Race and Capitalism in The Pawnbroker

The Liberal Studies Department at Montana Tech recently initiated a new research colloquium and I was invited to be a discussant for a talk by Professor Henry Gonshak on the figure of the Holocaust survivor, as depicted in Sidney Lumet’s 1964 film, The Pawnbroker. I don’t have any training in film studies, so I just prepared some remarks about the political and social context of the film, focusing in particular on Nazism and the Holocaust survivor as cultural signifiers. Henry speaks first and my response begins at 38:51.

Mavi Marmara Memorial Exhibit

Join us in commemorating nine peace activists who were killed by Israeli soldiers when they sailed on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31, 2010. The Mavi Marmara Memorial will mark the one-year anniversary of the attack on the flotilla.

The opening will feature the exhibiting artists along with Jane Hirschmann, a member of Jews Say No! in New York City and one of the national organizers of the US Boat to Gaza. Active in anti-war efforts for the past four decades, Hirschmann is also a psychotherapist and the co-author of three books. Continue reading

The Ongoing Attack on Academic Freedom: Which Way Forward?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 6.30 PM
Light Refreshments 5:30-6
PSC-CUNY Union Hall
61 Broadway, 16th floor
(photo ID required)

Keynote speaker:

Frances Fox Piven : Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center, author of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America

Additional speakers:

Anita Levy , Associate Secretary, Academic Freedom Dept., AAUP on the national context
Blanche Wiesen Cook (invited) on political implications
Clarence Taylor on the historical context
Kristofer Petersen-Overton on the vulnerability of contingent faculty
Stephen Leberstein, moderator

Refreshments at 6 PM, program at 6:30 in the union hall.

Academic Freedom & Palestine

Friday April 8th, 2011 @ 7:30 PM
The Brecht Forum
451 West Street (that’s the West Side Highway) between Bank & Bethune Streets
NYC 10014
(212) 242-4201

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.

Speakers:

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

Popular Uprisings: Mid-East to Mid-West

Friday, March 25, 2011, 6-8 PM
Light Refreshments 5:30-6
PSC-CUNY Union Hall
61 Broadway, 16th floor
(photo ID required)

Speakers:

Ervand Abrahamian : Professor of Iranian and Middle East History, Baruch College, CUNY
Yoav Peled : Professor of Political Science, Israeli politics, Tel Aviv University, currently visiting New School
Kristofer Petersen-Overton : Adjunct Lecturer of Political Science, Palestinian politics, Brooklyn College

Respondent:

Barbara Bowen : President, PSC-CUNY, recently returned from Wisconsin’s political struggles

Panel Discussion: Academic Freedom and the New McCarthyism

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

Academic Freedom Day at Hunter College

March 2, 2011 @ 1.00 PM
FDA Lounge 8th floor, West Building
Hunter College
New York, NY

Come hear from Kristofer Petersen-Overton, Adjunct Lecturer of Political Science at Brooklyn College who was fired from his position as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College one week before his course on Middle East politics was to begin. We will also discuss the implications for Academic Freedom at Hunter.

“Academic freedom is a bedrock principle of higher education. Without the freedom to pursue lines of inquiry wherever they may lead, faculty cannot truly contribute to the vibrant exploration of ideas that makes college a place of learning.” Professor Barbara Bowen, President, PSC/CUNY Continue reading

Inventing the Martyr: Struggle, Sacrifice & the Signification of Palestinian Identity

DACC22B3-58AD-4E55-AA9F-33D390978BC1.jpgI’ll be presenting my paper “Inventing the Martyr: Struggle, Sacrifice & the Signification of Palestinian National Identity” at the upcoming MPSA annual conference (March 31-April 3, 2010).

Abstract:

Sacrifice and struggle constitute two of the most important themes for contemporary Palestinian national identity. Physical displacement, exile, military occupation, and especially the struggles and sacrifices undertaken in resistance to these forces inform the narrative upon which Palestinian society imagines itself. This paper attempts to problematize Palestinian national identity by exploring the ideals of struggle and sacrifice as manifest in the concept of martyrdom. Continue reading