AE primarily publishes research articles, reflections on the production of anthropology knowledge, invited commentaries, forums, and book reviews.

AE does not publish guest-edited special issues, due to the large number of article submissions and the difficulties involved in reviewing such submissions to the standard by which the journal abides.

Manuscripts of articles submitted to the AE must make a clear and significant contribution to contemporary debates and theoretical developments in the discipline. The journal does not publish articles that merely apply theoretical ideas to the analysis of ethnographic materials. Articles published in the journal are expected to have a strong theoretical focus grounded in solid ethnography; a critical engagement with the issues of the contemporary moment; and an attention to scale as central to anthropological analysis. In addition, the journal is committed to publish works that cross traditional epistemological boundaries and contribute to anthropology as an international discipline.

AE forums are special features on contemporary issues in which anthropologists can make a timely intervention.

“The Production of Knowledge” features reflect on the strengths and challenges of ethnographic practice and anthropological knowledge. This may include analysing the significance of ethnography for a particular constituency or global community, with a focus on global perspectives on ethnographic practices; tracing the impact of new disciplinary trends or methodologies; reflecting on the legacy of a particular anthropologist or school of thought; or examining the conditions under which ethnographic knowledge is commonly (or uncommonly) produced, including the ways that standard visions of ethnographic fieldwork may be raced, classed, ableist, and/or gendered.

“Ethnography at its Edges” are longer review essays of multiple books that explore the relationship between the use of ethnographic techniques in disciplines other than anthropology and contemporary trends within the discipline. For more information, please contact the book reviews editor.

Authors are encouraged to submit materials that supplement and enhance their published articles, such as photographs, audio clips, and video clips for publication on the journal’s website.

We strongly suggest that authors read the open-access article titled “Tell the Story: How to Write for American Ethnologist.” The article develops at much greater length the themes summarized here and provides additional advice about writing a successful submission. Following the suggestions made in the article and below will greatly increase the possibility that your manuscript will be accepted.


The journal aims to be accessible to a broad readership that spans all of social and cultural anthropology. Authors must therefore write in clear and precise prose, avoiding unnecessary jargon and taking care to explain unfamiliar concepts.


Authors should avoid using metacommunicative frames such as “In this article, I argue,” “I describe,” “I maintain,” and the like. Simply state your ideas upfront. Likewise, such statements as “This article contributes to a growing body of anthropological scholarship” should be substituted with explicit statements of your theoretical contribution. Moreover, ideas should be the backbone of your arguments, rather than authors, publications, “literatures,” or “research.” These issues are particularly relevant in your abstract, where self-referential “noise” takes up valuable space.

Title and abstract

The title and abstract are two of the manuscript’s most important elements, for two reasons: reviewers use them to decide whether to review the manuscript, and, after publication, they are the only part of the article that is freely available online. Moreover, search engines use the title and abstract, along with the keywords, to locate the article. Writing a good title and abstract therefore greatly increases the article’s chances of being viewed and cited. Titles that are “cute” or based on inside jokes can be self-defeating.

Constructing a clear descriptive title and subtitle

Search engines use the title and subtitle to identify all the important words that define an article’s topic. This is why it is crucial to write a clear, accurate title and subtitle that include search terms readers are likely to use when researching a particular topic. To further broaden the article’s reach, write your titles so as to be understandable to readers outside the discipline.

Constructing a clear and engaging abstract

Readers use the abstract to decide whether to read the article. In some cases scholars will cite an article having read only the abstract. Thus, an abstract should be clear, engaging, and precise, and it should explicitly state the article’s original contribution. The abstract can use words and short phrases from the article but should, if possible, avoid repeating whole passages.

Carefully selecting keywords

Keywords enhance the article’s online discoverability. They should be drawn from the title, subtitle, and abstract, and should be terms that perform an important analytic function in the article.

