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Two trends

23 January, 2007

Two trends in anthropology are becoming visible through the conference circuit. The ASA is devoting its 2007 annual meeting to “Thinking Through Tourism” (www.theasa.org/asa07). This is quite a sea change, considering five years ago hardly any anthropologists thought tourism was more than a sort of frivolous epiphenomenon of society.

The other trend is that anthropology is beginning to digest the new calls on it from government, military and intelligence (primarily in the US, and to some extent the UK and Australia) to provide “expertise” in “the War on Terror.” The first reaction to CIA recruiting was an uproar in the AAA and a committee that was organised within the organisation to deal with this concern. But now people, it seems, are beginning to reflect about this “cultural turn in the War on Terror,” as Hugh Gusterson called it at the panel organised at the AAA in San Jose last November (http://www.aaanet.org/press/an/0107/albro.html). Interestingly, this panel brought together prominent critics (including Laura Nader) with anthropologists who actually work for the US military, including Australian Montgomery McFate.

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