SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Small Wars Participants & Stakeholders > Social Sciences, Moral, and Religious

Social Sciences, Moral, and Religious Applying the soft sciences and higher laws.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-20-2007   #21
goesh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,188
Default The Final Frontier

~~ these are the voyages of certain Anthropologists who boldly go where no other Anthropologists will go, into the realms of understanding that involve military forces and indigenous forces, their mission, to faciliate cultural awareness and understanding and the reduction of violence amongst humans, regardless of which political party occupies the White House~~ all I need is a theme song to accompany this and Madonna type themes will be rejected upon receipt - personally I think a Wagnerian type genre should be used
goesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #22
Stan
Council Member
 
Stan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Estonia
Posts: 3,817
Default

Hmmm, how do I set this laser printer to stun ?

Sarcasm is just one more service we offer here in the Baltics
Stan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #23
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

I've been following this for several days now on a confidential list serve I'm on, as you might imagine, and I am somewhat encouraged by the reactions I have seen from some of my fellow Anthropologists - mainly from those who refuse to sign the "pledge" for reasons of principle.

I also think that the "pledge" itself contains certain contradictory assumptions that are, to my mind, indicative of an ideological stance that I consider to be unethical. In particular, the "pledge" states

Quote:
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
Nowhere in all of the discussions surrounding this issue have I found any interest or concern with studying all of the roots behind the current conflicts - it is all focused on studying how the West is to blame. To me, this is a theoretically and ethically debunk position.

On the theoretical level, it reverts to a crude "Us" (the West) vs. "Them" (all others) typology where the potential for action is a priori assigned solely to "Us". By denying that "They" can commit action (only reaction) the "pledge" is an insult to "Them" implying, in no uncertain terms, that "They" are incapable of making any meaningful action, and hence having a responsibility for that action.

Furthermore, I find this position to be useless in any scientific sense. The dichotomy underlying their position means that they cannot examine any of the roots of violence (including torture, death squads, terror attacks using car bomb and gas tankers) without concluding that it is simply a reaction to Western aggression. Possibly we should be thankful that they pledge themselves not to "undertake research or other activities in support of counter-insurgency work in Iraq or in related theaters in the “war on terror” " since we already know what their results would be.

On the ethical level, by denying the potential of meaningful action to "Them", I believe that they are denying a core quality of what makes people "human". In effect, they are using the same arguments as the worst of the Colonialists did but to a different purpose. Rather than having even a thin veneer of justification for that ideological position, say an "attempt to 'civilize'" the "savages", they are using the pain and suffering of all involved in the current conflicts to justify an imposition of what I can only call thought control upon their own discipline and, by extension, on the Academy and the populace. If I were to translate how I see this "pledge" into terms most people on the SWC will easily understand, I view this as the middle-to-end of a Stage 1, Classic Maoist insurgency conducted not with guns, but with ideas.

Marc
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #24
goesh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,188
Default Academic Intimidation

I am reminded too of the communist witch hunt of the McCarthy era in which a goodly number of artists refused to cave in to the blackballing and intimidation. More recently, there was the attempt to boycott Israeli scholars and intellectuals in England.

"On the theoretical level, it reverts to a crude "Us" (the West) vs. "Them" (all others) typology where the potential for action is a priori assigned solely to "Us". (Marct)

Well said, Sir! Once I get a theme song and ship, I'm nominating you to be the Captain as you are in the forefront of the charge against ignorance and bullying by people who should know better. Stan will have to salute you then.
goesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #25
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi Goesh,

Quote:
Originally Posted by goesh View Post
I am reminded too of the communist witch hunt of the McCarthy era in which a goodly number of artists refused to cave in to the blackballing and intimidation. More recently, there was the attempt to boycott Israeli scholars and intellectuals in England.
Agreed, the mechanism is very similar. I keep getting reminded of the dynamics of the Witchcraft trials in Europe . Anyway, there is a truly excellent book by Gustav Henningsen, The Witches Advocate, that really looks at this dynamic, although his focus is the Basque Trials of 1609-1614. Well worth reading for anyone interested in how thought control has been institutionalized.

