Table of contents
Table of contents

Are you an anthropologist with findings, ideas, or opinions you are excited to share with diverse publics? Do you hope to make a difference in how people see themselves and their worlds? Do you have a compelling story to tell?

We know you do!

Our vision is to amplify anthropological insights to build a more just and sustainable world. If you share this vision, we invite you to contribute to SAPIENS. If you are ready to submit a pitch now, head to our Submittable page.

Getting Started

We want to help you tell your story.

You bring a fresh idea, fascinating tale, or persuasive argument seen through an anthropological lens and grounded in your research and life experiences. We offer a platform for your story and an editorial team that has hard-earned experience with how to engage general-interest audiences and promote quality content in today’s crowded media landscape.

We Publish for Public Audiences
SAPIENS publishes writing and multimedia content for public audiences. We help make your work relevant and accessible to your cousin, neighbor, mail carrier—and the communities impacted by your work, policymakers, and a reader on the other side of the globe who Googles a phrase that goes to the heart of your research.

We Publish on Anthropology
The field of anthropology is wide-ranging and includes archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology, among other subdisciplines. We share research-driven stories that draw on anthropological theories, methods, conversations, or frameworks. Almost all our authors have a graduate degree in anthropology or related field. We are especially invested in working with scholars who bring forward historically marginalized perspectives. We nominate for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net Anthology, the Best American series, and more.

We Offer an Honorarium
A US$250 honorarium is offered to each contributing author, up to three authors, per published piece and US$250 per contribution for poetry.

We Have a Collaborative Editorial Process
Since SAPIENS aims to publish high-quality content and nurture the craft of public communication, we put great care and thoughtfulness into the editorial process. You will collaboratively sculpt your content with a development editor, typically over several months. We want our writers to not only be proud of their final product but also finish the editorial process feeling galvanized and equipped to continue sharing their work with public audiences.

What to Expect

We ask most potential writers to first submit a “pitch”: a summary of their idea for a piece  (see below for details). (For book excerpts, poems, multimedia stories, and “moving hearts” pieces, submit a complete draft, as detailed below.)

If we accept your pitch, we may first request your participation in an informational workshop. Then an editor will set a deadline for the first draft, typically within one to three months. Your development editor will work with you to create a near-final draft of your piece over several rounds of edits.

After the near-final version is ready, additional editors will review it with fresh eyes, and it will be copy edited and fact-checked (based on an annotated draft you provide). You will approve final edits and collaborate on the title, images, and captions chosen by the editors.

You’ll receive an email upon publication, and we ask that you help promote the piece. You may complete the paperwork for the honorarium at that time.

The entire process depends heavily on our queue, how quickly you work, and the time-sensitive nature of your piece. Developing your story may stretch anywhere from several weeks to a year.

By submitting your work, you are agreeing to the magazine’s Terms of Use.

Story Types

We publish stories in different forms: essays, op-eds, poetry, book excerpts, and multimedia pieces, including videos, illustrated essays, and photo essays. Written essays and excerpts are typically no more than 1,500 words, and op-eds are under 1,000 words. Poems are usually a maximum of three pages. Multimedia pieces are usually accompanied by a short introductory text.

Across these various forms, we publish a range of story types. We ask you to consider which type best fits the story you want to tell. Note that the following types are meant as guides for your writing, but every piece will have its own content, tone, structure, style, and voice.

Research Insights: These pieces share an author’s anthropological research by providing an analytical or first-person interpretive account of key findings or insights. They deal with their subject through nontechnical language, ideally woven with the literary flair of the best of science journalist. Examples:

Following a New Trail of Crumbs to Agriculture’s Origins
In Deforestation’s Wake, Wild Animals Turn Troublesome
When Deafness Is Not Considered a Deficit
Bracing for the Vanilla Boom
Unraveling an Ancient Code Written in Strings

Personal History: For these pieces, think memoir/personal essay meets ethnography. These story types weave anthropological insights into deeply narrative-driven and reflective accounts. They may include autoethnography, sharing research insights framed around the author’s own direct life experiences, including with their families and communities. Examples:

An Excavation of the COVID-19 Pandemic
A Daughter’s Disability and a Father’s Awakening
Excavating My Dad’s Life
How a Coerced Confession Shaped a Family History
The Casual Menace of a Trump Rally

Critical Take: These pieces may be opinion-based essays or op-eds. They draw on anthropology to make a sharp, insightful, and perhaps controversial argument about a pressing, contemporary issue or piece of popular culture. Ideally, they not only diagnose “what’s wrong” but also offer some sense of “what needs to change” about some aspect of the world today. Examples:

Egyptology Has a Problem: Patriarchy
Stop Destroying African American Cemeteries
Do Black Lives Matter in Outer Space?
COVID-19 and the Turn to Magical Thinking
Biological Science Rejects the Sex Binary, and That’s Good for Humanity

