Militarizing Culture: Essays on the Warfare State

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9781598745603: Militarizing Culture: Essays on the Warfare State
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Militarizing Culture is a rousing critique of the American warfare state by a leading cultural commentator. Roberto J. González reveals troubling trends in the post-9/11 era, as the military industrial complex infiltrates new arenas of cultural life, from economic and educational arenas to family relationships. One of the nation’s foremost critics of the Human Terrain System program, González makes passionate arguments against the engagement of social scientists and the use of anthropological theory and methods in military operations. Despite the pervasive presence of militarism and violence in our society, González insists that warfare is not an inevitable part of human nature, and charts a path toward the decommissioning of culture.

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About the Author:

Roberto J. González is Associate Professor of Anthropology at San José State University. His books include Zapotec Science: Farming and Food in the Northern Sierra of Oaxaca (2001, Julian Steward Award, Anthropology and Environment Section, American Anthropological Association), Anthropologists in the Public Sphere (ed., 2004), and American Counterinsurgency: Human Science and the Human Terrain (2009). His articles have been published by the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Z Magazine; he has been interviewed on NPR, the BBC, and other broadcasters; and he is a founding member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists.

Review:

"This critically important book pulls back the shades to reveal the true face of the US empire project. Roberto González takes us through how, from an early age, Americans become desensitized to militarism and how vast swaths of our culture are steeped in it. We are shown a spy camp for children in Washington DC designed to increase the pool of future applicants for spy agencies. We are also shown how, via a process of 'normalizing the unthinkable,' torture has become accepted by a large portion of US citizens as a legitimate tool for American foreign policy. As a result, social scientists have volunteered for the Human Terrain System, an integral part of the US military's machinery that aims to colonize the people of Iraq and Afghanistan by using "cultural knowledge" to better wage the so-called war on terror. Militarizing Culture is a must read for those who want to know the truth, and for those who want to do something about it."

--Dahr Jamail, independent journalist and author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Iraq



“González documents the process by which military organizations and ideologies invade our daily life, a democracy reshaped by war. Powerful, persuasive, and timely!” —Laura Nader, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley



"Militarizing Culture lives up to its title. This is an elegantly written, thoughtful, well-developed analysis of the US war machine and the problematic role of anthropology in supporting that machine. In this provocative collection of essays Roberto González lays bare the controlling processes and legitimizing mechanisms that encourage the artistic, academic, and cultural embrace of militarism, and result in the societal-wide shattering of long-held taboos. In a world where violence is entertainment, torture is an acceptable norm, and academia is merely another means to achieve military ends, González critically challenges his colleagues to consider their own individual and collective complicity. Rejecting the increased presence of "cultural mercenaries" and social science as "a tool kit for empire" he argues for an aggressive effort to demilitarize American society by exploding the myths that surround and perpetuate militarism. This provocative book is a must read."
 

- Barbara Rose Johnston, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Political Ecology

"Throughout the past decade, America has spent much of its time at war with something. Militarizing Culture: Essays on the Warfare State is a collection of essays on the crisis of modern American warfare and what it is doing to the American culture. From justifying torture to spreading American ideas and more, there have been many things happening to American culture without many of them even knowing it. A scholarly and thoughtful collection, Militarizing Culture is a vital and very important read and addition for social issues collections." -The Midwest Book Review



"[Gonzalez] brings a sharp critique of power relations that situates the production and consumption of anthropological knowledge within the larger political economy and military industrial complex dominating American society. Militarizing Culture describes the rise of "mercenary anthropology," as the U.S. Army increasingly draws on anthropologist contractors to aid in the control of occupied people who find themselves in the way of American empire. Militarizing Culture is a well-written, timely book that can be used in a variety of anthropology courses, ranging from social theory to applied anthropology, contemporary culture, and anthropological ethics. This topical collection of essays should be read by every anthropologist." -David H. Price, Journal of Anthropological Research

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