During the Cold War, organizations such as The RAND Corporation and the National Academy of Science provided crucial foreign intelligence to the US government. The resultant blurred distinction between academia and government can be seen in the research of an ex-counterinsurgent agent and anthropologist, Joseph Michel Carrier Jr., who conducted a cross-cultural analysis of male homosexual encounters in Guadalajara, Mexico, in the 1970s.
Carrier’s research methods were shaped by his ongoing affiliations with the above-named institutions. Here, I argue that Carrier’s dissertation and archival materials present both realized and unrealized space. Carrier describes the importance of finding a specific Guadalajaran apartment to conduct his ethnographic research on Mexican male homosexuals; he then abruptly drops the topic. There is also a striking lack of accompanying visual ethnography. I hypothesize that his dissertation committee advised him to omit certain facts concerning the apartment—a conjecture supported by the fact that his advisor, Dr. Duane G. Metzger, once warned him not to disclose to the admissions committee that his research topic pertained to male homosexuality.
Though the apartment becomes, in part, an unrealized space, this study concludes that the anthropologist was spatializing the world through diverse methodological means encompassing economic-geography, psychology, mathematics, cartography, and quantitative methods that were part of the toolkit of social scientists serving the US government’s foreign relations goals. Ultimately, Carrier’s research sheds light on the academia-government nexus of the Cold War era and on the spaces in which dispossessed people are situated in the work of social scientists.