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Research Areas


  • Counterterrorism and Privacy: The Changing Landscape of Surveillance and Civil Liberties", Michael Freeman. in Information Ethics: Privacy and Intellectual Privacy, eds., Graham Peace and Lee Freeman.  Idea Group, 2004.
  • Freedom or Security: The Consequences for Democracies Using Emergency Powers to Fight Terror, Michael Freeman. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.
  • Cyberterror: Prospects and Implications (pdf) - Center for the Study of Terrorism and Irregular Warfare, October 1999.

Irregular Warfare

Anthropology of Conflict

Anthropologists and the topic of conflict (an explanation)

Certain kinds of war and war fought by certain types of people(s) have always received anthropological consideration, and the literature on primitive warfare continues to grow. But with a few notable exceptions, anthropologists have barely studied modern wars, and when modern war is treated as a subject, it is the why behind the fighting and the aftermath of it – not the how or the process – that receives the most attention.

Military psychology, military sociology, and military history examine national security issues from a number of angles, and a significant portion of political science is dedicated to security studies. Anthropology, in contrast, largely avoids studying those who wield force. As with conflict in general, the effects of militaries and militarization – on masculinity, gender roles, and civilian populations – attract attention. But anthropological studies of the military are rare.

There are two unfortunate consequences of this. First, little common ground exists between anthropologists and those commissioned with projecting force. Yet, increasingly force is being projected in exactly those places anthropologists know best. Second, by refusing to try to understand the military, anthropologists cede all discussions about war’s past, present, and future to others. Often, erroneous sweeping judgments are made by military historians. Without reading or engaging them, anthropologists can’t correct them. At the same time, it is primarily journalists who publish accounts of daily military life. Not trained in anthropological techniques, there is much that they miss, and even misread.

The Anthropology of Conflict (course description)

The focus of this course is cross-cultural conflict and violent confrontation with a view to considering how anthropology might be better used to study modern warfare and large-scale ethnic conflict. Military historians, political scientists, and foreign policy pundits increasingly refer to ‘culture’ and religion, identity politics and ideology to help explain the new world disorder. But are they using these social science concepts correctly?
One course aim is to re-think the salience of ethnic, cultural, and civilizational divides. What can concepts like ‘culture’ (or ‘civilization’ and ‘ethnic group’) help explain? Equally significantly, what might they conceal or miss that a deeper look into social relations could better illuminate? To what extent can we even understand other cultures and/or people’s primordial attachments? Some anthropologists believe people are more alike than unalike cross-culturally. Others disagree. Do cultures have personalities? There was a major research thrust in this direction during World War II. But no longer. Why? Finally, what we know (or don’t know) about why people engage in warfare elsewhere may be useful for re-thinking what we think we know about the likelihood of conflict here at home.


  • "Seeing the Enemy (or Not)", Anna Simons. In Anthony McIver (ed), Rethinking the Principles of War. Naval Institute Press, 2005.
  • "The Evolution of the SOF Soldier", Anna Simons. In Bernd Horn (ed), Special Operations for Canada. McGill Queen, 2005.
  • "The Death of Conquest", Anna Simons, The National Interest, Feb. 2003.
  • "Women in Combat Units: It's Still a Bad Idea", Anna Simons, Parameters, Summer 2001. pp. 89-100.
  • "WAR: Back to the Future" Anna Simons, Annual Anthropology Reviews, 1999. 28:73-108

Special Operations

Restructuring Special Operations Forces for Emerging Threats, David Tucker and Christopher J. Lamb. Strategic Forum, Jan 2006. 

Military Innovation

Swarming and the Future of Conflict -John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, 2000
(A RAND Publication)

The RMA and the Interagency: Knowledge and Speed vs. Ignorance and Sloth? David Tucker, 2000 (Parameters)