AAA motion on SOUTHCOM

At the AAA business meeting, masquerading as the Krypton High Council...

[image credit to David Price; that's my head there]

...I presented a motion, which passed by a large majority.

Only one person voted no, a practicing anthropologist who thought it was unfair that no one from FIU was there. A number of people abstained (though far fewer than the yes votes). Interesting demographic tidbit- all the abstainers were lumpy middle-aged to old white men, whereas the yes votes were everyone else. Nothing against lumpy middle-aged to old white men; just an interesting bit of ethnographic data. The motion serves as an advisory to the executive board, whose members will now have to decide what they want to do with it.

Since I turned the in paper on which I wrote the motion (during the meeting, while the above picture was being taken), I don't have the exact wording, but it was something very close to this:

Motion condemning the FIU-SOUTHCOM "Strategic Culture" alliance

Whereas the AAA has condemned the U.S. Military's Human Terrain System; and

Whereas the militarization of the academy threatens academic integrity and independence; and

Whereas the occupation by the U.S. Military Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) of foreign sovereign nations in Latin America and the Caribbean has resulted in grievous harm to our colleagues and interlocutors in those countries, and has denied them the right to self-determination;

(I move that)
The AAA condemns the Florida International University-SOUTHCOM alliance created to elaborate "strategic culture" reports for Latin American and Caribbean countries.


lumpy old white guys

"just an interesting bit of ethnographic data" using that kind of description is not really an ethnographic description -it's a value statement. You may find the potentially unlumpy but clearly old male Howard Becker's book "Tricks of the Trade" a useful one to consult in terms of the ways in which (among other things) one describes ethnographic situations.


Let me translate that into palatable academese: Whereas those voting for the resolution represented a broad range of performed gender, ethnic, racial and age identities, it was curious to note that the abstainers appeared less demographically diverse, as those visible to this observer were uniformly of the male gender, and appeared to be approximately 45 years of age and older. The correlation between this group, which as a Durkheimian social fact (though not necessarily on the individual level) holds more social power than those in the former voting bloc, and the gendered interests of the military, is a possible topic for future investigation.

Or, I could just cut the bullshit and say lumpy old white men. Lumpy old white male anthropologists had the whole of the eighties to claim their victimhood and central subject position, and one useful thing we learned from that unfortunate extended postmodern moment is that all ethnographic writing is a value judgment. If my sarcasm is more important to you than the fact that the academy is being militarized with the aim of better killing the people we study and preventing their self-determination—and that those anthropologists most likely to defend it appear to be those who most benefit from the power structure—I worry for the future of anthropology. You may find the article "The Postmodernist Turn in Anthropology: Cautions from a Feminist Perspective," Mascia-Lees, Frances E, Patricia Sharpe, and Colleen Ballerino Cohen useful.