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Amy Mountcastle and James Armstrong

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Obama’s War and Anthropology: Ethical Issues and Militarizing Anthropology

This article explores the current debate among anthropologists concerning the uses of anthropological expertise in and by the US Department of Defense to prosecute the war on terror, specifically the counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the most significant debates in anthropology of the decade, questions of ethics collide with a number of motivating factors that might compel anthropologists to use anthropological methods, knowledge, and expertise in service of the military. What are some of the opposing and supporting arguments for this? Can anthropologists do good by embedding in military units to collect data on insurgents? The authors set out to untangle some of the issues that have come to light and offer food-for-thought as anthropologists and social scientists grapple with this issue.

human terrain, anthropological ethics, counterinsurgency, Afghanistan

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 160-174.

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