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The Phoenix Society - Resources & Services
The ROTC-style program is the brainchild of Felix Moos, a Kansas University professor of anthropology, and is part of an effort to attract qualified candidates to the field of intelligence gathering, especially in targeted areas of the world, including Afghanistan, China, Korea and the Middle East.
The program was suggested by Moos to Roberts, who shepherded the measure through Congress, which approved $4 million for the pilot project.
Although PRISP is the brainchild of Professor Felix Moos, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas whose forty-four year career has been consistently dedicated to fostering collaboration between academic anthropologists and the military and intelligence communities in the interests of fostering national defence and security at home and abroad, it is not restricted to students in anthropology programs.
PRISP is interested in recruiting scholars with linguistic and other kinds of area expertise on regions of the world currently thought to be strategic in terms of terrorist threats and US interests more generally.
People of my age therefore feel a rather ironic dejá vu sensation.
Having lived through the Cold War period in which "area studies" was perceived as useful by the intelligence community and subsequently witnessed proclamations of its "death" in the era of globalization, we now find old conceptions resuscitated in a post 9/11 context which allows Professor Moos
to reassert his
longstanding preoccupations, yet now in terms of "global challenges" no longer coupled to nation state rivalries or conflicts confined to "one particular culture or one geographical setting" (these quotes are from his
response in AT 21(3)).
Many of us would see the construction of sustained, open and mutually respectful international collaborative relations as essential to the construction of a post-imperial anthropology better equipped to produce an understanding of the "more complex" world that Professor Moos
himself does not seem unduly concerned with the issue of international trust and cordiality, to judge from the robustness of his
published responses to critics (which include the proposition that it doesn't really matter if people abroad don't like North Americans).
Yet there are clearly a number of different perspectives from which his
dismissal of counter-arguments could be contested.
himself responds to most expressions of doubt by repeating the litany that "we" are "at war".
It appears that this is a war with an enemy whose diffuseness and facelessness multiplies suspects and potential threats, a war which "will not be of short duration", though what would constitute "victory" perhaps remains a little too uncomfortably unstated.
I find it difficult to decide whether I find the paranoia inherent in this perspective more disturbing than the way in which it threatens to silence debate about the less noble aspects of recent Anglo-American foreign policy, but what I am convinced of is that anthropologists need to maintain a strong critical distance from this kind of proposition.
We need to think about Professor Moos's
position in a historically contextualized way that would remind us of the grim lessons of previous experience while also enabling us to treat it anthropologically in terms of understandings of how the social and cultural history of the United States relates to its politics.
Fortunately, it seems clear that most anthropologists in the United States itself remain reluctant to embrace the transcendent "we" and categorical imperatives of Professor Moos's
For that reason we need to look beyond PRISP
and other related US developments to the broader problems of which they are simply minor symptoms.
I hope that this blog will open up a space for full and wide-ranging reflections on these dilemmas and how a much more inclusive, international "we" can face up to them.
Let us be clear, though, that the challenges facing anthropology (and other researchers working within cross-cultural and transnational frameworks) are growing today, even if some of them have past precedents.
Developments over the past twenty years have made university autonomy increasingly precarious and pressures of funding, marketing our services and employment for our graduates have continued to increase in intensity.
A further intensification of global intelligence gathering efforts on the part of states, linked to the transformed definition of "security" issues expounded by Professor Moos
, coupled with renewed interest in interventions to shape local developments in line with external interests, couples those changes in the position of academic institutions to pressures that were less marked for a short while as the "spectre of communist revolution" diminished.
Add that to what is going on politically within countries such as Britain and the United States today in the wake of domestic terrorist attacks, and the sensitivity of the conversations on which we are embarking are rather apparent.
Many anthropologists and people with anthropology training working for NGOs
and government sponsored agencies in places and situations deemed relevant to security concerns are now likely to experience new levels of state intrusion on their working lives and ethics.
Sometimes, they will face serious risks as individuals if they chose to follow the path of conscience rather than acquiescence to these demands and restraints.
In confronting these dilemmas collectively, what we have going for us is ethnographic knowledge of concrete cases coupled with that important sense of perspective that the comparative and universalizing horizons of anthropology evoke.
The best way to respond to Professor Moos
is, I suggest, to use our knowledge and experience to show that there are other, and much better, ways to foster the production of knowledge that can contribute to promoting peace and security on a planetary scale.
