HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory

HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, is an international peer-reviewed, partly open-access journal that appears in both digital and print format. It aims to take ethnography as the prime heuristic of anthropology, and return it to the forefront of conceptual developments in the discipline.

The journal is motivated by the desire to reinstate ethnographic theorization in contemporary anthropology as an alternative to explanation or contextualization by philosophical arguments--moves which have resulted in a loss of the discipline's distinctive theoretical nerve. By drawing out anthropology’s potential to critically engage and challenge its own cosmological assumptions and concepts, HAU aims to provide an exciting new arena for evaluating ethnography as a daring enterprise for worlding alien terms and forms of life, exploring  their potential for rethinking humanity, self, and alterity.

HAU takes its name from a Māori concept, whose controversial translations—and the equivocations to which they gave rise—have generated productive theoretical work in anthropology, reminding us that our discipline exists in tension with the incomparable and the untranslatable. Through their reversibility, such inferential misunderstandings invite us to explore how encounters with alterity can render intelligible a range of diverse knowledge practices. In its online version, HAU stresses immediacy of publication, allowing for the timely publication and distribution of untimely ideas. The journal aims to attract the most daring thinkers in the discipline, regardless of position or background.

HAU welcomes submissions that strengthen ethnographic engagement with received knowledges, revive the vibrant themes of anthropology through debate and engagement with other disciplines, and explore domains held until recently to be the province of economics, philosophy, and the sciences. Topics addressed by the journal include, among others, diverse ontologies and epistemologies, forms of human engagement and relationality, cosmology and myth, magic, witchcraft and sorcery, truth and falsehood, science and anti-science, art and aesthetics, theories of kinship and relatedness with humans and non-humans, power, hierarchy, materiality, perception, environment and space, time and temporality, personhood and subjectivity, and the metaphysics of morality and ethics.

Free access journal
The University of Chicago Press publishes one free-access journal: HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. This model provides one month of free access after the release of each new issue, and then requires a subscription for continuous access to content. All HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory content published from 2011-2017 is open access.



Letter to the Editors of The Chronicle of Higher Education by the Directors of the Society for Ethnographic Theory


Dear CHE Editors

We were dismayed that the Chronicle decided to publish Jesse Singal’s article on our publication HAU (How One Prominent Journal Went Very Wrong, Oct. 5, 2020) in such an inchoate state – not to mention its unfortunate timing. Given the role of CHE in upholding the importance and integrity of higher education, we would have expected to see greater insistence on situating HAU in the wider context of academic publishing. Instead, the article merely reprised the developments of a turbulent period simply in terms of a conflict between two individuals. It gives the false impression, casually smuggled in towards the end, that HAU remains substantially unchanged. Nothing could be further from the truth.

HAU came into being as a radical departure from established ways of publishing academic journals. Created by a handful of young scholars, most of them graduates and post-docs in precarious situations, it was affiliated neither with an academic institution or university nor with any professional or subject association. Its independence was its strength, enabling the journal to produce high-quality, original scholarship and very productive re-readings of older anthropological accounts. Unfortunately, that very independence also proved a temporary weakness, that sustained an informality beyond when it was healthy for the journal. This was pointed out in the report drawn up by the Executive Council headed by Carole McGranahan. When we took over as the Board of Directors in September 2018, it was clear to us that this informality had to be the first thing that had to be addressed to re-establish trust in the journal and its workings, following the media campaign launched against HAU and its founder Giovanni da Col. The world of HAU described in Singal’s piece bears absolutely no resemblance to the new organisation of the journal or the ethos of its current structure of editorial collectives.

Singal reached out in November last year to individuals working in various capacities with the journal. We read some of his earlier pieces, developed a good impression of his abilities and rigour, and became hopeful that he would produce a fair and more up-to-date account of the vicissitudes and state of HAU. We assumed that he would report on his discovery of new material about the past as well as the new developments at HAU itself. Equally, our confidence also stemmed from knowing where the piece was being published. But rather than situate the events of the past within the broader concerns of contemporary publishing and its fraught relationship with academia, the article dwelled on gossip, email exchanges, and innuendo, shallow in its ethical judgement, and betrayed its informants. Its analytical value as a sociological analysis of academic practices is underwhelming and not up to the standards of CHE.

On all counts, this was a missed opportunity.


Kriti Kapila, Anne-Christine Taylor, John Borneman, and Carlos Londono-Sulkin

Board of Directors, Society for Ethnographic Theory

Posted: 2020-11-09 More...
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Vol 10, No 2 (2020)

Cover Page

Table of Contents

Editorial Note

Racial burdens, translations, and chance
Mariane C. Ferme, Andrew B. Kipnis, Raminder Kaur, Luiz Costa


Black cargo: 2019 Lewis H. Morgan Lecture
Laurence Ralph

Lévi-Strauss Memorial Lecture

Heonik Kwon
World peace in the Cold War: Anthropological contributions
John Borneman
On peace, self-love, and humanism
Carlo Severi

Currents: Hong Kong Protests

Andrew B. Kipnis
Wing Chung Ho, Choi Man Hung
Minhua Ling
Jun Zhang
Ka-ming Wu
David A. Palmer
Pun Ngai

Currents: Brexitography

Raminder Kaur
Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan
Morteza Hashemi
Daniel Miller
Felix Ringel


Sergio Jarillo, Allan Darrah, Carlos Crivelli, Camillus Mkwesipu, Kenneth Kalubaku, Nagia Toyagena, Gumwemwata Okwala, Justin Gumwemwata
Francesca Merlan
Michelle MacCarthy
Mark S. Mosko
Believing the unbelieved: Reincarnation, cultural authority, and politics in the Trobriand Islands
Sergio Jarillo, Allan Darrah, Carlos Crivelli, Camillus Mkwesipu, Kenneth Kalubaku, Nagia Toyagena, Gumwemwata Okwala, Justin Gumwemwata


Primitive mentality and games of chance
Lucien Lévy-Bruhl


Frédéric Keck
Brittany Birberick
Roberte Hamayon
Keith Hart
Ghassan Hage
Frédéric Laugrand


Brittany Birberick
Cheryl M. Schmitz
Mirco Göpfert
Arpita Roy
Sophie Chao
Jong-min Jeong
Rosalie Stolz
Milad Odabaei
Rahul Advani
Francesco Della Costa

Book Symposium

Queerly Kenyan: On the political economy of queer possibilities
George Paul Meiu
Life is queer: Queer is life?
Rachel Spronk
Love: An ethnographic inquiry into queer, Christian relationships in Kenya
Chisomo Kalinga
Sex as identity or as practice?
Peter Geschiere
Engaging anthropology
Don Kulick
Normative anti-antinormativity?
Cal Biruk
Towards humane scholarship: Postsecular, queer theological, and self-reflexive turns
Adriaan van Klinken

Book Symposium

Risky research in a rainforest
Deborah Gewertz, Frederick Errington
Endangered languages and porous selves
James Slotta
Not being boring and other challenges for anthropologists as popular writers
Alessandro Duranti
The mystery of the dying language
James Leach
On the vicissitudes of publishing, and the riskiness of humor
Don Kulick

Unedited Scholarship

Elena Welper
Curt Nimuendajú’s correspondence with Claude Lévi-Strauss and Robert H. Lowie, 1936–1940
Curt Nimuendajú