Are you an anthropologist with findings, ideas, or opinions you are excited to share with broad 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. Read on to find out how our process works and reach out to editor•sapiens.org if you have any questions.
If you’re ready to submit a pitch now, head to our Submittable page.
We want to help you tell your story.
You bring a fresh idea, a powerful tale, or a persuasive argument seen through an anthropological lens and grounded in your research and life experiences. We offer you 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. The editorial team welcomes pitches from both seasoned writers and authors new to public writing.
We Publish for Public Audiences
SAPIENS publishes writing and multimedia content aimed at reaching public audiences. We want to help make your work relevant and accessible to your cousin, neighbor, mail carrier—and to the communities in which you 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 disciplines. We share research-driven stories that are holistic, historical, comparative, field- and lab-based, or otherwise draw on anthropological theories, methods, conversations, or frameworks. We are especially invested in working with scholars who bring forward historically marginalized perspectives.
We Offer an Honorarium
A US$250 honorarium is offered to each contributing author, up to three authors, per published piece.
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.
We ask most of our potential writers to first submit a “pitch”: a summary of their idea for a piece within a particular publication category and story type (see below for details). The editorial team reviews your pitch, typically within a week. (For book excerpts and poems, we ask that you submit a complete draft instead of a pitch, as detailed below.)
If we accept your pitch, an editor will typically ask for the first draft within four weeks. Your development editor will then work with you to finalize your piece, typically over several rounds of edits. When you receive your first edits, we usually ask for the next draft within two weeks.
After the draft is finalized, additional editors review it, and it will be copy edited and fact-checked (based on an annotated draft you provide). You will approve final edits, including the title and images chosen by the editors.
You’ll receive an email upon publication, and we ask that you help promote the piece in your networks. You may complete the paperwork for the honorarium at that time.
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 1,000–2,000 words, and op-eds are 600–1,000 words. Poems are usually a maximum of three pages (in a Word doc), and we welcome three poems per submission. Multimedia pieces are usually accompanied by a short introductory text of around 1,000 words or less.
Across these various forms, we publish a range of story types. To help you focus your approach, we ask you to consider which type best fits the story you want to tell. Please note that the following types are meant as guides for your writing, but of course every piece will have its own content, tone, structure, style, and voice.
Research Insights: These types of pieces focus on sharing an author’s anthropological research by providing an analytical or interpretive account of key findings or insights. They deal with their subject through nontechnical language, ideally woven with the literary flair of a science journalist. They use first-person perspective and offer some sense of an author’s personality, but they do not heavily focus on the narrator’s own experiences and typically maintain an authoritative voice. 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
How Hearts Align in a Muslim Ritual
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
Transracial Adoption and the Limits of Love
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
What Industrial Societies Get Wrong About Childhood
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:
A Hidden Figure in North American Archaeology
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:
What Makes Baby Yoda So Lovable?
The Death of a Hungry God
The Perennial Power of Ritual
Five Turning Points in the Evolution of Wine
When Anthropology Meets the Graphic Novel in Thailand
Moving Hearts: These story types are more highly stylized than the others: 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. Examples:
The Cosmic Serpent
A Letter From COVID-19
The Cookout (and All Other Manners of Heavenly Black Things)
They’ll Steal Your Eyes, They’ll Steal Your Teeth
Haunted by a Secret War
Each year, we select most of the magazine’s contributions at two deadlines: February 1 and September 1. However, we consider pitches and poems throughout the year—especially on urgent topics and those invited by the editors—to ensure the magazine keeps pace with current events and the latest research.
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. When evaluating pitches, our editors consider:
If you have never pitched a magazine or newspaper before, no problem! We understand this will be a new process for many scholars. Please read our guidance on how to pitch, or watch our webinar on writing and pitching for the magazine.
For the pitch, we’ll ask for your name, email, the story type you’d like to contribute, and four questions:
What is your background in anthropology?
We are looking for rich storytelling grounded in research and deep personal experience. Please share if you have an advanced degree, a recently published article or book, and/or relevant work or community position. (100 words)
Will your background, perspective, and/or research contribute to the magazine’s goals of bringing historically marginalized voices forward?
We are especially eager to publish voices and stories that share diverse viewpoints from people historically marginalized by anthropology. (100 words)
What anthropological insights are you hoping to share with readers?
We are looking for research-driven stories that are holistic, historical, comparative, field- and lab-based, or otherwise draw on anthropological theories, methods, conversations, or frameworks. (100 words)
What is your pitch?
We are looking for pitches that have a powerful and clear message, tell a compelling story or make a strong argument, and are well-structured. (300 words)
For book excerpts, please 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 about 2,000 words or less and work as a standalone piece. (See here for examples.)
For multimedia pieces, please 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.
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.
Please reach out to the editorial team if you still need advice or have questions: editor•sapiens.org. We are here to help!
We also invite contributions of anthropological poetry. Please explore SAPIENS’ published poems to gain a sense of the work we feature.
To submit poems for consideration, please 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); and What anthropological insights are you hoping to share with readers? Then submit up to three poems (in Word, PDF, or MP3) no longer than three pages each, and a brief introduction to the field setting or context for the poems (300 words).