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Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War Paperback – June 9, 2008

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Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War + Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State (Counterpunch)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (June 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822342375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822342373
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #918,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Anthropological Intelligence is written with vigor. Its author, David Price, is the foremost authority on the way anthropology was transformed by the Cold War and World War II. . . . There are no heroes or villains in this detailed study and this is a testament to Price’s scholarship, careful documentation, and command of the subject matter.” - William J. Peace, Comparative Studies in Society and History

"A work of immense scholarship, historical importance and, like all his work in this field, courageous. . . .The publication of Anthropological Intelligence is timely, coming as it does when many anthropologists are concerned about the militarisation of their subject through the use of ‘embedded ethnographers’ and the US military's Human Terrain Programme (HTP), which teams social scientists with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan to help soldiers better understand the local culture." - Jeremy Keenan, Times Higher Education Supplement

“David H. Price’s book adds substantially to a historical understanding of social scientists’ service to government and the military during World War II, and it raises troubling questions about the social and institutional roles of knowledge professionals that transcend the temporal conditions of total war. . . . [A] fascinating and important study. . . .” - David Paul Haney, American Historical Review

“[A] provocative thesis that deserves to be scrutinized in current debates about the proper role of intellectuals in the societies and polities of which they are members and citizens — and it should be discussed for the sake of clearing away ‘specifically intellectual obstacles to commensuration, communication, and comprehension.’ . . . Anthropological Intelligence assembles a wealth of detailed information, much of it drawn from previously hidden and unusual government archives. . . .” - Richard A. Shweder, Common Knowledge

“One of this book’s great merits is the combination of meticulous documentation with lucid analysis. . . . Although we may not agree with him on all analytical conclusions he draws, the scholarly community still has to be grateful for this impressive scholarly achievement. After all, it provides for the very first time a solid basis for a debate which has been long overdue. In all likelihood, this volume will remain the standard reference book for the years to come. It is an indispensable source of insights not only for anthropologists, who will gain a thoroughly new understanding about their own field’s historical contexts of reemergence after 1945.” - Andre Gingrich, Left History

“David H. Price is, without any doubt, our foremost authority on the ways in which anthropologists were used in World War II and the Cold War and on the ways in which those wars changed anthropology. Price knows how to use the Freedom of Information Act like no other anthropologist, and he has succeeded in unearthing a wealth of fascinating information about the military uses of anthropology in World War II. Anthropological Intelligence is at once a fascinating and entertaining source of trivia on anthropology’s ancestors and a keenly argued lament for what war has done to a humane discipline. Showing an encyclopedic command of the facts, Price writes with urbane elegance and a strikingly judicious compassion toward those whom he critiques. Anthropological Intelligence could not be more timely. At a moment when war is once more on anthropologists’ minds, it will become the canonical book on anthropology and the ‘good war’ while raising troubling questions for those in the age of the ‘war on terror’ who would like, once more, to mobilize anthropology for war.”—Hugh Gusterson, author of People of the Bomb: Portraits of America’s Nuclear Complex

“In this objective and scrupulous account, David H. Price performs an invaluable service by raising a central ethical question: To what extent should social scientists lend their skills to national tasks, even if the goals are not those with which they are in agreement? By carefully documenting what American anthropologists did to help win World War II, he illuminates that murky ethical space that lies between patriotism and the tasks of science.”—Sidney W. Mintz, Johns Hopkins University


"In patiently scrutinizing his own profession's past for susceptibility to corruption, Price sets a model for self-examination that the United States as a whole might heed. And once we decide upon which core values should define contemporary America, we will need to live up to them." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

David H. Price is a Professor of anthropology at St. Martin's University in Lacey, Washington. He has conducted cultural anthropological and archaeological fieldwork and research in the United States and Palestine, Egypt and Yemen. He is a Pacific Northwest native, a founding member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, and a frequent contributor to CounterPunch. He is writing a three volume series of books examining American anthropologists' interactions with intelligence agencies: Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI's Persecution of Activist Anthropologists (2004, Duke), examines McCarthyism's effects on anthropologists; Anthropological Intelligence: The Use and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War. (in press, 2007, Duke) documents anthropological contributions to the Second World War, and a third volume will explore anthropologists interactions with the CIA and Pentagon during the Cold War. His latest book, Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State critically examines current trends in the militarization of anthropology and American universities.

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Van Court VINE VOICE on May 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title "Anthropological Intelligence" is a little misleading. Even the subtitle "The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War" falls short of the reality of this encyclopaedic account of anthropology, anthropologists, and other social sciences and scientists in World War II.

This may be the definative study of the roles and impacts of social scientists in World War II, but this only made it harder to rate. It is not a book to casually sit down and enjoy, but it runs the gamut from riveting to painfully dry to deeply moving to somewhat sermonizing through the 280+ pages of text. David Price examines the history of the use of anthropology as an enabler and tool for the instruments of national power. The book was written from an anthropologist's perspective, and often agonizes over the ethical conflicts of the use of an academic discipline as a tool of power. It is interesting to me that the underlying issue goes back millenia, but Price never developed it and barely mentioned it; the conflict between the values of the contemplative life and the active life. Despite the ups, downs, and doldrums of reading it, I learned a lot and have a deeper context for current issues that I have been exposed to.

Price starts out with the background of dissent from academics regarding the application of their disciplines prior to WWII. He pays considerable attention to conflicts within the American Anthropoligical Association around Franz Boas protests of the use of anthropology and archeology by the government during WWI.
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I stumbled across this at a time when I was trying to understand the problems associated with the Human Terrain Teams (HTT) that according to their sponsor (a training and doctrine command without real-world ties),

[Human Terrain System] HTS is a new proof-of-concept program, run by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), and serving the joint community. The near-term focus of the HTS program is to improve the military's ability to understand the highly complex local socio-cultural environment in the areas where they are deployed; however, in the long-term, HTS hopes to assist the US government in understanding foreign countries and regions prior to an engagement within that region.

There are many flaws in the above official statement, not least of which that there is nothing new in this idea, and--as the book I am reviewing puts forward so well--the ethics of the method merits--demands--thoughtful discussion.

This book--and the modern anthropologists who are acutely--and righteously--aggrieved by the mis-direction of their craft--are a blessing. The USA in particular is so far removed from ground truth realities that as one World Bank executive put it to me (describing CIA analysts seeking explanations of an African failed state) as to be "breathtaking in their ignorance." We *need* deep and broad anthropological understanding, but we must not pervert that craft in the process of engaging it.

I appreciated this book very much. We need more like it, addressing each of the social and scientific disciplines and the manner in which they might serve (or mis-serve) the public interest.

Here are some of my notes from this excellent work:

1. Professionally developed, a useful glossary.

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