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Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0822333388 ISBN-10: 0822333384

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Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists + Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State (Counterpunch) + Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (March 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822333384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822333388
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“An enthralling expedition into the heart of academic darkness. David H. Price brilliantly confirms that there are no depths to which policemen and professors will not sink.”—Alexander Cockburn, coeditor of CounterPunch and columnist for The Nation


“David H. Price’s painstaking account of political repression in anthropology after the Second World War is a unique contribution to the history of the field. More than that, it may foreshadow what some today may entertain. Let us hope not, but let us not be naive.”—Dell Hymes, editor of Reinventing Anthropology


“Threatening Anthropology is a bold piece of scholarship, one that breaks the silence on many issues in the American trajectory that have changed only a bit since the Cold War and—given recent indications—might still come to the foreground in such a way as to make the McCarthy era look like play.”—Laura Nader, University of California, Berkeley

About the Author

David H. Price is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Saint Martin’s College in Lacey, Washington. He is the author of the Atlas of World Cultures: A Geographical Guide to Ethnographic Literature.


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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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By S. L. Johnson on June 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Threatening Anthropology tells how the FBI and senate committees spied on and harassed hundreds of anthropologists working for racial equality. Price gathered a lot of new documents and information and his analysis left me thinking in new ways about McCarthyism and how the FBI was used to enforce racist policies in the 1940s and 1950s. Price uses thousands of documents to show that the FBI was used to persecute pioneering scientists threatening widespread bigotry.
Threatening Anthropology is a consuming, thought provoking book. Because there is a lot of dense information I thought I would slowly work my way through this over three or four weeks, but the writing and subject matter pulled me right in and I read it in a few days like I would a well written novel. Price really brings the reader into the story by richly describing the historical setting and then delving into dozens of individual stories telling how several dozen anthropologists like Melville Jacobs, Richard Morgan, Gene Weltfish, Ashley Montague and Margaret Mead were followed and harassed by the FBI because their fights for equality was seen as some sort of foreign communist plot. Price uses extensive FBI documents and correspondence to establish this story and brings an anthropological perspective that made me rethink what McCarthyism was.
I used to wonder if the McCarthy like witch trials could happen again, and Price's detailed analysis and current political developments leave no doubts in my mind that we could do this again very quickly. This book has a lot to say to us all today and deserves to be read by anyone concerned about the abuses of the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security in the war on terrorism, and the past examined here looks a lot like the present.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By "18273-aq" on June 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
Threatening Anthropology is a beautifully written, meticulously researched account of how J. Edgar Hoover, Senator Joseph McCarthy and others attacked anthropologists educating the public on scientific findings supporting racial equality. I passed this book on to non-anthropologist friends who found it to be a real page turner and were moved by the impassioned story Price artfully tells. This is a rare book that is carefully written for a board public readership, yet is so thoroughly researched and footnoted that historians and other scholars will find this to be an important contribution.
This book will send shockwaves through the anthropological community. It should lead anthropology's historians to rethink their silence on the events documented here. How can it be that we learn so late that so many anthropologists from Franz Boas until now have been tormented by FBI spies? Have others known of these events and remained so silent for so long?
While I studied anthropology during the decades discussed in this book I had no idea that my colleagues suffered the attacks detailed here, but I felt the pressures to avoid controversial advocacy that are documented here. Price may go too far in his criticism of postmodernism's contributions to anthropology's current crisis, but I find the historical positioning of his critique provocative.
Threatening Anthropology should be read by all Americans concerned about the growing powers of the FBI and CIA.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Lots of good documentation allows Price to establish just how far the FBI went to torment scientists challenging racist and sexist popular views. It is as if J Edgar Hoover spied on Margaret Mead, Oscar Lewis, Ashley Montague and every other living anthropologist just because they believed that all people are equal. All the FBI files used in this book left a real chill with me, but it also left me more committed to speaking out and being more of an activist.
A good book for any general reader questioning the Patriot Act and who wants to know why the FBI had its powers limited before Congress passed the "Patriot Act."
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Threatening Anthropology is an important book--one that I hope will signal a signicant change in the way the history of anthropology is written. Prior to Price, historians such as George Stocking have taken an apolitical view of anthropology's history. This is unfortunate in large part because many founding members of the discipline were politically active and engaged. The anthropologists paid a heavy price for this political activism--a point that Price drives home effectively. Encyclopedic in approach, Price does a great job outlining how politically active anthropologists were persecuted and lost their jobs--while the American Anthropology Associaltion looked on and did nothing. Based on extensive research via the FOIA, Price is to be commended for his efforts. While Price has focused on the larger issue of the Cold War, for those who want a case study see William Peace's biography of Leslie A. White. Hopefull the work of Peace and Price will inspire other anthropologists to take a closer look at the history of anthropology. Taken together, Price's and Peace's work will signal a new era in writing about anthropology's past.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By G. Thomas on April 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Few books can affect a reader so profoundly as this one has me. Price's book has received accolades -- "destined to become a classic," and "belongs on anyone's shelf." I wandered into the pages and, to my surprise and relief, found myself revisiting the underside of what I thought I had observed all along. Names were named, some of them among real live faculties I had known. I experienced a personal Eureka! when I learned that Jacobs and Stern, authors of that Barnes and Noble introduction to anthropology that I read in my formative years, had both been blacklisted. Now I must read that old paperback again and retrace where my interests might have started off in naive directions. I look forward to this self-study in self-censorship for the postmodern age.

I was overjoyed that Price did not stop with the accepted, formalized "end" of McCarthyism, but rather explained the brief re-emergence of relative "academic freedom" through much of the '60s-'70s and '80s, and the more sophisticated, perhaps more dangerous downward spiral today. The book helps those of us who entered college at a time when Ashley Montagu, Kathleen Gough and so many others were in the news over issues other than their research. Price has prepared a thoroughgoing catalogue of official harassment targeting scholars who operated on now-popularly-accepted assumptions of global human worth and equality.

The paradox is that, while anthropology has to rely on those assumptions if it is to operate as a field of intellectual endeavor, our audience -- any public -- does not, but they pay us anyway. Popular reactions to most anthropological contributions range from wonder to outrage.
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