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Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency

A Conference at the University of Chicago

Department of Anthropology

Greg Beckett is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His dissertation, entitled The End of Haiti: History Under Conditions of Impossibility, explores the cultural, historical, and political meanings of "crisis" in Haiti, with an emphasis on the relationship between the environmental crisis and state failure during the so-called "unending" transition to democracy.

Jeff Bennett.  PhD. U. of Chicago, 2003.  Harper Fellow 2003-2005.  Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Religious Studies, University of Missouri - Kansas City, 2005-present.  Currently finishing a book manuscript entitled When the Sun Danced: Myth, Miracles, and (anti)Modernity in Early 20th Century Portugal.

Amahl Bishara is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago.  She is working on a book that ethnographically examines the relationships between U.S. media and Palestinian society, focusing on the Palestinian role in the production of U.S. news, and the political and social implications of U.S. media presence in the West Bank.  She will become an assistant professor of anthropology at Tufts University in September 2008.

Kevin Caffrey earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.  He has conducted several years of fieldwork in southwest China, living and working with communities near the Burma and Tibet borders.  His research focuses on culture, politics, motivation, religious practice, and violence.  His ethnographic interests include China, Muslims, comparative imperialisms, estrgement, and change. He currently holds a research position at a think tank in Washington DC.

Paola Castaño is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Chicago. She has degrees in Political Science and History from Univerisdad de los Andes in Bogotá-Colombia. Her research focuses on the Colombian Armed Conflict and the problem of violence as an object of study from the perspective of the Sociology of Knowledge. She has taught courses in Colombia on Political Science and Social Theory, and is the author of The Construction of a Field of Knowledge: World History (in Spanish, Universidad de los Andes, 2005).

Rochelle Davis joined the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University in the Fall of 2005 as an Assistant Professor of Arab Culture and Society. She completed her Ph. D. in 2002 from the University of Michigan in cultural anthropology and modern Arabic literature. Her book manuscript in progress deals with village books published by Palestinian refugees about their villages that were destroyed in 1948. In addition, she is also conducting interviews of US military who served in Iraq about their experiences with Iraqis and their attitudes and ideas about Iraqi culture and society.

Kerry Fosher is a social anthropologist who focuses on practice, process, and change within U.S. security institutions. She works in an applied capacity as the Command Social Scientist for Marine Corps Intelligence Activity where she is responsible for shaping how the command learns about and addresses social science concepts and data. Her monograph presenting earlier research on homeland security will be available from University of Chicago Press in Fall 2008.

Roberto J. Gonzalez is associate professor of anthropology at San Jose State University.  He is author of Zapotec Science: Farming and Food in the Northern Sierra of Oaxaca (2001) and editor of Anthropologists in the Public Sphere: Speaking Out on War, Peace, and American Power (2004).  His recent articles, "Towards Mercenary Anthropology?" and "Human Terrain: Past, Present, and Future Applications" (published in Anthropology Today) critically examine anthropological collaboration in counterinsurgency.

Hugh Gusterson is Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at George Mason University.  He received his Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University in 1992.

James L. Hevia is director of the undergraduate Program in International Studies at the University of Chicago. His most recent book is English Lessons: The Pedagogy of Imperialism in Nineteenth Century China. His current project deals with the emergence of intelligence as field of activity linking logistics and information management and is entitled Secret Archive: British India Army Intelligence and the Construction of Geo-strategic Asia (Forthcoming, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Kurt Jacobsen is a research associate in the Program on International Politics, Economics and Security (PIPES) in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is author or editor of half a dozen books including, most recently, Experiencing the State (2006, co-edited with Lloyd I. Rudolph) and the forthcoming Freud's Foes: Psychoanalysis, Science, and Resistance.

Beatrice Jauregui is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago.  She is completing her dissertation, Shadows of the State, Subalterns of the State: Policing, Power and 'Law and Order' in Postcolonial India, an ethnographic study of the police in northern India.  Other projects include the historical anthropology of police strikes, and military theory and practice.

John D. Kelly is professor in Anthropology and the College and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago.  He has written extensively about decolonization and Pax Americana, including Represented Communities: Fiji and World Decolonization (co-author, Martha Kaplan) and The American Game: Capitalism, Decolonization, World Domination and Baseball.  His argument that the United States is not empire-building, and has a mode of power projection meriting a new critical vocabulary, appears in "U.S. Power, after 9/11 and before It: If Not an Empire, Then What?" (Public Culture 15(2), 2003), in "Who Counts?  Imperial and Corporate Structures of Governance, Decolonization and Limited Liability" (Lessons of Empire: Imperial Histories and American Power, Craig Calhoun, ed., 2006) and in "Legal Fictions After Empire" (Art of the State: Sovereignty Past and Present, Douglas Howland and Luise White, eds., co-author Martha Kaplan, in press).

Joseph Masco teaches anthropology, science studies, and American history at the University of Chicago.  He is the author of The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton, 2006) and is currently working on several projects examining the intersection of affect, media, and national security in the United States.

Sean T. Mitchell is a Ph.D. candidate in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Chicago.  His dissertation, Relaunching Alcântara: Space, Race, Technology and Inequality in Brazil, an ethnographic study of the conflicts surrounding Brazil’s principal satellite launch base, analyzes the changing politics of race, inequality and techno-military development in Brazil.

Christopher T. Nelson is a cultural anthropologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A graduate of the University of Chicago, his interests include history, memory and the critique of everyday life. Dancing with the Dead, his study of Okinawan comedians, storytellers and ethnographers, will be published in the fall of 2008. From 1983 until 1990, he was a Marine infantry officer.

Mihir Pandya is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His dissertation research focuses on the cultural life of the aerospace industry in Southern California.

David Price is an Associate Professor at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington where he teaches courses in anthropology and social justice.  His research uses the Freedom of Information Act, archives and interviews to document historical interactions between anthropologists and intelligence agencies.  He is the author of Threatening Anthropology (Duke, 2004), and Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology During the Second World War (Duke, April 2008).

Marshall Sahlins is the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at the University of Chicago. His books include Stone Age Economics; Culture and Practical Reason; Islands of History; How "Natives" Think: About Captain Cook, For Example; and Apologies to Thucydides: Understanding History as Culture and Vice Versa.

Brian R. Selmeski is Director of Cross-Cultural Competence for the Air Force and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Air University. He attended Bucknell University on an Army scholarship, majored in Latin American Studies and served in Central America, but had to resign to accept a fellowship from Syracuse University. His dissertation examined the Ecuadorian Army’s multicultural nationalism. While at the Canadian Defence Academy, he directed applied research with the Bolivian Army and established the Military Anthropology Network.

Jeremy Walton is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago.  His dissertation research focuses on secularism and Islamic civil society in Turkey.  

Dustin M. Wax teaches anthropology and Women's Studies at both the College of Southern Nevada and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a founding member of the anthropology weblog Savage Minds, selected as a Top 20 science blog by Nature in 2006, and is the editor of the recently released book Anthropology at the Dawn of the Cold War: The Influence of Foundations, McCarthyism and the CIA (Pluto Books). His home page is at

For more information, contact: seantmitch at gmail dot com