US Anthropology: Political, Professional, Personal, Imperial

Part One of: “Canadian Anthropology or Cultural Imperialism?” Recent events have called into question how a discipline can be commanded on an international plane, and represented in a singular and universal fashion. Those events are useful for inviting meditation on questions of national traditions, the power to globalize a claim to preeminence over other national […]

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Debating the End of the Human Terrain System, Part 1

The year 2015 finally saw the final public confirmation of the termination of the US Army’s Human Terrain System, which apparently has ceased to be an effective reality since late September 30, 2014 (Vanden Brook, 2015). The “controversial social science program,” as HTS came to be called by the formerly enthusiastic mainstream media, has not […]

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Bagram Santa

Easily lending themselves to multiple forms of misunderstanding, the Pentagon nevertheless regularly produces images of military personnel dressed as Santa Claus. This too is a pattern, minor in terms of the number of such photographs, but still a recurring feature. The images in this third and final photo essay of this series, come out of […]

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The Babysitter

Big Chief, Big Daddy, Big Babysitter to the World If “winning hearts and minds” is at the top of your global campaign agenda for strategic communication, then you need to insert yourself into some of the most intimate, domestic, and familial places of restive, hungry, and increasingly angry populations. Getting all domestic is what the […]

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Bare Feet

Encoding Poverty, Backwardness, and Dependency in US Military Imagery Bare feet. Ever since I was a small child, I have been made aware of how not wearing shoes was symbolically loaded with ideas of poverty, backwardness, primitiveness, or being low class. Images of barefoot people in newspapers and magazines almost always showed villagers in Africa […]

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BDS, the AAA, and Academic Imperialism

We Disagree to Agree Support for a particular cause can come from numerous sources and points of view, each representing different interests. Similarly, people can arrive at the site of a demonstration, united in protest against an injustice, having arrived there from many different routes (whether the routes are understood in terms of physical transportation, […]

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Our Report for 2014

This year has seen an almost frenzied escalation of US intervention around the globe, ranging from the determined provocations and threats against Russia and backing a coup in Ukraine while quietly supporting Ukraine’s genocidal warfare in the east of the country, to supporting violent anti-government protesters seeking the overthrow of the elected government of revolutionary […]

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The Real World of Democracy (and Anthropology)

Review essay, Part 2 (see Part 1) Referring to the process by which he studied Cuban democracy, August explicitly refers to it as “ethnographic research” (p. xiii). This is an important point, because he was trained as a political scientist in Montreal, but he is producing the kind of book that no anthropologist has offered, […]

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Pentagon Photography and Visual Anthropology

Could it be any more obvious how the Pentagon has learned to mimic certain styles of anthropological photography as shown in the instance above? Resembling any of a vast number of photographs of or by anthropologists, such as famous ones of Bronislaw Malinowski and Margaret Mead “in the field,” this one also features the note-taking […]

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On Eritrea: Cross-Talk Without Dialogue

What follows immediately below is a letter sent to me via email today. Beneath that is my response. Academic Research, Intelligence Gathering, and Character Assassination: Is It the Same Everywhere? We are among an international group of researchers – social scientists, historians, legal scholars and journalists – with decades of experience working on the Horn […]

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Militarization: It’s All the Same, Everywhere. Or Is It?

By what logic, if any, does Zero Anthropology function? If in light of the controversy that erupted with the publication of Sophia Tesfamariam’s outline and condemnation of western anthropologists working to support regime change in her native Eritrea, Zero Anthropology for its part fails to criticize the Eritrean government for its alleged militarization, then what […]

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