View on Anthropological Studies


My views most closely relate to Steven Miska’s and David Vine’s. I agree with the two of them in their analogies of the use of Anthropology in combat zones. I believe that Anthropology is useful in combat because it saves lives by helping our troops understand the intricacies of foreign culture. By understanding foreign culture, our troops have a better understanding of how to react to a situation that may be otherwise considered hostile. This in itself saves lives by avoiding misunderstandings between the coalition forces and the native people.

I don’t believe that there are any areas were anthropologists are problematic. The mere idea of anthropology adds value to knowing the meaning of foreign culture and the customs that exists in foreign lands. Human Terrain Systems, as stated by Marcus B. Griffin, serve a greater purpose for saving lives. Cultural advisors are at a great advantage to the coalition forces because they provide crucial data relating to the natives, who lands our forces inhabit. The natives see us as occupiers in their land and many of them believe that our religion is commerce and that our GOD is “Money”. That can be considered an “ETIC” point of view by the natives from our position, but our views are equally “ETIC” in nature relating to them. That’s where anthropology and the embedded social scientists serve the greater need of cultural intervention and avoidance of misunderstanding.

Anthropologists have an undeniable implicit and explicit responsibility for the safety and protection of the people they study. Although cultures that we don’t understand or know may seem strange or unusual to us, we have a responsibility to not interfere with them or inject our belief system into theirs. It is the humanitarian thing to do; it is the right thing to do as long as their cultures are humanitarian as well. For example, in Somalia, the dictator there, Mohammed Said Barre, was seen as an in-humane dictator who punished the weak and rewarded the strong who helped further his personal cause of debauchery. This can be viewed as culture, the inhumane treatment of individuals in a foreign land, but it is my view that anthropologists and societies at large cannot let situations like that exists. Anthropologists, through ethnographic studies and through participant observation, can help eliminate future dictators through their studies by early detection.

Anthropologists cannot afford to be bystanders. I totally disagree with David Vines assessment of the combat use of anthropologist’s cultural advisements to the military. Without them in the field, loss of life could be innumerable!

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