Saturday, July 9, 2011

New book from CounterPunch: David Price's "Weaponizing Anthropology"

I was excited to read via AnthroWorks on Twitter this morning that CounterPunch has announced the publication of a new book by David Price entitled Weaponizing Anthropology. I am personally very interested in disciplinary history, especially the deployment of anthropologists in covert research by governments and militaries. This appropriation has been a part of our history since the advent of anthropology during colonial times, and has resurfaced in various forms throughout the decades of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. From the CounterPunch website:
Weaponizing Anthropology documents how anthropological knowledge and ethnographic methods are harnessed by military and intelligence agencies in post-9/11 America to placate hostile foreign populations. Price's inquiry into past relationships between anthropologists and the CIA, FBI, and Pentagon provides the historical base for this expose of the current abuses of anthropology by military and intelligence agencies. Weaponizing Anthropology explores the ways that recent shifts in funding sources for university students threaten academic freedom, as new secretive CIA-linked fellowship programs rapidly infiltrate American university campuses. He examines the specific uses of anthropological knowledge in military doctrine that have appeared in a new generation of counterinsurgency manuals and paramilitary social science units like the Human Terrain Teams.
It’s a very important book, and here’s what Marshall Sahlins, one of anthropology’s current titans, says about it: “Even before he published this masterly and comprehensive account, David Price has long been in the forefront of those warning of the adverse effects of militarizing the human sciences. Now, by matching an extraordinary command of the sources to a telling sensitivity to the political and intellectual consequences, he demonstrates in this definitive work that weaponizing anthropology is as damaging to the soul of the nation as it is to the integrity of the science. “ --Marshall Sahlins, University of Chicago
And here’s Henry Giroux: “ This may be one of the most important books written in the last few decades on the merging of the military and intelligence agencies with the academy. Beautifully written and rigorously argued, Weaponizing Anthropology is a must read for students, educators, and anyone else concerned about the fate of the academy, the corruption of anthropology, the militarization of politics, and the future of democracy. –Henry Giroux, McMaster University, Author of University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex.
One more testimonial from David Graeber: Anthropology was always a field of political struggle between servants and opponents of imperialism and it still is - with much of our funding, employment, and research direction still coming directly from the CIA and US military. No one genuinely concerned with the integrity of the discipline can afford to ignore this important book. –David Graeber, Goldsmiths, University of London. Author of Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology.
Click here to order Weaponizing Anthropology from the CounterPunch bookstore.

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