Cultural anthropologist David Price breaks summer tradition to teach

May 27, 2011

LACEY, WASHINGTON — Downtime during summer break? Not for Saint Martin’s University professor David Price, Ph.D.

For the past several years, the cultural anthropologist has spent his summer afternoons outside the class­room—but not relaxing under the sunny Pacific North­west skies. Instead, Price has retreated to research and write about anthropologists’ work with military and intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Price, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Saint Martin’s, has authored numerous articles in anthropological journals. His 2008 book, An­thropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War, documents the heavy involvement of anthropologists in World War II.

“During World War II, anthropologists participated in the war effort in a variety of ways,” Price explains. “They taught in jungle survival schools, provided intelligence on island cultures of the Pacific, and worked on programs designing domestic and battlefield propaganda.”

This year, Price has new plans for the summer. For the first time since Price joined the Saint Martin’s faculty 17 years ago, students taking summer classes have an opportunity to learn from the esteemed anthropologist. As part of the University’s first summer session (May 16-June 24), he is teaching Introduction to Cultural Anthropology.

“It is important to offer courses that support Saint Martin’s general education curriculum during the summer,” says Price. “Introduction to Anthropology is a great course for us to mix classroom lectures, seminars and regular field trips in ways that fit the summer school pace.”

Price jokes that he “hopes his classroom is out of earshot of the music from the summer ice cream vendors.” But the dedicated scholar has a plan to keep students focused and engaged.

“Anthropology is a topic that easily lends itself to using films, field trips and a variety of offsite activities,” Price says. “I will be using the longer class periods to do a lot of activities that move beyond classroom lectures.”

His students are currently experiencing a dynamic six-week explora­tion that takes them to places like the mummy exhibit at the Washington State History Museum.

Price will not abandon his usual summer tradition of researching and writing—not surprising for a scholar whose work has distinguished him in the field of anthropology. During the second half of the summer, he will be working on his next book, which moves into the Cold War. Describing his research, Price says, “One of the things that anthropologists did for military and intelligence agencies during the Cold War was to take knowledge of Vietnamese cultures and use it to develop ulti­mately ineffective counterinsurgency programs.”

Interested in learning from scholars and experts like David Price? It’s not too late to register for Saint Martin’s second summer session (June 27-August 5). To learn more about the University’s summer offerings, visit

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

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