The following are examples of well-written titles and abstracts, along with well-chosen keywords:

There might be blood: Oil, humility, and the cosmopolitics of a Cofán petro-being

A central directive of recent writings on cosmopolitics and ontology is that critically minded anthropologists should “humble” themselves and view their subjects’ statements as propositions that disclose multiple real worlds. An exploration of Cofán people’s uncertainty regarding the idea that oil is the blood of a sacred mythological being—a position that romanticizing Westerners repeatedly attribute to them—calls into question the implications of the call for anthropological humility. Cofán discussions of oil’s sanguinary nature demonstrate that the best way to comprehend the intellectual agency of our collaborators is to acknowledge, rather than ignore, the social, pragmatic, and epistemological contours of their discourse, cosmological or otherwise. [cosmopolitics, ontology, oil, indigeneity, Cofán, Ecuador, Amazonia]

The makeup of destiny: Predestination and the labor of hope in a Moroccan emigrant town

As young women in a Moroccan emigrant town search for suitable husbands, they frame seemingly irreverent practices such as using makeup and premarital romances as ways to precipitate their unknown conjugal destinies. This complex “labor of hope” flows from the Islamic precept of predestination, which, far from being a fatalistic backdrop to social life, compels people to act in the human world in view of a future that has already been divinely determined. Here, destiny effectively “folds” Islam into the very texture of mundane practices that, on the surface, may seem not just distant from Islam but even antithetical to it. This phenomenon obliges us to recast Max Weber’s argument on predestination and action, as well as to reconsider current anthropological debates on “everyday Islam.” [destiny, migration, hope, courtship, future, Islam, Morocco]

Manuscript form and length

Double-space all text and use a 12-point font throughout, including for headings, block quotations, the reference list, and endnotes. Set all margins at one inch (2.45 cm) and do not right-justify the text. Use only formatting that is essential to the meaning of the text and use the same font throughout. Manuscripts must be at least 9,000 words long but no more than 11,000 words, including notes and references but excluding the title and abstract. Please include a word count on the first page of your manuscript (including notes and references, but excluding title and abstract).

Title page

Include the article’s title and your name, institutional affiliation, and contact information for publication (postal address and e-mail address). The contact information should be accurate as of the article’s publication date. Any acknowledgments, including of financial support, should also be included on the title page.


Each article must begin with an abstract that precisely summarizes the manuscript’s argument. The abstract should be included in the main manuscript document, not in a separate document. The abstract must be at least 100 words long and no longer than 150, and it should end with a list of keywords—at least five of them and no more than nine.


American Ethnologist follows the Wiley Journals Style Manual (WJSM), available for download here (PDF). For questions unaddressed in the WJSM, we refer to The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. For spelling, the reference is Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, which uses US (rather than British) spellings. Wherever Merriam-Webster’s lists variant spellings, use the first one given.


Use bold to indicate first-level headings and italics for second-level headings, like this:

This is a first-level heading
This is a second-level heading

Citations and references

For in-text citations, AE follows WJSM 3.2.1 (download a PDF here). For the reference list, we follow WJSM 3.3.8, which is identical to the style set forth in chapter 15 of The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.

Place your citations in parentheses and include the author’s name and the source’s year of publication, separated by a comma, like this: (Herzfeld, 2004). For quotations or extensive paraphrases, include the page numbers preceded by a comma (not a colon) and “p.” or “pp.”: (Herzfeld, 2004, pp. 146–47). Do not include the date of original publication or the abbreviations “ed.” or “trans.”; save this data for the reference list. For multiple citations in one parenthetical, list them alphabetically, separate them with semicolons, and use commas to separate the years corresponding to multiple citations from a single author, like this:

(Bessire & Bond, 2014; Daser, 2014; Herzfeld, 1989, 2004, 2009).

Note that an ampersand, not the word “and,” is used for a citation consisting of two authors. For three or more authors, use “et al.”

On the reference list, include every source cited in the text and no others, listed alphabetically by author. Set multiple entries by the same author in chronological order, from oldest to most recent. The layout is as follows, formatted with hanging indentation:

Do not use tabs or spaces to create the hanging indentation; use the ruler, as explained by the Microsoft Word help page.

Do not use dashes to replace repeated author names. Just repeat the names.

Do not embed the reference list in the endnotes.


AE uses endnotes, not footnotes. They should be brief, directly relevant to the text, and limited to 15. In the main text, place endnote reference numbers at the ends of sentences only, using arabic numerals.


Review manuscripts should be a maximum of 1000 words and should follow the same style sheet as article manuscripts. Reviews should include no notes and preferably no citations and references. If citations are essential, they should be limited to two.

