Difference needs to be taken seriously. Difference is not necessarily pretty, quaint, picturesque, or amenable to calm and polite dialogue. Attempts to placate and obviate difference by arguing that it is an illusion masking an underlying universal sameness, is only further proof of how little difference is appreciated, and how far we have yet to go.

A few words about this site

When this site first took shape it was written as part of an ongoing critique of institutional and disciplinary anthropology, insofar as it has or may continue to support, justify, participate in, or abide by imperial projects. The central interests have been ongoing colonialism, recolonization, anti-imperialism, indigenous rights, Caribbean culture, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and discourses of liberation and social transformation. Tied up with those is an interest in “public anthropology,” and “radical anthropology.” The theme is usually a fairly consistent one. We write against the conservative “professionalization” of ideas, the way that knowledge is compartmentalized and “disciplined,” and the way that print and other media capitalists have monopolized knowledge dissemination in the most anti-democratic fashion. The larger concern is with a global system of inequality, the diffusion of social injustices, permanent war and imperial domination, and cultural colonization that work together to maintain an unsustainable system of mass consumption and an anti-democratic system of corporate domination.

This site makes no special effort to answer to a community of professional anthropologists who take their discipline for granted, or who use the Internet to promote it uncritically, nor does it make a special effort of cementing links with the online “community” of “blogging anthropologists.” In this and other senses, this is not an academic and anthropology “blog” like others — it is a way of networking, communicating, and getting involved in much larger discussions with select groups and persons, beyond the halls of academia, and a way of quickly putting out writing that is not reflected by the mainstream.


MAXIMILIAN FORTEMy name is Maximilian C. Forte. I started this site in early October of 2007. I entertained no real ambitions for this site, it was and for me sometimes still is just a “place” where I can write more or less freely what I have not written elsewhere. It was also a way for me to practice some fictional writing about ethnographic fictions. For me this site, when it was first a mere blog, was part scrap book, sketch pad, picture book, music and video log, ethnographic notes, short stories, newspaper clippings, notes from readings, essays, and even a polemical “weapon” when necessary. I do not write with any audience in mind. My writing here was not meant as an extension of more of the usual kind of academic work and was not intended as an instrument for personal, professional self-advancement.

I call myself an anthropologist, in large part because that is how I am formally employed. Anthropology, for me, is a way of speaking about the human condition that looks critically at dominant discourses, with a keen emphasis on meanings and relationships, producing a non-state, non-market, non-archival knowledge. I would like to think that my work here is about undoing and unthinking received “wisdom.”

For many years my favourite authors have been Ashis Nandy, for cultural criticism of colonialism; George Orwell, as a political novelist and essayist; Ward Churchill on decolonized indigeneity; Pierre Bourdieu for his many contributions on capital, distinction, hegemony and orthodoxy; Immanuel Wallerstein for his critical analyses of the capitalist world-system and the structuring of the social sciences; and, Roi Kwabena as a contemporary, friend, and example of the work of the anthropologist as a public intellectual without a base in the academy.

At present I am a professor in anthropology, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Donnchadh2I am Donnchadh Mac an Ghoill and I live in Dublin where along with a group of comrades we established the Sóivéid James Connolly, which among other things runs Irish classes, bagpipe classes, a weekly comedy club, home brewing and a community garden, as well as the website I have a degree in Early and Modern Irish from Trinity College Dublin. I have written three plays in Irish, one of which has won an award. Along with others, I have been part of setting up the Pairtí Cummanach na Poblachta (Communist Party of the Irish Republic) which refers to the all-Ireland Republic declared in 1916.


M. JAMIL HANIFII am M. Jamil Hanifi and I am currently employed as an independent scholar. My long standing research interests have focused on the anthropology and history of Afghanistan. I was born in Afghanistan, in Sorkhab, Logar Province. I obtained my Ph.D in Anthropology from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, in 1969. I earned my M.A. in Political Science, from Michigan State University, in 1962. I graduated with a B.Sc. in Social Science, from Michigan State University, in 1960. I am fluent in Farsi/Dari, and Paxtu. I also have reading ability in Arabic, Russian, Tajiki (in Cyrillic), and Urdu. At present I am an adjunct researcher in the Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University and I teach at Lansing Community College. I was formerly a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University, from 1969 to 1982. My research has been partially supported by the United States National Academy of Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies, in the period from 1982 to 2006. I am the author of the Historical and Cultural Dictionary of Afghanistan (1976) and numerous articles in journals and encyclopedias. You can read more about me here and here. I joined ZA in July of 2009.


