Re: Gusterson/Feaver debate, For. Policy, Aug 08
- Brian, Lloyd:
The underlying cynicism of terminology like "human terrain," not to mention the cynicism of "counterinsurgency research," "Scientists as Spies," etc. is depressing at best. I hope you didn't read my post as something from the notebooks of the "engaged" and "embedded" anthropologists out there. I'm hardly gloating; but trying to arrive at some kind of personal satisfaction that I'm grasping the situation in its complexity.
Been working on this for two years, and have amassed far more notes than useful for any sort of essay. Organization? Not yet coherent.
I fall somewhere around the "irrelevant" camp which Lloyd describes. Now if I could only focus on those NOTES, I might figure out some sort of explanation of the theoretical implications of untainted anthro research becoming "irrelevant."
I'm becoming more settled again, and perhaps once I ditch Vista I might make some progress.
Any thoughts on how students react to discussions on this?
Re: Fwd: Gusterson/Feaver debate, For. Policy, Aug 08
Posted by: "bdlqvcc" blynch@... bdlqvcc
Date: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:32 am ((PDT))
As one who has actively questioned anthropologists' engagement
in "research" (applied or otherwise) for efforts such as the so-
called Human Terrain Project, I think it amazing how we can
rationalize such engagement when the powers that be dangle funds in
front of us. And how this then shapes any subsequent discourse, as
if "purists" are the ones to be called into question. A recent death
of a "social scientist" in the Human Terrain program was reported not
long ago and became another facet of the "humanitarian contribution
of social scientists" discourse, that continues to cloud the issues
involved in this whole matter.
Recently it was also reported that the supposedly "spectacular"
rescue of hostages in Colombia, and a proposed "false flag" shoot
down of a plane over Iran, each used or proposed the use of the
identity of ostensibly neutral NGO's (the Red Cross and the UN) to
carry out covert operations. These are clearly offenses (legal or
otherwise) against the very nature of these organziations, and most
people will see the potential for damage such actions could have
toward the integrity of such organizations. Anthropologists as
professionals, who present themselves as 'researchers,' looking for
the trust and openness of those with whom they study, as the bedrock
of their profession, can't affort to be any less circumspect than
such NGO's about the integrity of what we do. And "following the
money" abolutely has to be part of this.
--- In SACC-L@yahoogroups.com, George Thomas <broruprecht@...> wrote:
> Clearly the source-of-funding aspect has taken on massive
influence, while the research design, intentions, scope of the study
take a back seat. Any narrow research focus should now come as spin-
off perks from massive Defense contract work.
> I thought Gusterson's approach represented some sort of
breakthrough, but only because SecDef Gates has proven to be a
cabinet officer capable of paying attention. As far as "human
terrain," shadowy funding via the CIA, and integrity of informed
consent/trust, there seems to be some sort of growing awareness that
these are issues at least as important as sending the marines
wherever there's some crisis. It's crucial to remember that the
political reaction has become institutionalized: one always questions
source of funding regardless of the research intentions. Old 1963
mistakes (and Pres. Kennedy killed Project Camelot) served as one
stimulus, assuring that anthro research would be suspect.
> And hey, the meth lab option is out there. I haven't heard about
that kind of loot becoming available through some government
contract.... (Some suppressed info from Halliburton and KBR
notwithstanding..... we're talking about us LITTLE peeps). It's just
that other sources of funding have been far more exclusive and harder
> And as the "purist" argument becomes more irrelevant (cheers,
Lloyd), we also move away from that most anthropological of areas:
culture & personality and its descendants. If we forget about the
irrationality within movements and the variations in motivation,
we'll ignore that knee-jerk assumption that our funding source
necessarily means disaster for the subjects of anthro study.
> And keep an eye out for American Psych Ass'n pronoucements. They
are also the source of that ban on "polygraph" evidence in court. As
anthros inch closer to irrelevant political side-issues, we might do
well to remember that the magic "lie detector" is but an
> SACC-L@yahoogroups.com wrote:
> Date: 21 Aug 2008 11:08:53 -0000
> From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
> To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: [SACC-L] Digest Number 1642
> There is 1 message in this issue.
> Topics in this digest:
> 1a. Re: Fwd: Gusterson/Feaver debate, For. Policy, Aug 08
> From: Kip Waldo
> 1a. Re: Fwd: Gusterson/Feaver debate, For. Policy, Aug 08
> Posted by: "Kip Waldo" kwaldo@... kipandfei
> Date: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:04 am ((PDT))
> So it is just the source of the funding, not the purpose of the
study? Operation Phoenix, centered at MSU, was a problem
of "misreading" the situation? The U.S. is doing what in Iraq and
> We have learned nothing from the past? I guess if following the
money is the guide I don't have much to say to my students who could
make much more than I do by slinging crack on the corner or cooking
up some meth in the kitchen.
> >>> Lloyd Miller 08/19/08 11:09 PM >>>
> Hey George,
> The exchanges between Gusterson and Feaver on Pentagon funding are
> interesting. I noticed that the American Psychological Ass'n is
> voting on a resolution that its members should refuse to work in
> interrogation settings where torture is present (e.g., Guantanamo,
> I think that Gusterson's point that the source of funding
> influences the study irrespective of intentions is persuasive. I
> wonder if Gates would actually consider his suggestion of placing
> money with NSF instead. It would be interesting to hear his reasons
> for not doing so. On the other hand, Feaver does make a point that
> many scholars would simply follow the money (it's their livelihood,
> they must put their kids through college, etc.), thus the
> Minerva project would be successful and the so-called leftist
> anthropologist dissenters would be seen as largely irrelevant.
> In the final analysis, though, I side with the irrelevant ones.
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