Begin the review by listing the book’s bibliographic information in the following format, followed by your name and institutional affiliation:

Gifts: A study in comparative law [book title]

By Richard Hyland. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. 708 pp. [book data]

Jane I. Guyer [review author’s byline]

Send review manuscripts to

• Remove all author names and identifying information, including affiliations, from manuscript and file titles.

• Do not include acknowledgments, including funding sources.

• References to your own work should be anonymized as follows: “(Author year, page).”

• Use the third person to refer to your work, as appropriate. That is, replace phrases like “in my article” with “in Smith’s (2015) article…”

• Reference list: Author appears in the reference list alphabetically and in chronological order, from oldest to most recent. “Author” is followed by “Details omitted for double-blind reviewing.” For instance:

Anand, Nikhil. 2017. Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Author (2013). Details omitted for double-blind reviewing.

Author (2017). Details omitted for double-blind reviewing.

• After an article is accepted, authors will de-anonymize their work prior to copyediting.


Submit each table separately from the manuscript in its own Word document. Do not submit tables as PDFs, since they need to be copyedited. Give each table a number and a short descriptive title (e.g., Table 1: Short descriptive title). Name the tables’ Word files using your name and the table number: Your Name Table 1, Your Name Table 2, and so on. In the manuscript, place bracketed callouts between paragraphs indicating where each table should be placed, like this: [Please insert Table 1 here]. In the text, point out each table to the reader once, usually in parentheses, like this: (see Table 1).

Photos, maps, and other illustrations

Submit each image separately from the manuscript in its own TIF or JPG file. Do not embed images in the manuscript. Image files must be high resolution (at least 300 dpi) and large enough to print at 8 x 10 inches. If they do not meet these criteria, we cannot use them. Title the image files using your name and consecutive Arabic numerals: Your Name Figure 1, Your Name Figure 2, and so on. Each image needs a corresponding placement callout and reference in the main text, as with tables (see above).

In a separate document, submit captions for each image numbered to correspond with the image files: Figure 1, Figure 2. All captions should include a detailed description of the image (naming the who, what, when, and where), as well as a credit, like this:

Figure 1. Crowds in Tahrir Square, Cairo, react with joy to the announcement that President Mubarak will step down, February 11, 2011. (Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times/Polaris)

In some cases, longer captions are called for. They should not exceed three sentences. Begin with a sentence or sentence fragment that identifies the image. Then explain its significance, as in this example:

Figure 2. A map of a cloudless Earth is juxtaposed with a second map of Earth reconstructed from reduced satellite data. The bottom map is meant to mimic the kind of image that astronomers might one day capture of faraway exoplanets. The map thus suggests that we are viewing something “other,” but in fact we are viewing a representation of ourselves. (Reproduced by permission from Nicholas B. Cowan et al., “Alien Maps of an Ocean-Bearing World,” Astrophysical Journal 700 [2]: 915–23. © 2009 American Astronomical Society)

All captions should be intelligible to someone who has not read the article, so please explain unfamiliar terms and identify any people to whom you refer.


You must submit written permissions for each image, including those you own and those owned by someone else. In each permission, the image’s owner must authorize AE to publish the image both in print and online. A permission must also be submitted for any table that is owned by someone else or is being reprinted.

Manuscripts submitted to AE should not be under consideration elsewhere or have been published in any form. All manuscripts are reviewed anonymously. Please submit your manuscript online via Manuscript Central. A paper copy is not required.

Image files and supporting documentation (captions, credits, permissions) may be uploaded at the time of submission or sent to

Authors are encouraged to suggest scholars who might review the manuscript, providing their institutional affiliations and e-mail addresses. They may also indicate scholars whom they prefer not to review the manuscript. The editor is not bound by these suggestions but will respect them whenever possible. Suggested reviewers should not present a conflict of interest; for example, they should not be employed at the same institution as the author or be closely involved in the author’s research.

Publishers should send review copies to the following address:

K. Eliza Williamson
Department of Romance Languages & Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1077
1 Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130

AE partners with Sapiens, an editorially independent online publication of the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Dedicated to popularizing anthropological research to an international, general-interest audience, Sapiens publishes feature essays, short opinion pieces, short narratives from the lab or field, photo essays, and more. Authors are encouraged to consider reworking their contributions to AE into a piece for Sapiens. For more information, visit

Click here to download the American Anthropological Association’s author agreement.

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