Division of Social Sciences

David E. Pedersen

Associate Professor

David Pedersen is a historically-minded sociocultural anthropologist (with a joint degree in both disciplines). His research has been concerned with understanding better the material and meaningful reorganization of the hemisphere of the Americas, especially with regard to the influence of the United States. In this endeavor, he draws on and contributes to interdisciplinary debates around the intersection of anthropology and history as well as scholarship on capitalist value determination and theories of signification or semiotic. His work has concentrated on the country of El Salvador and its historical shift from being organized around the production and export of primary agricultural commodities to a country now almost singularly reliant on the money sent back by a quarter of its population living and working in major US urban areas. He also has explored the transformation of US cities over the same time period as they have shifted from centers of manufacturing to agglomerations of high and low-wage producer and consumer services, the latter sector filled with significant numbers of Salvadoran migrants. His new research project focuses on the production of US military force and the recent ascendance of counter-insurgency and "population-centric" approaches in US warfare. It examines how and why the El Salvador civil war (1980-92) and US involvement in it has provided primary content for a new model of counter-insurgency, nation-building and economic development that is being crafted and applied in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout Latin America.