Dear Friends of Footnotes,
In a few months, Footnotes will celebrate its second anniversary, and we’ve been through a lot in the past couple of years. Of course, the project was launched just WEEKS before the news about the abuse and misconduct at HAU broke–a conversation that many Footnotes’ editors have been involved in since mid-2018. Footnotes editors organized a wildly successful Late-Breaking Panel at the 2018 AAAs in San Jose, a Twitter workshop in Vancouver in 2019, and published several posts on a variety of topics. The response and feedback to Footnotes has been overwhelming. Anecdotally, many of you (especially fellow graduate students) have approached many of us to express how much you appreciate the work we’ve published on Footnotes.
We are particularly proud that Footnotes has become a space for exploring the intersections of theory and praxis in contemporary anthropology. For example, the Decanonizing Anthropology syllabus, designed by the students in Professor Emily Yates-Doerr’s graduate Social Theory course at Oregon State, not only re-writes the history of anthropology to better reflect the contributions of Indigenous, Black, non-male thinkers in the discipline, it also offers a pedagogically reflexive model for (re)learning and teaching anthropology. Along these lines, Jules Weiss’ “Citation is a Gift: ‘Punking’ Accounting in HauTalk” and “#AcademicTwitter: A How To Guide for Anthropologists” function as example “How To” manuals for anthropologists invested decolonial knowledge-making. Footnotes is also a platform for exploring how our marginalized identities inform our experiences of doing anthropology. Most recently, Bailey Duhe’s The Anthropology Letters, Part One exposes the how Black and other students of color must navigate on-going racialization, micro- and macro-aggressions, and a constant sense of unbelonging in a discpline that remains entrenched in binary Scholar (White)/Subject (non-White) paradigms. In the context of fieldwork, Ampson Hagan has explored the problems of race and expertise that undergird his research in Francophone West Africa. These are but a few examples of the breadth of writing Footnotes has published in the past two years and also include reflections on empire, climate change and disaster, and so much more.
Footnotes is an entirely volunteer effort and nearly every single one of us in the collective is a graduate student and/or holds a position of precarity in the current academic economy. In addition to conducting research and writing dissertations, we’re also fighting for funding, applying for post-docs and TT jobs, and generally afraid for our own and collective futures. These realities have always been at the forefront of Footnotes’ premise–along with the racist, settler-colonial violence of our discipline and the academy. It not only informs the content we publish, but how often we are able to publish, and whether this is a sustainable project.
It means that we sometimes have to make difficult and imperfect decisions and choices about what we do and don’t publish. We recognize that in order for Footnotes to be successful, we have to earn and maintain the trust of our readers, guest contributors, and each other. This process requires constant learning, unlearning, and reflection. We are committed to continuing to do that with one another, along with our readers.
Footnotes Team & Editors
Because of the precarity of our situation, Footnotes was designed to be a low-commitment, high-impact project. With about 20 people agreeing to take part, they all commit something in some form, however and whenever they can. Most often, they are called upon like an advisory board, other times they help edit guest contributions, and sometimes they write and publish their own works here. During the coming year, a few of us have committed to publishing at least one written contribution to Footnotes. At the same time, we also envision that there are are a variety of ways people can participate in the Footnotes project that are not centered around writing and publishing. Some of us, as mentioned, have taken to pushing Footnotes’ mission into the annual AAA conference and a few of us carry our commitments into our roles as members of AAA section Executive Boards. At the same time, the work that we do meant to pack a punch, because that what we believe will chip away at the structures of power that led to our precarity in the first place. We’re working on creating a more comprehensive list of Footnotes authors and editors, but you can find more information about some of the people who are involved in this project here.
We’re always looking for guest contributions to the Footnotes project. A review of our posts over the last two years shows that about half of our publications are by guests. Your contributions are an important part of keeping this project alive. This is not an echo chamber, but a platform for your multimodal, iconoclastic, and anti-colonial perspectives in anthropology. Part of the founding idea of Footnotes is to create an intentional space for scholars and works that might not be heard or found on other anthropology blogs. We want pieces that rattle theoretical and methodological foundations and we want authors who have reflected deeply on their positionalities in their own work.
Aside from Dick’s role as a manager (corralling the cats and keeping the plates spinning), Footnotes is a horizontal collective that votes on guest proposals by consensus. After receiving a proposal, the collective is given a few weeks (depending on the time of the year) to read the proposal and decide how to move forward from there. Generally, one person will volunteer to work with the author(s) on the piece by helping them polish the argument and the copy. You can find more information about submitting guest pieces here.
One of the biggest reasons that we wanted to write this post is because we wanted to share information with you about how Footnotes is funded. The blog is hosted on a WordPress Business site that costs $300 to maintain annually and includes the domain name and keeping the site ad-free. For the past two years, Footnotes Editor Dick Powis has been personally funding the site because he believes in the project and he had the resources to do so. This year, for a variety of reasons, we’ve slightly shifted the model. Footnotes was able to raise a small sum of money amounting to $185 through the funds collected from the AAAs Twitter workshop in 2019, which the workshop panelists generously donated collectively. Additionally, several collective members contributed individual donations of $25. We’d like to recognize some of those people here (and there are others who wished to remain anonymous):
We have also applied for grants through the Wenner-Gren Foundation, for example, that intend to support small projects and initiatives like Footnotes. When appropriate, we plan to continue pursuing funding in this way, but this landscape, too, is political and precarious. Compiling applications is time-consuming and often there is a disjuncture between the effort invested and the likelihood of success.
We also considered whether we might solicit and accept donations from people who support Footnotes. At the time being, we have decided against an open call for donations because we do not want to displace the burden of funding this project on to our peers who find themselves in similarly precarious positions (but still the most generous towards the small-scale, independent projects like this one).
We are, however, open to receiving contributions from our allies who feel they are in a position to comfortably support Footnotes. We plan to reach out personally to the tenured scholars who have supported Footnotes’ endeavors during the past couple of years, and would also be happy to hear from those of you who feel you can support us. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to start this conversation.