Quote:
Originally Posted by goesh View Post
Quote:
"On the theoretical level, it reverts to a crude "Us" (the West) vs. "Them" (all others) typology where the potential for action is a priori assigned solely to "Us". (Marct)
Well said, Sir! Once I get a theme song and ship, I'm nominating you to be the Captain as you are in the forefront of the charge against ignorance and bullying by people who should know better. Stan will have to salute you then.
LOLOL - just, PLEASE, don't use a patter song!
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #26
goesh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,188
Default The Stake and the Petition

It is more serious than I surmised if the excesses of the witchcraft trials are coming to your mind. Come to think of it, I have come across more than one blog author who went the anonymous route because of their Conservative bent and fear of 'in-house retaliation' by those of the Liberal persuasion, not that peer reviews and issues of tenure and budgeting would ever be impacted by such things. No! I will not be the one to pee on the foundations of the ivory tower in such a manner and say it's true. Hope does float however. It hasn't been that long since I saw where a former Soc. Prof. of mine had signed a petition against the petition to boycott Israeli scholars and said Prof. is a raging Liberal if ever one walked our earth.

I'm sticking with Wagner as a theme by the way, though a couple of Elvis songs have been nominated already.

Last edited by goesh; 09-20-2007 at 06:25 PM. Reason: typo
goesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #27
Steve Blair
Moderator
 
Steve Blair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Montana
Posts: 3,195
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
Agreed, the mechanism is very similar. I keep getting reminded of the dynamics of the Witchcraft trials in Europe . Anyway, there is a truly excellent book by Gustav Henningsen, The Witches Advocate, that really looks at this dynamic, although his focus is the Basque Trials of 1609-1614. Well worth reading for anyone interested in how thought control has been institutionalized.
And in an interesting aside, we have this BBC story about a later period "witchcraft" trial that may be coming back to haunt some people.
__________________
"On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War
Steve Blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #28
wm
Council Member
 
wm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: On the Lunatic Fringe
Posts: 1,237
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by goesh View Post
~~ these are the voyages of certain Anthropologists who boldly go where no other Anthropologists will go, into the realms of understanding that involve military forces and indigenous forces, their mission, to faciliate cultural awareness and understanding and the reduction of violence amongst humans, regardless of which political party occupies the White House~~ all I need is a theme song to accompany this and Madonna type themes will be rejected upon receipt - personally I think a Wagnerian type genre should be used
While using Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" has merit, I think Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (the 2001 A Space Odyssey theme music) has much to recommend itself as well, especially if you use the visual from 2001 of the primate starting to use the bone as a club as the backdrop for the narration of your proposed script. After all, we are talking about anthropologists aren't we?
wm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #29
goesh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,188
Default Driving Scholars to Their Bunkers

Excellent choice, Wm. There was a Jimmi Hendrix nomination which I felt might give 'Nam vets on hand flashbacks so I scratched it. I'm waiting for Stan's theme nomination. What has our world come to when scholars feel they are in the figurative gun sites of colleagues? I recall in one blog a couple years back the author telling me if she ever spoke her true feelings about the war and terrorism, she would be ostracized by most of her colleagues and the one's sympathetic would be afraid to even speak up on her behalf. I vividly recall her words, "I would be sitting alone in the faculty lounge". Weeping Jesus! Have we reached the apex of evolution already? I think Marct was not jesting when he said this petition business causes him think of the witch hunts of medieval times.
goesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #30
Danny
Council Member
 
Danny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Posts: 141
Default Mental Pygmies

goesh,

I seriously doubt that anyone who would be persuaded to serve in this capacity in the first place would be persuaded otherwise by "pressure" from colleagues. The real point of my article was to convey my disgust at the pusillanimous behavior of the mental Pygmies who started the petition. The same cowards who would themselves be persuaded by peer pressure of this sort are the ones who attempt to do it to others. Fortunately, the people they try to bully are of a different lot.
Danny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #31
Rex Brynen
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 1,599
Default social scientists and "armed social science"

I think there are two issues here.

