Somatosphere is a collaborative website covering the intersections of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, cultural psychiatry, psychology and bioethics. Founded in 2008 by a small group of medical anthropologists, Somatosphere has grown to become a key online forum for debate and discussion in medical anthropology, as well as in the humanities and social sciences of health and medicine more broadly. With well over 1,000 posts, an editorial team of some 50 rising and established scholars, nearly 500 total contributors, an average of between 20,000 and 30,000 unique site visits per month, and a robust social media presence, Somatosphere has a wide reach among social scientists and various non-specialist publics.
Somatosphere encourages a range of viewpoints to raise critical questions, debate and commentary about contemporary and historical matters of science, healing, illness, and the body. The goal for Somatosphere is not only to publish engaging essays, reviews, and new research in medical anthropology and social science, but to incorporate the flexibility and networking capabilities of digital media, generating new and rich links in and among ideas and across disciplinary boundaries. The site has also increasingly taken on the task of facilitating current discussions and debates on the methods, arguments and politics of social science, both by extending discussions that occur at academic conferences as well as by publishing point-counterpoint pieces and book forums. Respondents to a 2015 readership survey wrote that the site “presents high-quality posts that carry similar prestige to journal articles,” and “was on par with some of the journals that I read,” at the same time as they praised the site’s ability to make analysis and conversation “available much faster than in print journals, forming a kind of sped-up knowledge base for interested researchers.”
Robert Hahn, in American Anthropologist, noted that “Somatosphere is a rich source for researchers and more casual visitors”. Monique Dufour, at New Books Network, writes that Somatosphere “reveals how websites… have become important sites of intellectual production, authorship, and exchange” and that it “has become informative, creative, and essential reading.” The site was also described as a “new venue for publication” in science and technology studies, alongside a range of peer-reviewed journals, by Sergio Sismondo, the editor of Social Studies of Science. In 2018, Somatosphere won the Group New Directions Award from the General Anthropology Division of the American Anthropological Association, which recognizes “work that presents anthropological perspectives to publics beyond the academy across diverse forms of media, with methodological rigor and ethical engagement.”
We are always looking for contributions and we encourage you to submit suggestions for posts you would be interested in writing. The kinds of posts we have published in the past (or would like to publish in the future) include:
- Pieces about conceptual issues in medical anthropology or related disciplines
- Posts reflecting on issues of general or public concern through the perspective of medical anthropology
- Research or fieldwork reports
- Book or film reviews
- Event (conference, workshop or lecture) reports
- Video or audio recordings of lectures or interviews
- Photo essays, interactive pieces or other multimedia presentations
- Syllabi and accounts of experiences teaching medical anthropology
- Topic-focused bibliographies for teaching or research
- Announcements for conferences, panels, workshops or positions
This is not an exhaustive list; we are interested in any other ideas you might have. Submissions will undergo an internal review process among the site’s editors and regular contributors.
One of the most successful aspects of Somatosphere has been the publication of series of pieces, which are akin to a special issue of a journal. A series is typically a curated group of submissions, imagined and edited by a contributor/s around a topic or issue of their choice. Series are sometimes organized by academic working groups or conference organizers as a forum for reaching a wider audience. At other times, Somatosphere editors create and invite participation in new series.
If you have an idea that would work well as a series, contact us at email@example.com with a short description of the proposed group of pieces, a timeline for publication, and a list of potential authors.
Because the audience for the site ranges from working medical anthropologists to undergrads and other various interested non-specialists, you can choose which sort of reader you’d like to write for, depending on what you want to do with the post. Two (non–mutually exclusive) general directions this can take are:
- Using the post as an opportunity to express some aspect of your research in a relatively short and succinct manner, as you might during a conference presentation (for an academic/specialist audience); OR
- Treating the post as a more general introduction to your research and the issues it raises pitched to an educated and interested but not necessarily specialist audience (in this case, think New York Review of Books, Chronicle of Higher Education, Scientific American, in terms of style and audience).
The author can choose a spelling paradigm, as long as it is consistently adopted throughout the submission.
Please send submissions in MS Word or RTF format. Unless your piece requires special formatting (for example, if it is a poem or if the text and images need to work together in some unusual manner), please use a common 12pt font like Times New Roman. Include a short author bio at the end.
The specific method of citing outside material is determined by each case.
- Hyperlinks – If you are referring to a website or online article, you may choose to embed your reference as a hyperlink rather than a typical in-text citation or footnote. Some authors choose to link directly to publisher pages for books they are citing.
- In-text citations – choose a common method, such as MLA or Chicago, and be consistent.
- Footnotes/Endnotes – Keep these to a minimum unless, for example, some commentary on the edition of a text is required.
- Works Cited – Include a list of works cited at the end of your submission, even if you hyperlink to the source within the body text. A works cited list is useful for scanning the sources, which is impossible to do if sources are only hyperlinked.
Aim for between 1,500 and 2,500 words, but our posts are often much longer than those on other blog-type sites—so something shorter or longer than this can work as well.
Images are always welcome. If you have photographs or other images that you’d like to include, send them as separate JPEG or PNG files (you may unwittingly alter or degrade the image by embedding it in a Word document). Please make sure that the images are high-resolution and that you either own the images or have the right to reproduce them.
If you are interested in submitting or pitching an idea for a piece, circulating an announcement or reviewing a book, please get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a book author, publisher or publicist interested in suggesting a book to be reviewed on the site, or if you are interested in reviewing a book, please contact us at email@example.com.
Contact us by email with any other suggestions, feedback or questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.