I studied anthropology in a department full of postmodern pusses. Identity, symbols, tropes and representation were our primary concerns... intervening in a culture was considered dubious, maybe even imperial. How could we justify violating its
But there are other programs out there that apparently produce academic commandos who make a real difference in the world, like Paula Loyd from Wellesley. She spied on Afghan civilians for American military forces under the guise of ethnographic respectability. Not surprisingly, she was treated as a combatant and eventually set on fire by an Afghan rebel. Her "research assistant" then followed the fleeing attacker and shot him to death- while he was running away.
Can you say, "conquistadores?"
Anthropologist's Death Highlights Questionable Role of Social Science in War
by Farah Stockman
In a hostile corner of southern Afghanistan, an American platoon fanned out around a market, forming a protective circle around a petite woman with a notebook. Paula Loyd, a Wellesley-educated researcher, began interviewing villagers about the price of cooking fuel - a key indicator of whether insurgents had hijacked supply lines.