Wednesday, November 7, 2007

AAA Responds To HTS

Just noticed that the American Anthropology Association finally produced a statement on the US Military's Human Terrain System (which recruits anthropologists to assist their 'progressive' efforts in the regions they occupy).

I'll redirect you to two responses from fellow AnthroBloggers for all those interested:

In favor of and prolific posters on this issue: bloggers over at
Opposed to: the blogger(s) over at

I'm still on the fence with this issue, since I'm a prospective AFSA with an undergraduate degree in anthropology...

But I think Marx's famous quote could be pertinently changed to:

"[Anthropologists] have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it."

In my opinion your not going to change military policy and actions by writing in subscription journals and if you truly want to stop the egregious acts and culturally detrimental actions of the military you have to actually get engaged with it, learn the lingo, embed yourself within it, so you can not only understand it, but hopefully teach it the vaulable lessons that anthropology has uncovered over the years.

But that's just my two's a very tricky ethical question (as all ethical questions usually are).

1 comment:

dj-jas said...

it's a difficult issue. anthropology could be effective in terms of helping the military find solutions, but i see it as much more likely becoming a tool towards predetermined ends. the same co-option has occurred with embedded journalists, who end up reporting only on what they see from the military's point of view.

furthermore, i think the iraq war has shown us more that many human values are universal, i.e. no one wants to be invaded/controlled by an outside force. people might not be as different as certain anthropologists might tell us. and while cultural understanding of iraqi society is certainly needed, this could perhaps be better accomplished by using middle east experts. but then, as with everyone, you come to the issue of bias. and of course, people who actually understand the middle east might realize that american goals in iraq are "mismatched" - to say the least - with realities of politics and society in the region.