After 27 years of distinguished and energetic stewardship of the Journal of Anthropological Research, Lawrence Guy Straus, the Emeritus Leslie Spier Distinguished Professor at The University of New Mexico, is stepping down as editor-in-chief. 

The JAR “publishes diverse, high-quality, peer-reviewed articles on anthropological research of substance and broad significance, as well as about 100–120 timely book reviews annually. The journal reaches out to anthropologists of all specialties and theoretical perspectives both in the United States and around the world, with special emphasis given to the detailed presentation and rigorous analysis of primary research.”

“It has been a lot of work, in fact pretty much daily and relentlessly, including evenings, weekends, a few half-year ‘sabbaticals,’ academic ‘vacations’—even after long days excavating in El Mirón Cave between 1996-2013 at 65 km from my summer base in Santander, Spain,” Straus recalled in his farewell letter. “JAR has been a very major part of my life; I have given it ‘my all.’” In all, he received, read, and made decisions on over 1,675 manuscripts and many thousands of book reviews. Straus retired as a full-time professor in 2016 and has been a working retiree since then.

Straus also founded the JAR Distinguished Lecture series, resulting in 52 lecture visits to the UNM campus with top specialists in all the major subfields of anthropology: socio-cultural, archeological, biological, and linguistic. The guest scholars not only present public lectures open to the large UNM and wider New Mexico communities of people interested in anthropology, but they also give specialized seminars and hold office hours for students and faculty colleagues, he said. The lectures were subsequently published in the JAR.

Straus prided himself on attracting subscribers and publishing articles from around the world, explaining, “While firmly rooted and frequently publishing articles in the very rich anthropological traditions of the American Southwest, one of my goals for JAR has been to increase international participation, with the slogan ‘From the World to New Mexico; from New Mexico to the World.’” The JAR has subscribers in all U.S. states and major territories and in about 50 other countries, with articles published from about 40 countries since Straus took over the editorship.

The late Phil Bock, Presidential Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at UNM, handed  JAR over to Straus in 1994. The publication started as The Southwestern Journal of Anthropology and was first published in 1945 as successor to the New Mexico Anthropologist, which began in 1937. In 1973, the title was changed to the Journal of Anthropological Research

Independently self-published until six years ago with Straus as de facto publisher, business management, production, and distribution have been contracted out to the University of Chicago Press, while UNM maintains ownership and the copyright. The editorial board is composed of Anthropology faculty members and the associate editors are distinguished anthropologists in all subfields both in the U.S. and around the world. 

Straus is passing the editorial torch to UNM Professor of Anthropology Suzanne Oakdale. She is a socio-cultural anthropologist who specializes in Brazilian Amazonia and has published on ritual, autobiographical narrative, and indigenous history. Oakdale has taught at UNM since 1998. The first JAR issue under Oakdale’s editorship will be Spring 2023.

“She will be the first female editor of this venerable publication. It is about time,” Straus noted in his farewell letter, which will be published in his last issue for Winter 2022.

“It has been a long, constant, hands-on labor of love and scholarly responsibility. JAR has been the ambassador and a well-known and respected part of the anthropological enterprise at UNM for nearly 78 years, and I have been honored to be the custodian of this tradition for the third of this time,” Straus said.

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