Submit an entry

Before writing an entry, please check with us to make sure the topic is not currently in production. Even when you have received permission to author an entry, this does not mean that the entry will be accepted, as this depends strictly on peer-review. CEA authors should hold a PhD in Anthropology and they should have previously published in peer-reviewed journals. Moreover, they should have built demonstrable expertise on the topic they write about. 

Entry structure

Word count: Entries should be 5,000 words long (including footnotes but excluding the bibliography). Unfortunately, we can only review entries that meet this target by a margin of +/- 600 words. 

Important text elements include:

  • An abstract of 200-300 words: The abstract should tell the reader what the topic/concept in question is and why it is important for a broad audience (beyond anthropology). It should then foreground the key contributions that anthropologists have made to its understanding and clearly lay out the structure of the entry that follows. Providing an abstract is essential for the review process. 

  • An introduction: The introduction draws in a general audience. It broadly follows the structure of a. making clear why the topic is important to a general public b. stating what one understands the topic to mean (initial definitions can be challenged and debated later on, in the main body) c. (what other academic disciplines/politicians/the media think is interesting about the topic) d. how the entry will proceed. A good example for this structure is our entry on tax

  • A man body that is divided into subsections (usually 3-4) with short descriptive titles. That will make it easier for non-specialist to follow the text structure and to use the navigation bar in our site. 

  • A conclusion that conveys to a broad audience why studying the topic in question remains relevant for the future

  • A note on contributor of around 50 words

  • A line with contact details i.e. postal address & email address

Writing style

CEA entries summarize anthropology's contributions to individual topics. They aim at academic readers as well as the general public. In order to cater to this broad audience, entries focus in tone and complexity on undergraduates with limited to no prior knowledge of Social or Cultural Anthropology. They explain individual concepts (such as 'colonialism', 'climate change', 'ethnicity' etc.) without the use of jargon, whilst referencing the major anthropological works pertaining to their topic (please do not try to cite the whole field). They explain each major theoretical point by drawing on concrete ethnographic examples from around the world. They do not put forward individual arguments but they summarize insights and debates from our discipline. That is why they need to be as balanced in tone as possible.

To write for a general audience, CEA entries focus primarily on the main concepts themselves rather than the influence that these concepts may have had on anthropology as a discipline (the latter can of course be part of an entry). Authors may be tempted to write a literature review that focuses on recent changes in our discipline, yet this is not what we are after. Instead, authors should please:

  • Describe the interesting insights and debates that anthropologists have contributed to the study of the topic in question. Please try not to focus too much on what anthropologists have done, but foreground what interesting insights and debates they have come up with. (You may throughout the entry want to draw out what distinguishes anthropology from other disciplines, or you may simply focus on key debates that anthropologists have had without speaking explicitly about our discipline. Either approach can work.) 

  • Use vivid, concrete ethnographic examples to illustrate all theoretical discussions. Using examples from different regions around the world.

  • Make clear of the beginning of each section what the section is about and how it fits into your overall narrative.

  • Introduce ideas directly and add their proponents as a reference afterwards, rather than presenting ideas by starting with whatever author is known for them. This is not always possible, but a good general rule as it allows readers to cut straight to the idea. 

  • Minimize brackets and footnotes.

  • Use short sentences whenever possible.

  • Briefly explain all technical terms that may be used such as 'social evolutionism', 'dependency theory' or 'functionalism'.

  • Use short, descriptive titles for all sub-sections.

For examples of the writing style that we are after please see our entries on the anthropocene, games or tourism


Referencing: Please don't try to cite the whole field. Instead, refer to the classic works that students of your subject should have heard of, plus whatever recent works have been particularly interesting in recent times. The encyclopedia follows the reference guidelines of the JRAI. This means that all works listed in the bibliography must be cited in the text. In-text references should be cited as 'author's last name, publication date, colon, page', e.g. (Geertz 1973: 155). If the author's name is mentioned in the text, please use 'publication date, colon, page' only e.g. (1973: 155)

Bibliography: Once again, we follow the bibliography guidelines of the JRAI. Our copy editor may ask authors to improve bibliographies to match the requirements below. As a general rule works should be listed in alphabetical order of authors, translators should be credited and if the edition cited has been published long after the original, the original should be given in square brackets. Examples for referencing: 

  • Books

    • Appadurai, A. 1995. Modernity at large: cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    • ——— 2006. Fear of small numbers: An essay on the geography of anger. Durham: Duke University Press.

