AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
This paper may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists     Students  Students
Type: Paper
Paper Title: STRATEGIC CULTURE ANALYSES BY THE U.S. MILITARY: IS THERE A ROLE FOR ANTHROPOLOGISTS?
Author: CAROLINE CONZELMAN (University Centers of the San Miguel)   
Date/Time: Wed., 12:30 PM
Co-Author(s): CAROLINE CONZELMAN (University Centers of the San Miguel) 
Abstract: The United States Military, through SOUTHCOM (U.S. Southern Command, which encompasses Central and South America), is currently undertaking a series of politico-cultural analyses of ten Latin American countries that revives a cold war term called “strategic culture.” SOUTHCOM defines strategic culture as “the combination of internal and external influences and experiences…that shape and influence the way a country understands its relationship to the rest of the world, and how a state will behave in the international community.” By convening academic research workshops of invited subject-matter experts from the U.S. and each country under discussion, SOUTHCOM claims to be taking a “multifaceted cultural approach to the study of Latin America.” But what is the “culture” in strategic culture? And how might anthropologists make a useful contribution to these types of analyses that the U.S. military carries out regarding the countries where we work? I was invited to participate in SOUTHCOM’s workshop on Bolivia earlier this year, where I was the only cultural anthropologist on the panel. This paper argues that our contributions in such an environment can be extremely valuable, not only for the expertise that we can provide related to our subject area, but perhaps more importantly for the perspective that we can provide on the models and objectives contained in U.S. foreign policy agendas. While carefully crafting our statements to avoid betraying sensitive information, anthropologists can also encourage U.S. officials to engage in self-reflexivity, and to approach their analyses with a measure of humility and an open mind.

Program Number: 1-0090
Session Title: DISCOURSE, ENGAGEMENT, AND ETHNOGRAPHY: TOPICS IN LOCAL AND GLOBAL PRACTICE
Session Sponsor: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology
Session Date/Time: Wed., 12:00 PM-1:45 PM
Organizer(s): ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAM COMMITTEE (AAA) 
Chair(s): RICARDO CONTRERAS  
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