Avatar Anthropology (at War)

And there I was thinking a sweet little love story between a couple of blue pixies on the Ewok planet might not be yet another Star Wares space parable of the pervasive militant fascism we cannot ever admit to having here…

Of course not..

David Price makes the salient points:

Fans of Avatar are understandably being moved by the story’s romantic anthropological message favoring the rights of people to not have their culture weaponized against them by would be foreign conquerors, occupiers and betrayers.  It is worth noting some of the obvious the parallels between these elements in this virtual film world, and those found in our world of real bullets and anthropologists in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since 2007, the occupying U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan have deployed Human Terrain Teams (HTT), complete with HTT “social scientists” using anthropological-ish methods and theories to ease the conquest and occupation of these lands. HTT has no avatared-humans; just supposed “social scientists” who embed with battalions working to reduce friction so that the military can get on with its mission without interference from local populations.  For most anthropologists these HTT programs are an outrageous abuse of anthropology, and earlier this month a lengthy report by a commission of the American Anthropological Association…

From his text in CounterPunch here.

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  • Frank A. Salamone  On 11/03/2010 at 02:11

    It is a blatant violation of ethics for anthropologists to be involved in counter-insurgency operations. Condemnation of misuse of anthropology for such actions goes back at least as far as Boas.



  • By Avatar Trinkets « trinketization on 13/03/2012 at 09:48

    [...] (online ethnography anyone), and fighting off the mining industry (as already oft mentioned on this blog (more links below), this little cherub should set you off with oohs and ahhs, though as soon as you [...]



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