Medicine Anthropology Theory is an English-language, fully open access journal hosted by the University of Edinburgh that publishes scholarly articles, position pieces, reviews, and notes from the field related to the areas of medical anthropology, the anthropology of biomedicine, critical global health studies, medical humanities, and science and technology studies.
Aims and scope
Our goals are to provide timely access to original research; generate new thinking about the relationships between society and medicine; and publish experimental, accessible, and engaging academic content that pushes the frontiers of academic writing. MAT is committed to open access publishing as the best means of ensuring that academic debates are inclusive and open to new ideas and that important research reaches the broadest possible international readership across disciplines and publics.
MAT is grounded in the comparative and ethnographic traditions of medical anthropology but encourages engagement with cutting-edge thinking from other disciplines within the social sciences and humanities. It seeks to bring researchers with diverse theoretical and political positions into conversation with one another and encourages authors to tackle major current debates, challenges, and events related to health and medicine.
As academic publishing moves towards an open access future, MAT is committed to building structures and ways of working that are accessible, inclusive, fair, ethical, and sustainable. MAT recognises that academic publishing is rooted in historical, gendered, and colonial power relationships. Open access publishing addresses some of these issues but also creates new risks, including the potential for new forms of unfair labour relations and gender hierarchies, as well as the consolidation of knowledge within elite institutions. Our journal ethos statement includes commitments to abolishing internships and volunteer labour for administrative tasks; establishing a fair, supportive, and inclusive editorial practice; ensuring robust complaints procedures are in place; distributing credit for journal work; and internationalising the readership, authorship, and governance of the journal.
MAT began as a reincarnation of the Dutch journal Medische Antropologie, which was housed at the University of Amsterdam under the direction of Sjaak van der Geest between 1989 and 2012. Medische Antropologie was a continuation of a simple newsletter which aimed to stimulate communication and discussion among researchers, teachers, and healthcare professionals in Belgium and the Netherlands who took an interest in the social and cultural aspects of ill health and medicine.
In 2013 Medicine Anthropology Theory began its journey as an international journal with the aim of being widely read and easily accessible to the broader global public. Since then it has been engaged in addressing issues at the intersection of health, culture, and society. The journal’s founding values were those of accessibility, internationalism, generous collegiality, interdisciplinarity, and quality. Accessibility was at the core of the MAT project, and for founding editors Eileen Moyer and Vinh-Kim Nguyen, accessibility was not only about open access; it was also about ‘deprovincializing’ medical anthropology, supporting scholarship of interest beyond elite universities, and moving the field beyond the at-times hermetic language that had come to haunt academic writing. After six years of fruitful collaboration, the founding editors stepped down as the journal made a transition into the creative hands of the MAT Collective at the University of Edinburgh at the start of 2020. MAT has always been a collective effort, with its intellectual community forged through day-to-day interactions in the academic centres that have hosted it and through the virtual collaborations that frequently occur between members of our globally dispersed editorial team.
The Edinburgh MAT Collective is based at the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology (EdCMA), which is known for its collaborative and creative ethos. The horizontal governance structure of the collective reflects this ethos; it stands against unethical and exploitative research and publishing practices with the aim of expanding the journal’s original global vision through an additional commitment to fostering conversations among researchers employed at institutions inF the Global South, where much medical anthropology and global health research has traditionally been carried out. In line with its commitments to accessibility and discoverability in academic publishing, MAT became a fully indexed journal in 2020.