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Press Release

Anthropologists in the war zone?

Metro State prof available to talk about the U.S. military’s new Human Terrain Team

Posted: October 15, 2007

(Denver, Colo.) — In a new effort by the American military to be more sensitive to local concerns in Afghanistan, groups of anthropologists called Human Terrain Teams have been placed with American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since February 2007, the experimental Pentagon program has assigned anthropologists and other social scientists to provide cultural and political knowledge of the region.

"It's a modern version of the Peace Corp operating in hostile environments," says James Emery, adjunct professor of anthropology at Metropolitan State College of Denver and expert on Afghan politics and the Taliban. "Human Terrain Teams provide an excellent opportunity to utilize properly trained, highly motivated applied anthropologists to enhance mutual communication and respect between American military forces and indigenous populations."

"At its core, the HTT enables U.S. military and government officials to better address the needs of the population from an emic, or local perspective," says Emery, whose latest article (a three-part series) titled "Opium, Afghanistan's Other War" is running in the current issue of the monthly "Their emphasis is on practical applications that will help enable Afghans, who have suffered through 29 years of continual conflict, to finally experience peace and prosperity for themselves and their children."

Emery is an anthropologist and journalist who has reported on regional conflicts and the drug trade for more than 20 years, including five years overseas. He's made several trips into Afghanistan, Myanmar, and other drug-producing and transit countries. He conducts ethnographic research with intravenous drug users, narcotics traffickers, and insurgent groups. Emery lectures on Afghan and Arab culture and the use of applied anthropological techniques in the occupation of Afghanistan, global terrorism, and the war on drugs.


About Metropolitan State College of Denver

Metro State is a fully-accredited, four-year institution, serving more than 21,000 students. It has the second-largest undergraduate enrollment in Colorado and is one of the largest four-year public colleges in the nation. Metro State enrolls the highest number of students of color among four-year colleges in the state. It boasts 60,000 alumni, 90 percent of whom stay in Colorado after graduation. Visit Metro State at

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