Yes, yes, and jawohl on all counts.
Brian, you stated, as have others, that the issues of incompatibility between academic anthropology and sovereign government/military concerns are PRACTICAL, and not off-in-the-ozone theoretical.
In other words, as another source (on the net....I'm searching through Thomas Weaver's writing from the '70s-'80s to find it elsewhere) puts it, anthro involvement with "US Forces" simply cannot be achieved.
Now you, too have stated this.
Mark, your comments are so appropriate generally that one scarcely knows where to begin. Not only is this a complex issue, it is one fraught with contradictions that may actually make it unsolvable. Simplistic explanations are so far from the mark, particularly where explanations approaching academic complexity themselves fail to help us. Some anthropologists have run into GROWING military snafu-generation situations through decades of involvement with the people they've studied; THEN experienced a kind of blacklisting when they returned to the US and tried to get onto an anthro faculty. Others quote quite legitimate, actually helpful, prescient foreign policy gurus out of context in the effort to show that US policy is by nature hegemonistic and full of naive hubris. (The point here was that, with so many real US foreign policy problems, why pick on foreign policy experts who have NOT authored the problems?) So anthropologists (aside from McFate, etc.) have not had
clean noses here either.
So much for Mr. Cheney....
The matter is a true can of worms. Thanks. I'm enjoying this discussion.
Re: Ideologues on any side produce what?
Posted by: "Lewine, Mark" mark.lewine@...
Date: Tue Dec 4, 2007 6:05 pm ((PST))
On this we totally agree Brian...I was there at the Business Meeting
and found enormous ideological peer pressure on each political vote...I
think that our discussions on the list serve on this issue were
intensely honest expressions without personal rancor yet with personal meaning.
I tend to be a contrarian whenever there is something close to
unanimity in debate on any tough issue since anything complex must have a
variety of perspectives. I am not sure that a conflict style of
communication is never appropriate as I always enjoyed the Marvin Harris versus
Chagnon battles, but that is not the same as personal attack such as
what was described in the blog that I reproduced. I think also that we
must recognize that there are different levels of analysis in these issues
that must be sorted out rather than simply reduced to a Cheney-like
generalization that fits a simplistic ideology. I agree on a general
principle of academic non-involvement with direct military operations but
that does not mean we should not discuss village reconstruction efforts
engaged with the military, just like we need to discuss how we approve
corporate involvements now that the military is more corporate and
private in contractual service.
on behalf of Lynch, Brian M
Sent: Tue 12/4/2007 10:32 AM
Subject: RE: [SACC-L] Ideologues on any side produce what?
I wasn't able to attend the annual AAA meetings this year, and eagerly
watched for reports from the meetings especially around this whole
discussion of our association and its formal view of professional
participation in military-intelligence gathering. I was not surprised,
but disheartened nonetheless, that our professional, 'collegial'
discussions seemed to be anything but, at least in the case reported in
the article by Noah Shachtman below.
One of the things that has struck me is how quickly any level of
disagreement in our discussions gets interpreted as (or reduced to)
personal criticism. There almost seems to be a tone that if we dare to
keep things at the level of critical intellectual analysis without
making it personal, we are committing the error of speaking from the
ivory tower. I guess I have the ideal notion that the same kinds of
standards that would be applied to, say, making an argument in a
professional paper or peer-reviewed publication, would be applied to
professional discussions; isn't that the process that we put forward
the model for advancing knowledge and understanding in our very
I am extremely skeptical of the ability for professionals
(anthropologists, journalists) whose stock in trade is trust among
'informants' (sources) to 'embed' in military operations without
severely compromising professional integrity. And yet, this current
military situation for anthropologists is so much more: these
professionals are not just 'embedding,' like so many objective
journalists. Instead, they are deliberately working within these
military operations to assist them in their military success; what this
does to undermine the integrity (not just some ivory-tower ideal, but
the practical integrity of what we do and how we do it) of our
discipline needs to be looked at clearly and carefully. As well, those
anthropologists who are attempting to rationalize such practices as
normal and unproblematic for our discipline certainly need to be
challenged in their assumptions if not in their commitments. This
easy or comfortable, but it is necessary, if our profession has any
standards for itself.
And yet, this needs to be done, it seems to me, with the same
intellectual and professional care that we feel should be reflected in
our other professional exchanges that get a peer review.
] On Behalf
Of George Thomas
Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 7:11 AM
Subject: [SACC-L] Ideologues on any side produce what?
I'm disappointed (restraint prevents me from honesty in admitting I'm
actually "horrified") at the ideological attack at the AAA meetings
2007) on one of several people performing (attempting to perform?)
anthropological work (if only for preliminary observational purposes)
with the military "downrange." The attack was not a complete surprise.
etc... truncated. See earlier posts
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