Publication details [#13640]

Silliman, Stephen W. 2008. The “Old West” in the Middle East: U.S. Military Metaphors in Real and Imagined Indian Country. American Anthropologist 110 (2) : 237–247. 11 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Wiley & Sons


In this article, the author examines the role of the “Indian Country” heritage metaphor in U.S. military activities in the Middle East from a critical anthropological perspective. Research has revealed the proliferation of such discourse among soldiers, military strategists, reporters, and World Wide Web users to refer to hostile, unsecured, and dangerous territory in Iraq and Afghanistan. The salience of this symbol in 21st‐century U.S. armed conflicts attests to its staying power in national narratives of colonialism at home and abroad. Summoning the “Indian wars” of the 19th century in the U.S. West as malleable symbolic parallels to the current war in Iraq serves to offer combat lessons in guerilla warfare while reinscribing epic stories of U.S. military imperialism and renarrating uncritically the struggles and conflicts of Native Americans, past and present, through the lens of contemporary perspectives on terrorism.