Tag Archives: Anthropology
Knowing the culture of a foreign country can save your life, according to the American government. In coming to this conclusion, the Central Intelligence Agency started recruiting anthropologists and anthropology students to work for the military.
David Price, an anthropology professor from Saint Martin’s University, spoke about his research of the “Weaponizing Anthropology” on April 24 in the Riley Center.
Focusing on ecological anthropology of the Middle East, Price developed his research around the topic of anthropologists’ uneasiness of working with the government.
Price’s lecture gave an overview of the historical relationship between anthropology, the U.S. government and intelligence agencies and how they’ve changed since 9/11.
In 1971, the anthropological community adopted its first code of ethics. Some of the guidelines listed in it were that there would be no secret research, no secret projects, and “your primary duty was to the people you were studying, not the agency that employed you.”
This code was later amended after the discovery of several anthropologists who were working for an investigation agency in Thailand.
“For reasons of commerce, the ethics code was transformed,” Price said. “When anthropologists worked for corporate settings, they had proprietary reports. They were studying consumer behaviors, and they didn’t want that type of information to get out.”
Jumping from background information, Price went on to explain how anthropology’s relationship with the government has changed after 9/11.
“More and more intelligence agencies were showing up on the bigger college campus,” Price said.
More than just putting agencies in the colleges, after 9/11, a group called the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, collected quotes from American professors that it labeled as un-American. Quotes included statements from Hugh Gusterson and Noam Chomsky.
Agencies started recruiting people who had lived in other countries and had experience with countries that the agencies were interested in, according to Price.
“They wanted to know about the Island of Truk in the Pacific, they wanted to find someone who lived in rural Japan and they wanted
to find out who spent time in Germany,” Price said.
The government was trying to use counterinsurgency to win the war after 9/11. The government wanted to use this cultural nuance to understand the culture of the countries that “they were conquer and control.”
By bringing in college students, the intelligence agencies were offering students money to pay for school, in exchange for working for their agencies. For every two years they received money, students were required to work during
Students are required to be studying in an area of interest.
The issue surrounding
these agencies giving
money was that students were not allowed to tell anyone about receiving this money.
“The students’ adviser wouldn’t know they were in the CIA, and the other students wouldn’t know that they were in the CIA,” Price said. “To me, the important thing is that programs are popping up when traditional funds are drying up.”
Recently, a new CIA center has popped up at the University of Washington. Price’s research has earned the attention of several University of Washington faculty, who are concerned that with his work being published, the students who are part of the agencies will be targeted when they are abroad.
Price argues that by not telling, more people would be interested in where these students are
Since the last modifications were made to the Anthropology Code of Ethics, the anthropological community has worked to amend it. Price was on the committee that worked on rewriting the code in 2007.
“We wrote that of course anthropologists can work for the government, but what they have to do is be aware of the ethical issues and particular things that happen,” Price said.
After attending McMinnville High School in 1978, Price later graduated from the undergrad program at Evergreen University.
He went to the University of Chicago to complete his master work, and then earned his doctorate at the University of Florida.
Kaylyn Peterson/Sports editor
Professor William Beeman, anthropology department chair and professor at the University of Minnesota, gave an anthropologist’s perspective on the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East during his lecture on May 9.
The lecture, titled “Middle East Foreign Policy: Why the State Department Needs Anthropologists,” focused on how the United States would handle foreign policy if it considered some of the cultural and political differences between the Middle East and the United States.
“We didn’t even understand our own culture very well,” Beeman said, referencing the United States’ lack of cultural expertise in foreign and American policy.
Beeman used the analogy of a baseball team to explain America’s reasons for foreign policy, saying that after World War II, America was like the best baseball team in the world. The only way to make the game more interesting was to split up the teams, which is an analogy for America becoming more invested in foreign policy.
Beeman explained five commonly held misconceptions that the American public generally believes to be true: the world consists of nation-states, the world is dichotomous, the world is ruled by elite rulers, the world is ruled by violence and wealth and all events have approximate causes.
“The U.S. has a bad habit of believing that the only reason things happen is because of immediate causes,” Beeman said, explaining that the current uprising in the Middle East is the result of things that have happened for centuries.
Some of these things included strong colonial influence and a feeling of being robbed by stronger powers, which has led to the current conflict, he said.
Beeman explained that the Middle East populace has different interests than the American populace and is more focused on spiritual matters.
“He talked about how they aren’t influenced by guns and money at all,” sophomore Julia Cooper, said. “The people would rather have something to believe in, something more than that.”
Cooper said she attended the lecture to hear what Beeman considered to be an anthropologist’s place in resolving conflict.
“I was really interested in hearing about how anthropologists could help with the situation over there,” Cooper said. “The main idea behind that was instead of looking at how we can help solve their problems from a governmental or military viewpoint, we should go there and experience the culture and actually see what’s going on in the Middle East on a daily basis.”
Brittany Baker/Staff reporter
Brittany Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The exhibit, titled “An Ceoil na Éireann: The Generation Dichotomy of Music in Galway Ireland,” presents the culture of Irish music.
“Music is an expression of culture, and it is really rooted in [Irish] culture,” Dahl said.
The exhibit is her idea for her senior thesis.
Dahl studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, which, Dahl said, has a popular young adult scene in music. During her study in Ireland, Dahl visited different musical areas and studied the culture of music.
The exhibit features photos of various singers, both of traditional Irish music and of hybridized music, which is music that fuses both traditional and current styles.
One artifact in the exhibit is a traditional Irish drum.
The exhibit also includes a video featuring a concert in Ireland and pictures of various other concerts and their audiences.
The exhibit portrays the difference in Irish music from the traditional sense and what is considered more modern. It also demonstrates how people from different generations perceive music and its heritage.
“It’s not the typical exhibit you see at the museum,” Dahl said. “It’s a contemporary issue that people should be more aware of and take a look at what we are changing.”
The exhibit introduces onlookers to the culture of Ireland by playing traditional and current Irish music in the background, alternating between the two styles throughout the tour.
“I wanted to better understand the sentiments of the different generations over the hybridization of traditional Irish music …with infusion of modern rock, pop, jazz and other genres,” a panel on Dahl’s exhibit read.
Dahl’s exhibit leads onlookers through her experience in Ireland to the older generation’s view of music to the younger generation.
“I thought it was really interesting,” junior Bouquet Harger said. “I liked the video and the music playing throughout.”
The exhibit presented a great deal of culture.
“I thought it was interesting and informative — the traditional and popularized,” senior Craig Geffre said.
As the last panel put it, “The history of Ireland is largely told through the singing of stories, and if the songs are forgotten, so are the stories.”
Dahl’s exhibit is located in the Anthropology Museum in Walker Hall and will be open until the end of the semester.
The exhibit is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about the exhibit, contact Dahl at email@example.com or Keni Sturgeon, adjunct professor of anthropology at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Marl/Staff reporter
Tim Marl can be reached at email@example.com.