Resisting the Militarization of Anthropology


Resisting the Militarization of Anthropology

A group critiquing the militarization of anthropology. Possible topics include: resistance tactics, monitoring funding programs, historical relationships between anthropologists and military/intelligence agencies, anthropology and COIN, etc.

Members: 65
Latest Activity: Mar 26, 2016

Discussion Forum

The Department of Defense Minerva Research Initiative 9 Replies

Started by Chris Partridge. Last reply by Abe Pena Jul 25, 2010.

"Secular" Schools for Little Afghan Girls!

Started by M. Jamil Hanifi Aug 15, 2009.

The Armored Monster

Started by M. Jamil Hanifi Jul 26, 2009.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Yannis Hamilakis on March 4, 2010 at 7:31pm
Hi all,

most of you may have not seen an article on the recent militarization of archaeology, which came out in 2009. It can be found at (downloadable as pdf file):

This is an on-going project (and concern...), so I would welcome any comments and suggestions!

Comment by Georgios Agelopoulos on January 5, 2010 at 10:55pm
Hello, I am a British trained anthropologist working on identity politics, migration and the history of ethnography in the Balkans. Being a Greek citizen I served a 23 months compulsory military service. I was trained in the Greek Airforce land defence units after the completion of my PhD (1994). I was serving in the Airforce during the January 1995 Imia crisis which brought Turkey and Greece almost at war and mobilised the entire military forces of both countries. Having experienced the military from inside, I found the whole discussion on the collaboration between anthropologists and the military incomprehensible. It was a real shock to me finding out that there are anthropologists who are seriously in favour of such a cooperation. I am joining this group to understand something more about the militarization of anthropology.
Comment by Eliza Jane Darling on June 12, 2009 at 6:40pm
You're right, I haven't offered any better suggestions. How about the Network of Positively Seething Anthropologists? Anthropologists in High Dudgeon? Or, to put a more English spin on it, The Network of Quite Cross Anthropologists [avatar: furrowed brow w/ monocle].

Seriously, the real issue (for me) is the utter sense of futility in the pledge. I work in rural America, so participating directly in counterinsurgency isn't really an option. I'd like to think pressuring AAA might get some results, but history would seem to suggest otherwise - though they might be pressed into action by more than appeals. By the way, the survey you mention has now been closed, at least the one I was last emailed.

My offer stands, of course; I think there's a link to my email on my page, if not it's

Huge fan of your work, btw, thanks.
Comment by David Price on June 11, 2009 at 5:56pm
Hi Eliza, Re: the name “concerned” anthropologists and nearly-raised-homogenized-eyebrows. Yeah, “concerned” is pretty staid (not sure what the response would have been to have called it…Network of Outraged [Incensed? Irate? Exasperated? Cheesed-off?] Anthropologists), but we basically modeled our approach on tactics used by the Union of Concerned Scientists who effectively organized a broad group of physicists and others to vocalize their opposition to the Star Wars weapons programs, so we borrowed their middle name.

I don’t seen gathering signatures as a panacea, but it did allow a concrete way for the size of the opposition to this militarization of the discipline to be made manifest; one real outcome is that professional organizations (like the AAA in the US) know there are sizable, vocal, numbers in their membership with real concerns.

Joining groups doesn’t solve problems, but it can lead to the formation of networks, a clearinghouse of information, better critiques and coordinated action. We need all this—whether it happens through organizations or individuals. Personally, I welcome anything that makes anthropologists aware of these issues, keeps the pressure on, limits the militarization of the discipline, etc. Your labours to the critique are most welcome.

One thing for US anthropologists who belong to the AAA to do right now is to respond to the questionnaire sent to members asking for input that will be used in the process of rewriting the AAA’s Code of Ethics. Let the AAA know how you’d like to see issues raised by the militarization of anthropology be addressed in the revised code.
Comment by Eliza Jane Darling on June 10, 2009 at 1:43am
Concerning the NCA - I signed the pledge as soon as I found out about it, but for many anthropologists it's at best an ambiguous and at worst a meaningless promise, predicated upon a decidedly individualistic, personal "choice" (which is a non-choice for those who don't work in such directly-affected arenas anyway) with no power beyond benign "appeal" behind it.

And the name. "Concerned" anthropologists? Careful, we almost raised an eyebrow there.

I say this in the full knowledge that I've known about this for months yet contributed the square root of shivering shit to the endeavor, and with due props to all those who have. So I'll put my money where my big mouth is, and offer my labour in addition to my critique.
Comment by Benjamin Hirschfeld on June 9, 2009 at 3:53pm
Hi there!
Thanks for opening this group, David! I'm particularly intersted in news concerning cooperations of anthropologists and the military/intelligence complex in (continental) Europe, as this topic has hardly been touched in the past. Most people and esp. heads of some of the national organisations Ive spoken to couldnt give me much advice, so Im hoping for people in networks like this one. I've gathered some data, especially on my country of studies, Germany, but would be glad to recieve any information or contacts available if you have some to share.
Comment by Khari La Marca on June 9, 2009 at 2:17pm
Thanks for starting this group, David. Much to talk about here. I've been doing research on Zanzibar recently and it has been difficult because anthropologists tend to be viewed as possible CIA operatives. Such perceptions are not unusual especially if you are working on issues of politics and/or history. In Zanzibar, I have been researching memories of the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. The silence is loud.
Comment by Francine Barone on June 4, 2009 at 7:26pm
Yes! Thank you for starting this group. I find militarization and military-friendliness completely at odds with anthropology, yet its an undeniable, historical factor which has shaped the discipline into what it is today. What can anthropologists against militarization do to resist or prevent its encroachment on the discipline? I look forward to discussion, debate and enlightenment on this issue.
Comment by David Price on June 4, 2009 at 6:05pm
I’m hoping this group can foster critical discussions of the militarization of anthropology, and that it can serve as a hub for sharing information on new developments, uncovering old historical relationships, identifying and discussing work by anthropologists and others writing about counterinsurgency, relevant events, conferences and public talks, and information on how we can resist the militarization of anthropology. Best, David

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