Around the Web

To the Trees! Ted McIlwraith at fieldnotes ponders in a short post whether environmentalists will come into conflict with indigenous communities in British communities British Columbia now that the latter have invested in logging companies.

Cooking for Peace: L.L. Wynn at Culture Matters spotted a book on Cuisines of the Axis of Evil, written with the goal of fostering better international relations through learning about America’s “enemies.” Wynn writes the book might apply to a class she teaches on Food across Cultures. But I wonder if there were a book for the class she wants to teach on Sex across Cultures (say Sex in the Axis of Evil) that this might foster even more cultural understanding.

Materiality and Photography: This post by

It may be a favorite pastime of American graduate students to complain about the academic job market and worry about finding a job. Well, the good news is we’re not alone. Apparently, Japanese students and recent PhDs have the same problem.

Cheering Out of Place:

32 thoughts on “Around the Web

  1. Change to “indigenous communities in British COLUMBIA”… LOL! I was trying to figure out how many indigenous Celts or Picts there were in Britain, and whether there were any trees left for that matter…

  2. I don’t understand why people call her “Mrs Montgomery McFate.” She has a doctorate. Why not call her “Dr”? Calling her “Mrs” seems to be a strategy for discrediting her by alluding to her marital status in a nasty sort of anti-feminist way.

  3. I would be surprised if the second comment above was meant to be such a subtle criticism. Why call her Dr. McFate then, if we want to avoid any reference to her marital status? McFate is her husband’s surname, and I don’t know that her own family name has been published. Therefore, the argument over feminism may be entirely between Doctors McFate and Wynn. In the meantime, I promise not to take it as an anti-masculine smear if anyone calls me Max, and most do … and McFate the sockpuppet here on Savage Minds went as far as calling me Maxi, so I suppose I should call her Mitzy since we are such close chums.

  4. Ah, Maxi….still beating that tired old drum of ME being Mitzy? Sorry…she has many more friends than you know, and I don’t mind being a sockpuppet in her defense.

    As always,

  5. Of course she has many friends, all the “right friends” in fact. However, try posting on my blog and we can settle whether or not you are McFate, by objective means. I bet you won’t.

  6. Maxi!

    Well, Max, you bet correctly! What did you win? Here’s what you’ve LOST: an opportunity to discourse rationally about the relationship between the US military and social science with those holding visions of the world that MAY EVEN partially overlap with your own. Even as I write this, much of that is going on in these debates is circumventing you and your blog precisely because you have seemingly no limits. Why on earth would I (or Mitzy) be goaded into contributing to your discussions when you take such delight in character assassination? Truth is, I really don’t give a hoot whether you’re against sockpuppetry, HTS, or anything else. But MM is someone I admire, and that’s enough reason for me to chime in from time to time. But, no, I don’t work for RAND or anything — I meant that even within anthropological circles, she’s still got friends. Many of us who have met Mitzy understand her great professional sacrifice — putting herself out there so that guys like you can knock her around in public(and make no mistake, it’s not her ideas or perspectives, but HER you’re vilifying). She’s been the victim of all kinds of disinformation; and, no, I won’t be specific precisely because I’m privy to conversations from which you’re excluded. However, on this blog the “Mrs” junk that Dr. Wynn refers to above is just one minor example — Wynn is spot on, by the way, as I suspect you know. Oh I know, I know — you’d LOVE for those of us who support MM’s right to chart a different path in these very important matters to “come out and play” on your blog…nah, I’ll take a pass…life’s too short. But I may show up occasionally on SM…kind of fun…I’m actually not really a great one for blogging, but there’s loads of good stuff here.

    Ciao for now,

  7. Hi Max, Dee,

    I have to say that I have no idea what it means to say that “McFate is her husband’s surname” or how that explains deciding to call her “Mrs McFate.” It may be Montgomery McFate’s husband’s last name, I don’t know — I admit that I don’t follow her marital status closely — but regardless, it is also Montgomery McFate’s surname. Pretty much all women make a decision about whether to keep their father’s last name or take their husband’s name. (I have only known a couple in my life who choose to change their last name to something else entirely of their own choosing.) Either way, it’s a man’s surname that they take or are given, but when they make that decision, it becomes *their* last name too. So it’s her name. And she has a doctorate and the reason everyone is debating her work here is because of her academic publications and her work for the military, not because of her marriage to Mr McFate.

