Isn’t it overstating it a bit to call this the militarization of anthropology? Sounds less like the military is impacting anthropology, but more like anthropology is impacting the military here.
This is obviously fraught, but isn’t there something positive about teaching the military to be less ethnocentric and take cultural into consideration?
It’s not as though anthropology is politically neutral until it works with the U.S. military, though we often pretend this is the case…
Yes, I agree, there might be something positive about teaching the military to be less ethnocentric, but I suppose you’ll agree that teaching them anthropology and doing counterinsurgency work is not the same.
Theresa Rosado [Visitor]
As anthropologists I believe in an ethical principle similar to the Hippocratic Oath. Are we not doctors of culture? By researching Islam, studying Arabic, learning about specific subcultures in Iraq, are we not establishing a mutual boundary of trust with people in which we promise to do no harm in the pursuit of higher learning? We can study war but to participate in counter insurgency, as some of my classmates have ventured into, violates our scientific ethic of research. How on earth are we ever going to regain trust as a science by such activities? / Stranger and Friend: The Way of An Anthropologist by Hortense Powdermaker
Thanks for your comment. Yes that’s an aspect that those who support participation in counter insurgency don’t take into account.
Steve Metz [Visitor]
With all due respect, I found the argument by Thersa Rosada to be absolutely bizarre. First, no one is asking social scientists to “participate” in counterinsurgency, but to help educate those who do. Would it really be better to have ignorant soldiers and intelligence personnel? Second, it is less often COUNTERinsurgency which harms people than insurgency. Ms. Rosado should take a serious look at some insurgencies and see who actually causes the violence and misery.
Theresa Rosado [Visitor]
I think Steve Metz is unfamiliar with the science of anthropology and how it is conducted. In order to perform unbiased research into issues such as counterinsurgency and insurgency one would have to take an academic approach, not a militant approach. The anthropologists I have known that have worked for the US government have indeed abandoned science and participated in the collection of data and surveillance, acting as cultural informants for the US government. They are not publishing academic works that are open to the critic of the scientific community. It is this form of participation of anthropology outside of academia I believe endangers cultural research, destroying the foundation of trust science depends on. It begs the question, why learn of culture and for what purposes? It robs the ability of scientific reflection on issues you have brought up yourself, to conduct unbiased research on issues such as insurgency and counter insurgency.
“Given that the ‘war on terror’ once again finds intelligence agencies seeking help from academia, we need to consider and evaluate these past interactions and be mindful that intelligence agencies have at times been silent consumers of our research.”
I would feel honored, if my research could really help stop terrorism. We are not back into the 1970s Southamerican Dictatorships, SIL and all that talk. This is modern world with modern Terrorism. This is real evil - beyond rethorics: nihilistic glorification of mass-murder using the Koran (less abusing it).
As Al-quaida too profits from research (as free research is open to everyone) and practices a postmodern-medieval policy of marriage in Somalia and Iraq, Ethnology can also help preventing al-quaidas progress - and it is even oblidged to do so. In Iraq endogameous ethnies quarreled with al-quaida and military ethnology helped the US-Troops to proceed with the cooperation with some formerly hostile tribes. The war on terror is to be fought or terror will fight this tiny bits of freedom down. Ethnology can in parts help to avoid numerous innocent victims.
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