McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
counterinsurgency, development, insurgency, intelligence, internal war, military, social science
"Project Camelot" was an ambitious social science research project conceived and funded by the Army, one whose scope and level of funding was unprecedented as of its inception in 1964. It was created in order to examine the potential for "internal war" and insurgency in the "developing countries" of the world, and to identify actions that the U.S. and its allies could take to prevent or suppress such insurgencies. Historians have described the Project as an event of particular importance in the history of American social science, and have argued that it is related to significant changes in their structure and function.
Despite the Project's grand scale and the equally grand terms in which historians have cast it, there has been a paucity of attention directed at the Project itself from within the social sciences. Furthermore, any such attention has focused primarily on issues such as the feasibility and advisability of the Project or its potential adverse effect on future foreign area-based social science research. There have been no significant analytic or interpretive studies.
The present study intends to fill this gap, both because the Project is illuminating in its own right, and also because it is useful in developing a fuller understanding of social scientists' current involvement in the "War on Terror," involvement which ranges from developing new theories on insurgency to supporting interrogation work in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.
This study utilizes Critical Discourse Analysis, rooted in the work of Foucault, to explicate some of the discursive objects, subjects, and formations underlying Camelot, to show how this discourse works to shape and constrain social scientists' understanding of (and the nature of their involvement in) this military-direct work, and to trace discursive connections to the current issues highlighted above. Major discursive formations identified and analyzed include a pervasive attention to terminology selection in order to maximize its propaganda value; the use of medical and psychotherapeutic discursive tropes such as "illness," "prevention," "cure," and "symptom;" and the repeated portrayal of social scientists by the military as "engineers" and "contributors" not free to negotiate the terms of their work.
Hunt, R. (2007). Project Camelot and Military Sponsorship of Social Science Research: A Critical Discourse Analysis (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/672