Building Bridges and Communities

The US government has always turned to the nation’s scholars and intellectuals for help in times of national crisis or emergency. Many of our most prized scholarly organizations today were born during previous conflicts. President Lincoln established the National Academy of Sciences amidst the Civil War. Likewise, President Wilson created the National Research Council during […]

The Minerva Controversy; a Cautionary Tale

The Minerva initiative has elicited several warnings of creeping contamination. Hugh Gusterson describes Minerva as a lethal vector not unlike the cancer-spreading tobacco industry’s contagion of health research. Katherine Lutz defines defense related funding as a malignant disease; “whole subfields have atrophied and others metastasized.” Priya Satia agrees that the separation of the delicate academic […]

Minerva: Unclipping the Owl’s Wings

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ announcement last April of a new initiative, named Minerva, after the Roman goddess of war and wisdom and intended to cultivate a new relationship between the Defense Department and the academic social science disciplines, has been met with a hail of criticism. There is indeed much to criticize—from DoD’s truncated […]

Minerva and Critical Public Engagement

There are a myriad of reasons for the social sciences to be skeptical of developing closer working relationships with the military by cashing in on new opportunities like the Minerva Initiative, most obviously the possibility of a further militarization of academia. Anthropologists, in particular, have been vocal about their concerns — concerns that should be […]

The Perils of Pentagon Funding for Anthropology and the Other Social Sciences

This spring, the US Department of Defense announced an initiative to put up to $18 million annually toward social science research on issues of “national security.”  It identified anthropology as a key discipline to be recruited to this work.  Dubbed the Minerva Research Initiative, after the Roman’s virgin goddess of both warriors and wisdom, the […]

Minerva Research Initiative: Searching for the Truth or Denying the Iraqis the Rights to Know the Truth?

What has prompted me to write this paper is the continuing refusal of the U.S. to pay serious attention to Iraqi calls for the repatriation of the Iraqi records illegally seized by its military and intelligence agencies. Most recently, the Pentagon has issued an announcement, calling upon U.S. universities, research centers and scholars to submit […]

Possibilities for Partnerships?

Four years ago, Berkeley sociologist Michael Burawoy called for a “public sociology” that increased interaction between publics and sociologists.[1. Burawoy, Michael. 2005. “For Public Sociology.” American Sociological Review 70.1: 4-28.] The idea encountered both vigorous opposition[2. See François Nielsen. 2004. “The Vacant ‘We’: Remarks on Public Sociology.” Social Forces 84.4:1619-1628, and Mathieu Deflem. 2004-2006. Save Sociology.] and support from researchers eager for activist roles. […]