For the Record: These types of stories aim to correct myths and misconceptions, counter stereotypes, or elaborate on encyclopedic information with an anthropological twist. They often provide context or nuance to either fill in a historical gap, trace unlikely or little understood connections, or provide a new lens on a familiar topic. Examples:

Five Human Species You May Not Know About
What Rez Dogs Mean to the Lakota
Race Is Real, But It’s Not Genetic
Secrets of a Brothel Privy
How Filipino Sailors—and Coconuts—Helped Create Mexico’s National Drink

Culture Crossing: These pieces are crafted to evoke wonder, curiosity, or an intercultural aha! moment. They aim to expand readers’ understandings of how humans live and experience the world, often through a “snapshot” that provides a detailed, vivid account of a practice, phenomenon, or event. Examples:

Talking Hands
What Makes Baby Yoda So Lovable?
The Death of a Hungry God
Five Turning Points in the Evolution of Wine
When Anthropology Meets the Graphic Novel in Thailand

Moving Hearts: These story types are highly stylized: They are lyrical and/or poetic pieces that first strike the heart then shape the mind. This can include poetry and more experimental/creative nonfiction or genre-bending pieces, such as ethnographic fiction. Because these contributions are so dependent on the author’s voice, submit the draft with your pitch. Note that poems are submitted without a pitch. Examples:

The Cosmic Serpent
A Letter From COVID-19
The Cookout (and All Other Manners of Heavenly Black Things)
Yoik
Haunted by a Secret War

How to Pitch

Each year, we select most of the magazine’s contributions at one deadline: March 1. The pitch window opens January 1.

To ensure the magazine keeps pace with current events and the latest research, we also consider pitches on urgent topics and those invited by editors throughout the year. Also, all poetry submissions (except for special calls) are considered on a rolling basis.

SAPIENS uses a “pitch” process, where interested authors submit a brief synopsis of their story idea. A pitch helps our busy editors quickly evaluate ideas for potential pieces—and saves you the time of writing a whole piece before you know if we’re able to accept it.

If you have never pitched a magazine or newspaper before, no problem! We understand this will be a new process for many scholars. Consider our guidance on how to pitch as required reading.

When evaluating pitches, our editors consider:

  • Is it grounded in anthropological insights?
  • Does it articulate a compelling takeaway?
  • Does it have a clear storytelling component or argument?
  • Is the author well prepared to tell the story or make the argument?
  • Is it a timely story or argument, adding new viewpoints and diverse voices to current conversations?

For the pitch, we’ll ask for your name, email, the story type you’d like to contribute, and four questions:

What is the main takeaway you will communicate to general public readers?
Explain why your piece is timely and relevant to nonacademics. (50 words)

What is your background in anthropology, and why are you the right person to tell this story?
Share if you have an advanced degree, a recently published article or book, and/or relevant work or community position that shows your expertise on this subject. (50 words)

What is your story or argument?
Clearly outline the story or argument, explain why it matters and what’s interesting about it, and tell us what research and/or experiences you’ll draw on. Be sure to convey why this story is timely and relevant for nonacademic readers, and why it’s a good fit for SAPIENS. (250 words)

Will your background, perspective, and/or research contribute to the magazine’s goals of bringing historically marginalized voices forward? (optional)
Explain how this piece will provide voices and stories of diverse viewpoints from people historically marginalized by anthropology. (50 words)

Additional Considerations:

For book excerpts, submit your full proposed section. This can be a complete chapter, an abridged version of one chapter, or parts of multiple chapters combined and lightly edited for clarity, with the full permission of your book’s publisher. The excerpt should be no more than 1,500 words or less and work as a standalone piece. (See here for examples.)

For multimedia pieces, provide the relevant artwork, video, sound files, illustrations, et cetera, along with a brief synopsis of the story you are proposing to tell and your vision for the structure and layout of the piece.

For “moving hearts” contributions, include a full draft of the submission along with the pitch.

When ready, click on the link below. You’ll create a Submittable account; it’s super easy, and we won’t share your information with anyone. Only submit one pitch at a time.

Please reach out to the editorial team if you still need advice or have questions: editor•sapiens.org. We are here to help!

Submit your pitch.

How to Submit Poetry

We also invite contributions of original anthropological poetry. Explore SAPIENS’ published poems to gain a sense of the work we feature. You do not need to submit a pitch for poetry. Submit your previously unpublished poems whenever they are ready.

To submit poems for consideration, be ready to answer:

  • What is your background in anthropology? (100 words)
  • Will your background, perspective, and/or research contribute to the magazine’s goals of bringing historically marginalized voices forward? (100 words)
  • What anthropological insights are you hoping to share with readers? (100 words)

Then submit up to three poems (in Word, as PDFs, or as MP3s) no longer than three pages each, and a brief introduction to the field setting or context for the poems. (300 words)

Submit your poetry.