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Title: Human Terrain System, or a New Anthropology in a New Era


Drozdowicz, Jarema

Date issued/created:


Resource Type:



Ethnologia Polona 31-32 (2010-2011)


Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Sciences

Place of publishing:



24 cm


Contemporary warfare seems to have great influence on the way the social sciences position themselves within the socio-political contexts of today. This is being implemented in many cases through the geopolitical context of 9/11 and the fall of former centres of power (the end of the Cold War). Cultural anthropology, which shared a similar dilemma in the formative period of its own history, provides us with one of the most controversial examples in this matter. A program initiated by the U.S. Army in 2006 called the Human Terrain System (HTS) started a wide-ranging debate on the ethical issues involved in carrying out ethnographic fieldwork in a militarized landscape. HTS thus became the focus of an intellectual and political polemic between certain groups of researchers. Within the academic and political debate on HTS, the program seems to have been placed in a post-colonial context as a new form of mixing of science and ideology. This paper tackles the problem of the emergence of a new type of anthropological understanding of the cultural Other as well its own methods and ethical standards in a situation where crisis seems to be the permanent state of the discipline and the world it is trying to describe


American Anthropological Association’s..., 2007, American Anthropological Association’s Executive Board Statement on the Human Terrain System Project
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Gusterson Hugh, 2009, Militarizing Knowledge, in: Network of Concerned Anthropologists, The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual: Or, Notes on Demilitarizing American Society, Chicago
Human Terrain..., 2008, Human Terrain Team Handbook, Fort Leavenworth
My cousin’s enemy..., 2009, My Cousin’s Enemy is My Friend: A Study of Pashtun “Tribes” in Afghanistan, Afghanistan Research Reachback Center White Paper, Fort Leavenworth
Price David H., 2008, Anthropological Intelligence. The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War, Durham and London
Silverman Barry G., 2007, Human Terrain Data – What Should We Do With It?, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering, Departmental Papers (ESE), Pennsylvania


Ethnologia Polona



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Resource Identifier:

oai:rcin.org.pl:61379 ; 0137-4079


IAiE PAN, call no. P 366 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 367 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 368 ; click here to follow the link



Digitizing institution:

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Library of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences



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