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Anthropological Theory

Anthropological Theory

eISSN: 17412641 | ISSN: 14634996 | Current volume: 23 | Current issue: 3 Frequency: Quarterly

Anthropological Theory is an international journal seeking to strengthen anthropological theorizing in different areas of the world. This is an exciting forum for new insights into theoretical issues in anthropology and more broadly, social theory.

Anthropological Theory encourages work at a high level of conceptual analysis, and we are especially interested in the following sorts of submissions. Those dealing: 1. With particular concepts important in theory; 2. arguing particular theories; 3. investigating metatheory; and 4. exploring theorists and traditions; and 5. examining the history of the development of theoretical positions. (Please refer to the guidelines to Authors for further information before submitting a manuscript).

Contributors include:

  • Pierre Bourdieu
  • Veena Das
  • Maurice Godelier
  • Jack Goody
  • Keith Hart
  • Charles Tilly
  • Alain Touraine
  • Katherine Verdery

"This will be a real stimulus for the discipline. Although 'theory' pervades our work, it will be fascinating to see the difference that being explicit makes.  It is a bold approach and one I like... All in all, this has the makings of a forum that could forge future classics." Prof Marilyn Strathern, University of Cambridge, UK

This journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

Visit the cutting-edge SAGE Journals platform to start reading all issues now.

Anthropological Theory is an international peer reviewed journal seeking to strengthen anthropological theorizing in different areas of the world. This is an exciting forum for new insights into theoretical issues in anthropology and more broadly, social theory.

Anthropological Theory encourages work at a high level of conceptual analysis, and we are especially interested in the following sorts of submissions. Those dealing: 1. With particular concepts important in theory; 2. arguing particular theories; 3. investigating metatheory; and 4. exploring theorists and traditions; and 5. examining the history of the development of theoretical positions. Please refer to Article Types under Manuscript submissions for more details.

Julia Eckert University of Bern, Switzerland
Stephen P Reyna Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany
Nina Glick Schiller University of Manchester, UK
Social Media Editor
Damián O. Martínez University of Tuebingen, Germany
Editorial Assistant
Kiri Santer University of Bern, Switzerland
Editorial Board
Nadia L. Abu El-Haj Columbia University, USA
George Baca Dong-A University, South Korea
Pratiksha Baxi Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
Zerrin Özlem Biner Cambridge University, UK
Ayse Caglar University of Vienna, Austria
Kamari Clarke University of Toronto, Canada & UCLA, USA
Veena Das Johns Hopkins University, USA
Nicholas De Genova University of Houston, USA
Luis Fernando Dias Duarte National Museum Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Jose Luis Escalona CIESAS, Mexico
Nasser Fakouhi University of Teheran, Iran
Didier Fassin Princeton University, USA
Bela Feldman-Bianco UNICAMP, Brazil
Susan Gal University of Chicago, USA
Maurice Godelier EHESS, France
Sarah Green University of Helsinki, Finland
Ghassan Hage University of Melbourne, Australia
Faye Harrison University of Illinois, USA
Ellen Hertz University of Neuchatel, Switzerland
Bruce Kapferer University of Bergen, Norway
Tobias Kelly University of Edinburgh, UK
Michael Lambek University of Toronto, Canada
Jonathan Marks University of North Carolina, USA
Elisabeth Merz University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Pnina Motzafi-Haller Ben Gurion University, Israel
Susana Narotzky University of Barcelona, Spain
Francis Nyamnjoh University of Cape Town, South Africa
Horacio Ortiz East China Normal University Shanghai, China
Eija Ranta Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, Finland
Rhoda Reddock University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago
Uzma Z. Rizvi Pratt Institute, USA
Joel Robbins University of Cambridge, UK
Andreas Roepstorff Aarhus University, Denmark
Nandini Sundar Delhi University, India
David Sutton Southern Illinois University, USA
Loic Wacquant University of California, USA
Biao Xiang Oxford University, UK
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  • This Journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics.

    Please read the manuscript submission guidelines below then visit the Journal’s submission site to upload your manuscript. Please note that manuscripts not conforming to these guidelines may be returned.

