Skip to main contentdfsdf


  • This bibliography and archive of webpages was compiled and organized by Dr. Maximilian Forte for Zero Anthropology. Its focus is on the relationships between anthropology and the military and intelligence communities, and the wider national security state. The main areas of interest are the Human Terrain System, counterinsurgency, the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program, related intelligence scholars programs, and the Pentagon's Minerva Research Initiative. The focus is primarily on the US, and secondarily the UK and Canada. The bulk of the materials appeared between 1997 and the present. Most of these items were publicly accessible, with some available to subscribers only -- in every case the archives of these pages are available below (click "snapshot")

    • By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff  |  October 8, 2007
    • The handful of anthropologists working with so-called human terrain teams designed to help commanders navigate the cultural thickets of both countries are being accused of "prostituting science" and presiding over the "militarization of anthropology," the study of the social practices and cultural origins of humans.

    15 more annotations...

    • Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War (Duke University Press, 2008), by David H. Price


      Reviewed by Robin Melville

    17 more annotations...

    • December 13, 2007
    • Anthropologists Up in Arms Over Pentagon’s “Human Terrain System” to Recruit Graduate Students to Serve in Iraq, Afghanistan

    20 more annotations...

    • October 16, 2007


      Army of Anthropologists Enters War Zones

      By David R. Butcher
    • The United States military is testing a new strategy in which anthropologists are embedded with combat units in war zones, but critics fear the social sciences are being used for political gain.

    10 more annotations...

  • Dec 30, 09

    "Can a former punk rocker raised on a houseboat change the way America fights? meet the pentagon's newest weapon in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

    MORE, September 2007, 122, 124, 126, 128.

  • Dec 28, 09

    Connable, Ben. (2009). All our eggs in a broken basket: How the Human Terrain System is undermining sustainable military cultural competence. Military Review, March-April: 57–64.

    • HTS damages relationships with academia:


      “Moreover, the practice of deploying academics to a combat zone may undermine the very relationships the military is trying to build, or more accurately rebuild, with a social science community that has generally been suspicious of the U.S. military since the Viet Nnam era” (58)


      “Each human terrain team fields at least one civilian social scientist. In recruiting these social scientists for active military operations, the program staff has widened a long-existing schism between academics willing to work with the military and those who are not. The HTS program has provided groups like the Network of Concerned Anthropologists a legitimate target in their efforts to prevent social scientists from supporting the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan” (63).


      “Members of this network and others contend that the civilians on HTT are violating academic ethical standards. These standards are in many ways akin to the Hippocratic Oath: field researchers are restricted from disturbing or harming the subject of their studies. Academic critics of HTS see social scientists wearing military uniforms, carrying weapons, and providing direct input to combat staffs that may use the information to apply deadly force” (64).


      “Whether the criticisms or comparisons are legitimate is irrelevant; the controversy is real, and it degrades the ability of patriotic social scientists who help the military through less controversial means. Many cultural anthropologists working with the military have been ostracized by their academic peers as a result of HTS blowback” (64)

    • We do not need you, we already do culture:


      “The other side of the debate, represented by the advocates of the Human Terrain System (HTS), calls for an immediate solution in the form of non-organic personnel, new equipment, and the direct application of external academic support. HTS essentially adds a quick-fix layer of social science expertise and contracted reachback  capability to combatant staffs. This “build a new empire” proposal is based on the assumption that staffs are generally incapable of solving complex cultural problems on their own” (57).


      “The HTS approach is inconsistent with standing doctrine and ignores recent improvements in military cultural capabilities. American military staffs have proven capable of using cultural terrain to their advantage in the small wars of the early 20th century, in Viet Nam, and contrary to common wisdom, in Aafghanistan and Iraq” (57-58).


      “By doctrine, mission, and organization, the U.S. military is mandated to train and maintain organic cultural expertise. Staffs are required to conduct training in the navigation of cultural terrain. Cultural information is inextricably linked to the intelligence process. Reachback centers do exist and are actively supporting combat operations. There is no justification to support a, “we fight wars, we need to pay someone to do culture.” Despite the initial failures of poorly trained military personnel to “do culture” there is no valid, systemic requirement for nonorganic personnel or equipment” (59-60).