Felix Moos started the effort ...
Felix Moos started the effort that led to the establishment of the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program, and also takes part in HTS training events.
Felix Moos is a Professor in Socio-Cultural Anthropology (Ph.D., Washington 1963) whose research areas are listed as: applied anthropology and ethnology, culture change and development, comparative value systems, ethnic conflict; East and Southeast Asia, Pacific.
Bart Dean and Felix Moos
have taken part in joint military-academic social science roundtables, that included HTS personnel, one of the first having taken place in June of 2007 and described by Jeff Crawley of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp ("Soldiers, scholars team for social science roundtable"), as a roundtable titled "How Do I Come to Know What I Didn't Know I Needed to Know?
While the event also serves to expose and train anthropology graduates to military thinking, Felix Moos
explained the militarization of his
own department in this manner: "The differences in the world today between thinking about war and actually fighting a war are smaller than they used to be.
This indicates the degree to which the gulf between the independence, integrity, and credibility of academia on the one hand, and the military on the other, has been bridged by his
(That is not to say Moos'
project is equally well received by everyone in his department: John Hoopes was quoted as saying, "I'm uncomfortable with anthropologists who are assisting with violent resolutions".
F. Allan Hanson, also in the same department as Dean and Moos
, agreed with his colleague Hoopes: "People need to have knowledge of the people they are dealing with," he said.
also supports the effort to use anthropology to do harm, by enlisting it in the service of better targeting: "If we are going to be successful in separating people from the insurgents, then we better get busy learning languages and cultures" (source).
Other times, his
statements are those representative of cultural imperialism, "How do you convince the people to come over to your thinking, or at least to approximate your thinking?
Felix Moos, right, professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas, and Army Capt. Roya Sharifsoltani, of the Human Terrain System, participate in a military-social science round table in November of 2007 at the Dole Institute of Politics.
Echoing one of the sales pitches of HTS
told the media at one of the roundtables with HTS
that, "an informed military and a well-educated military will kill fewer people rather than more people" (source).
, for his
part, praised this effort by HTS
to deploy people with language expertise.
The only problem is that Dari and Pashto are the major languages of Afghanistan.
For more on the work of Dean and Moos
for the military, especially as they have tried to evangelize among social scientists at Oxford University
, and on their subsequent roundtables with the military, see these reports in the military's public propaganda organs in the mainstream media:
Also, Felix Moos
is either featured or referenced in these 38 articles.
Tagged: Afghanistan Immersion Seminars, Bartholomew Dean, Britt Damon, Center for Afghanistan Studies
, Esmael Burhan, ethics, Felix Moos
, GIS, Global Studies Conference, HTS
, HTT, Human Terrain System, intelligence, intelligence preparation of the battlefield, IPB, Liam D. Murphy, Major Robert Holbert, Michael Bishop, Michael Duane Weltsch, open source intelligence, Roya Sharifsoltani, targeting, The International Third World Studies Journal and Review
, Thomas Goutierre, Thomas Gouttierre, University of Kansas
, University of Nebraska at Omaha
That is some definition of "applied anthropology" there Dr. Moos
Like you, I find it quite disturbing that Moos
has decided with whom Afghan "people" should be associated, taking the U.S. presence as innocent, harmless, and unproblematic.
The reality, according to most informed commentators, is that it is impossible to draw these distinctions-the Taliban (so-called, because it is a mass of movements, and actual Talibs are now a small minority) are firmly part of "the people.
An anthropologist might spend some time examining the taken-for-granted, and the labeling, for example, "insurgent.
An anthropologist must also consider his
place in relation to "the people," and he
seems to be assuming a great deal, and arrogating a great many rights to himself at the expense of Afghans
is advocating is an ethical "black site."
You don't recognize it as anthropology, and nor do I for that matter.
is definitely "applying" something, but I am not sure that most anthropologists would recognize it as anthropology.
"In my view this is a ...
"In my view this is a much more decentralized warfare that we've faced now than before," said Felix Moos, a Kansas University emeritus anthropology professor who has taught a course on intelligence and terrorism.
Moos said it was understandable for Americans to celebrate bin Laden's death, although he
and other terrorist groups have seemed to evolve since 9/11.
The brainchild of University of ...
The brainchild of University of Kansas anthropologist Felix Moos, who was advocating it as early as 1995, PRISP was originally a $4m pilot project funded under section 318 of the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act.