At AJP: Expanding the Human Terrain System and Militarizing Anthropology in Canada

For those who are interested, this is just a brief note of two relevant items posted on the website of Anthropologists for Justice and Peace. One, building on what John Stanton has provided in the previous post, focuses on the continuation and expansion of the Human Terrain System, with yet another anthropologist in the lead (very interesting, for a program that began to eschew any anthropological connections; even more interesting now that there is a stated intention to reengage the anthropological community). HTS directors possibly think that they have cleaned house sufficiently to permit them to approach us without much diffidence. In addition, it seems that HTS is getting some interested attention from the Canadian military elite. See: “A Resurgent Human Terrain System: Concerns for Anthropology, Including Canada.”

The second item is directed primarily at Canadian anthropologists, though it may well be of wider interest (especially as it stems from a job advertisement that appeared on the website of the American Anthropological Association). It concerns correspondence between AJP members and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Calgary, regarding their alliance with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI) in creating a position in military anthropology, also explicitly open to “international” (i.e. American) applicants. We asked a series of questions, not wanting to prejudge the nature and purpose of the position, especially as colleagues who may be called upon to write letters of reference for prospective applicants. It is our job, that of referees and applicants, to learn as much as possible about a position before applying (or supporting an application). Apparently, that is an unreasonable expectation–in this case alone–and you can read the response that we received from Calgary. We therefore recommend that no one apply for the position, and that no one write any letter of recommendation for anyone applying to the program, given the obvious lack of any kind of transparency around this position. See: “Militarizing Anthropology at the University of Calgary.”

4 thoughts on “At AJP: Expanding the Human Terrain System and Militarizing Anthropology in Canada

  1. John Stanton

    From the US House/Senate Bill funding US defense dated 10 December 2010

    H. R. 6523
    To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2011 for military activities of
    the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense
    activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel
    strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.
    DECEMBER 15, 2010

    9 (a) LIMITATION.—Of the amounts authorized to be
    10 appropriated for the Human Terrain System (hereinafter
    11 in this section referred to as the ‘‘HTS’’) that are de-
    12 scribed in subsection (b), not more than 85 percent of the
    13 amounts remaining unobligated as of the date of enact-
    14 ment of this Act may be obligated until the Secretary of
    15 the Army submits to the congressional defense committees
    16 each of the following:
    17 (1) A validation of all HTS requirements, in-
    18 cluding any prior joint urgent operational needs
    19 statements.
    20 (2) A certification that policies, procedures, and
    21 guidance are in place to protect the integrity of so-
    22 cial science researchers participating in HTS, includ-
    23 ing ethical guidelines and human studies research
    24 procedures.

    The Terrorism and Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, led by Chairwoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), is responsible for overseeing approximately $28 billion for U.S. Special Operations Forces, chemical and biological defense, counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Information Technology (IT), defense-wide Science and Technology (S&T), chemical demilitarization, and other areas focused on defending our nation against unconventional threats.


    There are increasing concerns that the Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS), designed to
    leverage social science expertise to support operational commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan has not paid sufficient attention to addressing certain concerns. The Department is encouraged to continue to develop a broad range of opportunities that leverage the important contributions that can be offered by social science expertise to support key missions such as irregular warfare, counterinsurgency, and stability and reconstruction operations. The bill limits the obligation of funding for HTS until the Army provides revalidation of all existing operations requirements and certifies Department-level guidelines for the use of social scientists.

  2. Mr. Panko

    Danger Room today posts a story based on interviews with Steve Fondacaro in which Fondacaro admits that Max and other critics have been correct all along in saying that hundreds of HTS social scientists are unqualified. The comments and linked video are pretty good too.

    How do we get congress to investigate Fondacaro for perpetrating fraud with federal dollars?

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