    For further advice on submitting to Anthropological Theory, see the journal author and reviewer guide, and consult the article formatting template

    Only manuscripts of sufficient quality that meet the aims and scope of Anthropological Theory will be reviewed. Please note we do not accept articles that are under review elsewhere. 

    There are no fees payable to submit or publish in this Journal. Open Access options are available - see section 3.3 below.

    As part of the submission process you will be required to warrant that you are submitting your original work, that you have the rights in the work, that you are submitting the work for first publication in the Journal and that it is not being considered for publication elsewhere and has not already been published elsewhere, and that you have obtained and can supply all necessary permissions for the reproduction of any copyright works not owned by you.

    1. What do we publish?
      1.1 Aims & Scope
      1.2 Article types
      1.3 Writing your paper
    2. Editorial policies
      2.1 Peer review policy
      2.2 Authorship
      2.3 Acknowledgements
      2.4 Funding
      2.5 Declaration of conflicting interests
      2.6 Research data
    3. Publishing policies
      3.1 Publication ethics
      3.2 Contributor's publishing agreement
      3.3 Open access and author archiving
    4. Preparing your manuscript
      4.1 Formatting
      4.2 Artwork, figures and other graphics
      4.3 Supplemental material
      4.4 Reference style
      4.5 English language editing services
    5. Submitting your manuscript
      5.1 ORCID
      5.2 Information required for completing your submission
      5.3 Permissions
    6. On acceptance and publication
      6.1 Sage Production
      6.2 Online First publication
      6.3 Access to your published article
      6.4 Promoting your article
    7. Further information


    1. What do we publish?

    1.1 Aims & Scope

    Before submitting your manuscript to Anthropological Theory, please ensure you have read the Aims & Scope.

    1.2 Article Types

    The Editors encourage all papers explicitly addressing issues of theory within anthropology.  They are especially interested in the following, five sorts of submissions.  Those dealing: 1. with particular concepts important in theory; 2. arguing particular theories; 3. investigating metatheory; and 4. exploring theorists and traditions; and 5. examining the history of the development of theoretical positions.

    There are no strict word limits, for some articles 6,000 might be all they need while other need 10,000 (maximum). But the editors ask that writing be parsimonious, arguments be tight, and anything not clearly within the framing of the argument be eliminated.

    The Editors welcome papers that evaluate concepts.  They welcome suggestion of new concepts that contribute to innovative theorizing.  Equally, they encourage evaluation of existing concepts. Are they too broad, too narrow, too vague, too ambiguous?  Is it possible to make observations bearing upon them?

    A distinction might be made between theories and paradigms.  Paradigms are broad research traditions composed of numbers of theories.  The Editors believe that theory exhibits the following characteristics:

    1. Explicitness: Certain anthropologists believe that theories may be both implicit and explicit.  Implicit theories are those that are suggested for some reason, though not formally expressed, in a text.  Because they not actually articulated they are more likely to be subject to vagueness and ambiguity.  More robust theories are ones that as unambiguously and clearly as possible state a theory.
    2. Explanation and Understanding: Theory offers explanation or understanding of different actualities. Anthropological theory seeks explanation and understanding of the human condition.
    3. Statements of relationships between concepts: Anthropological theories are statements specifying relationships between concepts that explain or provide understanding of occurrences in the human condition. A single concept is not a theory.  A gaggle of unrelated concepts is not a theory.

    For example, Durhkeim’s theory of suicide involved two concepts and one relationship.  The concepts were ‘integration’ and ‘deviance’.  The relationship between the concepts was an inverse one: The less closely persons were integrated in social groups, the more likely they were to be deviant.  Suicide was a form of deviance, and Durhkeim believed he had found evidence the showed people in 19th century France who were less integrated exhibited greater deviance because the committed more suicide.