ELIZA JANE DARLINGI am Eliza Jane Darling, an American teaching in Britain. My writing is inspired by a Very Famous Marxist (VFM) who once said to a seminar full of students labouring through a close reading of Capital: I won’t dumb it down for you.

I was born into that benighted category of citizenry known as “rednecks,” a term Americans use to avoid talking about class by refracting it through the prismatic geography of white rural poverty. Part and parcel of the redneck package is a habitual intellectual insecurity: hicks, by definition, aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, and are reminded so by their betters at frequent intervals. I felt dumb through much of university and VFM’s pronouncement confirmed my suspicion, as whatever we were talking about in class that day just wasn’t sinking in.

Having had a few years to chew it over, I’m not sure VFM meant to call us dumb. In my more generous moments, I think what he meant was: I’m not going to squeeze this stuff into the comfortable but mystifying taxonomy of liberalism, which is fair enough. In my less generous moments, I think he was saying: I can’t be arsed to teach you this, which is just plain lazy. Either way the “dumb” bit has long stuck in my craw as it jibes with one of the things I like least about my adopted home of academia: the ironic condescension of an intellectual radicalism which professes inclusivity but practises marginalisation, especially through language.

There are a lot of reasons for this practise but one of them is fear. Academics live in perverse terror of making a mistake – of getting it wrong, of looking dumb – especially in public, where other academics lie in wait, ready to pounce on the slightest flub (British academics in particular have turned this into a national sport, which is why I avoid departmental seminars like the plague). The result is a self-reproducing synthesis of timidity and conceit that adds up to an academic lingua franca ranging from the staggeringly turgid to the incomprehensibly abstruse. This stuff is every bit as boring to write as it is to read. After nineteen years in this business, I’ve grown weary of writing fearfully; it’s too much work for what amounts to a humourless job. It’d be vastly self-aggrandizing (and wildly inaccurate) to say that I write “fearlessly” – but my aim is to write in such a way that I’m not too afraid to be wrong.


JOHN ALLISONMy name is John Allison and I am an itinerant anthropologist who washed up on the Northwest Coast of North America during a heavy storm in late February, 2010. My special skills are anthropological linguistics, oral traditions, visual anthropology and ethnology/ethnography.

My fieldwork has concentrated on South Asia, especially around the Hindu Kush and Himalayan mountains; in the European Jewish neo-crusades colony in Arabia that is called “Israel”; and indigenous peoples of North America, from Mexico to Alaska, especially the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin of southeast Oregon and northeast California.

I am a cognitive ethnographer and a cultural relativist. This leads to problems in answering this question of identity, because identity is embedded in the perception of reality in a particular genuine culture (which contrasts with “spurious culture”, according to Sapir’s and my way of thinking).

I see the Military-Financial Complex (MFC, the current incarnation of Ike’s Military-Industrial Complex, MIC) as analogous to the Black Hole phenomenon in astro-physics. The MFC is sucking in all the human societies on the earth still maintaining local solidarity through genuine cultures. MFC strips them of identity and culture to embed them as human resources in the Global shelves of the Human Capital Supermarket; overseen by the latest incarnation of the Holy Roman Empire, now with the label, “NATO”.

I do NOT have a Ph.D. As one Klamath Indian, who we called “headband” because of his posturing as a cigar store Indian, said, “Would you trust an ‘almost doctor’ if you were sick? The explanation for the blessing that kept me from that Ph.D. branding iron is explained to some extent in my Bushkazi piece.


