. Together as editors, authors, and educators we hope we can nurture and sustain creative scholarly engagement, even in the shadow of precarity.

Our work builds on the strong foundation that Heath Cabot and William Garriott established during their editorship. It is with tremendous debt and thanks to them that we take the reins. We are grateful to former book review editor Matthew Wolf‐Meyer, our former managing editor, Stefania de Petris, and our copyeditor Lila Stromer. We continue Heath and Will’s collaborative approach to the journal, working collectively with our team to develop themes and content across our print and online platforms. This terrific team includes Jennifer Curtis, the Associate Editor for PoLAR online content, Leo Coleman, our new book review editor, Stephanie Custer, our new managing editor, Randi Irwin, the communications liaison for the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology (APLA), and Agnes Sohn, our new social media coordinator. Thanks also go to the APLA board for their longstanding commitment to the journal and their faith in us.

We hope you find the articles in this issue engaging, informative, and impassioned examples of what political and legal anthropology has to offer. We look forward to future conversations.

Jessica Greenberg and Jessica Winegar


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