I am strongly in favor of the laudable double aims of HAU: open access (via internet) and the grounding of anthropological knowledge in and as ethnography. Especially I respect the notion that we cannot know the novel cosmologies of others by the received philosophies of ours.

– Marshall Sahlins, Charles F. Grey Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Chicago


The proposal for the new journal HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory is the most original such proposal I have seen in some years. It fills a real gap among journals in anthropology by focusing on the link between ethnography and theory. It is widely observed that anthropology has moved in the last two decades from being a field that exports important theoretical developments to other disciplines to being one that mostly seeks theoretical inspiration from the outside. I think this kind of journal, one that insists that we attend to and begin to rethink the crucial links between our very original methods of research and our theoretical potential is exactly the kind of forum that is needed to reawaken the discipline from its theoretical slumbers. I am confident that even in a world in which the field of new journals grows every more crowded, this one will stand out. It should very quickly attract important and first class work and go on to have a major impact on the discipline for years to come.

– Joel Robbins, Professor and Chair, University of California, San Diego


Contemporary anthropology often seems a discipline determined to commit suicide. Where once we drew our theoretical terms – "totem," "taboo," "mana," "potlatch" – from ethnography, causing Continental thinkers from Ludwig Wittgenstein to Sigmund Freud and Jean-Paul Sartre to feel the need to weigh in on the resulting debates, we have now reduced ourselves to the scholastic dissection of terms drawn from Continental philosophy (deterritorialization, governmentality, bare life...) - and nobody else cares what we have to say about them. And honestly, why should they - if they can just as easily read Deleuze, Agamben, or Foucault in the original? A project like HAU is exactly what's needed to begin to reverse this bizarre self-strangulation. It is a journal that dares to defy the Great Man theory of intellectual history, to recognize that most ordinary human beings, the world over, have just as much to say about love, time, power, and dilemmas of human existence as any paid philosophers, and that sometimes, their reflections can be decidedly more interesting. It proposes anthropologists return to the kind of conversations with which we began, except this time, as equals, and that we have a moral responsibility to make the results freely available to everyone, the world over.

– David Graeber, Professor, London School of Economics


I wish to second David Graeber's trenchant remarks. And would just add a comment about delusion. There are so many ways in which we 'know' people these days, and we seem to inform one another so quickly, the delusion is that anthropology can side-step its own project of engagement. Anthropologists really have nothing to offer if they cannot demonstrate the difference it makes to understand relations through the relationships they are involved with. Here HAU opens a window to theoretical reflection – and to ways of knowing that are not reducible to information-gathering. This could not be more important.

– Dame Marilyn Strathern, Professor, University of Cambridge


I see anthropology as one of the major players in today's intellectual landscape, and precisely to the extent that it has decided to engage directly in a conceptually determining way with classic so-called philosophical problems, rather than being forced to express those problems unreflectively and implicitly. What is distinctive about anthropology's engagement with its own cultural (philosophical) tradition, however, is its reliance on an epistemological relation – a cosmopolitical alliance – with what has been "constitutively" excluded from that tradition, and which may as well be located inside as outside its historical and geopolitical limits. This excluded element is the subject-matter of what is usually called "ethnography" – the description of the myriad ways and sundry means of people's ontological self-determination: the intelligence of life. Anthropology is the effort to think through ethnography, in other words, to think with those thinking practices which are in perpetual insurrection against the colonization of the mind. So anthropological practice is ethnographic theory. No word expresses this better than Hau, the spirit of the relation, the gift of the concept, the felicitous equivocation.

–  Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Professor, Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro


A journal that restores the ethnographic ground of anthropological thinking, that insists on the anthropological attitude that all human practice whatever and wherever must be explored with the seriousness it deserves and without prejudice or privilege, is long overdue. Furthermore, this journal offers an immediacy of debate and discussion, and within a broad field of anthropological practitioners, which is to be facilitated through its means of publication and dissemination. This is an idea that that should have catalytic effect for the excitement and import of the discipline.

– Bruce Kapferer, Professor, University of Bergen


Returning us to the high goals and achievements of anthropology, HAU brings to the profession ethnography that is theoretically inspired and theory that is kindled by the finest ethnography. Comparative yet critical, peer-reviewed and open to all, its creative intervention is especially welcome at this time of financial and intellectual challenges.

– Stephen Gudeman, Professor, University of Minnesota


By seeking to re-install ethnography into the generative core of anthropological theorizing, HAU promises to re-configure our intellectual debates radically.

– Michael Scott, Lecturer, London School of Economics


I enthusiastically support the project of a journal such as HAU: for its accessibility of course (online and open to every reader), but even more so for the specific matter it intends to deal with: revivify anthropological theory on the basis of ethnography. The most decisive level, in my opinion, is that of our so-called "analytical concepts", which are most of the time no more than terms of the ordinary speech, heavily loaded with ambiguities. What are we talking about when we pretend to work on "belief", on a "tribe", on "witchcraft", on "identity"? What do the "social relationships" of people we talk about consist of exactly? To refer them to terms which are a century old does not do the job of describing them anymore – if they ever described them at all. The societies in which we live, and in which those we visit live in themselves, can neither be apprehended through the ancient categories, nor through the general categories of our current theories (globalisation, etc.). Deeply questioning our so-called concepts, a journal such as HAU could be a prelude to a needed renewal of the ethnographic gaze.

– Jeanne Favret-Saada, Directeur d’Etudes, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris.


