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Practicing Military Anthropology: Beyond Expectations and Traditional Boundaries

Robert A. Rubinstein, Kerry Fosher, and Clementine Fujimura, editors
Practicing Military Anthropology: Beyond Expectations and Traditional Boundaries
ISBN: 978-1-56549-548-7
ISBN: 978-1-56549-549-4
2012/153 pages/LC: 2012012905
A Kumarian Press Book

"Approaches a contentious topic with surprising articulation and authenticity.... Practicing Military Anthropology performs superbly its intention of speaking to social scientists already working with the military or those considering doing so."—Dr. James Dorough-Lewis Jr., Parameters

"The editors have assembled a rich and compelling set of narratives that illustrate the challenges of putting one's anthropological training into practical use.... [This book] helps to de-exoticise the professional culture of the military and other national security institutions, while simultaneously illuminating the complex disciplinary history and professional identity that attends a career in anthropology."—Laura A. McNamara, Sandia National Laboratories

"This well-conceived, courageous, and highly readable volume brings together a set of experienced professional anthropologists working inside and outside the military who demystify what it is like to work for the military and to work with the military. It should be essential reading for both practicing and academic anthropologists and their students who want to understand the roles and motivations of military practicing anthropologists."—Tim Wallace, North Carolina State University


The relationship between anthropologists and the US military has generated many heated discussions—at professional meetings and in the pages of scholarly books and journals—much of it based on supposition rather than empirical evidence. The debates raise some fundamental questions: Who are military anthropologists? What do they do?

In response, the authors of Practicing Military Anthropology offer deeply personal accounts of their paths to becoming military anthropologists, what their choices have meant both professionally and personally, and the challenges that they have confronted throughout their careers.


Robert A. Rubinstein is professor of anthropology and international relations at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University. Kerry Fosher's research focuses on issues of homeland security, intelligence, and military education. Clementine Fujimura is professor of anthropology at the US Naval Academy.


  • Introduction: Exploring Military Anthropology—the Editors.
  • Archaeological Ethics and Working for the Military—L.W. Rush.
  • "Living the Dream": One Military Anthropologist's Initiation—C. Fujimura.
  • A Day in the Life of the Marine Corps Professor of Operational Culture—P. Holmes-Eber.
  • The Road Turnley Took—J. G. Turnley.
  • Pebbles in the Headwaters: Working Within Military Intelligence—K. Fosher.
  • Ethnicity and Shifting Identity: The Importance of Cultural Specialists in US Military Operations—C. Varhola.
  • Master Narratives, Retrospective Attribution, and Ritual Pollution in Anthropology's Engagements with the Military—R.A. Rubinstein.