Wrapped Gifts: Publishing Online
Liks to: Experiencing Rich Anthropology / CSAC Monographs / CSAC / Wrapped Gifts
Fieldwork and Accountability
In 1999 I completed my doctoral thesis on the theme of gift exchange in contemporary Japan. It looked at the economic anthropology of gift and commodity exchange, wrapping, inequality and representation of obligations in Japanese society.
In 1996, as I was carrying fieldwork research I came across many people who wanted to know what I was doing and what I would do with my findings. I promised my friends and informants that I would make my work as widely accessible as possible. In 2000 and 2001, after my graduation I returned to 'the field' with many bound copies of my work and gave it to the different families and individuals that had helped me. I had to give some copies to the town hall officials for their records as well. I did not feel that distribution was enough but it was all I could do at the time.
University of Kent: CSA
In 2000 in a conversation about this with the Head of my department, she suggested I should put it forward for publication with the University of Kent. I contacted the Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing (CSA).
In 2000 the CSA was at the forefront of online and software related applications for Anthropology in the UK. They pioneered many ventures that saw the digitalisation of the first online ethnographies, the archive maintenance of classic anthropological work, the production of software for research use. They owe credit for spearheading anthropologists in the UK to think creatively about producing anthropology for the Internet. I put forward my publication to them, specially for their CSAC Monographs.
Wrapped gifts became a CSA Monograph in 2001 and was published online through PDF and HTML. The publication was announced in the Humanist Archives for Digital Humanities.
The HTML version struggled with rendering the most complex aspects of the thesis, graphs, quantitative information, maps, pictures, but it created the first web-based overview for it.
I was very pleased with the PDF publication online because then, and even more now, it became open to anyone in the field who would have access to the Internet (many) and to future residents of my 'fieldwork' location.
All ends well?
Few years later I had a contract to publish my thesis in book, printed format. The publishers, however, wanted the online publication removed in order to print it in paper. Even if the University of Kent could have removed the copy, as they well argued, the original electronic copy had entered electronic records and would remain in a server, and thus, it would even if 'removed' from sight, still be located on an online domain.
After some considerations I decided I did not want the online copy removed, doing so would betray its original purpose and concept; and it would dissassociate itself from an online project I felt was truly original in the history of anthropological thinking about the Internet and Computer-generated anthropology (to use the 2000 terms). I decided that although not having a paper copy was going to have an impact on my RAE submissions and on how my publications may be perceived I did not want to sacrifice such project.
I am glad it stayed online all these years. As our use of the Internet, online publications and shared sources has radically grown in complexity, after so many years online the thesis is easily tagged by engines and recorded online in Intute, Scientific Commons, Academy.Edu, online quotes, Geocities articles, Amazon, Intute for ritual exchange, OpenSingle, Reviews to Japan, AnthroNEt to point at the power of online crossreferencing. This does not amout to much but I am pleased the thesis has stayed available to any of the people I met during my research and for other researchers and audiences. My students also benefited from this open resource (and the links from these resource to other digitalisations of ethnographic knowledge) and made it possible for me to share findigns on research methods with them.
The picture above are the Cover of the CD-ROM (round) and print screen of HTML page.
Dealing with Online Publications and Research Accountability
FURTHER READINGS on ARCHIVING Anthropolog in the Electronic Age
Zeitlyn's article on Archiving Anthropology
Open Access and Self Archving
Caplan: The ethics of Archiving
Digital Archive Network
AAA: Open Access as Non-Realistic Option
Politics and Public Anthropology
Ethnography and the Archive
Anthropologic Index Online
MIT OpenCourseWare Anthropology
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