  8. By the way, Max, I think you’re missing the point when you say that “I promise not to take it as an anti-masculine smear if anyone calls me Max.” I wasn’t objecting to someone calling her “Montgomery.” I was objecting to someone calling her “Mrs.” In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s no title for men that denotes whether they are married or not. So using either “Miss” or “Mrs” for women rather than “Ms” or “Dr” is most certainly anti-feminist because it is an attempt to remind the world that a woman is defined by her marital status in a way that can never be applied to men.

    (All of my colleagues and even my undergraduate students call me “Lisa” and it’s not offensive. Nor do I mind it when my grandma and grandpa and aunts and uncles send me letters addressed to “Mrs Lisa Wynn” because those are the polite conventions of their era. But it would be offensive coming from any academic who should know better.)


  9. McFate’s mercenary ways disgust me. If she’s making $400,000 to do the garbage she’s doing, that would go a long ways towards accounting for her motivation.

  10. Dingo,

    Spoken like someone who’s never met MM. You’ve been duped by Pravda’s bogus misinformation…but from the tone of your post, sounds like you’re perfectly happy to assume the worst. Ah well…and so it goes.


  11. of interest to those reading about Montgomery McFate might be the Mother Jones article published today regarding her mother in laws activity as a “mole” in anti gun activist groups to gather info for gun lobby…the article mentions that mother McFate also enlisted the assistance of daughter inlaw Monty and son Sean. I only happened upon these anthropology blogs looking up more info about the mother in law and industrial espionage…she has a long history of infiltrating groups going back to the 80s. article is published at link below. accompanying articles indicate that the investigation outing the mom and family has been going on for months, coinciding with this DOD program conflict,

  12. Dee, I understand that McFate catches a lot of flack due to knee-jerk reactions that have everything to do with identity politics rather than informed and reasoned criticism. But still, do you really expect us to sympathize with her due to the fact that she has to put up with name-calling from within the profession? I don’t know an anthropologist of any stripe that doesn’t have to deal with that.

    To jump to a (somewhat) related topic, have any of the regular contributors been watching Generation Kill? Given the long thread from a few months back about The Wire I have to assume a few people are. Anyway, there was a nice piece of ethnographic detail the other night when the translator (whose background and employer everyone is a bit of a mystery to the Marines and the audience—maybe he’s an anthropologist!) is called over and told to ask two women who have arrived at the Marine position with a severely wounded child where they have come from, what lead up to the child’s wounds, etc., and the translator turns to a man standing nearby and asks him. I was very impressed by the amount of detail that the showrunners went to in writing, shooting, and not editing that scene out, especially given that the translator getting Iraqi gender relations right slipped by almost all of the audience just like it did the Marines in the scene. There’s no bigger point to my mentioning the scene except to recommend the show, which appears to me to be very well done.

    On the other hand, maybe there is a bigger point. The US Government could spend lots of time and money researching gender norms and the ethnography of speaking in locales where “stability operations” might occur, followed by an outlay of even more time and money educating military personnel about the findings. Or they could have the foresight not to put those same personnel in situations where they end up unintentionally shooting children. One of those courses of actions requires expert knowledge; one of them requires horse sense. Which do you think the Iraqis and the Marines would prefer?

  13. Something I hadn’t thought about in a long time occurred to me after I posted my comment. Russ Bernard uses this wonderful phrase, “The Educational Model of Social Change.” In a nutshell, it states that all you have to do to get people to boil their water, or stop eating fast food, or breast feed their babies, etc., is to present them with a pile of valid scientific findings. I don’t know much about the HTS but I get the impression that the program subscribes to the EMSC.

  14. MT,

    Oh, don’t get me wrong…everyone participating in these anthro-related dust-ups should be prepared to be somewhat thick-skinned, and why should McFate be any different? But the type of attacks I’m describing go well beyond that, as I hope you realize. I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill “well, geez, you don’t know what you’re talking about cause you’re an idiot whose studied under other idiots!” stuff here. I’m talking about the “let’s witchhunt you and all the people who agree with you out of the AAA and while we’re at it the human race” kind of stuff. You know, the kind of venomous spew that pollutes Max Fortes’ blog, for instance. There’s some free publicity for you Maxi…I’ll try not to do that too often.

