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Anthropological Engagements with Military and Intelligence Agencies: History, Ethics, Politics and Structural Limits

204 Maxwell Hall

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Anthropologist David Price draws on archival materials, oral history interviews, as well as extensive documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to consider the impacts of a wide variety of historical interactions between anthropologists and American military and intelligence agencies. Discussing FBI and CIA FOIA documents, Price summarizes some of the recurrent political and structural issues that have historically restricted the types of impacts that anthropologists and other social scientists have been able to enact in the civilian, military and intelligence agencies where they have worked. Price also draws on FOIA FBI documents to consider how narrowly confined constructions of acceptable political perspectives have traditionally been used by the FBI in governmental vetting procedures to limit the sort of views allowed to contribute to policy formation or in some instances, to limit scholars' interactions with academic colleagues. David Price is a Professor of Anthropology at St. Martin's University in Lacey, Washington where he teaches courses in anthropology and social justice. He is writing a three volume series of books examining American anthropologists' interactions with intelligence agencies: Threatening Anthropology (2004, Duke) examines McCarthyism's effects on anthropologists, Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War (2008, Duke) documents anthropological contributions to the Second World War, and a third volume will explore anthropologists’ interactions with the CIA and Pentagon during the Cold War.  

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Exterior of Maxwell in black and white when there was no Eggers building

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To mark our centennial in the fall of 2024, the Maxwell School will hold special events and engagement opportunities to celebrate the many ways—across disciplines and borders—our community ever strives to, as the Oath says, “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Throughout the year leading up to the centennial, engagement opportunities will be held for our diverse, highly accomplished community that now boasts more than 38,500 alumni across the globe.