Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Small Take on Open Access

I don’t have too much to offer to the ongoing discussion on anthropology blogs about the idea of open access (I'll be lazy and simply link to Anthropology Report's coverage), but thought I’d give voice to my little part of the world teaching anthropology at a community college. For me, I support the idea simply because I like the notion of being easily aware of important discussions within the discipline. I can quickly know what the cool kids (said sincerely and without derision) are talking about, despite the fact that I’m the professional equivalent of a basement-dwelling, World of Warcraft-playing introverted hermit (take this recent Savage Minds post for instance).

I also think it’s valuable for my students. The ones I tend to deal with are from lower socioeconomic brackets, so many have suffered disadvantages relative to other college students nationwide--particularly those at elite institutions. Because I’m a big believer in fairness, I’m a fan of any development that broadens opportunity to those that haven’t had it before. I really like the idea that my students could have the exact same access (dependent on access to a computer and internet, which isn’t always the case) to anthropological literature as every other student in an anthropology course across the globe. While I understand most of my students in Anthro 101 aren’t currently devouring Hau online, the principle remains important.

Most anthropologists I am aware of are advocates of social equality, so this would be one way of walking the walk as far as the discipline’s products go.


  1. Yes! Thank you for an important contribution to the discussion. Your situation is a crucial reason to support open access projects in anthropology.

  2. One move would be to open up JSTOR to worldwide consumption (at least the Anthro journals) not keep it for a bunch of elite or very large institutions.

  3. Jason and Karl,

    Thanks for the supportive comments. I think it helps students to engage further with the discipline if they feel like they're reading current ideas and not just those that have made their ways into textbooks.