    1. Generality and abstraction: The concepts in theories vary in generality and abstraction. The more general and abstract concepts are, the more they are able to explain and/or understand.  Theoretical statements, largely arising from observation, that are relative low in generality and abstraction are said to be ‘empirical generalizations’; those that are of the highest generality and abstraction are said to be ‘theories’; and those inferred from theory are said to be ‘hypothesizes’.
    2. Validation: Theoretical statements without a reason to believe them are of little interest. Validation provides a reason for belief. It is the provision of information that what an explanation or understanding says will occur actually occurs.
    3. Theorizing: Theory formulation involves theorizing of which there are two parts: Formulation of theoretical statements and their validation.

    The Editors will be delighted to receive articles that present explicit theoretical statements with some validation that deal with occurrences in the human condition of significance.

    Metatheory, as the Editors understand it, concerns epistemological analysis of theory. Its subject matter is the nature of anthropological theory and theorizing in order to be able to formulate more robust theory.  This means addressing questions like: What is theory? Is scientific theory the better way to investigate the human condition? What are explanation, understanding, objectivity, truth, evidence in the anthropological context? What is the difference between theories and paradigms? What methods are appropriate for anthropological theorizing?

    Theorists and Traditions
    The Editors welcome explorations of particular theorists and research traditions.  They are interested arguments concerning their strengths, weaknesses, and significance. They will be especially delighted to learn of theorists and traditions beyond anthropology that are of interest to it.

    Theory has its history.  The Editors would be pleased to receive articles that explore the history of different theoretical perspectives.  They would be especially interested in those seeking to understand why and how particular regions of theory flourish or languish.

    1.3 Writing your paper

    The Sage Author Gateway has some general advice and on how to get published, plus links to further resources. Sage Author Services also offers authors a variety of ways to improve and enhance their article including English language editing, plagiarism detection, and video abstract and infographic preparation.

    1.3.1 Make your article discoverable

    When writing up your paper, think about how you can make it discoverable. The title, keywords and abstract are key to ensuring readers find your article through search engines such as Google. For information and guidance on how best to title your article, write your abstract and select your keywords, have a look at this page on the Gateway: How to Help Readers Find Your Article Online.

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    2. Editorial policies

    2.1 Peer review policy

    Anthropological Theory operates a strictly double-anonymized peer review process in which the reviewer’s name is withheld from the author and the author’s name from the reviewer. The reviewer may at their own discretion opt to reveal their name to the author in their review but our standard policy practice is for both identities to remain concealed. Submissions are reviewed initially by the Editors and then by two or sometimes three external referees.

    Please note that the Editors are not obliged to invite/reject any recommended/opposed reviewers to assess your manuscript.

    2.2 Authorship

    All parties who have made a substantive contribution to the article should be listed as authors. Principal authorship, authorship order, and other publication credits should be based on the relative scientific or professional contributions of the individuals involved, regardless of their status. A student is usually listed as principal author on any multiple-authored publication that substantially derives from the student’s dissertation or thesis.

    Please note that AI chatbots, for example ChatGPT, should not be listed as authors. For more information see the policy on Use of ChatGPT and generative AI tools.

    2.3 Acknowledgements

    All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an Acknowledgements section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, or a department chair who provided only general support.

    Please supply any personal acknowledgements separately to the main text to facilitate anonymous peer review.

    2.3.1 Third party submissions

    Where an individual who is not listed as an author submits a manuscript on behalf of the author(s), a statement must be included in the Acknowledgements section of the manuscript and in the accompanying cover letter. The statements must:

    •    Disclose this type of editorial assistance – including the individual’s name, company and level of input 
    •    Identify any entities that paid for this assistance 
    •    Confirm that the listed authors have authorized the submission of their manuscript via third party and approved any statements or declarations, e.g. conflicting interests, funding, etc.

    Where appropriate, Sage reserves the right to deny consideration to manuscripts submitted by a third party rather than by the authors themselves.

    2.4 Funding

    Anthropological Theory requires all authors to acknowledge their funding in a consistent fashion under a separate heading.  Please visit the Funding Acknowledgements page on the Sage Journal Author Gateway to confirm the format of the acknowledgment text in the event of funding, or state that: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

    2.5 Declaration of conflicting interests

    Anthropological Theory encourages authors to include a declaration of any conflicting interests and recommends you review the good practice guidelines on the Sage Journal Author Gateway.

