? Editorial - Amiya Bhatia and Johanna Mitterhofer - Imponderabilia


Imponderabilia; ‘a series of phenomena of great importance which cannot possibly be recorded by questioning or computing documents, but have to be observed in their full actuality’ - Malinowski, B. [1922] (2002:18) 'Argonauts of the Western Pacific'. Routledge: London

Imponderabilia is the product of our love of, and frustration with, anthropology. The journal tries to overcome, erode, undermine and blur the boundaries between institutions and disciplines, between theory and practice and between undergraduates and postgraduates.

We envision a space where students can share their research and exchange their views, criticisms and reflections on anthropology through articles, interviews, photography and other creative methods. Imponderabilia draws on the thoughts and insights of students from universities across the world; it represents a genuine dialogue between authors, editors and peer reviewers many of whom have been in contact during the process of planning, writing, and rewriting. Authorship therefore transcends university degrees and field sites and we hope the journal can develop into a platform for the sharing of our common, yet unique experiences of studying and 'doing' anthropology.

Imponderabilia struck us as being a particularly suitable, as well as engaging and stimulating title for a journal that was concerned with anthropology in the widest sense of the term, encompassing even the smallest thing that could promote interest about the world we live in. It allows us to present an article by a philosopher discussing quality control in medicine, an essay by an amateur opera-singer on the role of songs in national identity formation and an ethnographic vignette of a Christmas tree vending site all in the same space. In order for Imponderabilia to be the multi-disciplinary project we envisioned, we had to start thinking ‘outside the box’ and look over the rim of our anthropological glasses; particularly when pieces by art historians, political scientists and philosophers challenged the way we had been taught to write and engage with concepts.

The cover of the journal was shot in the market square in Cambridge, where, on a busy Saturday morning, tourists, shoppers and passers-by stopped to enquire why we were carrying a wooden board with an unpronounceable word painted across it. It was challenging to explain what Imponderabilia meant, what the journal was about, why anthropology was interesting and why this odd collection of interests led us to be in the market square that particular morning. The picture reflects not only the content of this first issue of Imponderabilia with its slight focus on Cambridge, but also the importance of placing anthropology outside lecture halls and university departments..

Future contributors will hopefully take Imponderabilia in different directions - the journal is young, no tradition has yet been invented, no path to be followed has yet been drawn. Before giving space to everybody else's voices we would like to emphasise that Imponderabilia is about dialogue, exchange and interaction. Read the articles and respond with comments and reflections. Propose counterarguments and criticisms. And – whether you are an anthropologist, a natural scientist, or not even a student at all - contribute to the next issue.

Click here for a PDF copy of the journal