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On behalf of the American Anthropological Association's Executive Board, I welcome readers to the inaugural issue of Open Anthropology, an on-line, public journal designed to bring anthropological insight to important public conversations. We extend our thanks to Alisse Waterston, the first editor of this experimental pilot project, who worked hard to put it together.
Anthropology is the science of humankind, past and present, across societies and cultures. The anthropological perspective is distinct from most social sciences in that it does not accept specific cultural forms and societal arrangements as given or 'natural', but seeks to understand the conditions in which they came to be. As we apply anthropological knowledge-- gained from the study of humans and primates through history and across societies-- to pressing social issues such as family, war, health, migration, inequality, we ask how these emerge, and are reproduced or transformed. The answers to these questions may provide unique insights into addressing pressing social issues.
In our inaugural issue, we shine the anthropological spotlight on marriage and family. The articles speak to the different arrangements humans create, as well as the historical and social conditions that support and constrain them. Each issue of the journal, developed around an important public concern, includes articles from across the portfolio of journals of the American Anthropological Association. The Editor's Note will open up anthropology to the non-specialist reader by drawing attention to key themes and issues raised in the articles.