Transgressing the Border between Academics and Politics: The CIA in the MIT Indonesia Project and Beyond

Title: 1361 | Transgressing the Border between Academics and Politics: The CIA in the MIT Indonesia Project and Beyond
Area: Southeast Asia
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Kaoru Kochi, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan (organizer, presenter)
Mayumi Yamamoto, Miyagi University, Japan (presenter)
William Bradley Horton, Akita University, Japan (presenter)
Mariko Tamanoi, University of California, Los Angeles, United States (chair)
Daiki Ayuha, University of Tokyo, Japan (discussant)


In the early 1950s, Boston briefly became an important center for the study of Indonesia.
The CIA and affiliated foundation funded programs at MIT and the concentration of graduate students seeking topics, relevance, fame, and financial support at Harvard came together resulting in one of the most important starting points for Indonesian studies in the US, with profound influence in Indonesia as well. Naturally, the cold war was at the heart of this collaboration, though at times it may have become invisible even to participants in this new academic endeavor.
Three critical foci have been selected for this panel, the Rumanian political scientist Guy Jean Pauker, the American Anthropologist Clifford Geertz, and the group of scholars who were involved with the Indonesian Army’s SESKOAD in the late 1950s-1960s, especially while it was led by Suwarto in his position as deputy commandant. These three points allow us to grapple with both the nature of the engagement, and the wide range on individuals involved in intellectual exchange
This study is actually focusing on the cold war era studies of Indonesia however this is also relevant to present day relationships between academics and politics, regardless of individual scholars’ intentions.
Each presenter will speak for 12 minutes only about their primary topic, but then will be given 3 additional minutes to speak about a related subject not specifically covered by their title and abstract, yielding a richer set of 6 interconnected topics for the chair, discussant and the audience to consider.

Panel Abstracts:
An Army-made Academic Network in Indonesia during the 1950s-1960s
It is well-known that a group of economists played important roles in the Suharto administration. They were in general educated in the United States, especially in the University of California, Berkeley, so they are often called “Berkeley Mafia.” Under the Soekarno regimein the late 1950s and 60s, they were involved or involved themselves in the Indonesian Army Command and General Staff College in Bandung. The deputy commander (later commander) of the college, Suwarto, was the mastermind of building the academia network prior to the Suharto regime since he had an idea of giving the college a consulting function similar to the RAND Corporation in the US. That network he built didn’t not only include economist like Emil Salim and Widjojo Nitisastro, but also sociologists, (cultural)-anthropologists like Selo Soemardjan, and even historians like Nugroho Notosusanto who came to play important roles in the Suharto era. Most of them were educated and obtained Mater or/and Ph. D. degree(s) in the U. S.This paper will examine this academic network, who was part of it, their social and educational backgrounds, and what roles they played later in Suharto’s governments. Through the examination, it will explored the mean and consequence the network had in Indonesian academia.

Political Lesson for a Naïve Graduate Student: The Case Mojokuto Project
In the 1970s and 1980s, both American and British anthropologists criticized the close relations between anthropological research and government/politics during the colonial period, as well as wartime involvement. This critical approach to government/academic connections could be even described as the dominant discourse in this period for the anthropological association. Bronislaw Malinowski and other functionalists were the most targeted scholars due to their contribution to the colonial governments and willingness to work with colonial bureaucrats. However, in this period of criticism of past anthropologists’ work for governments, American anthropologists rarely pointed out the field work of their colleagues and teachers. During the cold war, particularly during the early 1950s, the Center for International Studies at MIT which was backed with plentiful funds from the CIA and the Ford Foundation had number of projects. The Indonesia Field Project was one of these. The Mojokuto Project, bestowed on MIT-CIS was one of the most successful projects due to naïve graduate students like Geertz. Later, the fast writer and most “successful” graduate student, Clifford Geertz continued to conduct and research in Indonesia, notably in Bali and northeastern Sumatra, with support from MIT-CIS and the Ford Foundation.In this presentation, I would like to explore the close ties between Geertz and his work on Indonesia and US government money during the Cold War. I will also discuss the problem of US hegemony and elite culture which has been uncritical to past and ongoing political projects in the field of Anthropology.

Morning Star: Guy Pauker’s "Pre-CIA" Days and Indonesia
n 1948, a young Romanian arrived in the US, wife in tow. Whatever the context of his departure and experiences in the previous years, he quickly enrolled in Harvard University, obtaining an MA and a PhD, and gravitating toward the study of Indonesia, and resulting in his participation in the MIT led Indonesia project as a young post-doc, spending a year in Jakarta, as well as engaging in activities in Boston.The Rand Corp.’s head of Social Sciences, Guy Pauker’s reputation in the late 1960s and 1970s was not particularly good, at least in some circles. He was suspected of turning over the “Cornell Paper” to the Indonesians, and his ties to the CIA and US military were pretty much clear to the public. He also participated in the investigation of Viet Cong morale for the US military, which seemed to confirm his close ties to the US military-security establishment. By the 1980s, there were only a few scholars in the US or Indonesia willing to admit close relationships with him. Nonetheless, Pauker denied any connections to the CIA before 1957/1958, and by implication was limited until his resignation from his position at UC-Berkeley and full-time employment in Rand.This paper seeks to shed light on the earlier period of Pauker’s professional life, including the question of his involvement with the CIA, and his involvement in the MIT project, and his initial activities in Berkeley

This panel is on Wednesday - Session 01 - Room 4

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