    Your comment about EMSC is really interesting. There may well be some truth there, though I’m aware of a few examples that are somewhat more complicated involving more culture-broking than teaching Iraqis or Afghans the “right” way to do things. Yes, of course, you’re 100% correct — if the Marines (and presumably the Army too) had any say in the matter, none of them would ever be in a place where they might shoot children. Ultimately, I believe backers of HTS within the Army see the program in just that capacity…that is to say, the goal will be to have HTS people advise brigade, divisional, and other commanders how NOT to get embroiled in conflicts. In that sense, we don’t really get a picture of their potential in Afghanistan and Iraq, because they’re embedded in extant wars — it’s all very much reactionary and about damage control. Obviously, which wars get fought where and when isn’t up to the Army but to civilian leadership…therefore it makes more sense to have an anthropologist or two involved in policy formation at that level. But guess what — the only way you get an anthropologist in a position where they can contribute to those debates and be taken seriously by the military (which is crucial) is through extensive engagement with the military in some way. This is what McFate-bashers often fail to recognize: among anthropologists, she is by far the most influential in those circles and is able to articulate anthropological imperatives and, yes, ethics to people who would not otherwise listen to us in any serious way. As Max says himself, she knows many of the “right people”. Though he doubtless wrote that with a sneer, the cold fact is that she worked very hard to gain that kind of influence not because she wants the big paycheck (people, PLEASE, the woman has a Harvard law degree too!) but because she wants to bring us collectively “to the table.” And for this, she is professionally ostracized and denounced. Hyperbole, you say? Again, I present Max Fortes’ blog as exhibit A in character assassination.

    Thanks for some good thoughts, MT — I would love to have more of THIS kind of conversation. I want to see Generation Kill, by the way…heard about it and it sounds amazing.

    Best regards,

  15. Hah…never thought I’d be doing this, but I owe Max an apology: seems I referred to him as “Fortes” when his surname if “Forte”….must have been thinking Meyer F. there for a bit. My sincerest apologies.


  16. Dee (or Montgomery, or whoever you are), The fact is that the critiques of McFate are generally directed at her poor work, not at her personally. Whether it is her involvement in the plagiarized Counterinsurgency Manual, her war profiteering (to the tune of reportedly $400,000 a year from HTS alone), or her involvement in designing HTS in such a way that there was not ethical oversight, and now, Mother Jones reports that she worked as a spy conducting political/industrial espionage, etc. None of these things have to do with “identity politics” or personal attacks, they have to do with an anthropologist who doesn’t think the normal rules apply to her. Did you see her sexual harassment in the workplace blog she had to take down a few weeks ago? Very poor professional judgment, ask her (or ask yourself) for the story about why she had to take it down. She may be a very bright person, but she is reckless and as her bravado wears thin her poor judgment has become what she is known for. She seems to be out of control and her crash landing will be sad for all.

  17. Fardon,

    I conceal my identity with good reason. Sure, you can address me by “Hey You” or whatever.

    I appreciate you chiming in. I must beg to differ — even those critiques of McFate that begin as legitimate airing of difference descend very quickly into allegations that she’s involved in fundamentally immoral work that speaks directly to her worth as a person. Could or would the same things be said about serving members of the military? Those that support them? How about all the other social scientists in other disciplines, to say nothing of all the civil servants who work in some capacity or other for the military? I would be interested to know whether there similar controversies have erupted in political science or history. I have not heard of any, so if you come across any, please let us know. It seems to me that all this speaks to an unhealthy preoccupation with the history of our discipline that paralyzes many from having the moral courage to take action in new, unprecedented ways. It also reveals a hubris and arrogance among many anthropologists: MM should “know better” while others, poor misled fools that they are, cannot, apparently, be expected to.

    I will not repeat the accusations against Montgomery here, simply because I have no desire to publicize them. Again, I refer you to Max Forte’s blog for a good example of how NOT to proceed with civil discourse.

    I know Montgomery, and am of course aware of her “Man in Uniform” blog. While I suppose I found it rather uninteresting and maybe a little crude, this is my own taste. The blog had little or no bearing on these anthropological debates. It was “unearthed” in yet another effort to discredit MM as a person. As for the misinformed Pravda piece, many of us are already aware of the many ways in which it unfairly spun Montgomery’s ambitions and profits. It’s not my place to address this issue here — suffice it to say that the exaggerated reports of untold wealth are rather bizarre.

