The origins of our journal can be traced back to the early 1970's. In 1971, undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty at the University of Michigan produced Michigan Papers in Anthropology 1:1, a journal edited by Brian Weiss, Terry D'Altroy, Marshall Sahlins, and Paul Mahler. For young graduate students like Rayna Rieter (Rayna Rapp) and Harriet Rosenberg it was their first publication. And for seasoned scholars like C. Loring Brace, James Greenberg, and Eric Wolf, it was a chance to present their ideas in a forum that would enhance discussion within the department. This was the first and last issue of MPIA ever published. All seven original pieces written for MPIA are available at the Download Articles page.
In 1975, with a new editorial committee composed of Gina Barnes, David Hughes, Raymond Kelly, Elinor Melville, Patrick Moore, Maxwell Owusu, Roy Rappaport, Karen Shedlowe, Michael Taussig, Maud Walker, and Angela Wheelock, MPIA became Michigan Discussions in Anthropology and its very first volume was published by the department. As with its predecessor, MDIA was created in an attempt to foster intra- and interdepartmental discussion, but now this goal was made more central than before. In the first editorial forward, this is stipulated as the principal objective of the new journal:
"[W]e wish to stimulate discussion by reporting to each other what we are doing and thinking and inviting each other to respond to us in a mode less ephemeral and more precise than speech. In future numbers we hope to have an extensive discussion section to which you are invited to contribute."
Aside from their ambitious desire to produce three volumes a year, many of the original goals of MDIA's first editors have inspired the many volumes published since 1975 and continue to influence the journal to this day. In addition to an emphasis on fostering intra- and interdepartmental dialogue and eliciting four-field publications, MDIA continues to rely on productive collaboration between graduate students, anthropology faculty, and our staff. This not only keeps the discussion lively, but grants students and faculty alike a unique forum to present the development of their ideas. It is this above all that makes MDIA a product of the unique and ever-changing atmosphere of the University of Michigan department of anthropology.
Department of Anthropology
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