When I took over the Digital Editor position in January and started to plan the year for MAQ online, I couldn’t have imagined what 2020 was going to look like. Now, in the middle of a global health crisis and racial justice revolution, academic journals are examining their complicity in systems of inequality and thinking hard about what work (mostly white) academia should prioritize now. The MAQ Editorial Team has posted a response to current events and supports organizations such as the Association of Black Anthropologists, which made an important statement against police violence, anti-black racism, and the ways in which anthropology is racist.
As an editor and a scholar, I have been thinking a lot about how theory can matter. Black poet and educator J Mase III has said, “Academia is always 10 years behind the lived reality of the folks on the ground. Prioritizing articles and textbooks over real people’s collective experiences is one way to avoid accountability for the current world we live in.” Medical anthropology has the power to enact change by telling the stories of those lived realities, but only if we take responsibility for how our scholarship and institutions continually reproduce white supremacy, and work to change that.
We conceived of this “Election Year Series” for Critical Care as short, flash pieces by scholars working in research areas particularly politically urgent in 2020: reproductive rights, gun violence, transpolitics, health technologies, environmental health, and borders/migration. We hoped the work would be short and more public facing than conventionally “scholarly.” We wanted for this series to allow medical anthropologists to map research to political issues in this election year, to be able to disseminate work to a broader audience, in a timely and more applied way than a traditional peer reviewed journal. I sought out diverse authors and encouraged them to write about research in process, or to write more speculatively than they might usually. We will be posting these pieces every few weeks for the rest of 2020. Though this series was created pre-COVID, pre-revolution, the research areas explored are highly political, and still incredibly germane. The authors use a critical anthropological lens to see and analyze those collective experiences that hold us all accountable. I think this is how we make academic work worth doing.
Amber Benezra, MAQ Digital Editor