Penn Professor Deborah Thomas Named Editor-in-Chief of ‘American Anthropologist’

Deborah Thomas, an anthropology professor in the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts & Sciences, has been named editor-in-chief of the American Anthropological Association’s flagship journal, American Anthropologist, effective July 1. The position runs through June 30, 2020.

“I envision American Anthropologist as a platform from which anthropologists are able to enter a broader academic conversation,” said Thomas, who also holds appointments in Penn’s Graduate School of Education and School of Social Policy and Practice and is a core faculty member of the Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality.

“I hope that during my time as editor-in-chief, AA continues to foster dialogue and debate across the subfields while supporting the association’s commitment to enhancing diversity in relation to forms of scholarly production and underrepresented groups,” she said.

Thomas’s vision for the quarterly journal, which reaches the nearly 10,000 AAA members and tens of thousands of researchers, also includes the development of an online presence that will cultivate broad awareness of the work done by the association’s scholars. This spans the main fields of anthropology: cultural anthropology, biological/physical anthropology, archaeology and linguistic anthropology.

Thomas, who has authored and co-produced a number of books and films including Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica and Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens, has served as a member of the AA editorial board and as co-editor of one of its sections, “Visual Anthropology.” From 2007 until 2010, Thomas also edited the AAA’s journal Transforming Anthropology.

She has been a member of the American Anthropological Association for more than two decades.

During her tenure at Penn, she’s been central to efforts aimed at thinking creatively about non-traditional models of research, for example, how work that’s visual or performance-based might be considered on par with text-based scholarship.

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