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Wed Feb 27, 2013, 03:23 PM

Because of "the toll that military has taken on the blood, treasure, and happiness of American peopl

The eminent University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahlins resigned from the National Academy of Sciences on Friday, citing his objections to its military partnerships and to its electing as a member Napoleon Chagnon, a long-controversial anthropologist who is back in the news thanks to the publication of his new book, Noble Savages.

Membership in the NAS is considered highly prestigious, and public resignations are rare. In an e-mail to a number of his colleagues, which was forwarded to Inside Higher Ed, Sahlins wrote, "I have submitted my resignation to the National Academy of Sciences (US) because of my objections to the election of Chagnon... and to the military research projects of the Academy."

Sahlins confirmed his resignation and the reasons behind it in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/25/prominent-anthropologist-resigns-protest-national-academy-sciences#ixzz2M82gh4FV
Inside Higher Ed

Marshall Sahlins’ resignation is an heroic stand against the subversion of science to those claiming an innate nature of human violence, and a stand opposing the increasing militarization of science. While Sahlins’ credentials as an activist opposing the militarization of knowledge are well established—he is widely recognized as the creator of the “teach-in,” organizing the February 1965 University of Michigan teach-in—it still must have been difficult for him to resign this prestigious position.

In late 1965 Sahlins traveled to Vietnam to learn firsthand about the war and the Americans fighting it, work that resulted in his seminal essay “The Destruction of Conscience in Vietnam.” He became one of the clearest and most forceful anthropological voices speaking out against efforts (in the 1960s and 70s, and in again in post-9/11 America) to militarize anthropology.

In 2009 I was part of a conference at the University of Chicago critically examining renewed efforts by U.S. military and intelligence agencies to use anthropological data for counterinsurgency projects. Sahlins’ paper at the conference argued that, “in Vietnam, the famous anti-insurgency strategy was search and destroy; here it is research and destroy. One might think it good news that the military’s appropriation of anthropological theory is incoherent, simplistic and outmoded – not to mention tedious – even as its ethnographic protocols for learning the local society and culture amount to unworkable fantasies. ”


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