Handbook offers ideas for professors in Middle Eastern studies who find themselves under attack





Post-9/11, many of the most intense debates about academic freedom have involved Middle Eastern studies. There have been numerous cases in which candidates for jobs or tenure have been opposed at least in part because of their views on the Middle East, with recent flare-ups at Barnard College and Wayne State University. At least 15 of the professors named by David Horowitz in his book last year on “the 101 most dangerous academics” study the Middle East — a proportion that is notable when considering that Middle Eastern studies programs are relatively small, and most students never take a course in the subject.

In this environment, the Task Force on Middle Eastern Anthropology has issued a new handbook, “Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibility After 9/11.” Most of the handbook would apply well beyond anthropology and the project was endorsed by leading scholars of the Middle East from a range of disciplines — many of them professors whose work has been criticized by pro-Israel and conservative groups.

“In the post-September 11 context, untrammeled and free public debate about the relationship between the United States and the Middle East should be a key component of a concerted effort to prevent the reoccurrence of the horrific tragedies on U.S. soil, and to understand related cultural and political trends,” the report says. “Yet an open atmosphere in which scholars and students can analyze the events and repercussions of 2001 have come into the cross-hairs of ideologues who argue that everything has changed or ought to change since September 11, including traditional bedrock American values upholding freedom of speech and public debate.”...


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