I am John Stanton and I provided commentary on national security issues and political analysis for CBS Evening News, ABC, CNN, and Investor’s Business Daily immediately following the insurgent attacks in New York City and Arlington, Virginia on 11 September 2001. Over the years I have provided national security and political commentary for The Washington Post’s Foreign Policy Magazine, The National (Abu Dhabi), The New Statesman (Ghana), Stars & StripesThe Toronto Star, KCMO Radio Kansas City, America’s Talk Radio‐‐NYC, Radio 101‐‐Croatia, KPFA (Pacifica), NPR, Science Daily, WBAL (Baltimore), Academy Award Nominated James Longley (documentary film maker), Assafir (Lebanon), and other media outlets. All of my reports on the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System have been published on this site since the summer of 2008, and at I formally joined as one of this site’s authors in April of 2010.



Revised 09 August 2012

51 thoughts on “THE WRITERS

  1. Sandra Rodriguez

    Only thing I can add to your ideas/views/objectives is — ME TOO! – and THANK YOU!

    And yes, I can contribute some of my own research efforts as an independent funded-by-nobody-but-me-and-myself, from whatever paying jobs I can get as a free-lance -via- Internet translator. Of course, that means my real work in research is slowed down to a turtle pace — but, then, turtles have outlived most other species, so maybe I’ll be able to get my projects arrive to some form of completion, some day. My focus is on Taino art and its relation to Taino cosmogony, but I also have work on modern and contempo intra-Caribbean art and history.

    For now, I only mean to CONGRATULATE you and express my best wishes.

    THANK YOU again, and once more.

    Sandra Rodriguez-Beauchamp
    San Juan, Puerto Rico

  2. Karl Eklund

    Max, did you ever look at the website at ? The next step is to tell Comrade Ralph that he’s doing the right thing. Ralph has to find the route to whichever Democrat wins the presidency and tell him that he, Ralph, is the only significant politician in the world that talks to both sides. St. Vincent is the best candidate for the Switzerland of the Tropics. The Bushies have already rejected that notion, but their idea is that they can use force to keep the external proletariat in their place (i.e., poor). The Democrat, whoever it may be, is going to get in with the votes of the internal proletariat and will have to convince the internal proletariat (Proletariat in Toynbee’s sense) that they aren’t going to get upward mobility as a gift from the establishment and they need to find a common goal with the external proletariat.

    Hillary Bickel said, in a talk here a few years ago, that St. Vincent was the pivot of the world in 1795 and was due to repeat the role. With Ralph’s charisma and ambition we have a chance.

    Sandra, take a look at I’ve been working on these ideas for 50 years or so and I’m still doing so on my pension.

  3. Pingback: Commenting on Maximilian C. Forte’s Comment « Sara’s Anthropology Blog

  4. Espen

    Hey, if you by any chance want to link to my new online-forum, you’re very welcome… It’s a pretty down to earth debate-site for the social sciences…

  5. tijok

    I’m interested to your project. Good quality debate and full of knowledge for me. I’m Indonesian anthropologist. So,let me know if you need any kind of support from other side of world.

  6. Maximilian Forte

    Welcome from Indonesia! It’s a pleasure to have you visit. Of course I very much welcome any kind of input or contribution, and I am open to any ideas you might have.

  7. anderson

    Dear Dr. Forte,

    I just happened upon your site and find your discussions fascinating. I especially enjoyed your latest post on “The revenge of the local …”, the demonization of locals resistant to a generalized intrusion by neoliberal globalisation.

    I’ll look forward to more good stuff.


    Ken Anderson

  8. anderson

    Dr. Forte,

    This is not entirely related to your transmissions here, but given your own position on the HTS, I thought you would find this item of particular interest. It is psychologist Jeffrey Kaye’s resignation letter (from several months ago) addressed to the president of the American Psychological Association (APA), wherein he delivers a fine smackdown to the APA for their complicity in “psychologist involvement in national security interrogations.”

    The Letter begins,

    I hereby resign my membership in the American Psychological Association (APA). …

  9. anderson

    Dr. Forte,

    Sorry for the intrusion, but I have an article regarding the current escalation of fighting in Congo. Didn’t want to muck up other comment sections with it, but I thought you might find it interesting, and it is a gravely important topic that gets far too little attention. Longish, though it is, the article was picked up by Reuters, of all things.

