Anthropology Research Patches?

Geographer Kris Olds has a great blog on Global Higher Education where, in a recent post, he points out that 50% of the US Federal Government’s R&D budget goes to Department of Defense’s research programs “dwarfing agencies like the National Science Foundation (which gets a mere 4%).”

Military patches

But, as the New York Times notes, drawing upon Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments data, an increasing proportion of this is classified (hence the “black budget” moniker). Paglen’s research has delved into aspects of the research cultures associated with the highly secretive defense establishment via the use of graphic representations, especially patches (badges).

The patches analyzed in his new book titled I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World are worth examining, for they convey information about the practices associated with building research team cultures in a key segment of US federal government-sponsored R&D. They are also, if you watch the Colbert Report interview, seriously surreal. I must admit never having seen patches created by non-defense scientists.

The NY Times article also has a slideshow about the patches.

I’ll be sure to add patches to the budget of my next grant proposal! I’ve already picked out the patch for the Taiwan research team!

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