Volume 64 1955 > Volume 64, No. 1 > Editors comment, p 3-4
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 3

The Journal was born long before most of us were born. Indeed almost no one survives who attended at its birth, for it is one of the oldest continuing anthropological publications in the world. Preserving ancient traditions and recording passing life and opinion, it has now built up a tradition and a proud past for itself. In the course of all this time it has occasionally changed its appearance and has had a succession of editors. Now at once it works the double change to prove that age invigorates it.

Of all the earlier editors and those who helped them we need not speak here, for sixty-three volumes serve as their monument and as a source of humility to us. But we must say a word about the circumstances leading to the present position. Following the retirement in 1946 of Mr. Johannes Andersen, the last appointed Editor, the Journal was carried on by an Editorial Committee. Although all the other members of this Committee gave much help, they would gladly acknowledge that the greater part of the work was done by Mr. C. R. H. Taylor. At the same time Mr. Taylor continued to act as Secretary of the Society, his duties in that position ever increasing as the membership of the Society expanded. Now that he has tided the Journal over the difficult post-war years, Mr. Taylor has decided to devote most of the time he so freely gives to the Society to the Secretaryship. The Society owes him a great debt of gratitude. Fortunately he has agreed to serve on the new Editorial Advisory Committee.

Neither the new look nor the altered management of the Journal indicate any basic change of policy in regard to its contents. It is true that we hope to publish more material on the present-day life of the Polynesian and other Pacific peoples. In this issue we have three studies relating to the contemporary Maori, which we hope will set a pattern. In passing, we should say a word about these studies, or at least about the first two of them, especially to our many Maori readers whom we value so highly. That the aspect of Maori life dealt with should be a disturbing social problem is largely a matter of chance and will not, we hope, disconcert anyone. Every society in the world has its sore spots, and these naturally attract the attention of students concerned to aid human well-being through more and more accurate knowledge. Any person familiar with the pages of the Journal will be fully aware of the great grounds for Maori pride, and will not be frightened of the few shadows in the broad sunlight.

Otherwise our policy will be as it has always been. We are not concerned only with material from which theoretical conclusions can immediately be drawn. Theory interests us, but most of it which is worth-while can be based only on a mass of facts many of which may have been recorded over a long span of years. The earlier volumes of the Journal have provided a vast mine of facts, in the way of Polynesian texts, genealogies, mythology and - 4 descriptions of social customs, art and technology, on which later research workers have been able to draw. We hope to continue to publish many such records, while giving due space to more theoretical studies and studies co-ordinating the material already recorded.

The question of theory is important in another way. We are a journal of international standing in the field of academic anthropology, and all the leading professional anthropologists of the English-speaking world should be numbered among our readers. If any are not we hope they soon will be. But at the same time most of our readers are not full-time anthropologists, and are therefore less familiar with the technical terms in use in anthropology and less concerned with discussions intended to throw light on current anthropological issues. In the interest of our own financial health as a journal but even more in the interests of the progress of Polynesian studies, we must cater for both sections of our readers, doing so in a way which will give mutual benefit. Our aim will be to publish material from both sources, for each has a great deal to contribute. As an example of the more academic type of article we might mention the contribution in this issue by Mr. Nayacakalou on Fijian kinship. We hope to publish more articles of this kind from time to time. It gives a plain statement of the Fijian kinship system, intelligible to the general reader, but also, for the sake of the specialist, goes into more detail than is usual in purely descriptive accounts. When we do publish material from academic sources, we shall also try to ensure that it is as readable as possible, a requirement which will be in everybody's interest.

Coming back to the more colourful subject of our new dress. The plan is to have four different colours, one for each issue of the year. The Editors, perhaps unconsciously influenced by the Polynesian love of colour, thought that this would make the different quarterly issues more readily distinguishable on the book-shelf. Since we committed ourselves to the plan for this year, one contrary-minded subscriber has said that a single colour throughout the year would make the Journal more easily distinguishable from other periodicals as they lay together on a table. We shall reconsider the matter at the end of the year in the light of the many comments from readers which we look forward to receiving on this and all other aspects of the Journal. We feel sure that everyone will at least appreciate the stiffer cover.

Clothes may make the man but a jacket, however bright, will not make the Journal. For that we must rely upon our contributors. We hope they will be numerous. If we dare ask a favour of them, it is that they glance at the note which we have specially addressed to them on the inside of the front cover.