Embedded Cultural Intelligence: Militarised Anthropology and Counterinsurgency in Contemporary States of Emergency and Intervention

June 23, 2012

Dr David Hyndman and Dr Scott Flower

The debate over anthropology and the security state continues and within the discipline of anthropology itself proponents of the debate initially focussed on America’s latest efforts to ‘militarise’ and ‘weaponize’ the discipline through the Human Terrain System (HTS) such as Weaponizing Anthropology (by Price) and American Counterinsurgency: Human Science and the Human Terrain (by Gonzalez). Several recent books such as The New Imperialism: Militarism, Humanism and Occupation (edited by Forte), Dangerous Liaisons (edited by McNamara and Rubenstein), Anthropologists in the Securityscape (edited by Albro), Peacekeeping under Fire (by Rubenstein), Humanitarians in Hostile Territory (by Van Arsdale) and Contemporary States of Emergency (edited by Fassin and Pandolfi) have started addressing the increasing convergence and cooperation between civil/humanitarian and military organisations and the role of anthropology/anthropologists across the gamut of contemporary interventions, ranging from counterinsurgency to peacekeeping and disaster response.

Overlooked in the recent quest for ‘cultural intelligence’ has been the efforts of other ‘Anglo-Saxon’ countries to also develop military capabilities to better understand culture and cultural factors of violence and conflict behaviour using anthropology and recruiting anthropologists. Interest in how cultural intelligence can be collected and used has increased in the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ world through formalised arrangements such as the ABCA (America, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) militaries. For the latter group of countries British settler colonialism is a unifying theme underlying the recent ABCA military interest in anthropology. ABCA countries are reaching for the tools used to understand and manage the self-determination claims of indigenous nations where their strategic interests are at stake. Human terrain as global ethnographic surveillance, to borrow from Ferguson in Dangerous Liaisons, is a common interest among ABCA countries today because past settler colonialism cannot be demarcated from struggles in the present; therefore anthropology of colonialism is concerned with contemporary anthropology as well as the colonial circumstances from which it emerged.

Keal, in European Conquest and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, includes the ABCA military countries in the inner circle of rich, liberal states that constitute international society and determine the conditions and status of membership. Resistance to this by states and indigenous peoples who do not share those values is already a source of disruption to international order. For just relations between settler societies and indigenous peoples there must be mutual agreement about conditions of sharing that space, the alternatives are denial of rights or removal of indigenous peoples that are unacceptable moral alternatives in the twenty-first century. This research project contextualises the relationship between indigenous peoples, anthropology and the military around past settler colonialism in the ABCA military countries and presents contemporary indigenous nation political movements and conflicts as scenes of civil-military interventions and counterinsurgency.

Dr David Hyndman and Dr Scott Flower respectfully ask for your participation in a survey. You can help us learn more about what anthropologists have to say about the contested contemporary issue of recruitment of anthropologists into and use of anthropological methods by western military forces to assist in counterinsurgency and civil-military relations for stabilisation and peacekeeping. Our research comparatively examines the development of cultural intelligence capabilities by American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand (ABCA) militaries and seeks to understand the views of anthropologists within these countries regarding such developments.

The survey will take approximately 15 minutes and asks questions about:

  • What degree do anthropologists support or oppose their discipline being used by the military for civil-military operations
  • What grounds do anthropologists base their support or opposition to use of their discipline
  • Views on the differences between counterinsurgency and civil-military relations in stabilisation, peace-building and conflict prevention.

To take the survey please click here. Your responses will be anonymous and confidential, to view human research ethics approval click on the provided link.

Dr. David Hyndman
Senior Visiting Fellow
School of Business
UNSW Canberra
ACT 2610
Australia

 

Entry filed under: Contributions. Tags: , , , .

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