Why I Want to Teach Anthropology at the Army War College
What Would Smedley Butler Do?
By BRIAN McKENNA
"To wage war, become an anthropologist." That's the opening line from a 2007 article in the U.S. Army War College journal "Parameters." The feature, by Oxford educated historian Patrick Porter, says, "from the academy to the Pentagon, fresh attention is being focused on knowing the enemy."
Today anthropologists are busy at work for the CIA and Pentagon. The CIA recently funded an effort - the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program - to train up to 150 analysts in anthropology, each of whom receive a $25,000 a year stipend, tuition support, loan paybacks and other benefits with the proviso that they work for an intelligence agency for 1 ½ times the period covered by financial support. These are secret scholar-spies circulating in our anthropology departments. They cannot reveal their funding source. Then there are the Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain Teams in which the military actively recruits anthropologists to provide counterinsurgency data for its occupying armies. As private contractors anthropologists can make up to $300,000 a year for their service.
That's not fair! As an anthropologist, I want equal time in the War College. In the February 2008 edition of the Society for Applied Anthropology Newsletter, Captain Nathan K. Finney, an anthropologist with the Human Terrain System, called for informed discussion with his anthropology critics. "Let us open our minds as our anthropology professors instruct in Anth 101 and objectively discuss each other's ideas and concerns in order to find the best way forward together" (Finney: 8).( Read more...Collapse )
original article: http://www.counterpunch.org/mckenna05282008.html
One undergraduate degree in anthropology, several beers and desultory professional exercises later:
I think I would like to be an urban planner, would even willingly endure more school to achieve this goal. Does anyone here know a masters' program where a heavy inclination towards anthropology (rather than, say, law or economics) would be useful?
While I've decided I don't want to become an anthropologist in any vocational sense of the word, anthropology remains by far my favorite scalpel with which to cut through the muck. I think urban planning could be an excellent utilization of applied anthropology...is there anyone out there who has picked this route? How did it go? Did all your background in alterity and appreciation for geographic relativism fizzle in the wash of land use law quotidia?
The AAA has come out with a statement
on the Human Terrain Systems teams being used in Afghanistan, and has also set up a blog
for members to make statements.
I'm fascinated, both by the statement, and by the fact that they have set up a blog to solicit information from the members.
I've also been having a rather spirited discussion with my boyfriend around this whole issue. He says that anthropologists in the military aren't necessarily a bad thing. I keep telling him I agree (because I do! There is so much information we can ferret out in order to help out with the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas), but that it's how
the anthropologists are being used that is causing problems. I keep trying to explain the ethical dilemmas, and the history that surrounds those dilemmas... and while he's a really bright guy he still doesn't quite see it. The same thing has been happening in the media as well as I've listened to the anthropologists on both sides make their cases.
It makes me wonder how we can present our case better so that it is clear that while we think this is a good idea on the outside, it's the ethical considerations and the way our information is being used that we question. I wonder how that can be done.
My uncle sent me this article
yesterday, about Montgomery McFate and her work with the US military surrounding the war in Iraq. It's also linked to the two resolutions that are on this year's AAA ballot about anthropology and torture, and a condemnation of the war in Iraq.
I'd be curious to know what other people think about this argument. While I agree it's high time for anthropology to come out of the ivory tower (and I love her sentence about reading books about books, and then writing your own book about those books about books), I also see the other side in that we do run a risk of putting our informants in danger. Thoughts?
(btw, I had no idea how to tag this thing... too many ideas! please feel free to add to the tags I've listed. This is a hard one to key word for me!)
I love anthropology, but two years after completing my BA, I find I have no real interest in pursuing a PhD or Masters in it...I feel like I want to do something really applied where my subjectivity will be a nonissue, or even an asset (see those discussions on FGM for more on what I mean!).
Anyway, from where I'm standing, urban planning seems like a very cool career course with a lot of anthropological context. Observing, and even delineating, the movement of people and their interaction with the landscape...how interesting! That's hot!
Anyone out there pursue this path? What did you like about it? Is an anthropologically trained perspective useful, or irrelevant, or what? And, if this has worked out for you, what's a good program?
Thank you very much!
If I lived in either the US or UK, I'd so apply, but here's a heads-up to you Yanks and limeys out there:
Cultural Logic, headed by an anthropologist and a linguist, is a research and consulting firm that works for nonprofit organizations, applying cognitive and social science expertise to improve communications between experts/advocates and the public. Past topics have included global warming, early childhood development, access to health insurance, overfishing, racism, global cooperation, and domestic toxins. (For more information about Cultural Logic, see www.culturallogic.com.)
We are currently seeking interviewers in the US and the UK immediately to conduct and transcribe brief (5 minute) phone conversations with members of the general public.
Grad students in anthropology, linguistics or cog sci are especially encouraged to apply. The current project requires native speakers of American and British English. Interviewing experience is a plus, but not required.
Ideally, the research assistant would have a flexible schedule, but could commit to taping 3-6 phone interviews in an afternoon or evening and e-mailing the transcriptions the following day.
The research is underway and assistants are needed immediately.
Compensation is negotiable.
Please email Andrew Brown at <email@example.com> or call to the US: 1(401)383-6500 for more information.
Andrew J. Brown, Ph.D.
Is there a need out there for Applied Anthropologists in the video game development industry?
Applied anthropology is becoming more and more popular and is opening up jobs everywhere from computer tech to the fashion industry.
I just wanted to ask, does anyone think there will be a desire (if not already) for applied anthropologists in the video game industry, helping developers make games tailored to the consumer?
What other exciting/novel fields might be opening for applied anthropologists?
Trash in Ballona Creek, from WaterQProject, Los Angeles.
I suppose that twenty-plus years of applied anthropology has made me silly, after all. I was a little tired of making the world safe for the latest consumer electronic or sweet-drink innovation (I'm not a good project manager, in fact; though I'm a very good average anthropologist, I think). Sure, I have a business client or two with whom I really enjoy working and there must be more paid work to do in China and India around products and services. But I thought, why not get back into public policy ethnography, at least a little? ( Read more...Collapse )