The first is the petition, and its explicit assumption that anthropologists supporting COIN in Afghanistan are engaged in a fundamentally immoral activity. Here much depends on one's view of legitimacy (and in both cases, one would have thought that the fact that the missions are endorsed by both the local elected government and the UN Security Council ought to count for something).

The second issue is the tensions that arise from one's professional responsibility as a social scientist, and one's potential function as a counter-insurgent. Academic social scientists are suppose to live by a series of research ethics that, for example, require disclosure research project to most interviewees, disclosure of data and findings, informed consent, and very stringent safeguards for interviewing involuntary subjects (such as prisoners) or those otherwise unable to give informed consent. HUMINT collection, IO, PSYOPS, etc all work rather differently, as does providing professional advice in these areas. There are some potentially troubling professional and ethical implications of moving back and forth between both worlds.

I suspect most SWJ readers would take it as a given that I shouldn't divulge TS/SCI information in the classroom, even if it assisted in the noble enterprise of teaching. Also problematic, however, would be using data gathered confidentially, for particular academic purposes, and passing it on in rich detail to military/government actors with whom the interviewee would not have willingly shared it. Doing so not only violates professional ethics, but potentially endangers later academic researchers.

Frankly, its probably a good idea that professional organizations (and the military) reflect on this--and how any potential conflicts between the universes be dealt with.
Rex Brynen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #32
Stan
Council Member
 
Stan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Estonia
Posts: 3,817
Default

Quote:
Because they consider the original invasion to be unwarranted, they will take no part of a successful counterinsurgency. Rather, they will try to bully other anthropologists into the same position with a childish “petition” (as if other Doctors of Philosophy in anthropology are incapable of making their own minds up about what they consider to be ethical use of their knowledge).
Sounds like this thread goes straight back to Marc's "Why Doctor Johnny won't go to war".
I won't even pretend to understand the pathetic attack that Doctors McFate and Price concocted stressing the need for 'crytical 'self' evaluation' and freely using native populations as if we were all in Africa fighting the Pygmies for floor space in the jungle.

McFate wastes no time 'stressing' the need to read his book - before even going anywhere with some credible point (other than chewing on Marc for punctuation). That probably kept me from even giving his book a second thought.

Well, that's my take...confusion, when one considers the immense amount of intelligence these individuals have, yet are content to go to the grave with it despite soldiers and 'natives' dying all around them.

Now to Goesh.
Probably one of my favorites from the Vietnam Era, and seems appropriate is by the Animals: ‘We Gotta Get Out of this Place’

Way Off Topic, but short:
Talk to any vet (I have several times during the annual 'Ride to the Wall') and you'll soon discover how much they related to individual songs and the musicians that created them. One very crusty SGM told me how hard it was to discuss his experience, because he felt the language of our politicians was inadequate to describe the war.

Although I like your current choice, my second would have to be "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding.

Regards, Stan
Stan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #33
wm
Council Member
 
wm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: On the Lunatic Fringe
Posts: 1,237
Question Star Trek redux

Even Captains Kirk and Picard felt compelled to disobey the Prime Directive once and while. Are the academic anthropologists pushing this petition sewn together with stronger moral thread than these two heroic icons?

Last edited by wm; 09-20-2007 at 09:33 PM.
wm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #34
Rex Brynen
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 1,599
Default to boldly go...

