Anthropology Citation Ranking

This is a ranking based on the number of citations in a selection of AAA journals from May 2005 to May 2010.

Skip to the book citation ranking.

1. Michel Foucault
2. Pierre Bourdieu
3. Arjun Appadurai
4. Arthur Kleinman
5. Clifford Geertz
6. Jean Comaroff
7. Michael Silverstein
8. James Ferguson
9. Aihwa Ong
10. John L. Comaroff
11. Veena Das
12. George E. Marcus
13. Marilyn Strathern
14. Lila Abu-Lughod
15. Nancy Scheper-Hughes
16. Akhil Gupta
17. Margaret Lock
18. Rayna Rapp
19. Bruno Latour
20. Elinor Ochs
21. James Clifford
22. David Harvey
23. Faye Ginsburg
24. Victor Turner
25. Michael Herzfeld
26. Paul Rabinow
27. Nikolas Rose
28. Erving Goffman
29. Margaret Mead
30. Daniel Miller
31. Arturo Escobar
32. Susan Gal
33. Greg Urban
34. James C. Scott
35. Katherine Verdery
36. Talal Asad
37. Richard Bauman
38. Michael Taussig
39. Paul Farmer
40. Benedict Anderson
41. Merrill Singer
42. Judith Butler
43. Alessandro Duranti
44. Abdelmajid Hannoum
45. Renato Rosaldo
46. Didier Fassin
47. Edward M. Bruner
48. Sarah Franklin
49. Dorothy Holland
50. Bill Maurer

List of Journals: American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Anthropology & Humanism, Anthropology of Work Review, Culture & Agriculture, Cultural Anthropology, City & Society, Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, Ethos, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, North American Dialogue, PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Transforming Anthropology, Visual Anthropology Review. (18 journals)

I did this over two days in May 2010. The rankings are not exact, because there were a lot of misspellings, alternative names or spellings, or just plain bizarre mistakes. I ended up with an Excel file with more than 65,000 entries on it, representing just over 132,000 citations. References were collected using a Python script and imported into Excel, where they were cleaned and analyzed.

Book Citation Rankings

Using a similar method as above, I analyzed all of the books cited in issues of American Ethnologist from February 1974 until May 2011. American Ethnologist was chosen because it provided the largest and oldest set of reference data in cultural anthropology among AAA journals.

I was able to extract 34,859 book citations. I cleaned this data using Excel and Google Refine, which resulted in 21,408 (mostly) unique book titles.

Only 2,074 of the books were cited 3 times or more. In comparison, 2,081 books were cited twice, and 17,253 books were cited only once. Approximately 94%, were cited 2 or fewer times in 37 years. A book needed to be cited at least 18 times to be among the top 100.

Over time, the number of books cited per year has grown, as each issue gets thicker and each individual article cites a greater number of sources. There was an average of 602.5 citations annually during 1970s. This grew to an average of 1173.5 per year in the 2000s. However, the number of papers published each year does not show a clear growth trend. Looking only up until 2009, the number of papers published on average each decade actually decreased slightly, from 50.5 per year in the 1970s to 43.4 in the 2000s, although overall, the number has remained quite stable. This means that each paper is citing a significantly greater number of books.

The number one most cited book, Geertz's The Interpretation of Cultures, was cited 9 times in AE in its most cited year (1988). This is quite a lot for four issues. This book has been a fairly regular feature of AE over time, especially after hitting its stride in the early 1980s. It's been cited an average of 3.5 times per year, although there are two years (2002 and 1994), when does not seem to have been cited at all.

The Interpretation of Cultures is Geertz's only contribution to the top 25. Levi-Strauss, Turner, and Sahlins each have 3 books ranked, while Scott, Foucault, Herzfeld, Evans-Pritchard, and Taussig each have 2.

Does this list say anything about the 'canon' of anthropological literature? At the very least, it seems to me that reading the top 10 would give a person a fairly good sense of what cultural anthropology is now.

Putting aside the numbers, a look at the titles of the sources in aggregate can also give a sense of what anthropology is. For example:

Things that anthropologists are 'against': Culture, Epistemology, Interpretation, Literature, Method, Race, Relativism, the Law, and the Romance of Community.

We are "between": Black and White, Borders, Culture and Fantasy, Devotion and Diversion, East and West, Facts and Norms, Field and Cooking Pot, God and Gangsta Rap, Hollywood and Moscow, Human and Machine, Islam and the State, Land and Water, Legitimacy and Violence, Marriage and the Market, Mecca and Beijing, Men, MITI and the Market, Past and Future, Past and Present, Pulpit and Pew, Sacrifice and Desire, Silver and Guano, the Folds, the Species, the State and the Guerrillas, Theater and Anthropology, Two Armies, Two Fires, Vengeance and Forgiveness, Warrior Brother and Veiled Sister, and Women.

Things anthropologists are "Beyond": a Boundary, Adversary Democracy, Anthropology, Belief, Caring, Chrysanthemums, Economic and Ecological Standardization, Ethnicity, Exoticism, Farmer First, Inequalities, Innocence and Redemption, Intellectual Property, Kinship, Left and Right, Memory, Metaphor, Moral Judgement, Objectivism and Relativism, Separate Spheres, Sexual Dimorphism, Tears, the Body Proper, the Boycott, the Codices, the Enterprise, the Gene, the Green Line, the Horizon, the Java Sea, the Letter, the Masks, the Melting Pot, the Milky Way, the Miracle of the Market, the Natural Body, the Neon Lights, the Pale, the Second Sex, the Sociology of Development, the Stream, the Veil, the Written Word, Translation, Traplines, and Ujamaa.

See the full list of book titles and counts here.

Here are the top 25 (the top 10 are linked to Google Books pages):

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