Open Access, Scholarship, and Digital Anthropology: a Discussion

Danny Miller, UCL

Although this site was started as a collaboration between Haidy in New York and Danny in London, from the beginning we were hoping to attract postings from a global interest in this genre of academic work. We do pretty well in this regard, with contributions from academics, students and others from many different countries, but we would still be happier if there was more coming from Brazil, West Africa, South and East Asia. By the same token we see this and other similar academic blogs as attempts to open up information about new academic and related work to as wide an audience as possible. Within which one of the key attributes of online posting is simply that it is free. A person without good library access and funds can still go online and this in a small way helps alleviate some of the disparates in global access to academic work. There is still a digital divide but we don’t want to forget that the non-digital divide is much wider. But that logic could apply to all academic work. Given much of this is funded by public bodies, why really should anyone pay for access to academic research? And for a subject such as anthropology with its global concerns it is particularly important that are work is freely available to people from all around the world. However, shifting from the the current situation to that fully Open Access idea will not be easy and there are many issues around scholarship and the wider emergence of a digital world that need to be considered in tandem, and which are currently being debated in a number of different forums. In this spirit you may wish to look at a new paper I have published in the Open Access Journal HAU, which includes ten critical responses that help give some breadth and depth to the discussions that urgently need to take place:

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