    Yes, I’ve just read the new piece about MM’s mother-in-law. I’m gratified that you have used a “guilt by association” argument, and recognize that MM’s involvement in intelligence gathering (or, in the main report writing) cuts against the grain of what most anthropologists would consider legitimate anthropology. But then, MM does not appear to have been doing any of this AS an anthropologist…and so we are right back to arguments about her basic character, etc. Is all intelligence work morally flawed? Well, the army and CIA are very different organizations with different methods. While I’m not familiar with Sapone/McFate’s research, it does seem to have been private sector contracting, and I think we’d need to consider it much more closely before passing judgment on it. At first glance, I’m as unimpressed as you no doubt are with espionage on environmental groups, etc. But the whole story has yet to emerge. I hope that it will in due course.

    Actually, Mitzy is very much in control…at least of her own perspective. She doesn’t contribute these blogs or visit the AAA much anymore because she’s tired of being a pin-cushion…I believe we could at least all sympathize with THAT position. But “crash landing”? Who are you talking about??? MM??? As I said in response to an earlier post….spoken like someone who has never met Mitzy. She’s already weathered the worst of anthropologists can throw at her.

    Best regards,


  18. McFate is still continuing her disgusting little charade here? Sorry, let me respectful and follow Wynn’s advice: Dr. Mitzy McSockPuppet. What an astoundingly treacherous and ugly character this dedicated spy is turning out to be, and sockpuppetry is the least of her sins, and whatever I have written about her pales in contrast to what is now being revealed in the news. For the record, I have written dozens of posts dealing with the issues involved with HTS, have cordially and respectfully debated one of its proponents, and have also published attacks on the public celebrity persona built up by the media and state, branded as “Montgomery McFate.” Judging from McFate’s reactions here, I have done an excellent job — thank you — and I plan to use her statements as well earned negative endorsements. And, a word to the unwise, what I post is just a fraction of what I know. McFate is McFinished. Goodbye.

  19. As I have been in the past, I’m a little disheartened by the smallness of this debate. There are those of us who are devoting our energies to understanding and critiquing, from outside the intellectual green zone DoD has recently been kind enough to provide, the problems of which things like HTS, Minerva, and, indeed, the occupation of Iraq, are simply symptoms.

    Dee, you say “which wars get fought where and when isn’t up to the Army but to civilian leadership”…what a quaint and naïve distinction. If the ‘war on terror’ has taught us anything (which I increasingly fear it hasn’t), its that the determination of strategic foreign interests and foreign policy priorities is, in America, a military matter. AFRICOM is one example, SOUTHCOM’s new humanitarian face (personified in Admiral Stavridis) is another. What we have here is not an intellectualization or humanitarianization of the military, its an elimination of independent humanitarian and intellectual space, space which is vital for critique, which (I’ll do you the dignity of assuming) we all value.

    The American military does what it does very well; what it does is war. Just as I do not clip my nails with a machete—though I suppose I could—we are unwise to wield our military for tasks to which it is not suited. And though notions of hybridity may just now be trickling down into government bureaucracy (witness the rise of ‘the interagency’), subsuming the production and execution of humanitarian programs or foreign policy within the military is a bridge too far. More than that, it is dangerous.

    Finally, as I’m currently wrapping up a year’s fieldwork in various military contexts, I offer two informed opinions. First, British Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, was right to say that the American military is overly and *unnecessarily*, bound to submission to hierarchy, quick to violence, and averse to criticism. When we think of the military, and its capacities, as an institution, we must remember that.

    Second, the notion that our only options for engagement here are a whole hearted embrace of the myth of consenting patriotism (“Rah, rah, HTS, Monty says that you’re the best! Go USA!”) or reactionary negative critique (“Boo, boo red, white, and blue! But don’t ask me what we should do! Go AAA!”) is both counter productive and wrong. I can’t help but sides in that debate (in this iteration, I don’t mind saying, I’m in the Maxi camp), but there is another tune; that of positive critique which can only be voiced from outside (“War is bad, occupation worse! I demand you hear this verse! Go third way!”). If we want to save an independent, critical space, perhaps we could do less enumerating of the ways its being infringed on and violated and do a little more reclaiming of it. Instead of wasting all our energy in a fist fight (worthwhile though it may be), lets thing about a sit in.

