Have there been any new developments regarding Minerva. I was anxiously waiting to see how the Obama administration would address this issue. Am I correct in thinking they have not? My Minerva searches return nothing current. Is this a dead issue?

Tags: Anthropology, DOD, Minerva, War

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Minerva is still very much in the game. Expect budget increases in Minerva this next year, Obama isn’t shutting down the larger US hegemonic project, he just wants it to be a smarter project, and I don’t see the new administration understanding that Minerva will only generate increasingly narrow ways of seeing the world, not new solutions.

About a week ago I had lunch with a friend who is senior colleague who holds a prestigious sociology research position at a large US university, he was shocked at how many of his colleagues were scrambling for Minerva funds. His take was that when you looked at the individual bits of many of these projects they sort of looked like normal social science (textual analysis, historical research, etc.), but when you added these bits up it they all shared themes of legibility with all the distortions of over-simplification. Minvera is farming out the piece-work of empire in ways that can allow individuals to disassociate their individual contributions from the larger project.

I’d expect Minerva funding and anthropologists participation to grow by leaps and bounds; the financial collapse coupled with the new low in anthropology jobs, the slump in traditional funding opportunities, and faith in the liberal wars of the smarter Obama administration creates a perfect storm that will ease the cognitive dissonance normally experienced when anthropologists when asked to turn over their goods to military and intelligence agencies.
Hi.
It is not directly related to the present thread, but I was wondering if the AAA has any official position vis à vis Minerva and more generally vis à vis military use of anthropology/anthropologists ?
Have the ideals of F. Boas expressed in his piece "scientists as spies" been forgotten ?
I completely agree with the belief that the AAA should take some sort of official position regarding Minerva if they have not already. My belief is that grad students and even faculty could be persuaded to “follow the money” and in doing so will be shifting intellectual resources, research hours, and personal commitment toward a few highly lucrative subjects. I also assume this shift could produce a shortage of human and intellectual capital to be divided among the many nonmilitary (and thus not-as-profitable), but equally important areas where anthropological research is needed.

Still, it's important to not forget that ten days after Scientists as Spies was published, Boas was censured in a 21-to-10 formal vote (conducted at the Peabody museum at Harvard where Morley was employed) on a resolution distancing the AAA from Boas' views. As a result, Boas was removed from the AAA council (an organization he founded) and was threatened with expulsion from the association if he produced any additional related documents.

It's also important to remember how the AAA failed to take any real stand during McCarthyism.

I guess we will have to see what position the AAA takes now...

Igor Alcyon said:
Hi.
It is not directly related to the present thread, but I was wondering if the AAA has any official position vis à vis Minerva and more generally vis à vis military use of anthropology/anthropologists ?
Have the ideals of F. Boas expressed in his piece "scientists as spies" been forgotten ?
Thanks Chris for these historical points.

I am not an american anthropologist, so it is very easy for me to have a strong stand. But I was thinking that thanks to learning from history, it could be the case that the AAA, if it does not take a clear position against military use of anthropologists/anthropology, will be censured, on a resolution distancing the AAA from anthropologists' view. And if it does not take a real stand, then the AAA could be threatened with expulsion from american anthropology, for example through a campaign of mass resignation.
But once more, I am not an american anthropologist, and I do not know exactly what is the AAA, or what power it has, so my opinion may be absolutely outlandish.
Moreover, I do not know the official position of the AAA, so I may be talking for nothing. What is the present stand of the AAA ?

(One may think that I am one more contentious french. So be it.)
Hello Igor,

You may want to check out these three links. I was a happily surprised to read them:

http://www.aaanet.org/_cs_upload/issues/press/22649_1.pdf
http://www.aaanet.org/issues/Minerva-Release.cfm
http://www.aaanet.org/issues/AAA-Minerva-Letter.cfm

Igor Alcyon said:
Thanks Chris for these historical points.

I am not an american anthropologist, so it is very easy for me to have a strong stand. But I was thinking that thanks to learning from history, it could be the case that the AAA, if it does not take a clear position against military use of anthropologists/anthropology, will be censured, on a resolution distancing the AAA from anthropologists' view. And if it does not take a real stand, then the AAA could be threatened with expulsion from american anthropology, for example through a campaign of mass resignation.
But once more, I am not an american anthropologist, and I do not know exactly what is the AAA, or what power it has, so my opinion may be absolutely outlandish.
Moreover, I do not know the official position of the AAA, so I may be talking for nothing. What is the present stand of the AAA ?

(One may think that I am one more contentious french. So be it.)
Thanks Chris,
I'll take the time to read the documents and make my opinion.
There is also concerning developments in Europe (and not only in the UK), as reported here :

http://www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/2009/militarisation_o...

Some elements are very worrysome. It may make sense to build some sort of international and coordinated resistance on those matters.
Hi,
An addition to the info on Denmark you might be interested on the 6,5 million Euro-FSB700-university-linked-research project that has been cooking up lately in Berlin,Germany: http://www.sfb-governance.de/en/index.html

Under the title "Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood" this German Research Foundation (DFG)-initiative includes around 40 researchers working on the question: " How can effective and legitimate governance be sustained in areas of limited statehood? What problems emerge under such conditions?". Parts of research concentrate on how governments of so-called "weak states" can be or are effectivly or non-effectivly "influenced" through international organisations (IOs), NGOs, as well as private actors (local "big men", social networks). Mentioned states include those "without a state-power-monopoly" or "possibilities of effectivly passing on political decisions" (here: "Afghanistan, Columbia, Congo, Nigeria, Tadschikistan) or those that have "deficits" in these areas (Argentina, Armenia, Aserbaidschan, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan), as well as countries where these deficits are seen "in parts of their territories" (Brazil, China, Southafrica, Southkorea) (source: http://www.bundeswehr-wegtreten.org/main/jw_zu_sfb_700_2008-09.pdf). These influences can be seen "in addition to" or "as an alternative to military interventions" see project C1-description, p.11.

Some of the 16 part-projects of the FSB include regional fieldwork based on qualitative ethnological methods (see, e.g. Part "C1 - Transnational Cooperation and the Provision of Security in the...") .

There has been some public outcry and criticism regarding the FSB, mainly coming from students linked to the Otto-Suhr-Institute of political studies, Berlin, and anti-militarizatiion-organisations (e.g. "Bundeswehr-Wegtreten"). But., as far as I know, the FSB is little known outside of Berlin, and especially not inside the German anthropological community.

More information and further linked articles (mainly in German): http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonderforschungsbereich_700" target="_blank">http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonderforschungsbere...


If you're fluent in German, I can recommend this article (with references to Kilcullen/McFate's idea of anthropologcal cooperation with the military ) : http://fachschaftsinitiativen.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/embedded-...





Igor Alcyon said:
Thanks Chris,
I'll take the time to read the documents and make my opinion. There is also concerning developments in Europe (and not only in the UK), as reported here : http://www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/2009/militarisation_o...
Some elements are very worrysome. It may make sense to build some sort of international and coordinated resistance on those matters.
Hi,

the most recent developments ( to my knowledge) regarding Minerva can be read at culturematters:
and zeroanthropology
The program has a new name. The AAA formally submitted a letter of disapproval. But the NSA and other agencies are recruiting people as data analysts and sociology field workers. others are using the term census data collection representatives. They are compiling databases. The filter systems and cross references are being automated... The main issue is databases in general. As humans don't systematically fit into categories or profiles nicely.

And although, the AAA disapproved the program, they just went and hired contractors and "interns" who are not members of the AAA, and most don't know the AAA refused to continue in the program. As it goes against the ethics and basis of anthropology.

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