The Guardian UK on Anthropology and Counter-Insurgency

In the wake of the death of one of the HTS anthropologists last week in Afghanistan, The Guardian covers some of the controversy around the use of anthropology by the military. The article discusses the “Anthropology and Global Counter-Insurgency” conference I presented at last month, and features quotes from and mentions of several of the participants, including John Kelly, Marshall Sahlins, David Price, Hugh Gusterson, Brian Selmanski, and Kerry Frosh — the latter two representing the Air Force and Marines, respectively.

Though the article notes that HTS advocates denied the invitation to take part, there was an HTS recruiter in the audience for at least part of the conference; several people talked with him, and he left his card quite freely, so it’s not like it was a secret or anything.

Of course, how telling is it that the only mainstream mention of the conference comes from a UK paper? You’d think, after the big PR push by the US Army last year — I mean come on, The Daily Show? — there would be some attention paid to the “native” response from anthropologists. We are, after all, supposed to be the secret sauce that’s going to win this war.

As if.

2 comments to The Guardian UK on Anthropology and Counter-Insurgency

  • Anonymous

    The story of
    The story of anthropologists’ involvement in torture is confused and indirect. It seems some torturers were assigned reading by anthropologists, specifically Patai’s _The Arab Mind_, but what the role of that was and how much it influenced torturers is unknown and speculative. I don’t know that anyone has suggested that particular anthros have been directly involved in planning or carrying out torture.

  • Anonymous

    The reason this has not
    The reason this has not appeared in the US news is because the US news is filtered.

    Do you think along with the psychologists and the medical doctors involved in the torture committed by our government there might have been some anthropologists?

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