[URBANTH-L]ANN: Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency (U Chicago)

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Tue Apr 22 22:52:54 EDT 2008

April 25-27, 2008
A Conference at the University of Chicago
Department of Anthropology
Free and open to all

For more information and a detailed schedule, see:


Recent events have put new stress on the relationship between Anthropology, 
governance and war. In the context of continuing violence in occupied Iraq 
and Afghanistan, the United States military and its planners have taken a 
new interest in culture and ethnography. Hoping to revitalize 
counterinsurgency theory and practice, the post-Rumsfeld Department of 
Defense has called for the production of "knowledge of the cultural 
'terrain,'" in General David Petraeus' words. Simultaneously, global war and 
governance have emerged as significant objects of ethnographic and 
theoretical interrogation. This conference explores Anthropology's 
relationship to the United States' global projection of its power, while 
simultaneously mounting an anthropological inquiry into the nature of that 
power and of the changing world in which it operates.

During World War II, Anthropology was among the social science disciplines 
with the most PhDs in US government service. But at the war's end, which is 
to say, after the United States deployed nuclear weapons against civilian 
populations in two Japanese cities, anthropologists left government service 
at an astonishing rate. As Margaret Mead famously put it, "the social 
scientists...took their marbles and went home." Since then, and until very 
recently, only a small minority of anthropologists has worked for US 
institutions of war and governance-institutions that are increasingly 
objects of anthropological study.
In quest of a professional and scholarly response to these developments, 
this conference calls upon ethnography to widen our understanding of 
contemporary war, American power, and the structures and logics of security 
at domestic and international levels. We seek ethnographic understanding of 
global responses to recent deployments of the US military, and of US 
military actions in comparison to other forms of coercion, compellance, and 
intervention. Reading US military theorists, we seek to understand the 
emerging interest in study of culture in the broad context of military 
responses to US military failures (and opportunities). We pursue the full 
implications of the connection now being sought by the US military between 
culture and insurgency and turn an anthropological lens on the nature of 
violence and order in the current era.

Greg Beckett, Jeff Bennett. Amahl Bishara, Kevin Caffrey, Paola Castaño, 
Rochelle Davis, Kerry Fosher, Roberto J. Gonzalez, Hugh Gusterson, James L. 
Hevia, Kurt Jacobsen, Beatrice Jauregui, John D. Kelly, Joseph Masco, Sean 
T. Mitchell, Christopher T. Nelson, Mihir Pandya, David Price, Marshall 
Sahlins, Brian R. Selmeski, Jeremy Walton, Dustin M. Wax

Sponsored by:
The Workshop on Science, Technology, Society and the State, University of 
The Center for International Studies, University of Chicago
The Center for the Study of Communication and Society, University of Chicago
The Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago
The Norman Wait Harris Fund
Marion R. and Adolph J. Lichtstern Fund

Organized by:
John D. Kelly, Beatrice Jauregui, Sean T. Mitchell, Jeremy Walton

Visit the website at http://anthroandwar.uchicago.edu/ 

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