  20. Hello Maxi!

    Ah, it’s VERY good to see you sticking to your guns (so to speak). So, this means that I no longer have to point to Maxi’s blog to highlight his penchant for character assassination…you can all see it right here on SM. But for the record, in case I haven’t said so in no uncertain terms before, and may lightning srike me and all I love dead if I lie here: I am NOT Montgomery McFate!

    But then, Maxi…as I’ve said before, it matters little to me who you think I am or what Circle of Hell you think I (or McFate) come from! As far as I’m concerned, your attacks are destined for the dustbin of irrelevancy. So here’s a little character assassination of my own, since you can’t be persuaded to civility: your blog represents little more than a series of self-absorbed ramblings by a pot overly fond of calling the kettle black. You accuse McFate and others of having self-aggrandizing delusions of grandeur but we need look no further than your blog logo to see your OWN face splattered across a cheesy picture of the globe! Do you truly see yourself in this light, Maxi? A beacon of hope to a world gone topsy turvy? What a hypocrite you are, Maxi, and a testament to an overinflated ego. In sum, what a jackass — reduced even to making fun of her name…her NAME, for God’s sake! Is this truly goodbye? We can only hope. I’ll address you no further.

    Now to Zoe’s much more interesting comments. Yes, by the way, the smallness of the conversation is disheartening to me too, believe it or not, so I’ll make a concerted effort to “play nice” should I contribute in the future…meaning I’ll do my utmost to ignore the ad hominem stuff concerning my friend, McFate. Onto the substance, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that civilian and military discourses and overt ambitions aren’t fused in a basic logic of governmental control and purpose. Reading back over what I wrote earlier, I suppose I earned that “quaint and naive” comment. To my mind, it is possible to BOTH maintain that critical intellectual space you speak of AND work within the constraints you describe — that is, the same researchers may set about both tasks independently of each other. HTS may or may not be destined to carry out critical social science on the military…certainly is is nowhere near that now, as I readily concede. Not sure how McFate feels about this, but that’s another issue. Having spoken to a few brigade commanders myself, I completely concur that the US military is adverse to criticism…but not ALL criticism. Embedded in the same set of powerful drives is a concern for mitigating loss of personnel (among other things). In other words, while you are almost certainly correct that sea changes in what the military is/does are not in the cards, incremental shifts on their logic of practice ARE attainable. In very practical terms, the HTTs don’t actually do much that we could call “anthropology”…it’s more like culture broking, and so far its effects are glowingly received by many (though certainly not all) brigade and division level staff.

    Wrapping up this post, I also am no fan of the straight dichotomy, “Ra, Ra” versus “Boo, Boo” — I apologize if I left that impression. But honestly, that middle path is very difficult to chart unless people are willing to listen to your voice. I applaud you for doing the work that you do, and look forward to reading what you publish, etc. Odd as it may seem, many (at least those I’ve met within HTS…not a huge number, I’ll admit)are far more willing now than, say, two years ago, to listen to critiques of their methods precisely because of the efforts made by Montgomery and others to wedge open that door. Of course, nobody is naive enough to think this changes spots on the leopard. However, it may be enough to cause the leopard a spot of indigestion from time to time. Is that not worth the work? I don’t see that engaging the military leads inexorably to sacrificing one’s critical reasoning skills or willingness to speak them, if for no other reason than because military staff respect and listen to people they feel empathize with and/or at least understand their work. However savage, the critiques are thus blunted by respect. This is actually precisely how HTS got its start — and it HAS saved some lives in the small picture, though I understand we’re really dealing with “big picture” stuff here (I know, another false dichotomy…mea culpa).


  21. Whereas Ad Hominem attacks violate the spirit of intellectual community and degrade the progressive potentials of human discourse, I hereby raise a motion to vote Maximilian Forte off the Savage Minds island.

  22. Prudence and All,

    Well, if he goes I should probably go too. I do apologize to the group for being witness to this ongoing discord. Since it’s pretty clear that little common ground can be found between myself (still not Mitzy) and MF, there’s not much point in boring everyone else. From my end, I promise to let it go there….and you may hold me to that. I wouldn’t dream of speaking for MF.

    Best regards

  23. It just occurred to me that we haven’t engaged Jay’s original posting at all here. Jay, great round-up, as usual, and I loved your idea of doing a book on Sex in the Axis of Evil!

  24. Dee doesn’t really sound to be McFate, but she does write a lot like Lauri Adler Part of Adler’s job is to make McFate look good, so if it is her I guess she’s blogging on the clock.

