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CEAUSSIC publishes final report on HTS

15 December, 2009

The AAA Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities (CEAUSSIC) has published its final report on the Human Terrain System (HTS).  Here’s an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

When ethnographic investigation is determined by military missions, not subject to external review, where data collection occurs in the context of war, integrated into the goals of counterinsurgency, and in a potentially coercive environment – all characteristic factors of the HTS concept and its application – it can no longer be considered a legitimate professional exercise of anthropology.

In summary, while we stress that constructive engagement between anthropology and the military is possible, CEAUSSIC suggests that the AAA emphasize the incompatibility of HTS with disciplinary ethics and practice for job seekers and that it further recognize the problem of allowing HTS to define the meaning of “anthropology” within DoD.

The entire report can be read online at http://www.aaanet.org/cmtes/commissions/CEAUSSIC/upload/CEAUSSIC_HTS_Final_Report.pdf.

–L.L. Wynn

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jaap Timmer permalink
    15 December, 2009 5:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing this with us Lisa!

    As recently noted by John Burton on the ASAONET, the following 1967 statement is still up on the AAA website “Except in the event of a declaration of war by the Congress, academic institutions should not undertake activities or accept contracts in anthropology that are not related to their normal functions of teaching, research, and public service” (March 1967). http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/ethstmnt.htm.

    The US counterinsurgency program generating the friction among anthropologists is Human Terrain Systems (HTS) is a program with over 400 employees, originally operating through private contractors and now in the process of being taken over by the U.S. Army. Human Terrain embeds anthropologists with military units to ease the occupation and conquest of Iraqis and Afghanis. In light of the 1967 statement it is interesting to note that the war in Afghanistan appears to have been authorized by Congress on 3 Jan 2002 – http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/terrorism/sjres23.enr.html.

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