Friday, April 15, 2011

The need for a new journal?

While it is sometimes difficult to gauge the impact of a poster presentation, I was very pleased with the responses to my presentation on kin-structured migration in 19th century Chemung County, NY (soon to be posted here) at the annual meetings for the AAPA.  What struck me, though, was how novel the idea of isonymy studies seemed to many of the members I spoke to, and not just younger graduate students.  Surname studies have been a part of biological anthropology for at least four decades, and yet one of the most frequent responses I got was something akin to "wow, I didn't know you could do that." 

This got me thinking of the need for more exposure and impact for biohistorical research programs.  One fairly obvious way to do this would be with a new journal dedicated to the topic.  Although biohistory more or less represents a methodological approach, there is no shortage of methodological and area-based journals within anthropology alone.  The growth of genealogical and historical population data online should presage an comparative growth for anthropological studies requiring such data.  Not just isonymy, but historical demographics, epidemiology and hybrid studies combining historical data with modern molecular methods.  Such studies do get occasionally appear in journals such as AJPA and Human Biology, but they are no doubt competing with the numerous other papers from areas some consider more "current."  A "Journal of Biohistorical Research" would provide an outlet for any number of viable articles that would otherwise go unpublished.  I do know there is no shortage of experienced practitioners of biohistorical research spread throughout academia, so finding a base of knowledge for peer-review would not be a problem. 

More on this in the posts to come.  At the moment I need to help my 2 year old get to sleep with some stories...

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