Skip to content

Minerva awards announced – no anthropologists funded

5 October, 2009

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has just announced the winners of the first round of research funded under the Minerva Initiative.  This was a joint process whereby the National Science Foundation (NSF) and DoD determined funding for research on “Social and Behavioral Dimensions of National Security, Conflict and Cooperation” — i.e. social science research deemed of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy.  You can go to the DoD media release for more details, but in case you’re wondering if David Vine’s proposed Minerva research got funded, the answer is no.

There were four topic areas  for the NSF solicitation: authoritarian regimes, the strategic impact of religious and cultural change, terrorist organizations and ideologies, and new dimensions in national security.  17 men were funded, compared to 6 women (1 man and 1 woman were both funded for more than one project).  I did a quick search on the departmental affiliations of each grantee to try to determine disciplinary background, and as far as I can tell, no anthropologists were funded.  The disciplinary breakdown is: 14 political scientists, 6 economists, 3 sociologists, 2 psychologists, 1 linguist, 1 communications studies researcher, and 1 computer scientist were funded.

Of course, what we don’t know is what proposed research projects and disciplines were not funded.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 October, 2009 5:37 am

    So, is this good or bad?

  2. 6 October, 2009 8:22 pm

    Depends on how you feel about anthropological knowledge being used to shape US foreign policy, TTD! Good or bad, I don’t know, but either way, I don’t think that this really tells us much at all, because we don’t know who applied for the funding, only who got funded. Did no anthropologists apply? Then that tells us about anthropologists’ lack of interest in engaging with foreign policy makers and/or unwillingness to receive military funding for their research. Or did several anthropologists apply, but none get funded? Then that tells us more about the U.S. government’s interest in anthropological knowledge. Maybe when I get some spare time I’ll try to track down how many people applied and didn’t get funded, and what disciplines the rejected applicants represent.

  3. Liam permalink
    7 October, 2009 11:56 am

    Nicely put, Lisa! I’d be really interested to hear what you find out (in that copious spare time of yours –LOL) 🙂

  4. 7 October, 2009 1:20 pm

    OK Liam, the pressure (from you and from me!) is on, so I just wrote to the NSF requesting a list of the unsuccessful projects and the disciplinary affiliations of unsuccessful applicants. I’ll post to Culture Matters any response I get from them.

  5. fred frisbee permalink
    8 October, 2009 5:09 am

    I think they’re scared of us.

  6. Ben permalink
    15 October, 2009 5:03 am


    I’m just referring to a post of Max Forte that claims:

    “(2) While some are saying that no anthropologist has been awarded a Minerva grant, that is not correct. Mark Woodward, of Arizona State University (…) is in fact a cultural anthropologist who teaches in the Department of Religious Studies”

    See the blog: ” “.


  7. 2 November, 2009 10:58 am

    Thanks, Ben, for pointing out Max’s correction. Meanwhile, an update for Liam: NSF refuses to provide any info (even disciplinary affiliations) of unsuccessful applicants. I presume I’d have to file a FOIA request to find that out. I wrote to David Vine to ask him if he ever applied for the Minerva funding to research “how overseas military bases affect relations with other nations, how they’ve damaged our international reputation and how they’ve damaged the lives of people around the world” (see for where he suggested this as a Minerva project), and he said that no, in the end he didn’t apply to Minerva for funding, but he has started research on that project.


  1. Savage Minds Around the Web | Savage Minds

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: