PopAnth is a community project, and we are always open to new contributors and contributions.
You don’t have to be an anthropologist to contribute to PopAnth. You just have to be good at applying research to understanding humanity and share our goals of public engagement. Some of the people we’d love to welcome on board are:
- Authors – we welcome submissions from current or aspiring bloggers who wish to produce information about humanity for a non-academic audience
- Filmmakers – if you have a short video that you’d like to feature on our site, or a link to a longer film accompanied by text
- Photographers – interesting and evocative imagery to use in articles and site headers are most welcome
- Artists, graphic and web designers – this site didn’t design itself and can always improve in both visual aesthetic and usability
- Editors – skilled contributors to the blogging community are welcome to put up their hands to be editors and have a greater say in the content and running of the site
If you think you’d like to get involved, or even just make a suggestion, please feel free to contact to one of our Editors. Looking forward to popularising anthropology with you!
We invite submissions that meet our goals of entertaining and educating. We welcome fresh, fun and engaging ethnographic research, ‘mythbusting’ articles that use cross-cultural evidence to refute common assumptions about humanity and prompt people to think twice about the way they see themselves in the world.
We don’t publish disciplinary news, such as Calls for Papers, or disciplinary conversations.
When brainstorming ideas for a PopAnth piece, one approach is to ask yourself the question: ‘What do people like?’ The answer could be as broad as love, pets, magic, sport, vampires, clothes, family, self, work, or money. If you studied anthropology, what were the points in your lectures that stunned you? Another approach is to think in terms of myth-busting; “misconceptions people hold about humanity”, “pink is naturally a masculine colour”, “marriage has one universal form”. Yet another possibility is to engage with contemporary political, social or economic issues – what’s filling up news media at the moment?
Articles should be between 500-1,000 words, or for more involved topics should be submitted as multiple articles. You can go up to 1200 words if needed for it to make sense. They should be written with the broadest possible post-pubescent audience in mind: think of writing for a daily newspaper, mixed with a stand-up comedy gig, or possibly a dramatic soap opera. Catchy headlines and personal stories will reel our readers in. Once you’ve got ‘em, slip in the anthropology while they’re not paying attention.
Our readers live in all kinds of places, and English is not necessarily their first language. Some readers might be using an online translator to read our material. So, please do be mindful of keeping language relatively simple and free of colloquialisms wherever possible.
Besides writing, you could also consider making a short video about a topic or a key concept. It’s actually very easy, and every computer today has simple software (Windows Movie Maker, Apple iMovie) to allow you to compile images, video and text.
Have you already made a documentary or a short film? Write us an op ed about your film and how it is relevant to understanding the world today. We’ll post it with a link to your film.
Liked it, hated it, want to share it? We publish 300-800 word reviews of:
- Recently published books, such as ‘Watching the Irish’, ‘The Comfort of Things’, ‘Sex at Dawn’, and so on;
- Older popular books, such as ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’, ‘Nisa’, ‘Return to Laughter’, ‘Stone Age Economics’, ‘The Chrysanthemum and the Sword’, etc.
- Documentaries and ethnographic films
- Multimedia presentations, such as TED talks
- Anthropology blogs
If you’re looking for inspiration, Goodreads has a useful list of their most popular anthropology books.
We publish links to anthropological items that appear in major news media, online journals, and established blogs. If you’re an author of one of these items, or have stumbled across something that you think is relevant to our readers, please send it along using our Contact page.
We’re glad that you’ve decided to join us! Here you can find information on:
When preparing your submission, keep the following questions in mind:
- Does my contribution attract attention?
- Articles are more likely to attract attention if readers feel that the topic is relevant to their lives – if they can ‘see themselves’ as an actor in the story
- Your article’s headline and opening paragraph are particularly crucial for drawing in the reader
- Is it easy to understand?
- Whatever is to be said, has to communicated succinctly
- Be aware that we are reaching out to a global audience, for most of whom English is not their first language
- Does it make news?
- It should engage with a current issue or an older one that is particularly relevant today
- Don’t be afraid to report ‘discoveries’ about contemporary culture, much as archaeologists do about bones
- Is it memorable?
- Is it the kind of thing that people likely to share with their friends on social media or over the kettle at work?
- Most of what grabs people’s attention is quickly forgotten, so you need a ‘hook’
- Does it add value to a debate?
- Contributing to a broader social conversation is a great way to ensure relevance
- The idea is not to tell people what to think, but to provide them with the tools and the inspiration to investigate further
- Does it add value to our goals?
- We’d like to stimulate long-lasting interest in anthropological themes, to help people become more critical thinkers
- We’d love to encourage more people to become authors and to enter into dialogue with each other
- Articles should be 500-1000 words; book reviews 300-800 words. More involved topics should be submitted as multiple articles
- Use British English, governa’
- We use the Associated Press Stylebook. If you do not have access to the stylebook, there are numerous summaries available on the Internet and you are most welcome to request access to our Contributors Corner forum where the PopAnth author and editorial community hang out to help discuss such things
- Any references go in the ‘Notes’ section, including OpEd-style pieces that discuss current debates
- Please provide ‘Further Information’ for readers who want to find out more about the topic. This could be articles, videos, podcasts, books, you name it. Just make sure that at least some of it is freely accessible on the internet (not all academic journal articles that most people can’t afford to buy).
