Thursday, September 04, 2008

Culture Matters discussion on HTS

Some interesting debate over at Culture Matters about Steve Featherstone's piece on Human Terrain System (HTS) in the September issue of Harpers magazine.

Here's a extract by joneilortiz from a comment toward the end

"It doesn’t matter at what point in the “chain” these so-called anthropologists make their appearance when the whole chain itself is criminal. Likewise, the verdict does not change if it’s the doctor or some alleged terrorist that’s killed, or if someone other than the author of the HTS report calls the shots, or if any of many “inappropriate” actions are taken on its authority. The nitpicky debates over what HTS actions are considered “direct” are moot and disingenuous. Reading some of the comments, one gets the impression that should an HTS “anthropologist” get caught pulling the trigger, someone would pop up and argue that at least they didn’t load it."


Maximilian C. Forte said...

The debate is even more interesting, when you realize that the author of the Harper's article has been doing a tour of all the blogs to aggressively counteract any opinions critical of HTS. Interesting, because I did not expect Harper's magazine to pay its reporters to go out and battle bloggers, and I suspect another media plant.

Steven said...

Hi Max! I see we're on same tour. Not to get too nit-picky, but I do this out of vanity and because, at the moment, I am in between assignments. I _wish_ I was getting paid for it! Your conspiracies keep me entertained, though. Keep up the good work

Dylan said...

Hi Maximillian and Steven, from the original Harpers article that i read online before the cease and desist (sorry about that!) i came away feeling two things. One, the apologist nature of the piece, and two, a genuine attempt to show there were positive things one could take away about the collaboration of two very distinct fields.

As the quote I chose from the debate on Culture Matters indicates, i am not inclined to agree with the latter point, and well, the first covers itself.

If either of you are in Washington, DC on October 31st you should pop into the Public Anthropology conference at American University where there will be a panel about Anthropology and the Military. I belief an anthro about to deploy with HTS in Iraq has been invited alongside some one from the Concerned Anthro coalition, as well two others. not sure of there backgrounds but i'll post a link to the conference schedule when its available online.

Steven said...

Hi Dylan, could you please define what you mean by "apologist nature of the piece"? And in doing so, could you perhaps quote a line or two indicating such?

The conference panel sounds interesting. Do you know who'll be on it?

Dylan said...

I havent got any quotes currently as i dont have the article but im sure i could peruse one tomorrow and see if id be able to provide examples.

Off the top of my head it was what you didnt say that in my eyes marked it as apologist.

I will try to put more substance to that personal reflection on the piece when i have it in front of me again. I'll also provide more on the conference as i get it.

Steven said...

Thanks D., I'd appreciate that.

To reiterate something I've said a bunch of times on different blogs that I've been patrolling in order to quash dissent, the debate within the academic community about the HTS program wasn't in the scope of this article. That debate continues to be hashed out in a great detail in a wide range of venues, from conferences and blogs like yours, to national news outlets like Newsweek and the NY Times, to journals like The Chronicle of Higher Ed., and so on and so forth.

In my view, no story has provided sufficient context for why HTS has arrived now, at this historical moment, and furthermore, what this means for the future of U.S. foreign diplomacy.

Being the highly-educated professors that you are, I'm sure you can appreciate just how difficult it is to simply lay out the context behind a particular concept for a people who don't know the first thing about the concept.