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Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency

Global events of the early twenty-first century have placed new stress on the relationship among anthropology, governance, and war. Facing prolonged insurgency, segments of the U.S. military have taken a new interest in anthropology, prompting intense ethical and scholarly debate. Inspired by these issues, the essays in Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency consider how anthropologists can, should, and do respond to military overtures, and they articulate anthropological perspectives on global war and power relations.

This book investigates the shifting boundaries between military and civil state violence; perceptions and effects of American power around the globe; the history of counterinsurgency doctrine and practice; and debate over culture, knowledge, and conscience in counterinsurgency. These wide-ranging essays shed new light on the fraught world of Pax Americana and on the ethical and political dilemmas faced by anthropologists and military personnel alike when attempting to understand and intervene in our world.

408 pages | 5 halftones, 3 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2010

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Political Science: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations


“This extensive compendium of critical ideas, information, and narrative accounts makes for an absorbing reading experience. Beyond its cogency for present debates, it might well serve as a historical marker for future researchers, likely to become as important as an expression of a certain epoch of anthropological relevance to events as Reinventing Anthropology has been in the context of the 1960s.”

George Marcus, University of California, Irvine

“This collection deeply and creatively challenges many forms of received wisdom about the nature of security and of U.S. power in the age of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. Its diverse points of view, its productive comparisons, and its lucid ethnographic and historical examples are a feast for anyone concerned with where the history of this turbulent, portentous moment is headed.”

Catherine Lutz, Brown University

“When U.S. counterinsurgency strategy took a ‘cultural turn,’ it incited another form of resistance in addition to those it was already fighting, namely from anthropologists who objected to the enlistment of their discipline in the global military projects of Pax Americana. For the great majority of anthropologists, the integrity of other peoples’ existence is at once an intellectual premise of their discipline and its moral imperative. They will not put the peoples they live and work with at risk of bodily harm, foreign domination, or cultural destruction. Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency is a rich and profound exploration of the contradiction between a human science of culture and its militarization.”

Marshall Sahlins, University of Chicago

"This book encompasses far more than the title suggests. The twenty-two short articles discuss the complex engagement--now and in the past--of social science and the military. . . . This informative, well-crafted, meticulously documented compendium could become a benchmark publication."


Table of Contents

Introduction: Culture, Counterinsurgency, Conscience

: : John D. Kelly, Beatrice Jauregui, Sean T. Mitchell, and Jeremy Walton


Categories of Conflict and Coercion: The Blue in Green and the Other

: : Beatrice Jauregui

1 Bluing Green in the Maldives: Countering Citizen Insurgency by "Civil"-izing National Security

: : Beatrice Jauregui

2 Phantom Power: Notes on Provisionality in Haiti

: : Greg Beckett

3 The Categorization of People as Targets of Violence: A Perspective on the Colombian Armed Conflict

: : Paola Castaño

4 Seeing Red: Mao Fetishism, Pax Americana, and the Moral Economy of War

: : John D. Kelly


Ethnographic Experiences of American Power in the Age of the War on Terror

: : Jeremy Walton and Sean T. Mitchell

5 Paranoid Styles of Nationalism aft er the Cold War: Notes from an Invasion of the Amazon

: : Sean T. Mitchell

6 Hungry Wolves, Inclement Storms: Commodifi ed Fantasies of American Imperial Power in Contemporary Turkey

: : Jeremy Walton

7 Rwandan Rebels and U.S. Federal Prosecutors: American Power, Violence, and the Pursuit of Justice in the Age of the War on Terror

: : Elizabeth Garland

8 Weapons, Passports, and News: Palestinian Perceptions of U.S. Power as a Mediator of War

: : Amahl Bishara

9 The Cold War Present: The Logic of Defense Time

: : Mihir Pandya


Counterinsurgency, Past and Present: Precedents to the Manual

: : Jeremy Walton and Beatrice Jauregui

10 The Uses of Anthropology in the Insurgent Age

: : Dustin M. Wax

11 Small Wars and Counterinsurgency

: : James L. Hevia

12 Repetition Compulsion? Counterinsurgency Bravado in Iraq and Vietnam

: : Kurt Jacobsen

13 Counterinsurgency, The Spook, and Blowback

: : Joseph Masco


The U.S. Military and U.S. Anthropology

: : Sean T. Mitchell and John D. Kelly

14 An Anthropologist among the Soldiers: Notes from the Field

: : Marcus B. Griffin

15 Indirect Rule and Embedded Anthropology: Practical, Theoretical, and Ethical Concerns

: : Roberto J. González

16 Soft Power, Hard Power, and the Anthropological "Leveraging" of Cultural "Assets": Distilling the Politics and Ethics of Anthropological Counterinsurgency

: : David H. Price

17 Yes, Both, Absolutely: A Personal and Professional Commentary on Anthropological Engagement with Military and Intelligence Organizations

: : Kerry Fosher


Constructions and Destructions of Conscience

: : John D. Kelly

18 The Cultural Turn in the War on Terror

: : Hugh Gusterson

19 Cultural Sensitivity in a Military Occupation: The U.S. Military in Iraq

: : Rochelle Davis, with Dahlia El Zein and Dena Takruri

20 The "Bad" Kill: A Short Case Study in American Counterinsurgency

: : Jeffrey Bennett

21 The Destruction of Conscience and the Winter Soldier

: : Kevin Caffrey

22 No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy: History, Memory, and the Conscience of a Marine

: : Christopher T. Nelson

Reference List

List of Contributors


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