WWII anthropology

"Due to the war effort, many American anthropologists who have never before worked in the applied field are now bending all their energies in this direction.  As a result, anthropologists are making rapid progress in the development of scientific methods for the application of the results to the practical problems of administration….To state the matter bluntly for the sake of clarity, are practical social scientists to become technicians for hire to the highest bidder?"

--Anthropologist, Laura Thompson, 1944

contact  info

David Price  Anthropology               Saint Martin's University 5300 Pacific Ave.       Lacey, Washington  98503

dprice@stmartin.edu  Phone: 360/ 438-4295


world war I & ii anthropology

The below articles discuss American anthropologists contributions to the First and Second World War.  A more complete discussion of anthropologists' contributions to World War Two appears in my book, Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War.At the end of the First World War, Franz Boas was censured by the American Anthropological Association after he had publicly criticized four anthropologists who had used their professional credentials as a front for war espionage. 

The AAA's treatment of Boas had important consequences for the development of standards of acceptable wartime contributions in the later wars of the Twentieth Century.  As America entered the Second World War, a number of anthropologists hesitated before they and the discipline as a whole committed their academic skills and ethnographic knowledge to the war effort--but once American entered a state of total-war, half of America's anthropologists joined the war effort. 

Some of these contributions occurred in classrooms, while others occurred in fields of battle. American anthropologists worked for over a dozen war agencies including: the Office of Strategic Services, the FBI's Special Investigation Service, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Ethnogeographic Board, the Office of War Information, the M Project, the War Relocation Authority. 

While the treats of fascism and totalitarianism necessitated that anthropology join the war effort, the ethical questions raised by Laura Thompson and other anthropologists during the war that anthropologists were simply becoming "technicians for hire to the highest bidder" were largely set aside during the war, and have only periodically been taken seriously by the discipline as a whole.
2013 "Militarization and Anthropology." Annotated bibliography, Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2013 "Review of Andrew D. Evans' Anthropology at War: World War I and the Science of Race in Germany." American Anthropologist 114(3):550-551.

2011.  "How the CIA and Pentagon Harnessed Anthropological Research during the Second World War and Cold War with Little Critical Notice." Journal of Anthropological Research 67(3):333-356.

2011 "George Peter Murdock." In, Fifty Key Anthropologists. Eds. Robert Gordon Andrew P. Lyons and Harriet D. Lyons, eds. pp 162-167. London: Routledge.

2010 "Using the Freedom of Information Act as an Anthropological Tool." News of the Society for Applied Anthropology 21(3):28-30.

2010 Translation of "Gregory Bateson and the OSS" (orig. 1998), and republication into German: "Gregory Bateson und das OSS: Der Zweite Weltkrieg und Batesons Beurteilung der angewandten Anthropologie”  Zeit-Zragen  Nr 35 vom 30.8.2010; and French: "Gregory Bateson et l’OSS: la Seconde Guerre mondiale et le jugement que portait Bateson sur l’anthropologie appliqué.”  Horizons et débats N 35: 3-5. 13 septembre 2010
2008  Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.

2005  “Anthropology and Total Warfare: The OSS’s 1943 ‘Preliminary Report on Japanese Anthropology.”  Anthropology in Action 12(3):12-20. .

2005    [co-authored with Eric B. Ross] “Introduction to Special Issue on 'Friends and Foes: Anthropologists and the Making of the Enemy.''"  Anthropology in Action 12(3):vii-ix.

2005   “How U.S. Anthropologists Planned ‘Race-Specific’ Weapons against the Japanese”  CounterPunch June 1-15, 2005, 12(11):1-3.  [Translated into Spanish by
Germán Leyens as, "Antropólogos de EE.UU. planearon armas “específicas a la raza” contra los japoneses" at Rebelión November 28, 2005; Translated into Italian by Francesco Scurci as, "Armi Razziali Degli USA Contro i Giapponesi" at Come Don Chisciotte ]

2005 "Review of Gretchen Schafft's From Racism to Genocide: Anthropology in the Third Reich." Anthropological Quarterly 78(4):1109-1113.

2004   “In the Shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Cultural Conditions of Unconditional SurrenderCounterPunch August 6, 2004.  [Translation into Italian as, All’ombra di Hiroshima e Nagasaki: le condizioni culturali di una resa senza condizioni republished at Nuovini Mondi Media August 12, 2004]

2003 “Cloak and Trowel: Should Archaeologists Double As Spies?Archaeology  September/October 2003, pp. 30-35. [citations for this article]

2003  “The Spies Who Came in from the Dig,” republished excerpt from “Cloak and Trowel” The Guardian September 4, 2003.

2003  "Review of Charles Harris & Louis Sadler's The Archaeologist Was A Spy: Sylvanus G. Morley and the Office of Naval Intelligence Archaeology May / June 2003, p 56.

2002 "Reply to Jan van Bremen, Igor Kopytoff and Margaret Hardiman" Anthropology Today 18(4):22.

2002  “Lessons From Second World War Anthropology: Peripheral, Persuasive and Ignored Contributions" Anthropology Today 18(3):14-20.

2002  “Present Dangers, Past Wars and Past Anthropologies” Anthropology Today 18(1):3-5.

2002  “Reply to Noam Chomsky and Jeffrey Sluka” Anthropology Today 18(2):23.

2001 “’The Shameful Business’: Leslie Spier on the Censure of Franz BoasHAN  XXVIII(2):9-12.

2001 "Price Replies to Peace, Carrier & Frank" The Nation 2/12/01:23

2000  “Anthropologists as Spies” The Nation Vol. 271, Number 16, 24-27, November 20, 2000.

1998 “Gregory Bateson and the OSSHuman Organization 57(4):379-384.

1997 “Anthropological Research and the Freedom of Information Act CAM: Cultural Anthropology Methods 9(1):12-15.