- Please make sure that intellectual property rights are clear, i.e. the work is original and unencumbered
- Anonymise names where appropriate, i.e. non public figures and research informants, etc
- You can submit your article using the ‘Submit Here’ form. Please be sure to fill out all of the fields. If you have any trouble, contact us
- We want to promote the other things you do besides being a PopAnth author. Please provide a photo of yourself and a short bio (no more than 50 words). If you have them, please also provide your personal website URL, Twitter name, Facebook page, and Google+ profile
- If you’re submitting an article, we’ll need at least one eye-catching photo to accompany it. If you send us a really great photo, we’ll put it in our scrolling banner, making your story visible for far longer! Please make sure your image files are at least 1024 x 768 pixels, preferably as PNG or JPG files
- If you’re submitting a review of a book or film, please include at least one quote from the author / spoken by a character
- Your article will be under review for two weeks
- Our Editors will review your article and make comments
- We will contact you if any major changes are suggested
- We may editorialise your writing ourselves, but we will check with you before publishing it with any major changes
- We expect publication to take place within a month of your submission
- Once published, we’ll promote your article on Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook and LinkedIn
- You will be automatically notified of readers’ comments on your article so that you can join in the discussion
- Happy contributing!
Do you want to improve your popular writing? Creating stories that draw in our readers can be a challenge, especially for those of us who use academic jargon in our line of work. Yet we need to excel at storytelling in order to reach beyond the ivory tower. This is why John McCreery has stepped up to the plate as The Writing Coach. He provides:
- Individual coaching. You’ve submitted an article to PopAnth. The Writing Coach recognises your talent and offers you his coaching services, which you are free to accept or reject (it doesn’t affect whether we will publish your article). Working together in a public forum, you polish your piece into something exceptional. Your article will then go back to the editors for review.
- Open access lessons. All coaching sessions are publicly available in the Contributors Corner. Reading through these is a great way to learn how to craft popular anthropology. How to hook in your reader, create a protagonist and place the reader in the story are just some of the topics covered.
We hope that everyone can benefit from the coaching experience.
John McCreery spent thirteen years working in advertising in Japan as a copywriter and creative director. He’d like to pass on what he’s learned. He explains:
It was early in the spring of 1984. Kazuhiko Kimoto, Senior Creative Director in the International Division of Hakuhodo, Japan’s second largest advertising agency, was fuming. “I will never, ever, ever hire an academic as a copywriter again!” He was talking about me.
Once again I had taken a client’s orientation and turned it into a piece of accurate smooth, bland, descriptive prose too long for the space allowed in the layout. I had failed to discover a compelling proposition and failed to turn it into a story. A story, what’s that? A narrative arc that pulls the reader emotionally toward the logical conclusion that they have to buy the product or service the copywriter is writing about. And, oh yes, it has to be logical (misrepresentation is illegal). But it also has to be compelling. That is where the emotion comes in.
Fortunately, I learn fast, and being an anthropologist knew a bit about participant-observation. When in Rome, don’t just do what the Romans do. Figure out how and why they do it. A year later, Kimoto saw his struggle to teach me what I needed to know pay off. We won our first award together in a local English-language advertising contest.
We’re talking ancient history here. A company called Canon was still making typewriters. They were introducing typewriters with a new feature called a daisy wheel, going up against IBM whose typewriters used a bouncing ball to strike the carbon ribbon to print letters on the paper. Over time the bouncing ball would wear out and slip out of alignment, which meant that the letters on the paper slipped out of alignment as well. Canon claimed that its new daisy wheels were designed to stay perfectly aligned and thus produce sharper, more professional looking documents.
Canon had gotten its start as a camera company. It was obsessed with image quality. And that obsession became the heart of the headline:”We put our reputation on every line.”
It’s now been over three decades since I, then an unemployed anthropologist, followed my wife Ruth to Japan, where she, a graduate student in Japanese literature, had a grant for year’s study in Japan. It has been almost that long since Kazuhiko Kimoto began the arduous task of transforming an academic trained to write carefully distanced objective description into the story-finder and storyteller that a successful copywriter has to be.
Along the way I’ve had other teachers. The books that instantly pop into my mind include New Yorker editor William Zinsser’s Writing to Learn, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, and Roger von Oech’s A Whack on the Side of the Head. The one writer I would most like to be is John McPhee. And that, of course, is just a taste of the stuff in English. My current research explores the world of top-ranked Japanese advertising creatives, whose thoughts on effective communication are legion and well worth close attention.
So, the deal is this. If you write something and submit it to PopAnth and I find it interesting, I will invite you to an online conversation in which we discuss what is good about it and I will offer some hints for possible improvements.
The only condition is that everyone who visits the site gets to listen in. My goal is to spread what I think I have learned as widely as possible. Remember, the goal is improvement. You won’t even get a shot at this unless what you write is already pretty good.
We’re pleased to welcome John and see his legacy live on in the Contributors Corner.
John’s Suggested Reading
- The Writer’s Room: Tools and Strategies for a Writer’s Life. Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect, provides tips on how to write and how to develop good habits.
- Telling Stories About the Stories We Tell: An Interview with Philip Gourevitch. Insights into the differences between academic and popular writing.
Meet The Translations Coach
A retired geologist and one of our most enthusiastic discussants, Larry Stout is here to help authors whose native language is not English.
If you are unsure whether your English is good enough to publish on PopAnth, don’t worry – you can submit your article anyway. If we like your topic, Larry may offer to help you get your article ready for publication.
At PopAnth, we are committed to publishing articles by authors from all around the globe!