To the editors,

and all involved in the revitalized Exchange

Jean Comaroff
University of Chicago

I write to offer my best wishes on the occasion of the happy rebirth of Exchange. Looking back over past issues, I am struck by the fact that repeated reincarnation has been the hallmark of the journal's fifty-odd year history. After it was established in 1952, it ran until 1968 - albeit somewhat sporadically - under the confident title Anthropology Tomorrow. The name bore distinct traces of evolutionism: in an issue published in June, 1957, in collaboration with students in the Department of Social Relations and the Peabody Museum at Harvard, the editors declared in prophetic mode that, while anthropology remained "in a sort of adolescence," graduates of these two schools might well be expected to make a significant contributions to shaping its future. Almost from the start, though, this sense of mission was undermined by challenges and doubts. The journal - rather like the careers of those who produced it - was an enterprise enacted against daunting odds: there was never quite enough time or money, individual career schedules cut across collective ideals, and the whole operation was plagued by a perennial sense of futility and gemeinschaft lost. Periodic editorials chided the student body for waning interest and dwindling submissions; yet inevitably, before too long, a new, enthusiastic cohort would fan the forces of revival once more. In 1979, when publication was resumed after a ten-year hiatus, the journal was renamed the Chicago Anthropology Exchange - a shift suggesting a more pragmatic, transactional sense of both the journal and the discipline it represented. Its current incarnation under the succinct title "Exchange" suggests an even more urbane - if no less serious - operation. This is quite in keeping with its history: for, despite its spells of hibernation, the publication has continued to maintain high standards of production, offering cutting-edge material in all sub-fields of the discipline. It has drawn contributions not only from this and other departments across the land, but from universities as far afield as Canada, Ireland, Japan.

The Exchange also offers a unique archive of the shifting sociology and intellectual preoccupations of the department that is its home. In November, 1955, for instance, a festive jumbo issue ("art-paper covered and hectographed") marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Social Sciences Building at the University of Chicago. In it, Fred Eggan offered an early history of anthropology at the University, and W. Lloyd Warner provided an obituary for erstwhile colleague A.R. Radcliffe Brown, celebrating his contribution to what had become a distinctive Chicago brand of the discipline. A jubilee issue, published in December, 1957, celebrated the meeting of the AAA in Chicago, and offered papers on "The Interpretation of Unilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage (Michael Salovesh), "The Nature of Peasant Economies" (Ralph Nicholas) and "The Formation of the Muslim State" (Robert O. Legace). In 1963 came the first (and probably, the only) "humor issue," with guest editors from Punch, The New Yorker, and Playboy. The publication that marked rebirth of the journal in 1979 carried essays on "The Quantification of Cultural Values and the Regulation of Capitalist Enterprise" by Gary Downey, and a timely reflection on "Fieldwork without Fears, or Funds," by Peter Russell Crowe. In Winter, 1996, after another brief lapse, an entire issue was dedicated to the memory of David Schneider and Sol Tax, formative figures in the Department who had died the previous year. In Winter, 1997, Exchange entered the era of electronic publication; the editors announced a new feature, "Our Dialogic Imagination," that was accessible via its Web page, and was designed to explore the relationship between politics and anthropology.

The journal, then, has been a barometer of the initiatives and anxieties, the mercurial morale, the breaks and continuities that mark graduate student life at the University of Chicago. Above all, its survival as first-rate publication is a triumph of optimism over the inevitable ambivalence with which successive age-grades of students have viewed their apprenticeship to our profession, with its alluring new frontiers, and its ever more escalating, competitive demands. I am delighted that - despite all odds - the publication is coming to life once more. In this manner are valuable legacies reformed and revitalized. On behalf of the faculty of the Department, I congratulate all involved in this auspicious rebirth. May the publication continue to flourish, in its own inimitable manner, for the foreseeable future and beyond!