    How did Savage Minds ever get to be so boring, and afraid of covering political anthropological issues that the posts dealing with these issues have to be carved out by users? Why isn’t savageminds providing direct analysis of this? Is this a problem with having nontenured anthros running this, or is there a lack of interest in a political story that will soon suck the discipline down the drain?

  25. Well on the “emotional manipulation of your interlocutor” meter I’d chalk that round up at Dee 1, Max 0.

    Also, after months and months of covering and talking about HTS, and being told that the authors are too ‘elite’ and deal with ‘academic’ issues rather than doing truly ‘academic anthropology’ Its refreshing to have a comment that urges us to stop building community and act more like Real Professors!

  26. Mrs. Ventura: I’ve talked about McFate and HTS practically since Savage Minds was started. My third post was “Anthropologists as Counter-Insurgents”, back in the first couple months of Savage Minds (/2005/05/19/anthropologists-as-counter-insurgents/). And I’ve kept a running tally of stories related to HTS, joined by Kerim and in the last year or so by Strong. So I’m not sure where we’ve failed to address these issues directly.

    I’ve not been all that active in these discussions, for a number of reasons. First, I’m struggling to keep my head above water in the rest f my life, and don’t have time to post here as much as I’d like. Yeah, that’s about being a non-tenured anthro — or, more to the point, about being an adjunct. But not how you suggest — it’s about time, not fear of protecting a career that, frankly, I will never have.

    Second, I just spent several months writing first a conference presentation and then an article on HTS and the trouble with counter-insurgency. I’m burnt out. I’ve said my piece, here and in the article (book is forthcoming from U Chi Press, if I understand correctly).

    Third, I don’t see any problem with providing a space for debate and then stepping back. It’s not our job to speak for the discipline or provide the final word on this stuff — if we wanted to do that, we’d… I dunno, but it sure wouldn’t be a blog! We have a three-year history of providing commentary and analysis, some of it damn good — but I’m more proud of the fact that our readers have led some rousing good debates here.

    Now, for my own thoughts: Dee’s arguments are stupid. They follow directly from McFate’s even stupider “ivory tower” arguments, as if anthropologists don’t put their lives on the line every day in the service of issues bigger than tenure review and disciplinary politics.

    There’s a very simple test of HTS’ intentions. A quantitative test, even. It involves answering two questions: 1) How many native Iraqi social scientists are embedded in HTS teams? 2) How many experts on North Carolina Freeganism are embedded in HTS teams? I’d expect to see a lot of the former in a program aimed at easing frictions between US occupiers and local populations, especially given the dearth of American Iraq, or even Arabic, experts. I’d expect to see the latter in a program designed to identify and eliminate resistances to occupation and/or ease the long-term administration of a subjugated people.

    The Army prides itself on providing the best people for the job to be done, and I believe in HTS they’ve done just that.

  27. oneman,

    Jumping (or indexing) topics, but I’m just curious why you chose North Carolina Freeganism? Was it just an arbitrary choice on your part, or as a native of Western North Carolina is the weirdness of my home lost on me?

  28. Well, Dee, I suppose you are more optimistic about the future of the U.S. military (and, I would guess, the nation itself) than I.

    While I readily acknowledge that there are those rare individuals in the military who are not only open to critique, but embrace it, the logic within which I have seen it framed (such as what you point out: personnel retention and methodological or tactical reform) is far from transformative. In fact, its precisely hegemonic. So I disagree; the leopard can indeed change its spots (by accepting that there’s no such thing as conventional warfare, giving cultural sensitivity training and suicide prevention classes to mobilizing units), but a leopard is still a leopard: vicious, effective, and unselfconscious.

    As to the possibilities of the same researchers “set[ing] about both tasks independently of each other”; I won’t attempt the spacial metaphor to illustrate the near impossibility of this, as it exceeds my understanding of fractal geometry. Suffice it to say there are fundamental differences between the projects of someone like Catherine Lutz (cf Homefront) and someone like John P Hawkins (cf Army of Hope, Army of Alienation). To me, they seem incompatible, and I wouldn’t envy the well being of someone who embodied them both.

