BDS in a Time of Precarity

Graduate Students, Untenured Faculty and Solidarity with Palestine

by Omar Sirri
published in MER281

The University of Toronto is not known as a particularly progressive institution. Like many universities, it has adopted neoliberal thinking and practice, becoming part of Academia, Inc. But two seemingly unrelated events during the 2014-2015 academic year showcased the increasing political activity of the school’s graduate student body.

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Imperiled Academics in Turkey

by Jeannie Sowers
published in MER281

Dilsa Deniz, an anthropologist of the Alevi-Kurdish religion, was fired from her position as an assistant professor at Nişantaşı University in Istanbul after she signed the Academics for Peace petition issued in Turkey on January 10, 2016. More than 1,000 scholars signed the petition to protest the Turkish government’s disengagement from the peace process with the Kurdish opposition and the killing of civilians in several Kurdish towns. Under the auspices of the Scholars at Risk network, Deniz left Turkey in August 2016 to take up a visiting lecturer position at the University of New Hampshire.

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Defending Academic Freedom

by Laurie A. Brand | published February 23, 2016 - 11:56am

Constraints on academic freedom or violations of it are not new in the Middle East and North Africa. Indeed, while there is certainly variation among the countries of the region, regime attempts to control what is studied, how it is studied, and what faculty and students may do and say both on and off campus have a long history.

Letter of Support by Colleagues and Personal Friends of Emad Shahin

published May 27, 2015 - 10:30am

For those familiar with even the barest facts of the case, the provisional sentence of Emad al-Din Shahin to death seems appalling. Professor Shahin is a widely respected and accomplished academic who has taught at Notre Dame, Harvard, Georgetown, the American University in Cairo and George Washington University. He has no record of organized political activity. The list of the other alleged participants—a group that resembles a list of political opponents and associates and technocratic aides of ousted President Muhammad Mursi far more than it does a real set of plotters—makes the charges seem even more improbable.

Title VI and Middle East Studies: What You Should Know

by Bekah Wolf | published November 14, 2014 - 5:04pm

In the past few years, pro-Israel groups have mounted an escalating and concerted effort to set the contours of scholarly debate about Israel on American campuses. This fall, two such organizations, the AMCHA Initiative and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, are lobbying Congress and the Department of Education to punish Middle East studies centers that present alternatives to staunchly pro-Israel viewpoints. The lobbying campaign demands that the Education Department stop federal funding to these centers under Title VI of the Higher Education Act or engage in intrusive oversight of the departments to assure the prevalence of viewpoints more sympathetic to Israeli government policies. The Higher Education Act is up for Congressional reauthorization this year.

The Battle Over Higher Education in Iran

by Mohammad Ali Kadivar | published February 20, 2014

The educated middle class that played an influential role in electing Hassan Rouhani to the Iranian presidency in June 2013 is anxious to see his promises of “prudence and hope” fulfilled. One area that Rouhani’s administration is expected to reform is higher education, which was targeted for political and intellectual purges under the hardline conservative administrations of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Harvard and the CIA

by
published in MER136

A scandal erupted in October over covert CIA funding of ostensibly scholarly projects at Harvard University. This has confirmed long-held suspicions that at least some US academic research on the Middle East is only a cover for intelligence work.

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The Challenges for Women Working at Iraqi Universities

by Nadje Al-Ali
published in MER266

Ten years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Iraqi women suffer from pervasive hardships -- the overall lack of security, gender-based violence, the feminization of poverty and poor access to basic services. Women working at universities face all these challenges, as well as others particular to higher education.

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The September 11 Effect on Anthropology

by Lara Deeb , Jessica Winegar
published in MER261

Conventional wisdom among scholars of the Middle East is that the September 11, 2001 attacks left behind a threatening professional environment. Graduate students and faculty alike speak of hostile infiltrators in their classrooms, inevitably bitter tenure battles and the self-censorship that both can produce. At the same time, in the aftermath of September 11 Middle East scholars anticipated that the perennially spotty job market might improve.

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Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Behind the Battles Over Middle East Studies

by Zachary Lockman | published January 2004

An ideological campaign to reshape the academic study of the Middle East in the United States has begun to bear fruit on Capitol Hill. In late 2003, the House of Representatives passed legislation which would, for the first time, mandate that university-based Middle East studies centers “foster debate on American foreign policy from diverse perspectives” if they receive federal funding under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. The new legislation, which the Senate could consider in 2004, came after conservative allegations about abuse of Title VI funding by “extreme” and “one-sided” critics of US foreign policy supposedly ensconced at area studies centers across the country.