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Max Forte's List: Activist Anthropology

  • Jul 22, 09

    The need for more anthropological troublemakers, but beware of the likely consequences.

    • Ted Downing, former Society for Applied Anthropology President (1985-87), experienced this and more. In 1995, Downing wrote an evaluation report describing the s evere social and environmental impacts likely to be suffered by Chile’s Pehuenche Indians from a proposed dam project underwritten by the World Bank. After his report was censored Downing demanded that the World Bank publicly disclose his findings. The Bank responded by threatening “a lawsuit garnering Downing’s assets, income and future salary if he disclosed the contents, findings and recommendations of his independent evaluation.” (Johnson and Garcia Downing). As a result of his whistleblowing, Downing was blacklisted from the World Bank after 13 years of consulting service.
       “Personally, I was blackballed for 10 years for filing, what turned out to be 3 human rights violations charges against the IFC (private sector arm of The World Bank),” said Downing in an interview. “The experience left me only the devil’s alternative, to get involved in politics.” Literally.
    • Some years back Harvard anthropologist Kris Heggenhougen argued that the strength of anthropology in collaborating with other disciplines lies in saying, "yes, but. . .and to critically examine the decisive factors affecting peoples' health including power, dominance and exploitation." (Heggenhougen 1993)

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  • Aug 18, 09

    What rogue anthropology can learn...about terror, about the Taliban, about moral and primordial behaviour.

    • Between 2007 and 2008, more than 1,000 anthropologists agreed to boycott the program, signing a pledge of non-participation in counterinsurgency as part of a campaign organized by the Network of Concerned Anthropologists (I am a member of the steering committee).
    • Supporters of the Human Terrain program have often claimed that those opposed to working in the wars are advocating total academic disengagement from the military and a retreat to the ivory tower. This could not be further from the truth.

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    • November 24, 2008
    • At the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting, which ended Sunday, the official theme was “Inclusion, Collaboration and Engagement.” That final word – “engagement” – inspired lively and at times prickly debates and discussions, with sessions and meetings focused on the Human Terrain System and other controversial forms of collaboration with the U.S. military, secret research, and a planned comprehensive review of the association’s decade-old Code of Ethics.

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    • Niels Barmeyer's new work, Developing Zapatista Autonomy: Conflict and NGO Involvement in Rebel Chiapas
    • the perspective of a militant anthropologist, an embedded solidarity activist investigating— from below—the inner workings of the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) and the solidarity and NGO organizations surrounding it.

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    • By MARK LAVIE, Associated Press
    • JERUSALEM – Israel has admitted that in the 1990s, its forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinians, without permission of their families.

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      Anthropologists in the Public Sphere
       Speaking Out on War, Peace, and American Power


      Edited by Roberto J. González

    • Introduction. Anthropologists in the Public Sphere: Speaking Out on War, Peace, and American Power

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    • In a new book, Anthropology and the Racial Politics of Culture (Duke University Press), Lee Baker explores how anthropological study of American Indians helped to shape academic and popular ideas about race and culture -- and how those same concepts informed the discipline's very different treatment of African American culture in the 20th century. Baker, who is associate professor of cultural anthropology, sociology, and African and African American studies and dean of academic affairs in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University, responded via e-mail to questions about the book.
    • Q: How did "the role anthropology played in shaping popular conceptions of the culture for Native Americans" differ from "the role it played in shaping popular conceptions of culture for African Americans," and why was this difference so pronounced?

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  • Apr 22, 10

    A new association for Canadian anthropologists, dedicated to public activism and advocacy.

  • Jun 18, 10

    Poem by a noted anthropologist: incredulity in the face of outrageous Israeli state propaganda that sought to justify the murder of civilians in international waters.

  • Sep 16, 10

    "“despite the cynical manner by which philanthropic elites have dominated the field of anthropology, the fruits of its study are essential to any radical movement which is intent on eradicating capitalism"

  • Sep 17, 10

    To get to anthropology after empire, do we need an anti-imperialist anthropology? What does "decolonized anthropology" mean? Where do we find colonialism in contemporary anthropology?

  • Sep 18, 10

    "If democracy is defined, as Hannah Arendt did, by “the right to have rights” for an entire population within the state’s jurisdiction, the Israeli state cannot be considered a democratic one. Nor can a democracy be founded on the principle of expulsion and the creation of a diasporic population shorn of its land, belongings and citizenship – a principle avidly embraced by Israel since l948. For these reasons, I confirm my support for the BDS international boycott of those Israeli institutions that actively or passively accept a status quo that condones and expands the occupation, violates international law, enforces military control and denies Palestinian rights to self-determination."

        Sep 2010

        Embedded Anthropology and the Intervention


        Barry Morris and Andrew Lattas on cultural determinism and neo-liberal forms of racial governance

    • In June 2007, the Federal government staged a dramatic military-like take over of Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, which was orchestrated around a moral panic concerning allegations of pedophile rings and the sexual abuse of children. Exploiting a growing public awareness of serious social problems in remote Indigenous communities, the subsequent measures known as the Northern Territory Intervention were exempted from the Racial Discrimination Act.

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  • Oct 11, 10

    "“A serious danger posed to and by social scientists is the question of studying the movement. Our narcissistic side may be thrilled by academic studies of anarchists, but these studies are a threat. We do want constructive criticism but I argue that we should absolutely not want to be legible to the authorities, and the authorities are the ultimate audience of all academic production. Just as anthropologists help the CIA to manage Iraq and Afghanistan, they could also provide information that facilitates the infiltration and repression of our movement. We do not need professionals to enable us to communicate with other people. They will only translate us for the authorities."

  • Nov 14, 10

    A UK-based American anthropologist dissects the politics of the evangelical neoliberalism that has struck UK campuses.

  • Nov 23, 10

    Good news from anthropologist Adrienne Pine, who introduced a motion at the recent meeting of the American Anthropological Association, condemning the relationship forged between the Pentagon's Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and Florida International University.

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