I am completely supportive of the aims of this journal. In particular I welcome the interest in republishing and reassessing early ethnographic and theoretical texts. From a Pacific perspective there is a wonderfully rich archive – Hocart, Layard and F. E. Williams spring to mind, but there are many others – that should remain salient to us, as it is increasingly valued by Pacific scholars and communities. I am excited too by HAU's publishing model. Journals should not be cash cows for commercial behemoths. The open-source approach is surely now the only one consistent with anthropology's democratic and cosmopolitan ethics.

– Nicholas Thomas, Director of the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology and Professor of Historical Anthropology, University of Cambridge


The institution-bound publication system was – and in many cases still is – embedded in our ways of ethnographic thinking. It may also have ruined them. Through the collective endeavour of a new generation of thinkers, HAU, the 'spirit of the gift' offers a gift of the view from afar to today's researchers. Ethnographers from China and its environs contribute 'novel cosmologies of others' to anthropology with their ethnographies, and will continue to do so in a spirit of HAU.

– Chen Bo, Associate Professor, Tibetology Centre and Institution of Anthropology at Sichuan University, China


As soon as HAU came to my attention, I was attracted to both its concept and vision. We need a journal that addresses the time-honored topics that have made anthropology so rich and distinct from other social disciplines, while at the same time probing, questioning, and revising the discipline’s old concepts in light of the new situations and phenomena brought about by globalization and millennial capitalism. Only by going back to our discipline’s roots with fresh eyes and new tools will we be able to avoid becoming a marginal branch of sociology, a poor cousin of philosophy or, worse still, a bland form of literary criticism.

– Fernando Santos Granero, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute


In Maori ontology, hau is the source of life. When the world began, a burst of energy generated thought, memory and desire. Desire made knowledge fruitful, and from knowledge came the Pō, the realm of ancestors, and the Kore, the ‘seedbed of the cosmos’.  It was not until hau, the wind of life, blew that the phenomena of the everyday life could emerge, impelled by exchange in spiralling networks of relations.

The journal HAU is true to this spirit. Taking the internet to forge relations between thinkers around the globe, it seeks to give new life to our reflections about people in the cosmos.  At the same time it returns to the heart of the anthropological project – through deep engagement, trying to understand those who inhabit different worlds.

This is anthropology’s gift to philosophy - learning to listen to others, as well as to speak.

– Dame Anne Salmond, Distinguished Professor, University of Auckland.


HAU introduces a new generation of students and scholars to a central tenet of Anthropology: that it is not so much a discipline as a mode of critique born from cultivating intimate knowledge of a society while refusing to take received categories for granted. Thus, in creating a space for scholarship that interrogates prevailing social logics, institutional formations and cultural concepts, HAU prepares readers to tackle the most vexing theoretical and social problems of the day.

– Michael Ralph, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU


I applaud the HAU initiative for its timely aim of placing ethography in focus. With so many other disciplines claiming to be "doing ethnographic fieldwork," anthropolgists need to rethink, retheorize and reassert the special quality of what we perceive to be our core method and what kind of knowledge this gives rise to. It is exciting to be invited to debate the relationship between method, theory, interpretation and analysis.

– Signe Howell, Professor Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo


All philosophical theories have empirical content. They may not always say so, the field work that went into them may be thin, but they are situated. How to attend to the complex situatedness of theories? How to notice what transforms as terms come to travel? Anthropology is well equipped to explore this. Better still: anthropology may foster post-philosophical ‘theory’ that comes from – incorporates, digests – different sites and varied situations. Fluid theory that is adaptive. Tricky theory that surprises. Patchwork theory that speaks in various tongues at the same time. HAU may help with all of this. It promises to do so. And, who knows, it might even live up to its promises. For it has rallied lots of contributors even before its first issue. Its material infrastructures, that allow its words to spread for free wherever the web reaches, are proper, too. The last missing variable may well be – you.

– Annemarie Mol, Professor of Anthropology of the Body, University of Amsterdam


For those of us committed to thinking across, though, and between ethnography and theory, HAU promises to map novel itineraries for an anthropological project that demands that the epistemological be known through the empirical.

– Stefan Helmreich, Professor of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Santos Granero, Fernando

I lack the knowledge to make any informed comment on the contents of the journal. However years ago, when I was still at school, I accompanied my father on a lecture tour of Sweden and Norway. One of the lectures concerned the history of anthropology. Much of it was over my head, since, although I was familiar with the everyday life of the Nuer and Zande, I knew nothing of the history or theories of anthropology. The theme, if I interpreted it correctly, was that scholars should understand and respect the work of their predecessors, and then move on to their own (possibly very different)  interpretation.  I think he would have liked the idea of publishing old papers together with contemporary papers on the same themes. 

He did not of course live to see the internet, but he was always generous with his ideas and possessions. He gave  away all his valuable books and artefacts to appropriate museums or faculties and was in touch with many colleagues around the world. I think he would have supported the concept of a free to view anthropological website.

– Shineen Galloway, E. E. Evans-Pritchard's daughter


Anthropology was initially, and should have remained, an effort to give credit to the implications of ethnographic accounts for other ways of thinking philosophically about every aspect of human life. As a felicitous consequence of early endeavours, a score of exotic concepts entered the Western pantheon of ideas where they are presently enshrined but little used. A new step must now be taken: beyond consigning non-Western notions to footnotes in the history of Western philosophy, we need to take seriously the different ways of dealing with the world and its denizens that ethnologists have rendered familiar. It is not only exotic ideas that matter, but entire systems of thought and practice, ontologies and cosmologies, morals and rhetoric, aesthetics and politics. By giving priority to concepts that emerge from, and adhere to, ethnographic facts, HAU is exactly the kind of medium needed for this task.

– Philippe Descola, Chair in Anthropology of Nature, Collège de France, Paris