Oriental Open Access

Last night I was searching for some information about a new volume a friend of mine edited that was recently published by the “Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago”:http://oi.uchicago.edu/, best known as the home of Indiana Jones or Robert Braidwood, depending on who you are. I not only found the volume, but discovered that the OI is providing “it’s entire catalog”:http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/DEPT/PUB/SRC/Elec_Publications.html open access. This is great news. Philology is a very small discipline and the dilemmas of scholarly publishing are nowhere as clearly articulated as when your sales rep is trying to pitch “The Hittite Dictionary, Volume S, Fascicle 1, sa- to saptamenzu”:http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/DEPT/PUB/SRC/CHD/CHDS.html to librarians from small liberal arts colleges with rapidly-disappearing budgets.

For anthropologists who are detail junkies, these publications are all fantastic to page through. Many of the entries in the Hittite dictionary are incredibly Borgesian for someone who doesn’t study Hittite (“said of the thigh of a sheep in a quasi-recipe: ‘the client kisses the thigh of the sheep which has been cut open (and) stuffed (with pomegranite and chopped meat)'”). But a few of the pieces from the press articulate very well with the work of non-philological anthropologists including, most obviously, archaeologists and middle eastern types. “Changing Social Identity with the Spread of Islam: Archaeological Perspectives”:http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/DEPT/PUB/SRC/OIS/1/OIS1.html looks good, for instance. And of course the whole point of writing this entry is really to plug my friend’s book, “Margins of Writing, Origins of Cultures”:http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/DEPT/PUB/SRC/OIS/2/OIS2.html, which is the proceedings of a conference which was unique for combining the work of anthropologists (mostly Chicagoans like Michael Silverstein, John Kelly, etc.) with that of philologists (Theo van den Hout, Peter Machinist, and Seth Sanders, the editor and my homie). It’s sort of Benedict Anderson in the ancient middle east — language and ethnic identity at the birth of alphabetic writing. Very cool and highly reccomended if go for those sorts of issues and are ready for the power of a fully armed and operation philological monograph.


Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at rex@savageminds.org