Announcement of first awards under the Pentagon’s Minerva Program

Thanks to David Glenn at the Chronicle of Higher Education (“Pentagon Announces First Grants in Disputed Social-Science Program,” 23 December 2008), I learned of today’s announcement from the Pentagon of the first seven awards to be made to social science projects that applied under the Minerva Research Initiative. The Pentagon also announced that it had received 211 proposals. A total of 16 academic institutions are involved in the seven projects supported thus far, including three non-US institutions. The Pentagon revealed none of the names of the foreign institutions, nor any of the collaborating institutions, for whatever reason.

None of the awards thus far appear, at first glance, to be for what the Pentagon calls “the Iraqi perspectives project,” a project that involves a violation of international law, and specifically the Hague Convention of 1954.

The Social Science Research Council is still running a series of invited essays debating the merits, demerits, and politics of the Pentagon’s Minerva Research Initiative — click here for more. At an August workshop, SSRC President Craig Calhoun spoke out in favour of increased academic cooperation with the military (see the video below). This will most likely achieve another result: decreased cooperation between American academics and their foreign counterparts who do not wish to be tainted by support for American imperial expansion and subversion of other cultures.


The names of the researchers, their institutional affiliations and projects are as follows:

  • Nazli Choucri, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Explorations in Cyber International Relations.”
  • Patricia M. Lewis, deputy director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies: “Iraq’s Wars From the Iraqi Perspective: State Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Civil-Military Relations, Ethnic Conflict, and Political Communication in Baathist Iraq.”
  • James M. Lindsay, professor of international affairs at the University of Texas at Austin: “Climate Change, State Stability, and Political Risk in Africa.”
  • David Matsumoto, professor of psychology at San Francisco State University: “Emotion and Intergroup Relations.”
  • Jacob N. Shapiro, assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University: “Terrorism, Governance, and Development.”
  • Susan L. Shirk, professor of international relations and director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California at San Diego: “The Evolving Relationship Between Technology and National Security in China: Innovation, Defense Transformation, and China’s Place in the Global Technology Order.”
  • Mark R. Woodward, professor of religious studies at Arizona State University: “Finding Allies for the War of Words: Mapping the Diffusion and Influence of Counter-Radical Muslim Discourse.”

Given their now open ties to the American military-security regime, it would be interesting to learn if any of these “researchers” are thinking of actually traveling and meeting, face to face, with the people at the blunt and bloody end of their country’s expansionist lifestyle. Discontinuing the insularity, taken-for-granted bellicosity, and national chauvinism that informs at least some of these projects would threaten to unravel the kind of thinking that produced them in the first place. For now, we do not see any anthropologists among the award recipients (or as they say, no news is good news).

The titles are interesting (and for now we do not have anything beyond the titles), all of which suggest that the work of these persons is designed to prop up imperialism, its reigning definitions of the world, while others seek to infiltrate fields of opposition, perhaps in the hope of undoing them, or better managing potential allies.

One facet that we can expect: as these investigators look at others, to see how to undo or defeat them in the interests of their nation-state, so will the gaze be returned.

Some people, for some reason, need further lessons in the limits of power.

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Previous posts about the Minerva Research Initiative on this blog are:

  1. Minerva Research Initiative Violates International Law and Iraqi Sovereignty
  2. Minerva and the Terrorism Industry: “The rule of experts as a means to covert imperial rule”
  3. Hugh Gusterson: “Minerva Controversy,” and the SSRC
  4. New Minerva article from Hugh Gusterson, plus congressional testimonies on HTS and national security research
  5. Minerva: Risks, Opportunities, Boycotts, and Mentally Handicapped Informants?
  6. Updates: Spy in Our Midst; Washington Post on Minerva
  7. Washington Post: Military’s Social Science Grants Raise Alarm
  8. National Security Research and the Geopolitical Context of Knowledge Production
  9. Latest Minerva and National Science Foundation News
  10. Minerva Project and Looted Iraqi Documents (2.0)
  11. More Minerva News and Discussion (2.1)
  12. National Security Research, Imperialist Emergencies and the Minerva Research Initiative: Some Further Consideration (1.1)
  13. Minerva Project Now Official and Ready to Begin (1.1)
  14. The Military-Academic Complex in the U.S.: “The Minerva Consortia”

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