Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anthropologists to Vote on New Ethical Rules on Work With Military

According to an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, members of the American Anthropological Association have been debating changing the Association’s code of ethics to address concerns about anthropologists who work with the U.S. military. The debate centers on the roles of social scientists in military and intelligence programs, and how their research could potentially be used to the detriment of the populations being studied. The resolution re-instates language from the 1971 version of the code, and calls for anthropologists to be honest and transparent with all stakeholders about the nature and intent of their research, and for open access to any subsequent reports or publications.

Part 6 of the of the proposed language states,

“ In relation with his own government and with host governments, the research anthropologists should be honest and candid. He should demand assurance that he will not be required to compromise his professional responsibilities and ethics as condition of their permission to pursue research. Specifically, no secret research, no secret reports, or debriefings of any kind should be agreed to or given. If these matters are clearly understood in advance, serious complications and misunderstandings can generally be avoided.” (To read the proposed guidelines and a full description of the debate, click here.)

The AAA’s full membership is set to vote on the proposed revisions of their code of ethics in early December of this year.

1998 Code of Ethics

Executive Board Proposal to Amend the Code of Ethics

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