Letter to an FIU anthropologist

Dear X,

Thanks for writing. It's nice to meet you electronically. I have outlined my concerns over the program in several articles, blog posts and letters over the past month, some of which can be seen here and on my website here.

The text of the AAA motion, which is an advisory to the board, is roughly as follows (I handed in the exact copy, so a few words may be off):

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.

I want to stress that in no way do I mean to imply that the students or faculty of FIU are complicit in what is going on with SOUTHCOM, and indeed I have been in contact with a number of FIU faculty and students who had either themselves spoken out against the SOUTHCOM alliance previously or who became alarmed about what has been happening at the school without their knowledge upon seeing my articles and letters. This is ultimately not about FIU per se, although I see the ARC alliance as being a particularly dangerous example of the militarization of the academy, and a direct threat to the lives and safety of my friends and colleagues throughout Latin America. I have spoken out against my own university for its affiliation with the School of the Americas and for legitimizing coup plotters and war criminals through honorary professorships, just as I have spoken out against Álvaro Uribe's honorary professor position at Georgetown. I believe that if there is one thing we have learned from over a century of military cooptation of anthropologists and abuse of anthropological concepts, it is that we must follow Franz Boas's lead in standing firm against both the militarization of the academy, and the (pseudo-)academization of a military engaged not in wars of self defense, but of occupation and against the self-determination of other nations. I am a proud member of NAPA, and deeply believe that as anthropologists we have an ethical obligation to be engaged in meaningful ways with the "real world" outside the ivory tower. I also firmly believe that that engagement must itself be guided by ethical principles, first and foremost of those being to not participate in harming the people we study.


Adrienne Pine
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, American University
Blog: http://quotha.net/
Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras: http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10769.php