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How Did JASHM Begin?

Just after the semester started in Mid-January, 1980, Dr. Drid Williams called a meeting of the members of the new graduate program in the Anthropology of Human Movement Studies in the Department of Dance and Dance Education [SEHNAP] at New York University. She told them they were going to have a Journal that would be published twice a year, saying, "a subject without a voice—without a public means of communication—is a non-subject."

The students were enthusiastic, but they thought they would be doing only the 'donkey work' of publication (photocopying, stapling, mailing, etc.). "Who will publish articles in the Journal?" they asked. "You will," Williams replied. Her announcement was met with profound silence and shocked facial expressions. Breaking the silence, Williams said, "At first, the essays for JASHM will come out of the papers you write for course work in my classes and the courses you take in the anthropology department. When we get SASHM (the Society for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement) launched next month, you will be able to read and defend your papers publicly, thus the Society will provide a suitable forum for the Journal.

"But how can we do that? We don't know enough to write papers for a Journal," the students protested. "That's true. You don't know very much, but how and when are you going to learn? In one way of looking at it, nobody ever really knows enough, and the result is, they never begin. Look at it this way: you need to connect what you are learning in classes with the real world of academia. That means writing, facing up to criticism and learning how to defend what you write. To get a sense of that, you need both SASHM and JASHM. That's how you will learn."

Williams then explained how the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford [JASO] had started—as a modest cyclo-styled effort entirely produced by the graduate students in social anthropology during her tenure there, from 1970 to 1976. So it was that the first issue of JASHM was born. The contents of Volume 1, Number 1 consisted of two essays by professionals—'Taxonomies of the Body, With Special Reference to the Ballet' (Williams) and 'The Non-Art of the Dance' by Joann Keali'inohomoku, for which a student, Ruth Abrahams, wrote an introduction. Students Rajika Puri contributed 'The Family of Rama' and Lazlo Kürti wrote 'The Structure of Hungarian Dance: A Linguistic Approach'.

Martie Fellom-McGibboney wrote a review essay, the purpose of which was "to examine the writer's use of models in [the] presentation of data." The following articles/books are cited: 'Dance and cultural Identity Among the Paiwon Tribe of Pingtung county, Taiwan' by Madeline Kwok; 'Systemic Aesthetics; Kiowa-Apache Ritual' by John Beattie; 'Play, Role Reversal and Humor: Symbolic Elements of a Tewa Pueblo Navaho Dance' by Jill Sweet, and Languages of Art by Nelson Goodman. Doctoral student Ruth Abrahams wrote about the differences between anthropology and dance criticism in a review of Suzanne Walther's essay, 'A Cross-Cultural Approach to Dance Criticism'.

Twenty-five years later, JASHM is now in its fourteenth volume. Recent issues include a retrospective of the contributions to the Journal over the past eighteen years of the noted English philosopher, David Best. There is a dialogue between Brenda Farnell and William Stokoe, the noted linguist and leading champion of Deaf sign language as a language in the United States, and an exceptionally fine article by Douglas Baynton (an historian) on the effects of Darwin's theories of evolution on American Sign Language.

David Pocock, a distinguished English anthropologist and the originator of the idea of a personal anthropology (reflexivity) has written for JASHM, and there are many more, including a steady stream of excellent essays by graduate students, too numerous to mention. Indexes of all the volumes are listed on this website as well as subscription information. We look forward to many more years.



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