Quote:
Originally Posted by wm View Post
Even Captains Kirk and Picard felt compelled to disobey the Prime Directive once and while. Are the academic anthropologists pushing this petition sewn together with stronger moral thread than these to heroic icons?
Ahh, now we're really talking in my area of expertise

Rex Brynen, "Mirror, Mirror? The Politics of TV Science Fiction." In David Schultz, ed., It's Showtime! Media, Politics and Popular Culture (Baltimore: Peter Lang, 2000). (version here)
Rex Brynen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2007   #35
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi Stan,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan View Post
Sounds like this thread goes straight back to Marc's "Why Doctor Johnny won't go to war".
It is all part of the same issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan View Post
I won't even pretend to understand the pathetic attack that Doctors McFate and Price concocted stressing the need for 'crytical 'self' evaluation' and freely using native populations as if we were all in Africa fighting the Pygmies for floor space in the jungle.
Um, McFate? She is the one who has been vilified to most by the Price Gusterson crowd who wrote the "pledge". It think you have her confused with someone else, Stan .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan View Post
Well, that's my take...confusion, when one considers the immense amount of intelligence these individuals have, yet are content to go to the grave with it despite soldiers and 'natives' dying all around them.
And that is a moral argument that, IMO, has a chunk of weight.

It goes back to what Rex was talking about regarding professional codes of ethics (aka professional morality).

Quote:
The second issue is the tensions that arise from one's professional responsibility as a social scientist, and one's potential function as a counter-insurgent. Academic social scientists are suppose to live by a series of research ethics that, for example, require disclosure research project to most interviewees, disclosure of data and findings, informed consent, and very stringent safeguards for interviewing involuntary subjects (such as prisoners) or those otherwise unable to give informed consent. HUMINT collection, IO, PSYOPS, etc all work rather differently, as does providing professional advice in these areas. There are some potentially troubling professional and ethical implications of moving back and forth between both worlds.
I agree, there are some troubling implications about shifting back and forth. But I think that one reason behind the existence of the professional moral codes that has not been examined is that they serve as a guarantor to the state which, ultimately, serves to legitimate and legitimize these professions. This, in turn, implies that these codes are no more that prophylactic mechanisms to avoid state and/or popular censure - a guarantee of moral "purity" as it were.

Marc
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-21-2007   #36
Stan
Council Member
 
Stan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Estonia
Posts: 3,817
Default

Hey Marc !

Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
Hi Stan,

Um, McFate? She is the one who has been vilified to most by the Price Gusterson crowd who wrote the "pledge". It think you have her confused with someone else, Stan .
Doctor Montgomery McFate is a she ? Jeez, and I thought I had a hard time going to school with my first name

It's no wonder then why she has such a pesky demeanor !

Regards, Stan
Stan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-21-2007   #37
Rex Brynen
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 1,599
Default ...she turned me into a newt!

To be frank, I think the witchcraft analogies here are rather overblown. The petition (which I certainly wouldn't sign were I an anthropologist) doesn't suggest any restriction or sanction upon anthropologists who do work with the military--it merely represents a statement by its signatories that they personally won't do so. It is hardly a threat to professional, academic freedom.

Teaching in a department where faculty opinions have run from very conservative to Marxist, I don't think (in general) we're in anyone sights, or hunkered in anyone's bunkers.

Finally, let me once more disengage the politics behind the petition from the very real issue of managing research ethics. While Marc is right that professional ethical standards (and research ethics boards) serve as a kind of ritualized inoculation against criticism, they are also vitally important. Especially for those of us doing research in conflict zones, failure to maintain ethical standards can hurt, even kill, people. Issues of source anonymity are important where research interviewees are at personal risk (I've had three of them assassinated after interviews, although I hasten to add there was no connection!). Credibility is essential, since researchers do their work without PSDs (I've been taken on car rides to unknown destinations by armed insurgents, had guns pointed at me by nervous conscripts, been arrested and shaken down by secret police, had my belongings searched by security services trolling for data on my research contacts more times than I can count, and have even been accused of being a spy once--and it sure helped that my reputation was clean and well documented). I've also had to warn colleagues that their research might put subjects at risk if they fail to maintain interviewee anonymity, or where detainees were involved and might be being abused by their jailers as a consequence of interviews.

