Anthropology Citation Rankings

Author Citations

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

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.

  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

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:

  1. The Interpretation of Cultures, Geertz.
  2. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Anderson.
  3. Outline of a Theory of Practice, Bourdieu.
  4. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Appadurai.
  5. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance, Scott.
  6. Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance: The Culture and History of a South African People, Comaroff.
  7. The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual, Turner.
  8. Europe and the People without History, Wolf.
  9. The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America, Taussig.
  10. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Inquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Harvey.
  11. American Kinship: A Cultural Account, Schneider.
  12. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, Turner.
  13. Stone Age Economics, Sahlins.
  14. Marxism and Literature, Williams.
  15. T_he Gender of the Gift: Problems with Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia_, Strathern.
  16. Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society, Abu-Lughod.
  17. Islands of History, Sahlins.
  18. Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Kachin Social Structure, Leach.
  19. Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing, Taussig.
  20. The Nuer, Evans-Pritchard.
  21. Culture and Practical Reason, Sahlins.
  22. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts, Scott.
  23. Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis, Rosaldo.
  24. The Savage Mind, Levi-Strauss.
  25. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Foucault.
  26. Dramas, Fields and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society. Turner.
  27. Orientalism, Said.
  28. Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec, Handler.
  29. Women of Value, Men of Renown: New Perspectives in Trobriand Exchange, Weiner.
  30. Anthropology as Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment in the Human Sciences, Marcus and Fischer.
  31. Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State, Herzfeld.
  32. Structural Anthropology, Levi-Strauss.
  33. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Marx.
  34. The Elementary Structures of Kinship, Levi-Strauss.
  35. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art, Clifford.
  36. Anthropology Through the Looking Glass: Critical Ethnography in the Margins of Europe, Herzfeld.
  37. Purity and Danger, Douglas.
  38. The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies, Mauss.
  39. The History of Sexuality, vol. 1: An Introduction, Foucault.
  40. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande, Evans-Pritchard.