Anthropologists for Justice and Peace, founded by Maximilian C. Forte and Craig Proulx, began to take shape after discussions began in 2008 among some members of the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA), then under the presidency of a sympathetic Regna Darnell. To a certain extent it was inspired by the work of American colleagues in the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, with whom we have now partnered. The first concern was with the potential impact on anthropology in Canada given the increased militarization of anthropology in the U.S., and the influence of intelligence agencies, that threatened to render a lively, independent field of critical analysis into little more than the eyes and ears of the national security state, while jeopardizing the reputations, and maybe even the lives, of all anthropologists undertaking research outside of North America. American anthropology is very influential in Canadian anthropology, as we frequently join together to co-host conferences, and many of us work with American colleagues, many of our students are from the U.S., and many of our students go to the U.S. for further study, among many other ties. With the establishment of the Pentagon's Minerva Research Initiative in 2008, which is open to Canadian applicants, some of us foresaw the spread of serious threats to the academy. Thus, in the context of CASCA, an early article was published in CASCA’s newsletter, Culture (Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall 2008, pages 6 through 10) titled, “Militarizing Anthropology,” which was later followed by further discussion and organization. The support of the CASCA newsletter editor, and of the CASCA resolutions committee, to which two of the early AJP members belonged, was also important. However, it was soon recognized that what AJP would become, and what we wanted to do, could not be accommodated within the confines of a professional association.

The idea was to gather a group of Canadian anthropologists with shared concerns in this area, to mount some effort within CASCA to broaden awareness and to issue a resolution condemning militarization in the Canadian context, and what was later called securitization, thus also warning Canadian anthropologists as to the dangers posed by an encroaching national security state, especially with Canada at war in Afghanistan. In May of 2009, at the joint conference of the Canadian Anthropology Society and the American Ethnological Society, held at the University of British Columbia, both a panel and an open discussion were organized to focus on these issues. A report about that panel is available here.

The open discussion held at that conference -- see the report here -- was what led to the beginnings of AJP. An initial list of interested persons was developed, as well as the beginnings of an agenda for discussion. It subsequently became clear that social scientists in Canada were also being approached by National Defence, in providing aid for the counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan. The initial broad range of participants did not work out successfully, so we regathered and reconnoitered. By January of 2010, a smaller, more committed core started to put together the basics of AJP, by developing the first/draft manifesto and seeking the participation of other anthropologists who would be interested in supporting the same basic principles. AJP was publicly launched in late February of 2010.

Among our current plans are: developing ties with civil society organizations and social movements; share knowledge about issues of critical public importance; engage in public debate; organize conference sessions and publish papers online; and develop solidarity with like-minded academic groups elsewhere.

Related Documents:

"Militarizing Anthropology," published in the CASCA newsletter, Culture, Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall 2008, pps.6-10.

"Anthropologists for Justice and Peace (AJP): Announcement and Call for Members," published in the CASCA newsletter, Culture, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, p. 7.

If you have any questions, please email Maximilian Forte at maximilian.forte@concordia.ca.
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