The development of appropriate ethical guidelines for social scientists--or more especially for those social scientists moving between the academic and military worlds--would, I think, be a rather useful thing for all concerned.
Rex Brynen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-21-2007   #38
goesh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,188
Default

Between theory and application lies a bridge of assumption in which one camp insists the other is soley out to employ violence as a means of attaining and maintaining power and control. This is the basis of the petition(s) and censure in the academic arena and the grounds for unwritten blacklists, snubbing and other juvenile conduct in which 'those to be gotten' are easily identified by political party affiliation and/or support of direct action against people trying to kill us and our allies. The camp of the latter has never claimed to be in sole possession of reason and at least respects the continum of history rife with conflict and aggression. I contend that a goodly number in the camp of the former are unable to accept the fact that military professionals do not want aggression and killing and that is a failure of reason.

It's a hard choice between Stan's nomination for theme song and that of Wm.
goesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-21-2007   #39
Stan
Council Member
 
Stan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Estonia
Posts: 3,817
Default Anthropologists and the Military’s Human Terrain System

The Human Terrain System - An intriguing article from Ethnography with a hint of support.

I feel certain Marc will have a few comments, so let the games begin

Quote:
One anthropologist that is a member of the HTS project is Marcus Griffin, on a year long leave from his job teaching anthropology at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. Marcus has been blogging about his experience working with the army. It’s rare that anthropologists get this kind of insider look at what it’s like to work directly with the military. Surprise! Despite what all your teachers have told you, working with the military is NOT evil….

Posted by Mark Dawson on September 16th, 2007
One Response to “Anthropologists and the Military’s Human Terrain System”

Quote:
Mark, this is another interesting coincidence with the content of the Anthropology Newsletter for Sept (table of contents and some content links here). There is a particularly nuanced examination by Greg Starrett of whether AAA should publish announcements from intelligence and military agencies. He argues, in part, that we anthropologists are all grown-ups, and don’t need to be sheltered by our organization from the Big Bad Whatever. He further points out that depriving military and intelligence agencies of anthropological knowledge is not for the greater good. I tend to agree–think how much worse things would be if we didn’t have anthropologists involved! Laura Nader’s comment is that of the idealist–we should only publish the announcements, or get involved with those agencies as researchers, if we can have complete control over our data and the circumstances of our research (obviously, I am paraphrasing and interpreting here).
To which I say: when do we ever have complete control? Funding agencies, logistics, everyday life, all of these things serve to constrict the circumstances of our research. We do the best we can, given what we know at the time. If we were to wait for perfect circumstances, we’d never get anything done.
Goesh, I dunno which song would be better. WM's primate with a bone is pretty far fetched, but just might be the ticket. Perhaps we could work the monkey in somewhere with a 70's tune or two

Regards, Stan
Stan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-21-2007   #40
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi Rex,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
To be frank, I think the witchcraft analogies here are rather overblown. The petition (which I certainly wouldn't sign were I an anthropologist) doesn't suggest any restriction or sanction upon anthropologists who do work with the military--it merely represents a statement by its signatories that they personally won't do so. It is hardly a threat to professional, academic freedom.
Taken in and of itself, I would agree. I do still feel that there are fatal flaws in its wording - for example, it doesn't pledge that the signatories will not be involved as insurgents, just counter-insurgency!

I used the witchcraft analogies partly because I know the dynamics of them so well and they are, quite frankly, somewhat terrifying - at least in terms of social movement dynamics. The first main cycle of witch crazes (~1490's to 1530's) started against the express wishes of the Catholic Church as the result of two psychotics Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger publishing (illegally I might add!) the Malleus Maleficarum or "The Hammer of Witches". Within the space of 10 years, this had completely recreated the popular understanding of "witchcraft" and led to over 1000 deaths.

