Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State (Counterpunch)

Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State (Counterpunch)

David H. Price

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 1849350639

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The ongoing battle for hearts and minds in Iraq and Afghanistan is a military strategy inspired originally by efforts at domestic social control and counterinsurgency in the United States. Weaponizing Anthropology documents how anthropological knowledge and ethnographic methods are harnessed by military and intelligence agencies in post-9/11 America to placate hostile foreign populations. David H. Price outlines the ethical implications of appropriating this traditional academic discourse for use by embedded, militarized research teams. Price's inquiry into past relationships between anthropologists and the CIA, FBI, and Pentagon provides the historical base for this expose of the current abuses of anthropology by military and intelligence agencies. Weaponizing Anthropology explores the ways that recent shifts in funding sources for university students threaten academic freedom, as new secretive CIA-linked fellowship programs rapidly infiltrate American university campuses. Price examines the specific uses of anthropological knowledge in military doctrine that have appeared in a new generation of counterinsurgency manuals and paramilitary social science units like the Human Terrain Teams.




















University Radio 2003). It is tempting to describe Felix Moos as an anachronistic anthropologist out of sync with his discipline’s mainstream, but while many anthropologists express concerns about disciplinary ties to military and intelligence organizations, contemporary anthropology has no core with which to either sync or collide and there are others in the field who openly (and quietly) support such developments. Moos is a bright man, but his writings echo the musty tone and sentiments found

new form of anthropologically informed counterinsurgency was publicly announced as the Bush administration and U.S. military placed great hopes on a new program known as Human Terrain Systems (HTS). The Human Terrain program embeds social scientists, such as anthropologists, with troops operating in battle theatre settings as members of Human Terrain Teams (HTT). These teams are part of counterinsurgency operations designed to provide military personnel with cultural information that will help

chapter’s authors, the end result is the same as if the authors intentionally took this material. The silence on the reproduction of these passages, the lack of any authorial erratum, and the failure to add quotation marks even when Chicago Press republished the Manual seems to argue against the likelihood of a simple editorial mix-up, but who knows. The ways that the processes producing the Manual so easily abused the work of others inform us of larger dynamics in play, when scholars and

support. John wrote, “clearly [HTS] does not give its participants [the] luxury [to] consider whether the orders they comply with consider the ethical obligations to those they interview in the presence of their armed Team Leaders; some of whom have a deep dislike for ‘the enemy’ which includes most Muslims. And this is why they are hiring economists, historians and others as ‘social scientists’ who, initially, were intended to be cultural anthropologists” (JA to DP 12/1/09). These issues have

suitcases onto a New York Subway; the COIN Team’s shtick depends upon notions of near-magical anthropological levels of knowledge of the mysteries of culture and local customs. Borat’s joke is on the unsuspecting Americans who think they are interacting with a confused but kindly foreigner; the COIN Team’s joke is on Pentagon-customers who think they’re buying the real magic beans of culture. But anthropologists know better. Even when anthropologists can agree that culture itself actually exists,

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