Omertaa, journal for Applied Anthropology, was launched in January, 2007. It is an international peer reviewed journal, with an academic board, publishing on issues which belong to the broader field of Anthropology and related issues. The offices are located in Ghent (Belgium), which is also the residence of the supporting organization: Expeditions, Research in Applied Anthropology.
The concept 'Omertà' is commonly known as a code of silence practised by "Mafia". Its use in movies and literature from the late 30's onwards further narrowed down its popular meaning to a refusal to give evidence to police about criminal activities. The 'Omertà’ this journal refers to, traces back to its underlying cultural form. It was a widespread social system in peasant cultures of which the basics are present in every culture: the conspiracy of silence. The etymology of the word is often traced back to its presumed Spanish roots where it refers to 'manliness' (hombredad). We however prefer the Latin roots: a dialectal alteration of umiltà (humility, modesty, from Latin humilitās). As ethnographers and social scientists, let us be considerate about the words we choose and humble in the way we put them out there.
Expeditions wants to promote the integration of anthropological perspectives and methods in social and cultural issues; to plead for public policy based upon sound research; to promote public recognition of anthropology as a profession; and to support the continuing professionalization of the field. Expeditions pursues its mission and purpose by:
- Communicating theories, research methods, results, and case examples through its publications.
- Recommending curriculum for the education of applied anthropologists and other applied social and cultural scientists at all levels.
- Promoting and conducting professional development programs.
- Expressing the network members' interests – and anthropological approaches in general – to the public, government agencies, and other professional associations.
Through these activities, our organization aims to be a premier professional organization for anthropologists and other applied social and cultural scientists and with colleagues throughout the world. Building and sustaining Omertaa as an open-source publication forum, is one of Expeditions' ways to carry out this mission.
The goals of the Omertaa journal are:
- to provide a qualitative, non-commercial and open source publishing platform for pieces based on ethnographic methods and/or anthropological theory.
- to make publishing more accessible for a broad group of authors. We welcome the work of students, beginners, independent scholars, activists, … just as well as the work from ‘established’ scholars.
- to pioneer in publishing in non-conventional formats such as graphic novels, interactive pieces, sound productions, posters, reflection pieces, essays, field diaries, …
- to be a vehicle in building and maintaining a network and alliances that can strengthen and defend the position of ethnographic methods within and beyond universities.
- to encourage students in publishing early on in their careers, and to make students’ work available the broader public. Coursework often results in valuable, reviewed papers or shorter pieces, which often disappear into oblivion once the work is done.
- to build bridges between practice inside and outside universities.
- to explore the use of anthropology in policy research and implementations.
It is critical that anthropological approaches to the solution of human problems are applied in conjunction with the point of view and expertise of colleagues from other disciplines. Expeditions members encompass the social sciences and other disciplines to address practical issues in the world.
Publications are important vehicles for building the foundation of knowledge, reporting on solutions to human problems and addressing significant policy issues. Authors communicate the utility of our perspectives to non-scientific audiences and to students who are possibly forming a commitment to applied social science. Publications provide a historical record of the field's development and accomplishments. We must continually search for alternative ways to communicate with our peers and the wider communities.
A Gozo Case Study
by Jacob Jansen
The Commodification of Traditional Identity on the Island of Gozo
by Hannah Howard