    Imperial Clash On The Congo Resource Front

    The working thesis, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise you:

    The recently intensified conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a proxy war intended to stifle Sino-Congolese economic cooperation and promised “mining reform.” Western media remain complicit in the operation by perpetuating the narrative charade of “ethnic tension.”



    p.s. bang up job on the Greek protests!

  10. Maximilian Forte

    Thanks very much Anderson,

    not at all an intrusion, and this blog is here precisely for talking about such issues. I will post your article with a brief introductory commentary on the front page…I may need a day or two however.

    Until soon, many thanks again, much appreciated.

  11. Pingback: Kenneth Anderson: Imperial Clash on the Congo Resource Front « OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY

  12. Anok

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you for listing me among your blogroll (project links). I’m flattered.

    And, I am thoroughly impressed with your project – blog.

    Thank you again,


  13. Pingback: Dr. Rat: Defender of the Rat People « OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY

  14. Kate

    I was wondering–was your title derived from the term “Open Source”?
    Great blog by the way :) I enjoy it immensely

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Thanks very much Kate. The title is partly inspired by the idea of open source, also open access, and partly by a book titled Open the Social Sciences. Many thanks for visiting.

  15. Francesco

    I am an graduate student in Anthropology in Italy, I like very much this blog so I woul like to learn here. I hope to give my contribute too. I find this blog excellent.
    The only problem is my bad english. Thank you,

  16. Francesco

    Nel mio paesotto natale si trova il CPA (centro di prima accoglienza per rifugiati politici) più grande d’Europa. La cronaca degli ultimi giorni mi ha reso un po’ agitato proprio perché non posso fare nulla. Beh, io studio Antropologia a Bologna, ma adesso vivo dove ho trascorso infanzia e adolescenza, dove vivono qualche centinaio di persone che dicono: “Non li vogliamo più in mezzo ai piedi”. Io non esco di casa anche perché sto lavorando sulla tesi, mi è capitato di scambiare due chiacchiere con persone che vivono nel campo, non nel campo, ma vicino la casa dei miei genitori. Il mio dissenso lo racconto solo ai familiari che si sforzano di capirmi, ce la mettono tutta, però visto che mi occupo di Antropologia dovrei essere io a capire loro. Io non dico più nulla così evito almeno di fare brutte figure. Io li capisco! Però vorrei capire anche chi da vittima si fa carnefice, e questo è difficile perché dovrei impegnarmi in una ricerca e mettere da parte la mia tesi, su cui ho già lavorato tanto. I locali, quindi, se la prendono sì con “chi è seduto in parlamento”, però la loro soluzione è che “li devono lasciare chiusi senza mai farli uscire, così non bevono”, oppure che “questi politici devono darsi da fare perché noi non li vogliamo più in mezzo ai piedi”. Figuratevi se posso mettermi a parlare di produzione di razzismo o di una presa in carico inefficace, di mancanza d’ascolto e di supporto psicologico. Cavoli, neanche le forme d’intervento più affermate, quelle più riconosciute socialmente!

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Devo dire che il modo in cui le cose sono cambiate in Italia, da quando ho vissuto come un bambino a Ostia nei anni settanta, mi lascia depresso. Non è che l’Italia è una eccezione quando si parla della discriminazione nei confronti dei profughi, ma c’erano alcuni rifugiati russi anche a Ostia in quel periodo e non c’erano le espressioni di odio che io possa ricordare. In realtà, non posso ricordare nessune dichiarazioni razziste in quel periodo. Qualcosa è cambiato nel passaggio degli ultimi trenta anni.

      Se ho capito bene mi sembra che lei vuole fare un tipo di antropologia che…non so come si chiamerebbe in italiano, “applied anthropology.” Antropologia che è utile e socialmente impegnata. Non è possibile che lei potrebbe lavorare per la CPA?

      Se posso chiedere, qual è l’oggetto della tua tesi?

