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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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[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.
2.Read more ›
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.Read more ›