    5 more annotations...

  • Dec 27, 09

    Forte, Maximilian C. (2009). Militarizing Anthropology, Researching for Empire. Culture, 2 (2) Fall: 6-10.

    • I presented the paper below, “(Re)Imperializing Anthropology and Decolonizing Knowledge Production,” at the 8th Annual Critical Race and Anti-colonial Studies Conference of Researchers and Academics of Colour for Equality (R.A.C.E.), held at Ryerson University in Toronto, 14-16 November, 2008.
    • In promoting a “long war” against so-called “extremism,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has spearheaded initiatives to assimilate social scientists into the so-called “global war on terror,” with culture and ethnography being the two most salient areas of interest that drive the renewed military creep into universities, coupled with the expansion of military activity into areas previously dominated by civilian efforts, such as relief work (also see this, this, this). The result is a realignment of academic research with the imperatives of the national security state. Canada is by no means immune to this, it is merely a latecomer, as I will discuss later.

    10 more annotations...

    • One does not need to seek employment with the Pentagon, take part in counterinsurgency, or work for the Human Terrain System in order to provide useful, even if involuntary, support for the national security, intelligence and military goals of the U.S., or any NATO state for that matter. In fact, one does not even need to be an American anthropologist in order to provide the U.S. military and intelligence with the information they seek. One needs to simply produce useful anthropology and not be mindful of the consequences of how it can be used by unintended audiences, now or in the future, to support agendas of which one may have limited awareness and even less desire to support. With this and much more in mind, my ambition is to seek the creation of a useless anthropology, and while some would say I was always on the right track for achieving that, I think more of us need to share a goal of producing useless research, to make worthless contributions, and by useless I mean useless to power, to empire, to domination, to regimes of scrutiny and inspection of the periphery. And not just useless, but even toxic and repulsive to the scientists of conquest – an anthropology of both withdrawal and resistance, free of false dilemmas that work to support business as usual, willing to set fire to the crops we planted if it stops them from being harvested by the tyrant, liberating ourselves from being our own best hostages. The idea is to refuse further engagement with the international traffic in information and knowledge that supports the workings of empire, capital, and the state.
    • In this presentation I seek to make three main points.

    5 more annotations...

    • Going ‘Tribal’: Notes on Social Scientists’ Involvement in Twenty-First Century Pacification Efforts


      Roberto Gonzalez (San José State University)

    • The concept of the “tribe” has captured the imagination of U.S. military planners, even as most contemporary anthropologists avoid using the term. The military’s interest in “tribal engagement” stems in part from events in Iraq’s al-Anbar province, where the U.S. military has co-opted Sunni “tribal” leaders. Some social scientists have capitalized on these developments by doing contract work for the Pentagon specifically geared towards understanding and enlisting “tribal” peoples. For example, the influential Iraq Tribal Study—a report prepared by a private company consisting of anthropologists and political scientists among others—bluntly suggests employing colonial techniques (such as divide-and-conquer) for tightening social control in western Iraq. It also advocates bribing local leaders, a method that has become part of the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency tactics. In recent months, American and British commanders have begun extending “tribal engagement” strategies to the Afghan war, even though critics suggest that such measures are likely to increase violence in Iraq and Afghanistan over the long run. This paper will give a contextual analysis of “tribal engagement” in the past and present, with a particular focus on the role of social scientists’ influence in this process.
  • Dec 28, 09

    Cultural Training & Intelligence for OIF
    Ms. Andrea V. Jackson
    5 August 2004
    2004 Naval Industry
    R&D Partnership Conference

  • Dec 28, 09

    The Object Beyond War: Counterinsurgency and the Four Tools of Political Competition
    Montgomery McFate, Ph.D., J.D., and Andrea V. Jackson
    Jan- Feb 2006

  • Dec 28, 09

    An Organizational Solution for DOD’s Cultural Knowledge Needs
    Montgomery McFate, Ph.D., J.D., and Andrea Jackson
    July-August 2005

    "OVER THE PAST few years, the need for cultural and social knowledge has been increasingly recognized within the armed services and legislative branch. While much of this knowledge is available inside and outside the government, there is no systematic way to access or coordinate information from these sources. We can mitigate this gap quickly and effectively by developing a specialized organization within the Department of Defense (DOD) to produce, collect, and centralize cultural knowledge, which will have utility for policy development and military operations."

