Call for Papers for the Special Issue “Positioning, Militancy and Public engagement”

Journal: Public Anthropologist,

Guest editor: Angela Biscaldi (University of Milan)

Format: We welcome both research articles (between 6000 and 9000 words) and shorter essays (between 3000 and 5000 words).

Abstracts submission: Please send your abstract to by September 9, 2024.

Full papers submission: If your abstract is accepted, you will be asked to submit your full paper by January 27, 2025.

Papers will be submitted through Editorial Manager:

Instructions for authors:

Thematic focus: In the past few decades, social and cultural anthropology has engaged in a critical debate on researcher’s positioning. There is a growing consensus on the necessity for researchers to be fully aware of the theoretical and methodological perspectives from which they conduct fieldwork, as well as the subjectivity involved, encompassing attitudes, experiences, expectations, and values.

In this context, we invite anthropologists to explore the relationship between positioning (understood as an exercise in reflexivity by the researcher on the perspectives, questions, and values they bring to the field) and two other concepts that are sometimes conflated with it: researcher’s militancy and public engagement. By militancy, we refer to the active participation of researchers in an organization, party, or social movement, as well as their intimate adherence to a worldview that they identify with and that informs their lifestyle. Public engagement, on the other hand, can be defined as the ability to consistently disseminate research outcomes in the public sphere, lead participatory approaches, inform more dialogic teaching methods, and engage at different levels with the multiplicity of research subjects and stakeholders.

We call for papers that will help clarify both the distinctions and interactions between these three “angles,” using field research examples. The questions we pose include, but are not limited to:

  • How does militancy interact with positioning? Is militancy (always) a resource, or does it risk undermining the researcher’s critical reflexivity on positioning? Can the researcher’s militancy compromise research outcomes and diminish scientific authority?
  • How does militancy interact with public engagement activities? If public engagement requires a certain degree of compromises and forms of mediation (linked to the need to address a wide audience an different stakeholders) is militancy always reconcilable with it?
  • Can strong critical positioning (and thus the ability to understand the relativity and partiality of one’s viewpoint) lead researchers to be skeptical of totalizing affiliations and the plausibility of public engagement as a neutral tool for scientific dissemination?

For questions regarding the special issue, contact

For questions regarding the journal, contact the Editor-in-Chief, Antonio De Lauri,

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