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Fwd: Re: Ideologues on any side produce what?

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  • George Thomas
    Yes, yes, and jawohl on all counts. Brian, you stated, as have others, that the issues of incompatibility between academic anthropology and sovereign
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2007
      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.
      Mark Lewine

      -----Original Message-----
      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com on behalf of Lynch, Brian M
      Sent: Tue 12/4/2007 10:32 AM
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      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
      discipline itself?

      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.



      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of George Thomas
      Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 7:11 AM
      To: sacc-l@yahoogroups.com
      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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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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