Network of Concerned Anthropologists Pledges Non-Participation in Counter-Insurgency and Combat Operations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2007
CONTACT: Network of Concerned Anthropologists
Roberto Gonzalez, Media Coordinator
Anthropology Group Pledges Non-Participation in Counter-Insurgency and Combat Operations
September 24 -
The US Department of Defense and allied agencies have the intention of mobilizing anthropologists for interventions in the Middle East and beyond. Military and intelligence agencies and their subcontractors are aggressively seeking to recruit, fund, and contract social scientists to assist in the "war on terror," and it is likely that larger, more permanent initiatives are in the works.
Over the last several months the newly formed Network of Concerned Anthropologists (NCA) has drafted a "Pledge of Non-Participation in Counter-Insurgency," which has begun circulating in the US and internationally. The NCA encourages social scientists everywhere to join this effort by signing on to the following pledge:
Pledge of Non-Participation in Counter-Insurgency
We, the undersigned, believe that anthropologists should not engage in research and other activities that contribute to counter-insurgency operations in Iraq or in related theaters in the "war on terror." Furthermore, we believe that anthropologists should refrain from directly assisting the US military in combat, be it through torture, interrogation, or tactical advice.
US military and intelligence agencies and military contractors have identified "cultural knowledge," "ethnographic intelligence," and "human terrain mapping" as essential to US-led military intervention in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. Consequently, these agencies have mounted a drive to recruit professional anthropologists as employees and consultants. While often presented by its proponents as work that builds a more secure world, protects US soldiers on the battlefield, or promotes cross-cultural understanding, at base it contributes instead to a brutal war of occupation which has entailed massive casualties. By so doing, such work breaches relations of openness and trust with the people anthropologists work with around the world and, directly or indirectly, enables the occupation of one country by another. In addition, much of this work is covert. Anthropological support for such an enterprise is at odds with the humane ideals of our discipline as well as professional standards.
We are not all necessarily opposed to other forms of anthropological consulting for the state, or for the military, especially when such cooperation contributes to generally accepted humanitarian objectives. A variety of views exist among us, and the ethical issues are complex. Some feel that anthropologists can effectively brief diplomats or work with peacekeeping forces without compromising professional values. However, work that is covert, work that breaches relations of openness and trust with studied populations, and work that enables the occupation of one country by another violates professional standards.
Consequently, we pledge not to undertake research or other activities in support of counter-insurgency work in Iraq or in related theaters in the "war on terror," and we appeal to colleagues everywhere to make the same commitment.
The founding members of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists are:
Catherine Besteman (Colby College)
Andrew Bickford (George Mason University)
Greg Feldman (University of British Columbia)
Roberto Gonzalez (San Jose State University)
Hugh Gusterson (George Mason University)
Gustaaf Houtman (unaffiliated)
Jean Jackson (MIT)
Kanhong Lin (American University)
Catherine Lutz (Brown University)
David Price (St Martin's University)
David Vine (American University)