Military's Social Science Grants Raise Alarm
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post
Posted: August 8th, 2008
The Pentagon's $50 million Minerva Research Initiative, named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and warriors, will fund social science research deemed crucial to national security. Initial proposals were due July 25, and the first grants are expected to be awarded by year's end. But the Network of Concerned Anthropologists ... said dependence on Pentagon funding could make universities an "instrument rather than a critic of war-making." In a May 28 letter to federal officials, the American Anthropological Association said that ... its members are "deeply concerned that funding such research through the Pentagon may pose a potential conflict of interest." David Price, an anthropologist at St. Martin's University in Lacey, Wash., and the author of a book on anthropological intelligence in World War II, [said] the Pentagon effort is flawed. "It sets up sort of a Soviet system, or top-down system," Price said. "If you look at the big picture, this will not make us smarter -- this will make us much more narrow. It will only look at problems Defense wants us to in a narrow way." Recently, the Army's Human Terrain System has embedded social scientists in military units in Iraq and Afghanistan with the aim of helping commanders understand local culture and customs. The project has drawn criticism from many academics. Two scholars have been killed. The Network of Concerned Anthropologists, which describes itself as an advocate for ethical anthropology, said the research topics could "contribute to creating more national and human insecurity by trafficking in the construction of . . . a connection between Islam and violence."
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