Statement of the new Board of Directors, November 14th 2018

Dear Anthropology Community,

The transition to the new Society for Ethnographic Theory has been nearly accomplished. Today we are delighted to announce that amended bylaws have been put in place to introduce equity, transparency and accountability in the new legal entity, incorporated in 2018.

A unique aspect of HAU’s organization is that unlike journals linked to a professional organization or university, HAU had no such singular ties and was designed as an independent venture precisely to escape the hold of powerful European and North American universities and research centres. As the former Executive Council noted in their last statement, HAU involved a very complex terrain of unhealthy work relations and professional jealousies, many of which were defined by the very non- institutional nature of the project. New Bylaws were developed as a clear, transparent document to build a better system of accountability, grievance procedures, and governance into the organization, aimed to bring greater formalisation. We cannot rectify all injustices that fall outside our mandate. But we do believe we have diagnosed the main problems of HAU’s organisation and have implemented all necessary measures to address them.

We are keen to be an active partner in relevant conversations that were overdue in the discipline. We sincerely hope that we can make a contribution to lessening academic institutions’ reliance on precarious and free labour. While committed to an ethics of free access to knowledge, which remains exemplified by HAU Books, we believe that no “open access” could be truly such when “free” knowledge is dependent on a precarious labour force or on innovation brought by unemployed or underemployed scholars. Open access needs to be grounded in a sustainable financial plan. We remain firmly committed to the idea that access to knowledge and publishing quality must be achieved by mediating gratuity with sustainability. We remain convinced that HAU Journal, a ground-breaking project, will show that its new free access model pursues such ideals, where a balance between high publishing standards, knowledge sharing and sustainability is possible without employing unpaid labour and relying on famished departmental research budgets. HAU was built by precarious junior scholars and students who could not lean on an academic salary. We say yes to open access only when the infrastructure is run by remunerated professionals or tenured scholars. Initiatives like Knowledge Unlatched have demonstrated that this ideal can be achieved.

This board has decided to introduce further amendments to the bylaws to further the pursuit of these values. The main changes are the following:

1. The term “Trustee” has been replaced with “Director” which better reflects the legal and executive implications of the role. The Society shall be ruled by a Board of equal Directors.

2. The introduction of a radical separation of the editorial from the executive domain. In the new Society, no editors shall be a member of the Board of Directors, hold any executive power or have any subordinated staff.

3. The position of the Editor-in-Chief, HAU Journal and HAU Books has been eliminated. HAU Journal and HAU Books shall now be led by two collectives of equal editors, each composed of between 2 and 5 members.

4. The appointment of an Ombudsman to respond to any complaint or concerns on the activities of the Society and its members since January 2018.

5. The introduction of a whistleblower policy.

6. The elimination of any volunteer unpaid work, apart from the pro bono work offered by the Scientific Editorial Board or the Board of Directors.

We are in receipt of a notice from Giovanni Da Col that he is resigning as Editor-in-Chief and as a member of the Board of Director, and offering to remain a member of the editorial collective for a transitional period. The Society has acquired his IP rights; and he has fully relinquished any remaining control over the publications and activities of the Society.

In the next days, we will publish online the revised bylaws, launch a Call for one or two new journal editors, and appoint a search committee for selecting candidates. The new editors will join Greg Beckett and Deborah Durham, who have expressed their willingness to continue to serve the journal as members of the editorial collective. By the end of the year, we shall reach out to the Maori communities to seek further advice on strengthening the Society’s engagement with indigenous knowledge and ethics. Last but not least, as in the past, we invite submissions from indigenous authors and scholars from the Global South and are committed to keeping their shared knowledge entirely open access.

In relation to the allegations against the Editor-in-Chief and the Society for Ethnographic Theory, we can only address and redress events from the time of incorporation of the Society for Ethnographic Theory (January 2018). We are keen to address any complaint, grievance or claim related to this period, either by submission to the Chair of the Executive Board or the new Ombudsman, who shall be appointed by the end of 2018. We reiterate our apology if erstwhile working conditions at HAU have caused damage to former members of staff. The lawyers consulted by the Board unanimously suggested that, if any alleged wrongdoings of a criminal nature occurred under the old HAU unincorporated association, those affected should file police reports and/or seek legal help.

According to our records, between December 2017 and January 2018 the EAB contacted previous staff members to inquire whether they had any financial claim or grievances to report. Should previous HAU staff have any outstanding financial claims on any stipulated sum with the Society’s representatives, we invite them to contact the Chair of the Society at the earliest who will try to settle any outstanding dues by the old association. We are confident that the new structures of accountability and grievance reporting will go a long way in rebuilding trust in HAU.

Since April 2013, the HAU project was operating as an unincorporated association in the United Kingdom, ruled by a set of agreed rules for the management and operation of the joint activity (“constitution”) codrafted and co-signed by the Editorial Team and the External Advisory Board (represented by the Editor-in-Chief and the Chair of the EAB). The constitution, available to all members of the organisation, including sponsors and HAU-NET members, defined transparently the genealogy of the project and its intellectual property, as follows: “The HAU project arose in February 2011 from an idea by Giovanni da Col, the author and owner of the name, web domain (haujournal.org) and author of the original title and mission statement of the journal and the two attached books series, HAU Masterclass and HAU Classics in Ethnographic Theory.”(Art. 4/B, p.2). According to the constitution, the EAB had the power to sanction or “to remove an editor who repeatedly violates the constitution or is guilty of malpractice concerning the handling of manuscripts (i.e., there is evidence that several manuscripts are being published despite predominant negative reviews), funding, chronic abrogation of responsibilities, or any other act that seriously and permanently harms the reputation of the Society” (Art. V/vii), p.11. Every three years, the EAB had the power not to renew the Editor-in-Chief mandate, following “any constitutional breach, inactivity or evident decrease of quality and impact in the journal’s activities” (Art. VIII/A, p. 16). According to our records, no EAB meeting (which required a quorum of three members) was summoned to discuss any submitted staff complaints or address any grievance between 2013 and 2017, until the restructuring process began in late 2017. Decisions were made instead by different boards to keep the EiC but restructure the project.

Within anthropology, HAU was and remains an intellectual movement. In a short span of time it became the fourth most cited socio-cultural anthropology journal globally and the most cited anthropology journal in Europe, according to Google Scholar Metrics. Our articles and books have been translated in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese. In December, seven years after the journal’s foundation, we will release our 20th issue and the issues for 2019 are in an advanced stage of editorial preparation. HAU has recently introduced a new service called “Just Accepted,” (JA) that allows manuscripts to be posted on the journal website within two weeks of acceptance, with a DOI (a “digital object identifier”) unique to each article, making it one of the fastest dissemination services in anthropological publishing.

We hope to continue to expand our global readership, and foster the new generation of scholarship of worldleading quality. We need your support to continue on this path.

We want to thank Giovanni da Col for his efforts in bringing HAU and its projects into being, and assisting us in providing a new structure and new bylaws. We also want to thank the Interim Trustees, all members of the editorial and advisory boards, and all volunteers and staff who worked to make this possible.

Kriti Kapila (Chair), John Borneman, Niloofar Haeri, Anne-Christine Taylor (Board of Directors, Society for Ethnographic Theory)