Montgomery’s Minerva?

mcfateaewhite.jpgPure speculation. Does Montgomery McFate have the ear of Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense? I was jumping around some sites related to the HTS discussion when I noticed the following quotes from a summary of a presentation that McFate gave {in May 2007} on ‘The Cultural Knowledge Gap and Its Consequences for National Security.’ Consider:

Why is Cultural Knowledge Not Available?

Despite the fact that a lack of cultural knowledge has hindered its operations across the globe, the U.S. military is still not filling that knowledge gap, according to McFate. She listed six impediments to the availability of this knowledge.

First, the military spends very little on the social sciences. From 2002 to 2004, the DOD spent less money on social sciences than any other agencies except the Smithsonian, whose budget is considerably smaller…

Conclusions and Recommendations

McFate recommended a four-step approach to closing the cultural knowledge gap. First, the federal government should develop a large-scale, systematic, social science research program. {Emphasis added} This program would sponsor highly directed research by social scientists to collect phase zero, open-source, baseline socio-cultural information.

Sounds an awful lot like the Minerva Consortium!

9 thoughts on “Montgomery’s Minerva?

  1. Oh… I noticed an uncanny resemblance between some of the priorities, and in fact some of the very wording (“open source”), of Gates’s Minerva speech and what is identified here as McFate’s culturalized military agenda. You don’t follow Oneman? Seemed pretty obvious. Maybe too obvious given the explicit HTS content of Gates’s speech. Anyway. {See also Peanut’s comment on another thread: it seems to point at what I am getting at here.}

  2. Strong — I was just messin’ with ya! I admit I’m a little surprised at how popular McCFate’s vision is proving; I have to give her that much, she’s selling anthropology in places where we’ve thought it was a hard-sell indeed! It remains to be seen if she isn’t selling us down the river, though…

  3. I guess we won’t know for sure or not how connected she is until we see a patch with her face on it… 🙂

  4. Right? But also seriously… I mean, imagine the place that Montgomery McFate is going to have when intellectual histories of anthropology post-2000 are written… Here’s a question: Is Montgomery McFate the most important and most influential anthropologist in the world today?

  5. If you measure “most important and most influential anthropologist in the world” as the anthropologist with the largest budget, she might be. If you measure it by any actual results, not a chance. The Newsweek article shows that Human Terrain is a failure, but the pentagon doesn’t have to show results to increase funding. If she “wrote” Gates speech, I hope someone checked to make sure she identified her sources.

  6. Well, she’s already started shwoing up in those Annual readers various pulbishers make for Intro classes, like “Anthropology 2007/8” — which is a shame, because the article (“anthro and Counter-Insurgency” — the one I responded to here a couple years ago) is pretty bad history of anthropology, and really only appeals tot he kind of old fogey that wishes the last 40 years of anthro had never happened. Her argument for anthro as counter-insurgency isn’t all that good, either, relying mostly on a single, obscure guy (a Dr. Bohannon, but not *The* Dr. Bohannon) who did counter-insurgency work in SE Asia for a while. But I guess it’s easily digestible (as pablum often is…) so it supplants better histories of anthropology that might be more challenging.

    I don’t know if we want to get into the game of predicting the future; I have a feeling thatt his whole burly-man phase in US history is going to be viewed very differently than any of us can really imagine. That said, anthropology has managed a lot of amazing things in the last 40 years, without military help; McFate’s grand plan relies on anthropology continuing to supply a stream of conservative-minded anthropologists to do the work, and I don’t see that happening. Her letter to Wired says there’s only a couple of anthros in HTS right now — it looks like her hopes of getting anthropology into military thinking is bringing in more non-anthro social scientists than anthros.

  7. how can she be influential when she’s not networked. She’s all alone, at least as far as social scientists are concerned. Seems the criteria might be more like “most successful lone anthropologist”… but I agree, I haven’t seen a single worthwhile publication from her about anything other than the need for her research. And while I admire her for striking out and ignoring the haters, the proof is ultimately in the forthcoming pudding, if there is any…

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