CIA & Anthropology

The CIA and Anthropology

Sponsored by the Hardy Chair Lecture Series, the Hartwick College Department of Anthropology presented a public lecture by Dr. David H. Price, Professor of Anthropology at Saint Martin’s University. Titled “Tracing Funding, Tracing Impacts: The CIA and Anthropology,” the lecture outlined what Price called an accidental project he has now been working on for over 20 years.

David Price’s latest book Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology (2016) is part of a project on anthropology, the intelligence community, and the military complex. The series began with Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists (2004), continued with Anthropological Intelligence: The Use and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War (2008), and includes Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State (2011).

As anthropologist Alex Golub writes:

If Price’s work was merely a history of the political economy of our discipline, then that would be enough. But more importantly, Price demonstrates that our discipline’s theories of power, economics, and ethnicity were shaped by its interaction with American intelligence agencies. That is to say, the intellectual content of our discipline itself, he argues, was shaped by the history he describes in ways that are essential, not tangential, to our central theoretical concerns.