    • Aristotle, 2013 [1984]. Politics (trans. C. Lord). London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    • Bourdieu, P. 1977. Outline of a theory of practice (trans. R. Nice). Cambridge: University Press.

    • Wolf, E.R. 1997 [1982]. Europe and the people without history. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Book chapters

    • Bateson, G. & M. Mead 2002 [1976]. On the use of the camera in anthropology. In The anthropology of media: a reader (eds) K. Askew & R. Wilk, 41-6. Oxford: Blackwell.

    • Marshall, T.H. 1983 [1950]. Citizenship and social class. In States and societies (ed.) D. Held, 248-60. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    • Hill, J. & D. Plath 1998. Moneyed knowledge: how women become commercial shellfish divers. In Learning in likely places: varieties of apprenticeship in Japan (ed.) J. Singleton, 211-25. Pittsburgh: University Press. 

  • Edited volumes

    • Marchand, T. (ed.) 2010. Making knowledge: explorations of the indissoluble relation between mind, body and environment. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    • Schneider, A. & C. Wright (eds) 2006. Contemporary art and anthropology. Oxford: Berg.

    • Halstead, N., E. Hirsch & J. Okely (eds) 2008. Knowing how to know: fieldwork and the ethnographic present. Oxford: Berghahn.

  • Articles

    • Herzfeld, M. 2009. Rhythm, tempo, and historical time: experiencing temporality in the neoliberal age. Public Archeology 8, 108-23.

    • Wilson, S.M. & L.C. Peterson 2002. The anthropology of online communities. Annual Review of Anthropology 31, 44-67.​

  • Aricles that have been consulted online

  • Articles in special issues

    • Bear, L. 2014. Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) Special Issue: Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time (ed.) L. Bear, S3-30.

    • Makovicky, N. 2010. ‘Something to talk about’: notation and knowledge-making among Central Slovak lace-makers. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) Special Issue: Making knowledge (ed.) T. Marchand, S80-99.

  • Web sites, reports, and on-line publications 

Spelling and layout: The encyclopedia uses JRAI spelling. This means it uses UK spelling, UK punctuation (including single quotation marks), and the serial comma. All numbers under 100 are written out, except for statistics and ages. Entries should be double spaced, with a clear paragraph structure.

Pictures: We are always happy to receive up to two pictures (including captions) for particular entries, provided they are necessary to further the argument. If you do provide pictures, please ensure that you hold written permission from the copyright owners for all people who may appear in them. All pictures should be provided in .jpg format, with a minimum resolution of 890x440px.

Submit an entry

All manuscripts as well as all additional material should be sent as Microsoft Word files to Manuscript submission and publication are free.

Copyright: We can only accept original submissions and we publish under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Thus, future users will be able to download, copy, share and adapt entries as long as they give appropriate credit, including the name of the author and all other attribution parties. The license also means that the material you provide may not be used for commercial purposes, i.e. for uses primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation.

Review process

Members of our editorial board and external reviewers will review the abstract each entry before either reviewing the entries themselves or sending them to specialists in the respective field. This is why receiving an abstract with each entry is so important. We aim to ensure that authors receive constructive feedback. Reviews are 'single blind' meaning that reviewers know who authors are but authors will not know their reviewers. This allows reviewers to disclose potential conflicts of interest. 

While we cannot commit to fixed review times, we aim to provide authors with a first reply in less than 3 months of manuscript submission. Once a manuscript has been accepted we can copy-edit it and make it public in less than 3 weeks.

Further information

The CEA is a teaching and learning resource hosted at the University of Cambridge. Its goal is to facilitate access to anthropological knowledge for experts and non-experts worldwide. The CEA does not aspire to constitute a new canon of correct anthropological knowledge. Instead it is meant as an introductory resource for all those who would like to familiarize themselves with particular subjects of interest, and with the discipline of Social Anthropology more broadly. All entries are peer reviewed by leading academics, making the CEA one of the most reliable resources for anthropological knowledge on the web.

The CEA is part of a growing movement for open access Anthropology. It is based on the firm conviction that anthropological knowledge must be shared between academics and with the general public in order to deal with the fundamental challenges of our time. The CEA therefore features entries on contemporary topics such as “climate change” and “ethnicity” as much as on long-established subjects such as “Buddhism” and “ritual”.