Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: Collaborators in Neoliberal Imperialism

  • Linda Outcalt Department of Anthropolgy, University of Victoria


Shrouded in fear and secrecy, the “Global War on Terror”, with its foundation firmly planted in the politics of neoliberalism, has created an ideal atmosphere for the reengagement of anthropology in counterinsurgency and warfare in the twenty-first century. As the neoliberal ideology of “choice” normalizes this participation, the usefulness of anthropological knowledge has been rediscovered by the military who have begun overt recruitment of anthropologists into the intelligence
community. This paper will examine the historical background and present day realities of anthropological collaboration in counterinsurgency, highlighting its similarities and differences. Most importantly, the implications of such involvement by the discipline will be discussed, raising questions about academic freedom, as well as the ethics and morality of anthropological participation in warfare and counterinsurgency.

Author Biography

Linda Outcalt, Department of Anthropolgy, University of Victoria
LINDA OUTCALT holds a Bachelors degree in photographic arts from Ryerson University in Toronto and is presently taking courses in cultural anthropology at the University of Victoria. Her primary research interests lie in political and visual anthropology with a particular focus on issues of power, propaganda and media, the enclave model of development, new forms of expanding global tourism, and the wide-ranging socioeconomic effects of neoliberalism.
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