By Caroline Parker, Deniz Yonucu, and Jennifer Curtis
As the incoming Directions Editors, Caroline Parker and Deniz Yonucu, along with PoLAR Online Editor, Jennifer Curtis, we are excited to introduce this Spring edition’s Directions section: “‘Thinking With’ When Peer Reviewing.” Directions provides a critical forum for honest and open reflection among scholars about the issues that matter most to us in anthropology. As scholars, we are acutely aware that many of the problems that occupy our hearts and minds today—power, precarity, patronage, and various forms of “isms”—require forms of intentionally organized dialogue beyond the stand-alone article. To this end, Directions provides a dedicated space to discuss anthropology’s new directions in our ever-changing capitalist present haunted by legacies of colonialism and historical injustices.
Together with PoLAR’s new Editors, Georgina Ramsay and Sindiso Mnisi Weeks, we conceive Directions as a forum for bringing together anthropologists from diverse universities, regions, and career-stages into an organized and open dialogue. For each issue, we invite contributors to share their thoughts with us about a specific question or topic, with suggestions for themes taken from PoLAR readers (so reach out!) and decided by the Editorial Collective. The task for our Directions contributors is not to present “ground-breaking” findings or “theoretically-novel” analyses. Instead, Directions’ goal is to turn the anthropological gaze inwards: To ask how ways of thinking and doing derived from carefully crafted ethnographies elsewhere might be brought to bear on our home-turf. How can our research and attempts to turn the anthropological gaze inwards allow us to change the direction of political and legal anthropology in the academy and beyond? How can our analyses help us to understand our own discipline and profession, our places within it, our responsibilities and our duties, but also our vulnerabilities and complicities?
So it is only fitting that after a long hiatus the revived Directions section be devoted this time to peer review, the most powerful gate-keeping process for anthropological knowledge production. In collaboration with PoLAR Online, here we feature selections from PoLAR Online’s forthcoming Emergent Conversation on peer review, edited by Čarna Brković and Jennifer Curtis. Peer review is a critical form of scholarly labor and production, that also, lamentably, reproduces existing hierarchies and exclusions that undermine the discipline’s insights. Yet peer review processes are also a rare area where we as editors and scholars actually have the power to establish new norms for dialogue and practice in pursuit of epistemic justice. At a time when anthropologists are beginning to confront the ways in which both shrinking opportunities and abusive conventions and behaviors are tolerated and perpetuated within our profession, it is important to take action in the domains where we are able to. Bringing together the perspectives of junior and senior academics, publishers, and journal editors, these pieces delve behind the pay-walls and the publications to talk about the process of peer review itself: Who does it serve, who does it hurt, what does all this tell us about anthropology—and what can we do about it?
The inaugural Directions Print section features four articles from PoLAR Online Emergent Conversation 16 on Peer Review as Intellectual Accompaniment. The inaugural Directions Digital section features a video roundtable discussion, with Directions Co-Editor Deniz Yonucu in conversation with Čarna Brković, Dada Dacot, Madeleine Reeves and Saida Hodžić.
“Thinking With” When Peer Reviewing: Introduction to the PoLAR Online Emergent Conversation on Peer Review