  17. Francesco

    Il fatto è che io mi sto occupando di body modification, tatuaggi, piercing, sospensioni eccetera. Io, adesso, mi trovo nel sud della Calabria, vicino Crotone a S.Anna, a due chilometri dal campo. Si tratta di un paesino di circa mille abitanti.
    No, penso che sia difficile fare qualcosa di applicato, a dire il vero non ho neanche la possibilità di capire, di parlare con loro. Forse se dovessi fare la tesi mi sentirei più legittimato, sai, è imbarazzante, le persone stanno diventando sempre più intelleranti. Forse potrei farlo presente a qualche studente che deve fare la tesi che sia interessanto a questo tema.
    Beh, stavo proprio adesso leggendo qualcosa di antropologico sul tema per non farmi travolgere dalla situazione, non posso in alcun modo attivarmi.

  18. Francesco

    Però potrei chiedere, e poi?
    Non ho un punto di riferimento, tranne qualche nozione teorica e la sensibilità che può avere chi studia antropologia. Secondo te potrei chiedere?

  19. Francesco

    Scusi mi riferivo alla tua domanda: “Non è possibile che lei potrebbe lavorare per la CPA?”

  20. Maximilian Forte

    E difficile per me dire quello che avrei potuto fare io nelle stesse condizioni especialmente a questa distanza. Se il problema è quello di intolleranza da parte della società più ampia, forse farei della favorevole propaganda per quanto riguarda i rifugiati in collaborazione con la CPA, usando l’internet come medio. Per ora, è l’unica idea che viene in mente.

    Tuttavia, devo dire che la sua tesi dovrebbe avere la priorità, e forse chiedrei alla CPA se ci sono opportunità di lavoro volontario, così potrei anche saperne di più l’organizzazione.

  21. Francesco

    Scusi, mi sono espresso male, per ignoranza e disinformazione. La parola cpa mette in ombra questioni fondamentali, con il susseguersi delle leggi cambiano le denominazioni di questi centri: le cose vanno sempre peggio. Appena puoi dai un’occhiata qui:

    Beh, di accademico qualcosa in lingua inglese si trova, in italiano anche. In rete, accessibile a tutti, ho trovato questo:

    Click to access N038.pdf

    Credo che sia difficile attivarsi, ma non impossibile!
    Grazie e a presto

  22. Maximilian Forte

    Il secondo link è estremamente interessante. E un peccato che mi provoca molta fatica leggere italiano a livello universitario, il mio italiano è piuttosto sotto sviluppato. Sono quasi al punto di parlare in “Soprano,” non so se ha familiarità con questo volgare programma televisivo americano.

  23. Francesco

    Could the author of the article have an english version of it? I hope so, I can have a look.
    When I deal with a foreign language, english or french, my real difficulty is the popular language, spoken and written: reading an anthropological text is less complicate for me, but I have to spend a lot of time. I can understand you.
    Another thing is my written english, above all when I use new media. I fear misunderstandings…
    I do not know this american television program.
    I will give you news,

  24. Nelson Valdes


    Good work.

    I wanted to suggest that the so-called Twitter Revolution is the US military version of what the Vietnamese and now the Cubans refer to as “the war of the entire people.”

    The concept, of course, began with guerrilla movements after WWII. The thesis and practice was simple: the general population will be the sea while the guerrillas are the fish. And so forth.

    Then the US government appropriated the concept after its development of “asymmetrical warfare”.

    Of course, under the imperial paradigm it is called “embedding” [afterall, the colonialists cannot be fish in a popular sea].

    Instead, one penetrates the population but in a virtual sense – in a “real” sense the embedded would be detected.

    But the “Twitter Revolution” allows a VIRTUAL ENTERING, a penetration or invasion into the public consciousness of the target country. In such a scenario the foreign sponsored twittered invasion is portrayed by the dominant mass media as internal/domestic popular opposition within the targeted country.

  25. samhenry

    One of your number visited my site – On My Watch – the writings of SamHenry at

    I am by education an MA in English Literature, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY and an archivist, Librarian and information scientist from a graduate degree in
    library and information science.

