Good research is often controversial. In the social sciences, the exchange of new ideas, new interpretations of history, and the excavation of counter-hegemonic or what Michel Foucault would call “subjugated” knowledge unsettles and upsets received wisdom. For those of us fortunate enough to study a region as eternally fascinating and intellectually demanding as the Middle East, I think this point is especially salient. And for those of us who both research and teach these subjects in a post-9/11 United States it is more relevant still. In the decade since that terrible tragedy, we have witnessed the emergence of a resurgent anti-intellectualism both in the halls of government and on our campuses. As the Bush administration pursued policies of reckless destruction abroad, self-appointed guardians of the academy swiftly appeared on the domestic front, contributing to the jingoistic fervor of the time by encouraging students to report on the alleged anti-American and anti-Israeli biases of their professors. Couching a narrowly authoritarian vision of the University in an Orwellian discourse of “tolerance” and even “academic freedom,” outspoken ideologues like David Horowitz insist that the academy suffers from insufficient “balance.” Of course, such attacks have little to do with a genuine concern for pedagogical practice; rather, they are the culmination of the Right’s long-standing attempt at eliminating the last vestiges of progressivism and critical intellectual inquiry from the American political landscape. Continue reading Academic Freedom & Palestine: A Personal Account
Friday April 8th, 2011 @ 7:30 PM
The Brecht Forum
451 West Street (that’s the West Side Highway) between Bank & Bethune Streets
Join us for a conversation on the fightback against academic repression and its connection to Palestine, Islamophobia and academic freedom on US campuses. The story this past semester of Kristofer Petersen-Overton at Brooklyn College will be a focus as we connect that story to the bigger issues.
Kristofer Petersen-Overton is a doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center. He has a Masters of Social Science in Development Studies from Aalborg University in Denmark. He worked for five months for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza in 2007-2008 and was back in Palestine in 2009. Currently he is teaching a masters-level course in Middle East Politics at Brooklyn College.
Joel Kovel is an activist, a widely read author, and a former professor at Bard College. He was the Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senator from New York in 1998 and sought the Green Party’s nomination for U.S. President in 2000. His numerous books include The Enemy of Nature (2002; 2nd ed., 2007) and Overcoming Zionism (2007).
Ellen Schrecker is a professor of American History at Yeshiva University. She is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on McCarthyism in the academy. Professor Schrecker is the author of numerous books including No Ivory Tower (1986) and, most recently, The Lost Soul of Higher Education (2010).
More information @ brechtforum.org
March 14, 2011 @ 6.30 PM
CUNY Graduate Center, rm 201 (basement level)
365 Fifth Avenue
B/D/F/M/N/Q/R to 34th St-Herald Square
Our university is once again under attack. Such vitriolic opponents of academic freedom as Fox News pundit Glenn Beck and NY Assemblyman Dov Hikind have recently targeted City University of New York faculty members Frances Fox Piven and Kristofer Petersen-Overton, respectively, in the worst academic witch-hunts seen in years. A defense campaign for Petersen-Overton successfully demanded that the Brooklyn College administration reinstate him after he was fired on egregious grounds, while Piven’s situation is now eliciting national concern for what these threats portend for left-wing academics at universities everywhere. Continue reading Panel Discussion: Academic Freedom and the New McCarthyism