The University of Wisconsin Press

Asian Studies / Anthropology / Politics


Anthropology Goes to War
Professional Ethics and Counterinsurgency in Thailand
Eric Wakin

Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin Monograph series

“At a time when the ethics of ethnography are again in question, Eric Wakin’s richly documented account of an earlier moment when the politics of anthropology was under scrutiny is particularly salient.”—Ann Stoler, New School for Social Research

In 1970 a coalition of student activists opposing the Vietnam War circulated documents revealing the involvement of several prominent social scientists in U.S. counterinsurgency activities in Thailand—activities that could cause harm to the people who were the subject of the scholars’ research.

The disclosure of these materials prompted two members of the Ethics Committee of the American Anthropological Association to issue an unauthorized rebuke of the accused. Over the next two years, the AAA agonized over the allegations and the appropriate response to them. Within an academic community already polarized by the war, political and professional acrimony reached unprecedented levels. Although the association ultimately passed a code of ethics, the key issues raised in the process were not fully resolved.

Now back in print, Eric Wakin’s Anthropology Goes to War is a comprehensive study of what became known as the Thailand Controversy—and a timely reminder of a debate whose echoes may be heard in our own time.

Distributed for the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies

Eric Wakin is the Lehman Curator for American History and an adjunct professor of history at Columbia University. He has a Ph.D. in U.S. history and M.A. degrees in Asian studies and political science.

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Cover is red with white type and contains four black and white photos of soldiers, a man, and a woman.

March 2008
LC: 91-074029 GN
320 pp.   6 x 9

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Paper $29.95 s
ISBN 978-1-881261-03-2
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