  • Dec 28, 09

    Sheila Miyoshi Jager
    November 2007

    Strategic Studies Institute,
    U.S. Army War College,
    Carlisle, PA

    “This ‘cultural turn’ within DoD [Department of Defense] highlights efforts to understand adversary societies and to recruit ‘practitioners’ of culture, notably anthropologists, to help in the war effort in both Iraq and Afghanistan.” (Jager, p. 3)

    “This [Human Terrain] system is being specifically designed to address cultural awareness shortcomings at the operational and tactical levels…” (Jager, p. 10)

    “The kinds of cultural knowledge that inform military operations and tactics on the ground-the ‘how-to’ practical application of cultural and ethnographic knowledge-is very distinct from the forms of cultural knowledge that are needed to formulate national strategy and policy.” (Jager, p. 4)

    “While culture is transforming the military in significant and revolutionary new ways, it seems to have had little impact on defining overall U.S. strategic goals.” (Jager, p. 19)

  • Dec 30, 09

    "Army Brat: How did the child of peace-loving Bay Area parents become the new superstar of national security circles?"

    By Louisa Kamps

    pp. 309-311, 360-362

    • The political consequences of military operations in Indonesia 1945-99 : a fieldwork analysis of the political power-diffusion effects of guerilla conflict

    6 more annotations...

  • Dec 27, 09

    Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-level Counterinsurgency
    David Kilcullen

    "What is counterinsurgency?
    If you have not studied counterinsurgency theory, here it is in a nutshell: this is a competition with the insurgent for the right and the ability to win the hearts, minds and acquiescence of the population. You are being sent in because the insurgents, at their strongest, can defeat anything weaker than you. But you have more combat power than you can or should use in most situations. Injudicious use of firepower creates blood feuds, homeless people and societal disruption that fuels and perpetuates the insurgency. The most beneficial actions are often local politics, civic action, and beat-cop behaviors. For your side to win, the people do not have to like you but they must respect you, accept that your actions benefit them, and trust your integrity and ability to deliver on promises, particularly regarding their security. In this battlefield popular perceptions and rumor are more influential than the facts and more powerful than a hundred tanks."

  • Dec 27, 09

    "Over the last several years, a growing number of military planners and strategists have expressed concern that success in 21st-century warfare increasingly will depend on the U.S. military’s ability to acquire and skillfully use sociocultural expertise.1 Although a small number of units already provide sociocultural research and analysis to military operations
    (for example the Strategic Studies Detachment of the 4th Psychological Operations [PSYOP] Group [4POG], the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity,
    or the Human Factors Group of the Defense Intelligence Agency), no initiative has been as aggressive or arguably as innovative in its attempt to rapidly deliver sociocultural expertise to the battlefield as has the human terrain system (HTShts).2 With feature stories in major daily newspapers and on nationally broadcast radio programs, HTS has brought renewed attention to the need for sociocultural expertise in military operations and planning and has sparked a considerable degree of debate about the relationship between the social sciences and the military.
    The debate about the military’s use of sociocultural expertise presents an ideal opportunity to address the role of civilian and military cooperation in security affairs. Such issues have been, however, almost completely absent from the debate so far."

    • The notion of anthropologists being helpmates in the First World conquest of the Third World seems now to have become embedded in the day-to-day understanding of the Bush-initiated Iraq-Afghanistan cultural-military fiasco.  Whether political scientists, philosophers, area specialists, or whoever actually fills the “societal” expert position on the Human Terrain Systems (HTS) teams, anthropologists apparently are to take the blame.  And anthropologists themselves are not exempt from furthering this notion.
    • Perhaps the most notorious anthropologist associated with the U.S. military’s HTS is Montgomery McFate, who writes primarily for military publications and whose pivotal article “Anthropology and Counterinsurgency” appeared in the April 2005 issue of Military Review.

    19 more annotations...

1 - 20 of 1287 Next › Last »
20 items/page
List Comments (0)