It began in winter of 1945. World War II was still raging. The “Southwestern Journal of Anthropology” published its first article, a scholarly work by Franz Weidenreich, that began by stating how the Nazi's had twisted and misinterpreted anthropological research to support the idea of a race of super-humans. Today, 70 years later, the journal is still publishing regularly.
The name has changed and the issues and articles are now distributed electronically (respectively by the University of Michigan and JSTOR), as well as in hard copy, but the “Journal of Anthropological Research” continues its long tradition of publication excellence.
Editor and Leslie Spier Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Lawrence Straus,' who has edited JAR since 1995, is quietly celebrating. He works with a small, dedicated team: business manager and sole full-time employee Ann Braswell, contract copy editor June-el Piper and Donna Carpio, who is the contract designer.
“We pride ourselves on three things: the anthropological significance of the research, the quality of the writing, and the technical excellence of the product,” said Straus.
He receives between 50 and 80 manuscripts a year from researchers hoping to publish their work. JAR publishes quarterly, a total of 16 articles per year. Straus says he reads each manuscript and, if it shows promise, finds 2-4 specialists to provide expert reviews. If the manuscript is not rejected outright, the reviews, which can be extensive, are sent back to the author with a letter detailing how to improve it. He and Piper then work with the author to polish the revised paper, and increasingly this involves correcting the English of foreign authors from all over the world.
“JAR is not only one of the oldest anthropological journals in the country, but also one of the most preeminent," UNM Department of Anthropology Chair Michael Graves said. "Distinguished Professor Lawrence Straus, who has edited JAR for 20 of those years and Ann Braswell, business manager for the journal, publish well-received, timely articles, including two each year by JAR Distinguished Lecturers. JAR contributes to a vibrant anthropology environment at UNM.”
JAR is a journal of general anthropology in a world where there are more and more highly specialized professional journals.
“We’re kind of old-fashioned in that respect and I think that is one of our positives," Straus said. "We attempt to provide interesting research and ideas to readers who might not necessarily read outside of their own niche,” said
Straus began a tradition of bringing major specialists in various areas of anthropology to speak once a semester in the world-class UNM Anthropology Department. The JAR Distinguished Lecturers are drawn from many areas of specialty and all 38 so far have provided publishable versions of their lectures for the journal. “There have been some very important papers,” said Straus. “For example, the late Clark Howell gave a JAR Distinguished Lecture on the evolution of the hominins that is widely cited. Bill Hanks recently gave a lecture on his innovative research on how Franciscan missionaries changed the language of the Maya people they were trying to convert. The late Keith Basso, who was a professor at UNM and a famous Apache specialist, published articles in JAR on Apache language and sense of place that are frequently reprinted.”
Straus says JAR is unusual because every issue contains a large number of timely book reviews. He receives about 250 books a year and about half are reviewed (the rest are donated to various UNM libraries). He says that the review section helps subscribers learn about the wide range of anthropological books in all subfields that are continually being published worldwide.
Although JAR publishes articles about topics of interest throughout the world, it has always maintained a traditional interest in the anthropology of the Southwest. Straus has edited the journal for nearly 20 years and says he has “tried to keep the flame of New Mexico anthropology lit brightly around the world.” He has witnessed and tried to keep up with the vast changes that have come to scholarly publishing during his two decades, while maintaining financial solvency and protecting UNM’s copyright. JAR has subscribers (mainly academic libraries) in all 50 US states (and territories) and some 50 foreign countries—from the Vatican to the Abdul Aziz Institute for Islamic Studies in Rabat, Morocco.
Past editors of the Southwestern Journal of Anthropology/Journal of Anthropological Research
Leslie Spier – 1945-1961
Harry Basehart and Stanley Newman – 1962-1969
Harry Basehart – 1970-1974, 1981-1982
James Spuhler – 1975-1980
Philip Bock 1983-1994
To subscribe, call (505) 277-4544 or visit the Journal of Anthropological Research.