    2.6 Research Data

    The journal is committed to facilitating openness, transparency and reproducibility of research, and has the following research data sharing policy. For more information, including FAQs please visit the Sage Research Data policy pages.

    Subject to appropriate ethical and legal considerations, authors are encouraged to:

    • share your research data in a relevant public data repository
    • include a data availability statement linking to your data. If it is not possible to share your data, we encourage you to consider using the statement to explain why it cannot be shared.
    • cite this data in your research 

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    3. Publishing Policies

    3.1 Publication ethics

    Sage is committed to upholding the integrity of the academic record. We encourage authors to refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics’ International Standards for Authors and view the Publication Ethics page on the Sage Author Gateway.

    3.1.1 Plagiarism

    Anthropological Theory  and Sage take issues of copyright infringement, plagiarism or other breaches of best practice in publication very seriously. We seek to protect the rights of our authors and we always investigate claims of plagiarism or misuse of published articles. Equally, we seek to protect the reputation of the journal against malpractice. Submitted articles may be checked with duplication-checking software. Where an article, for example, is found to have plagiarised other work or included third-party copyright material without permission or with insufficient acknowledgement, or where the authorship of the article is contested, we reserve the right to take action including, but not limited to: publishing an erratum or corrigendum (correction); retracting the article; taking up the matter with the head of department or dean of the author's institution and/or relevant academic bodies or societies; or taking appropriate legal action.

    3.1.2 Prior publication

    If material has been previously published it is not generally acceptable for publication in a Sage journal. However, there are certain circumstances where previously published material can be considered for publication. Please refer to the guidance on the Sage Author Gateway or if in doubt, contact the Editor at the address given below.

    3.2 Contributor's publishing agreement

    Before publication, Sage requires the author as the rights holder to sign a Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement. Sage’s Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement is an exclusive licence agreement which means that the author retains copyright in the work but grants Sage the sole and exclusive right and licence to publish for the full legal term of copyright. Exceptions may exist where an assignment of copyright is required or preferred by a proprietor other than Sage. In this case copyright in the work will be assigned from the author to the society. For more information please visit the Sage Author Gateway.

    3.3 Open access and author archiving

    Anthropological Theory offers optional open access publishing via the Sage Choice programme and Open Access agreements, where authors can publish open access either discounted or free of charge depending on the agreement with Sage. Find out if your institution is participating by visiting Open Access Agreements at Sage. For more information on Open Access publishing options at Sage please visit Sage Open Access. For information on funding body compliance, and depositing your article in repositories, please visit Sage’s Author Archiving and Re-Use Guidelines and Publishing Policies.

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    4. Preparing your manuscript for submission

    4.1 Formatting

    The preferred format for your manuscript is Word. LaTeX files are also accepted. The journal article style guide and template can be accessed here.

    4.2 Artwork, figures and other graphics

    For guidance on the preparation of illustrations, pictures and graphs in electronic format, please visit Sage’s Manuscript Submission Guidelines. 

    Figures supplied in colour will appear in colour online regardless of whether or not these illustrations are reproduced in colour in the printed version. For specifically requested colour reproduction in print, you will receive information regarding the costs from Sage after receipt of your accepted article.

    Tables should be typed (double line-spaced) on separate sheets and their position indicated by a marginal note in the text. All tables should have short descriptive captions with footnotes and their source(s) typed below the tables.

    Illustrations: all line diagrams and photographs are termed 'Figures' and should be referred to as such in the manuscript. They should be numbered consecutively. Line diagrams should be presented in a form suitable for immediate reproduction (i.e. not requiring redrawing), each on a separate A4 sheet. They should be reproducible to a final printed text area of 115 mm x 185 mm. Illustrations on disk should be supplied as TIFF or EPS files at high resolution. Photographs should preferably be submitted as clear, glossy, unmounted black and white prints with a good range of contrast. Slides are also acceptable. All figures should have short descriptive captions typed on a separate sheet

    4.3 Supplemental material

    This journal is able to host additional materials online (e.g. datasets, podcasts, videos, images etc) alongside the full-text of the article. For more information please refer to our guidelines on submitting supplemental files.

