Sally and Richard Price

While I’m sure many readers of this blog have read their work before, it was not until this summer that I had a chance to meet Richard and Sally Price. Sally and Richard are anthropologists who work on historical anthropology, aesthetics, colonialism, and Afro-American culture with an emphasis on the Francophone variety. Although years ago I had read The Birth of African American Culture (which RP wrote with Sidney Mintz), it was really meeting them that led me to sit down and read Sally’s new book Paris Primitive and their short Prickly Paradigm pamphlet on Melville Herskovit’s fieldwork. Both are really wonderful: archly written, thoroughly researched case studies that keep their nose very close to the ground without being afraid to tell a good story. SP’s Paris Primitive in particular is a very close caste study of French academic/bureaucratic infighting lined with a certain Gallic inability to resist flamboyance that is delightful.

But beyond brazen endorsements of R&SP this blog entry does have a point: “The Price’s website”: is among the best that I have yet seen for an anthropologist. It does a great job of explaining to you who they are personally without being gratuitously narcissistic, it provides lots and lots of ways to learn about their publications (including pictures of their covers), it has their CVs, and it is available in French and Portuguese, the languages of their research. Simple, honest, well-designed, and informative.
Compare “their publication page”: to “”Arjun Appadurai’s”: In one the design works to let you read about the books, in the other the content is squeezed into a narrow column in order to show off the design.

Perhaps the difference is that S&RP’s site is “built by people who specialize in supporting authors”: while Appadurai’s is not. But in my opinion their website is a perfect example of the sort of ‘web presence’ an academic should maintain.


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

7 thoughts on “Sally and Richard Price

  1. Yes, the Prices do have a great website. Other than making visitors like me extremely jealous of their erudition, their productivity, and their lifestyle, it does have a significant negative feature: It lacks downloadable copies of their articles. I pointed this out to Sally, who said they wanted to add this feature. But until one can get copies of their articles, its value as a scholarly website will remain somewhat limited. That said, I did get some useful citations from their CVs, and their website did stimulate me to read their novel, Enigma Variations, an outstanding (fascinating, excellent, wonderful) work.
    So its a great website but it still needs those pdfs.

  2. Hear hear, Enigma Variations is fantastic. It took me a while to get into it but once I did it was compelling. And the design of it is beautiful: at the bottom of every page is a picture of some objet d’art of the type that they write about both fictionally and anthropologically.

  3. Yes esp. for some of the older volumes that might be hard to find or out of print, they should definitely PDFify them and turn them loose.

  4. Well, the Prices sure made my earlier comment obsolete rather quickly! They now have a bunch of pdfs of their papers posted prominently on their blog site. This is great news. Now if the rest of our colleagues would just follow suit!

  5. I liked Richard and Sally Price’s older website and I like the new version even more. Beyond adding my own two cents on that point, the question of the article PDFs is crucial. I am an OA advocate and am thus glad that they are making their papers available, but it is not clear from the evidence available that they have the right to do so in the way that they are doing it. I am speaking specifically about any items that were originally published in a AAA publication. Rather than offer my own interpretation of a clouded question, I just want to raise the point.

    Whatever is going on, making our (AAA) work available is not as simple as going behind a toll barrier and downloading a PDF out of AnthroSource or Wiley InterScience and then uploading that same PDF to a personal website. Everything depends on the author agreements and what they actually do and do not allow.

    For those who have retained or regained the right to post their work online, I would suggest that depositing it into a subject repository like Mana’o or into an institutional repository (such as those running on DSpace) is preferable for a lot of reasons to just positing it to a personal website. If one has placed a paper in a repository, it will have a durable URL to which a splashy personal website can link. This gets one permanency, standardized metadata, robust searching and a lot more. Instructors can link to the stable URL on syllabi, just as authors can cite the URL in their own references cited.

    (Thanks to MTBradley for the shout out. My site is just a free instance. Totally easy.)

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