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Invited Session (GAD):  American Anthropology and the National Security State.
Organizer: David Price  Thursday  Nov. 16, 1995 Annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington, D.C.

 

            While much has been written about the impact of colonialism and imperialism on the development of anthropology, relatively little has been written about the direct influences of the Cold War on the theories and practice of American anthropology.  This session brings together a variety of scholars who’s work examines some of the ways in which the National Security State has shaped American anthropology.

            While it may seem obvious that the infrastructural conditions of the Cold War society at large have helped shape the theories and practices of the academy, there has only recently been a scholarly consideration of how far the military industrial complex has reached into the academy.  While some Area Study Centers have openly received financial support from Defense and Intelligence agencies, anthropology’s more aloof theoretical preoccupations have tended to direct attentions away from some of its more abstract and concrete ties with these same agencies.

            Anthropologists have served the National Security State in a countless variety of ways, both direct and indirect.  They have worked as willing propagandists during times of war and peace; assisted in the establishment of foreign and national policies; as conduits of information from distant corners of the globe; as overt and covert bridges between governmental agencies and the academy; as witting and unwitting researchers for specific projects deemed of interest to Defense and Intelligence communities; as advisors for counter-insurgency programs; as regional analysts; and as active resources for Area Study Centers (to list but a few services).

            Likewise, anthropologists and anthropology as a whole have been victims of the policies and fears of this same state.  Whether or not they were individually attacked by the machinations of McCarthyism, a great number of American anthropologists adapted crypto-Marxist research strategies to avoid becoming targets of persecution.  Most of those who were direct targets of McCarthyism had their careers irreparably damaged.

            Finally, anthropologists at times have also used resources of the National Security State to their own ends.  Whether in the form of research funding from agencies established as part of the larger Cold War context, or as students receiving Federal funding for the study of foreign languages.  Though the recent establishment of the National Security Education Program brings many doubts concerning the extent to which anthropologists can use these resources to their own end.

            Each of these papers examine some of the roles which anthropologists and other social scientists have taken--and are taking--on as both collaborators with and victims of the National Security State.

 

Papers:

 

1:45 PM   David Price (St. Martin's College) "Cold War
          Anthropology: Collaborators and Victims of the National
          Security State"
 
2:00 PM   William J. Peace (SUNY-Purchase) "Bernhard Stern, Leslie
          White and An Anthropological Appraisal of the Russian
          Revolution"
 
2:15 PM   Daniel E. McGee (U of Illinois) "Too Close for Comfort:
          National Security Education Program Funding and
          Intelligence Priorities"
 
2:30 PM   Eric Wakin (Columbia University) " 'No one Here Really
          Believes the Bastards will Fight': Americans and the
          Construction of Warrior Identities During the Second
          Indochina War"
 
2:45 PM   Laura Nader (UC Berkeley) "Sleepwalking Through the
          History of Anthropology"
 
3:00 PM   Christopher Simpson (American University--Washington,DC)
          "Intelligence, Propaganda and the Origins of Modern
          'Communication Research'"
 
3:15 PM    Discussion