    4.4 Reference style

    Anthropological Theory adheres to the Sage Harvard reference style. View the Sage Harvard guidelines to ensure your manuscript conforms to this reference style.Please refer to the journals style guide here for further information.

    If you use EndNote to manage references, you can download the Sage Harvard EndNote output file.

    4.5 English language editing services

    Authors seeking assistance with English language editing, translation, or figure and manuscript formatting to fit the journal’s specifications should consider using Sage Language Services. Visit Sage Language Services on our Journal Author Gateway for further information.

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    5. Submitting your manuscript

    Anthropological Theory is hosted on Sage Track, a web based online submission and peer review system powered by ScholarOne™ Manuscripts. Visit to login and submit your article online.

    IMPORTANT: Please check whether you already have an account in the system before trying to create a new one. If you have reviewed or authored for the journal in the past year it is likely that you will have had an account created.  For further guidance on submitting your manuscript online please visit ScholarOne Online Help.

    5.1 ORCID

    As part of our commitment to ensuring an ethical, transparent and fair peer review process Sage is a supporting member of ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID. ORCID provides a unique and persistent digital identifier that distinguishes researchers from every other researcher, even those who share the same name, and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between researchers and their professional activities, ensuring that their work is recognized.

    The collection of ORCID iDs from corresponding authors is now part of the submission process of this journal. If you already have an ORCID iD you will be asked to associate that to your submission during the online submission process. We also strongly encourage all co-authors to link their ORCID ID to their accounts in our online peer review platforms. It takes seconds to do: click the link when prompted, sign into your ORCID account and our systems are automatically updated. Your ORCID iD will become part of your accepted publication’s metadata, making your work attributable to you and only you. Your ORCID iD is published with your article so that fellow researchers reading your work can link to your ORCID profile and from there link to your other publications.

    If you do not already have an ORCID iD please follow this link to create one or visit our ORCID homepage to learn more.

    5.2 Information required for completing your submission

    You will be asked to provide contact details and academic affiliations for all co-authors via the submission system and identify who is to be the corresponding author. These details must match what appears on your manuscript. The affiliation listed in the manuscript should be the institution where the research was conducted. If an author has moved to a new institution since completing the research, the new affiliation can be included in a manuscript note at the end of the paper. At this stage please ensure you have included all the required statements and declarations and uploaded any additional supplementary files (including reporting guidelines where relevant).

    5.3 Permissions

    Please also ensure that you have obtained any necessary permission from copyright holders for reproducing any illustrations, tables, figures or lengthy quotations previously published elsewhere. For further information including guidance on fair dealing for criticism and review, please see the Copyright and Permissions page on the Sage Author Gateway.

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    6. On acceptance and publication

    6.1 Sage Production

    Your Sage Production Editor will keep you informed as to your article’s progress throughout the production process. Proofs will be made available to the corresponding author via our editing portal Sage Edit or by email, and corrections should be made directly or notified to us promptly. Authors are reminded to check their proofs carefully to confirm that all author information, including names, affiliations, sequence and contact details are correct, and that Funding and Conflict of Interest statements, if any, are accurate.

    6.2 Online First publication

    Online First allows final articles (completed and approved articles awaiting assignment to a future issue) to be published online prior to their inclusion in a journal issue, which significantly reduces the lead time between submission and publication. Visit the Sage Journals help page for more details, including how to cite Online First articles.

    6.3 Access to your published article

    Sage provides authors with online access to their final article.

    6.4 Promoting your article

    Publication is not the end of the process! You can help disseminate your paper and ensure it is as widely read and cited as possible. The Sage Author Gateway has numerous resources to help you promote your work. Visit the Promote Your Article page on the Gateway for tips and advice.

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    7. Further information

    Any correspondence, queries or additional requests for information on the manuscript submission process should be sent to the Anthropological Theory editorial office as follows:

    Individual Subscription, Print Only

    Institutional Subscription, E-access

    Institutional Subscription, Print Only

    Institutional Subscription, Combined (Print & E-access)

    Individual, Single Print Issue

    Institutional, Single Print Issue