Now, I truly doubt that anything like that would happen at the immediate moment, but the dynamic is the crucial part - it completely restructured the narrative surrounding "witchcraft", moving it from a form of paganism and "delusion" to a form of Christian Heresy and, hence, the rightful prey of the Inquisition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
Teaching in a department where faculty opinions have run from very conservative to Marxist, I don't think (in general) we're in anyone sights, or hunkered in anyone's bunkers.
Honestly, my department (actually Institute, not department) is strongly on the left. Despite that, there is a fantastic sense of collegiality and absolutely no attacks on anyone at all about their research. I have had colleagues express their concerns to me about my research interests, but it has always been in the form of concern for myself and my career.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
Finally, let me once more disengage the politics behind the petition from the very real issue of managing research ethics.
Absolutely! My objections are at the political and ideological (okay, and theoretical) levels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
While Marc is right that professional ethical standards (and research ethics boards) serve as a kind of ritualized inoculation against criticism, they are also vitally important. Especially for those of us doing research in conflict zones, failure to maintain ethical standards can hurt, even kill, people. Issues of source anonymity are important where research interviewees are at personal risk (I've had three of them assassinated after interviews, although I hasten to add there was no connection!). Credibility is essential, since researchers do their work without PSDs (I've been taken on car rides to unknown destinations by armed insurgents, had guns pointed at me by nervous conscripts, been arrested and shaken down by secret police, had my belongings searched by security services trolling for data on my research contacts more times than I can count, and have even been accused of being a spy once--and it sure helped that my reputation was clean and well documented). I've also had to warn colleagues that their research might put subjects at risk if they fail to maintain interviewee anonymity, or where detainees were involved and might be being abused by their jailers as a consequence of interviews.
Absolutely! While I haven't researched in war zones, I have conducted research in situations where any loss of anonymity can have serious personal consequences, including death. I have worked with informants who have had their houses burned down, who have been fired from their jobs and who have had their children taken away from them as a result of their religious beliefs. I have also worked with people who are on the tipping edge of suicide / homicide.

I am a firm believer in "sanitizing" fieldnotes so that any identifying traces are eliminated unless people specifically request and require that I use their names (it's happened, and caused my ethics oversight committees problems ). Like you, Rex, I've also talked with colleagues and students over the absolute importance of anonymity and, also, the potential psychological damage that can happen while engaged in fieldwork. It's also one of the reasons I was so opposed to the original HTT proposal - they were going to keep databases of informants with identifying features in them and turn all of that over to the Iraqi government - I can't thnk of anything mre likely to create a bloodbath!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
The development of appropriate ethical guidelines for social scientists--or more especially for those social scientists moving between the academic and military worlds--would, I think, be a rather useful thing for all concerned.
Definitely, and I am all in favour of it. The AAA has struck a committee to do exactly that (I was interviewed by Laura McNamara for it) and I am very hopeful that they will come up with a good set of guidelines. BTW, Laura has been posting at Savage Minds on some of the issues being raised by Gusterson and Price. Her posts are well worth looking at and reading one, in particular, was what sparked my thinking to the analogy of the witch trials.

Rex, I am in full support of having a set of open and transparent research guidelines that are understood by all stakeholders and that have some teeth in them. What I am opposed to is the construction of a set of guidelines that are based on political ideology and are only enforceable by the development of a "thought police". I want to make it clear that I do NOT believe that this is the intention behind Hugh Gusterson and David Prices' stance - I think they are truly concerned over what might happen. I do, however, believe that they are jumping to unwarranted conclusions based on an ideological stance and that they are setting in motion forces that could lead to the marginalization of Anthropology. I also find the implications of their position to be ethically repugnant in that they are attempting to exert a moral force to withhold information and expertise that could save lives.

Marc
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Terrorism in the USA:threat & response SWJED Law Enforcement 486 11-27-2016 02:35 PM
Human Terrain Team study Michael Davies RFIs & Members' Projects 0 10-02-2011 02:20 AM
Human Terrain Team Member Killed in Afghanistan SWJED OEF - Afghanistan 0 05-09-2008 09:05 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 09:46 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation