Archive | From the editors

An update on our perspective on Open Access

Haidy Geismar, UCL

In October last year (2013) I posted a draft of an editorial for the Journal of Material Culture which rehearsed some of the options we (the editorial board led by myself and Susanne Kuchler, with guidance from Danny Miller) have been working through regarding taking the journal towards Open Access. The take home message for that piece was that we felt strongly that the current recommendations for open access “compliance” in the United Kingdom were inadequate and inappropriate in terms of their effect upon ideas not just of scholarship, but on scholarly community. The prevailing models in the UK for Open Access, known as Green and Gold, both depend on individuals to decide whether or not their individual articles should be made open access.…

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More commentary on iconoclasm in Papua New Guinea

After a legal case to have the speaker of the PNG Parliment’s order to destroy several of the building’s carvings recognized as illegal failed, a group of academics has published a discussion paper entitled “Purging Parliament: A New christian Parliament in Papua New Guinea“.

The piece debates whether or not it is appropriate to understand the iconoclasm of the Speaker of the house in religious terms, or whether or not the event “signals deeper social transformations underway”.

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Chipping into the debate on Open Access

Haidy Geismar, UCL Anthropology

As the incoming co-editor of the Journal of Material Culture, as well as one of the editors here at Material World Blog, I have been involved in many conversations regarding the politics, economics, and materiality of Open Access.

It is clear that there is great concern about open access in many arena from policy (see for instance, the UK’s Finch Report  “Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications”), within academia (see the discussion on Open Access in the new online only journal, Hau and this interview with Tim Ingold) and in the world of cyber-(h)activism (a good summary of the Aaron Schwartz case is actually presented on JSTOR’s website).

It’s hard to find a place in which all the issues in fact coalesce: some people are concerned about democratizing accessibility to research (particularly across national borders, and to people without the support of privileged universities).…

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e-waste

The computer that you have in front of you right now will die sooner or later. And when it does you will get rid of it, perhaps, if you are well-behaved citizen, in one of the designated recycling drop-offs points your city council has created for technological equipment. That, however, won’t mark the end of your computer’s life. It will only mark the end of the first phase of its life as a valuable cultural and technological object.

After you dumpt it, you computer will start a second, and more complex, life as e-waste, most likely somewhere in India, China or Africa. You can see some pictures of what will likely be your computer limbo here and here, or here. …

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The Mobile Museum Pilot Project

Graeme Were, University of Queensland

The stores of Queensland museums are laden with ethnographic collections from Papua New Guinea, many of which originate from northern New Ireland. Few people there are able to gain access to these treasures even though New Irelanders hold great interest in learning more about their own cultural heritage through the artefacts museums hold on to.

The Mobile Museum project has been developed to partly redress this issue by utilising newly available digital technologies and resources. The project seeks to develop remote access to museum collections to objects physically located in Queensland and so offer the opportunity for New Irelanders to view their own cultural heritage as 3D digital objects. 3D digital objects offer the most complete documentation possible and allow for an analytical form of engagement using zooming, panning and rotation tools [in comparison to 2D images].…

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Material World Blog Community?

Haidy Geismar, NYU and UCL

I was interested to read a very brief, rather parochial, account of the world of anthropology blogging over at the site of Anthropology News, the journal of the American Anthropological Association, . Material World was singled out as an example of a “team blog” but the authors were worried that the free spirit of blogging might be lost with the fence of editors and the feel of an online journal. Following on from Danny’s point about open access, I’ve been thinking about the remit of Material World and what we, as editors, could do to contribute to some of the ongoing discussion about the public dissemination of anthropological, and other, ideas.

This prompted me to look a little more closely at our range of contributions, our diversity of contributors and our own editorial policies.…

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Open Access, Scholarship, and Digital Anthropology: a Discussion

Danny Miller, UCL

Although this site was started as a collaboration between Haidy in New York and Danny in London, from the beginning we were hoping to attract postings from a global interest in this genre of academic work. We do pretty well in this regard, with contributions from academics, students and others from many different countries, but we would still be happier if there was more coming from Brazil, West Africa, South and East Asia. By the same token we see this and other similar academic blogs as attempts to open up information about new academic and related work to as wide an audience as possible. Within which one of the key attributes of online posting is simply that it is free.

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Material World Occasional Paper Series – Call

Some time ago I put out a call for papers for our Occasional Paper Series. Indexed by the Library of Congress, this is our attempt to explore the possibilities of thinking about how Material World could also be thought of as an open source, online publication. Since that last call, we’ve migrated the blog to a better platform, and I think we are now in a much better position to explore the possibilities of online publishing.

We are therefore always interested in contributions to the OPS which push the boundaries of our blog-like format. Obviously the broad theme is an engagement with material and visual culture and the development of a thoughtful perspective on the issues this engagement raises. Are you working through the medium of sound, film, or photography?…

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Call for Submissions: Material World Occasional Paper Series

Material World is seeking submissions for our new Occasional Paper Series. In this we aim to make available works that are hard to publish in conventional academic environments because they are multi-media, long or short, reports, polemical, or otherwise exploratory, creative and innovative. Our Occasional Paper Series is fully peer-reviewed and is indexed by the Library of Congress.
Enquiries and expressions of interest should be emailed to Haidy Geismar

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Call for submissions: Course syllabus collection

The Material Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association is rekindling the exchange of course syllabi (outline of topics, readings, and schedule). The earlier initiative led 10 years ago to a collection representing courses in US universities and published by the Winterthur Museum.
It’s time for a new version, with an international outlook and a wider breadth. We encourage submissions of syllabi from any course a faculty member considers as falling within the field of material culture studies, broadly conceived, at whatever level, graduate or undergraduate. We’re aiming for inclusiveness. The syllabi will be posted on the Web and thus publicly available. For that purpose, submissions should include a headnote with information that identifies the course for an outside audience, that is, the name of the department and institution in which the course is taught, the course’s full title, the date, and perhaps some background information about the students it serves.…

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