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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
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A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Anthropologists Slam Using Social Scientists in Mideast Wars
3 December 2009 3:54 pm
Since 2007, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has deployed teams of anthropologists and other social scientists in Iraq and Afghanistan. The goal is to make better military decisions based on an improved cultural understanding of those countries. DOD officials claim the initiative—known as the Human Terrain System (HTS) program—is working, and has already helped defuse conflict in many areas. But in a report released today at its annual meeting in Philadelphia, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) says what HTS teams do in the field should not be confused with anthropology. They say anthropologists should not participate in this work, regardless of whether it helps the military.
"Human terrain teams in the field cannot in any reasonable sense of the word be carrying out anthropological field work," Robert Albro, chair of the panel that produced the report, said at a press conference this morning. Unlike what anthropologists typically do, the report notes, HTS units help to gather intelligence that, in all likelihood, is then used to kill people or cause harm. The program "blurs so many ethical lines," Albro says.
This is not the first time that the discipline has criticized the HTS program, which involves some 400 people, including at least 6 Ph.D. anthropologists. In the fall of 2007, shortly after the program was launched, AAA's executive board called it "an unacceptable application of anthropological expertise." Today's report, based on interviews with both DOD officials and those in the program, reinforces that position. "Anthropologists cannot properly function within human terrain teams," says Jim Peacock, one of the authors.