    While I don’t feel that *engaging* the military automatically disarms one’s critical faculties, I do feel that by *participating in* military projects, one submits to critical zip-ties. In such a position, one can fire off critiques all they want, but they’ll only be shooting themselves in the foot. And while I may have my own feelings about the intentions of Mcfate coiffing the leopard, I think its more helpful here to take a lesson from James Ferguson: The solutions taken up are those which fit. They are constrained by the particular definition of the problem and the arc of possibilities which describes the array feasible solutions. It may always be this way, but the role of the critic is not to play along.

    Its an old debate, and one I’m not sure its worth rehashing here, but when its possible, if difficult, to engage from the outside, why choose to life in the belly of the beast? While someone on the inside may can cause occasional indigestion, I’d submit that they also provide sustenance. As far as I can tell, any pain caused by Mcfate has been far outweighed by the analgesic effects of her proffered solutions.

    And, while I appreciate your frank engagement with my comments and your willingness to take HTS off its pedestal, or at lease lower it a bit, I reiterate my point that programs like HTS and Minerva which, though in different ways, militarize intellectual work and present an openness to refinement as if it were openness to radical critique, are a *threat* to the critical space I spoke of, not simply parallel to it.

    Mrs Ventura: SMers post pretty regularly about anthro and war, so lets not be so quick to disparage the un-tenured. And the profile of this particular contemporary political issue in American anthropology is actually quite high. Also, isn’t an online space such as this is in part about users carving out, or at least re-sculpting issues of interest?

  29. Folks,

    Wow, thanks you! Finally some worthwhile discussion! I am certainly partially to blame for this not being possible to this point, and accept my lumps. No time for a systematic response to all of what’s been said, but I will say this:

    1)Oneman: Ok, so my arguments are stupid. But by your own standard, I have to tell you that there are many, many Iraqi and Afghan nationals involved in HTS at all levels. I couldn’t quantify it for you off the cuff, but I’ve met a bunch….and to a person they see the value in the program (or rather, proof-of-concept). Of course, I recognize that this is selective in that I haven’t talked to those nationals or ex-pats who are opposed to HTS. But I’m just using your standard here. About North Carolina Freegans, I really couldn’t tell you. 🙂

    One thing: Could you please elaborate on your comment about anthropologists putting their lives on the line in the service of the greater good (I’m paraphrasing)? Of course there are many selfless, committed anthros…I would never dispute that. But I’m wondering — really just thinking out loud on this — don’t you think that the economics of current academe play a part in all this? I really want to know what you think.

    2) Zoe: Well, in many ways you’ve come to the nub of all this, at least as I see it. If you participate in military projects and are hired as an anthropologist, does this NECESSARILY mean that the work you are doing is anthropological? If it’s not, what on earth ARE you doing? I know that sounds counter-intuitive, so let me elaborate. Many of the HTS people I’ve met hold PhDs in a range of fields, and the impression I get is that they are there BECAUSE they hold PhDs…whether these are in anthro or not is a secondary concern. I know, that sounds horrifying at first blush! But I believe that it’s the “cache” factor that often motivates the army to hire PhDs. This actually shouldn’t surprise anyone, because it’s the same things that’s been going on in industry for years. A PhD is cultural code for “really smart and motivated” or something. I point this out in order to propose that what many anthropologists imagine HTTs are doing is in fact very different than what HTTs are ACTUALLY doing…not putting our discipline in the service of intelligence gathering, as many imagine, but in the service of communication and culture broking. I know this is ethnography-lite, and can sense the guffaws already…but this HAS saved lives that would almost certainly have been lost otherwise– and, yes, this statement will be much more available for and open to scrutiny before this debate subsides, and I don’t really expect anyone to be persuaded until it is (and maybe not even then).

    I have more to say re. your comments, Zoe, but will save that for a later post.

    One other thing before I go: I think it’s important to remember, too, that McFate is only one piece of a broader tapestry being woven here. She’s not some kind of Uber-deity controlling things from on high. People have been thinking about how to minimize casualties (civilian as well as military) for a long time. to reiterate, I am not arguing that you can change the leopard’s spots….but if anything the idea that yelling at will just make it shut up and go away is even more wrong-minded.

    More later, and I like the looks of this new (and I hope civil) conversation.

    Best regards,

  30. MTBradley: The comment was a slight dig at Marcus Griffin, whose pre-HTS research was on Freeganism and who I’m probably mistaken in remembering taught or went to grad school or something in North Carolina (it’s hard to double-check because he took his site down when he quit teaching and moved full-time to HTS).

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