The History of Anthropology Newsletter editorial board is troubled by recent reports of abuses of power at HAU—an online journal of ethnographic theory that has been publishing since 2011. Complaints of financial misconduct, violations of open access policies, and bullying, harassment, and intimidation of staff members recently appeared as two anonymous statements from former editorial staff on the blog Footnotes and on their own site, and have led to significant discussion online.
The fact that HAU has been a source of inspiration for our own open access web publication makes these reports all the more disturbing for HAN. As HAN is an unpaid, volunteer organization of mostly junior scholars who have functioned together on the basis of trust and informal agreements, we’re aware of the potential for exploitation and failures of transparency in publication venues, as well as the fraught power dynamics which may exist in collaborations between junior and senior scholars.
We are therefore taking this occasion to make explicit our commitment to maintaining kind, fair, supportive, mutually-beneficial working conditions for all who contribute to HAN as editors, authors, or otherwise; to maintaining open access publishing, with content available for free in perpetuity; and to establishing principles and safeguards for protection and accountability at this year’s HAN Annual Meeting. We recognize the valuable work that has has been done at HAU as well as the problematic and abusive conditions under which much of it appears to have been carried out; we are grateful to those who have brought this situation to light and catalyzed these important conversations.