    My objective was to create a little blog where I could practice my essay writing. I have studied people and history for most of my 67 years. As you saw, I do not do continuing research in a single subject. When I interviewed at Yale’s Beinecke Library, I was asked “do you see a difference between art, literature and (I can’t remember the third area – old and tired) and I said no – they were all part of man’s expression of his condition and aspirations throughout history.

    So my blog is like a patchwork quilt with my needle and thread stringing together divergent parts of the human experience that may give an indication of where we are and where we might be headed. In short, I love the essay form to allow one to comment upon a variety of topics.

    So I am a STUDY of anthropology not a practitioner of it. Come see an old lady again sometime. She loves to write and muse. I hope you see a short piece I wrote “Michael Jackson – May He Rest In Transit” inspired by the movement of his remains throughout a 2 month period. We still get updates on the coroner’s report! His remains have been as well documented as that of the princely remains of royal Egyptian mummies.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Thanks for writing this, these are the kinds of ideas that I am most interested in. By the way, can you post the correct links to your site? The first,, does not bring up any site, and the hyperlink in your name also does not bring up your site.

      1. Maximilian Forte

        Thanks Sam, I will add you to my list of links as well, not sure where exactly since the categories were hastily devised, but possibly in the Israel section since it seems you have a lot on Israel on your blog.

  26. Joel Gauthier

    Hi Max,

    I was just looking for some back up sources for a discussion I was having and I came across your site! Your article “How to Buy Peace” perfectly illustrated some points I was thinking about, particularly how the Taliban is made out to be this separate entity from the communities that are directly effected by this war (mostly by western media and government) , when in truth many of them are irrefutably part of those communities. There is no hole for them to crawl back into! Interesting insight throughout the whole article 

    Great site!!! I’ll definitely be visiting again  Hope all is well!

    Joel Gauthier (Concordia)

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Excellent, many thanks Lila, I just visited your blog and I am very happy to see your work. Thanks again for the visit and the link, I will add it now to my director.

      Thankfully I found your comment, it was almost lost.

  27. Chelsea Hayman

    Awesome blog guys, I am in Dr. Rory Turner’s Cultural Sustainability program and I am looking at how institutional culture can directly disenfranchise individuals, especially in the realm of health care and mostly in the realm of modern American therapy and the way that mental health is approached from a biological model in the United States.

    So, my interest in sustaining cultures is really about sustaining the self and looking at how mental health culture itself can cause a lot of problems for people in terms of self-sustainability. I would be more than willing to share my ideas, but my blog is password-protected and I need to protect my own identity if I want to sustain myself in academia. :)

    Let me know if you guys are interested in accessing the material that I’ve been working with or talking to me about my material, I certainly have a lot of interesting ideas to share from my own experiences as a social researcher when I was an undergraduate at UMBC.

    Thank you for your time,
    Chelsea Hayman

  28. Pingback: Welcome to our newest blogger, John Stanton « ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Good to hear from you again James, it has been some time! I tried to contact you by email once. I hope we’ll be in touch again. If you wish to submit anything as a guest author, please let me know.

      Best wishes for 2011.

  29. Marta Sánchez

    Estimado Profesor Forte:

    Me llamo Marta, soy estudiante de Derecho y Ciencias Políticas en Madrid. He visto en su curriculum que usted habla español perfectamente! Sólo quería decirle que encontrar su blog ha sido lo mejor que me ha pasado en el 2011 hasta ahora. Su visión del mundo y sus artículos son tremendamente inspiradores, y no sólo eso, sino el hecho de que un blog tan comprometido como éste exista y tantísima gente lo siga, te da esa sensación cálida en el estómago de que, al fin y al cabo, en el mundo hay muchísima gente buena, muchísima gente comprometida, a pesar de todos los males que vemos continuamente en las noticias. Muchísimo ánimo, espero que continúe inspirando a estudiantes como yo con su proyecto! Un beso, Marta

  30. Ignacio Santoyo

    Nothing important to say, just CONGRATULATIONS for this blog. Sorry for my broken english.

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