Here’s a disturbing reminder of the legacy of imperialism and militarism in the discipline of geography. Today’s “AAG SmartBrief” email from the Association of American Geographers was sponsored by none other than the Central Intelligence Agency. Interestingly, the email header image had fragments of Korean (“can do”) and Chinese (and what looks to me like Arabic?) with the headline, “Be a CIA Open Source Analyst.” There’s even a sponsored link in the middle of the email: “There’s a world of public information that can keep our nation safe. The CIA’s Open Source Center (OSC) geographers are the intelligence community’s experts on foreign mapping, geographic information and geospatial technologies. Learn more about Geographer career opportunities and apply here.”
The slightly amusing thing about the fragment of Korean shown in the header banner is that it’s an open-ended and suggestive verb ending meaning “can do XYZ.” These could be sentence endings like “if you want work as a geographer, you can join the CIA,” or “even if you don’t join us, we could be watching all of you.” Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the intelligent folks at the CIA fully intended this linguistic strategy. Sigh.