Project Camelot

Project Camelot

Project Camelot was a social science research project of the United States Army that started in 1964 and was cancelled after congressional hearings in 1965.[1] The goal of the project was to assess the causes of conflict between national groups, to anticipate social breakdown and provide eventual solutions. The proposal caused much controversy among social scientists, many of whom voiced concerns that such a study was in conflict with their professional ethics.[2]

Chile was to be the test case for the project, but Claudio Bunster was alerted almost immediately to its possible military nature when Johan Galtung showed him a letter from the Special Operations Research Office (SORO) inviting him to a seminar to discuss the project in 1966 at the American University in Washington DC. The seminar was actually held in the summer of 1965 but by then the initial exploratory mission to study the feasibility of running such a project was being phased out and the project itself was officially cancelled on July 8 1965.[2].

The project's purpose was described by the army as follows:

Success in such tasks as equipping and training indigenous forces for an internal security mission, civic action, psychological warfare, or other counterinsurgency action depends on a thorough understanding of the indigenous social structure, upon the accuracy with which changes within the indigenous culture, particularly violent changes, are anticipated, and the effects of various courses of action available to the military and other agencies of government upon the indigenous process of change.[3]



The origin of the name "Camelot" came from a book by T.H. White, The Once and Future King, for its premise of a peaceful and harmonious society[2]. Hugo Nutini[2], a Chilean-born professor of Anthropology, was a consultant in the conceptual stages of Project Camelot and he asked for permission from Soro to approach Chilean social scientists with the idea of conducting a study in their country. He first approached Claudio Bunster. Bunster expressed his doubts to colleagues who then confronted Nutini. When Nutini was unable to deny that the project had US political and military finance and motivation, a letter to the editor was sent to the Latin American Review of Sociology and the whole affair was exposed in the media. The US Defense Department came under mounting criticism, with critics claiming that the project was a violation of professional ethics in the scientific world[2]; this bad press led to the project's cancellation in 1965.[4] There were also voices that social science research was an appropriate way to avoid cultural conflict. The latter was not a unique idea, as the US had recognized that much of the reason they went to war with Japan came from Japan attacking Pearl Harbor, and commissioned the anthropologist Ruth Benedict to write a widely distributed book on Japanese society and beliefs.[5]


The concept of Project Camelot was first formulated by the Office of the Chief of Research and Development and presented to the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering who thereafter passed it on to the Army Research and Development Office who turned to the Special Operations and Research Office(Soro) at the American University of Washington DC. There was no organization as such as the project never got off the ground.[2]

See also


  1. ^ John Markoff (October 10, 2011). "Government Aims to Build a 'Data Eye in the Sky'". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-10. "They cite the Pentagon’s ill-fated Project Camelot in the 1960s, which also explored the possibility that social science could predict political and economic events, but was canceled in the face of widespread criticism by scholars." 
  2. ^ a b c d e f George E. Lowe (May 1966). "The Camelot Affair". Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Tome 22, No 5. 
  3. ^ Thy Will Be Done: Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennett; Chapter 30, footnote 51 - Washington Star 1965, p.1
  4. ^ Earl Babbie, The Practice of Social Research, 10th edition, Wadsworth, Thomson Learning Inc. ISBN 0534620299
  5. ^ Benedict, Ruth (1974). The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. Plume. 


Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Camelot — is the most famous castle and court associated with the legendary King Arthur. Later romance depicts it as the fantastic capital of Arthur s realm, from which he fought many of the battles and quests that made up his life. Camelot as a place is… …   Wikipedia

  • Project Sora — Création 2009 Personnages clés Masahiro Sakurai Siège social …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Camelot (musical) — Infobox Musical name= Camelot subtitle= caption=Original Cast Recording music= Frederic Loewe lyrics= Alan Jay Lerner book= Alan Jay Lerner basis= The Once and Future King by T. H. White productions= 1960 Broadway 1963 U.S. tour 1964 West End… …   Wikipedia

  • Camelot Software Planning — Logo de Camelot Software Planning Création 1990 (sous le nom Sonic! Software Planning) Dates clés 1994 : changement de nom …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dark Age of Camelot — Original cover art Developer(s) Mythic Entertainment EA Publisher(s) …   Wikipedia

  • Mythos (musical project) — Mythos is a new age musical project started by Bob D Eith and Paul Schmidt in 1996. Bob (piano) and Paul (guitar) collectively wrote, produced, and performed on the albums with the help of various session performers. The centerpiece of the Mythos …   Wikipedia

  • Operation Camelot — was an operation run by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency that funded anthropological research. The research was then used to further the goals of the United States government. The project used social scientists in… …   Wikipedia

  • British-American Project — Originally the British American Project for the Successor Generation, the British American Project was founded in 1985 by Nick Butler to perpetuate the close relationship between the United States and Britain and promote a mutual understanding… …   Wikipedia

  • Military funding of science — The military funding of science has had a powerful transformative effect on the practice and products of scientific research since the early 20th century. Particularly since World War I, advanced science based technologies have been viewed as… …   Wikipedia

  • History of military technology — Part of a series on Science …   Wikipedia