Category Archives: boycott

December 18, 2013, 10:53 am

Blogging Across the Water: A Response to David Hirsh About the ASA Resolution

harvey-milk-us-postage-stampDear David,

Thank you for your civil and knowledgeable open letter of December 17, and the links you have shared. I hope you like the stamp I chose for my response: Harvey is one of my heroes, both for his belief that democracy can come to all of us and for his belief in moral persuasion.

You are right: I am new to the global debates over the BDS boycott, having been engaged in reading and conversation for only a year. And yet people have to make decisions at political moments, and for a variety of reasons I was faced with one this fall when I chose to come out against the ASA boycott resolution and then came to believe I needed to re-think and change my position. Part of what makes it difficult to engage this debate is that the two sides tend to use the same rhetorical strategies: the extremists yell and name call, the more moderate voices suggest that you don’t know what you are…

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November 22, 2013, 10:51 am

One Side Fits All: An Interesting Development @ #2013ASA

Take a look at the following screen shot, and tell me what you see.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 9.46.01 AM

The first tweet, at the bottom, reports on what sounds like an outstanding presentation by Duke University’s Fred Moten. Moten was arguing in support of an intellectual boycott of Israel being considered by the National Council of the American Studies Association on Sunday. If I am understanding his, and the tweeter’s, argument correctly, it is an established position of PACBI: that Palestinians have no academic freedom, and therefore the issue is null. The corollary to this is that freedom of speech among US academics, and concerns that an institutional boycott of Israel will constrain the academic freedom of those employed by Israeli institutions (unless they are explicitly aligned with BDS) is a privileged, bourgeois concern that whitewashes the reality of the ongoing Occupation.

I would like to point out,…

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November 20, 2013, 9:42 am

Letter to the ASA Opposing the Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel

182377754_400x400_FrontTo: John Stephens, Executive Director of the American Studies Association

Subject: Opposition to proposed resolution before the National Council of the ASA for an academic boycott of Israel.

Dear John,

Please count me as an ASA member who opposes the proposed sanctions of Israel’s academic institutions and, by logical extension, the scholars associated with those institutions, that has been put before the Council by the Academic and Community Activism Caucus. Scholars of any nation ought to be free to travel, publish and collaborate across borders: I consider this to be a fundamental human right, and so does the United Nations. We in the American Studies Association cannot defend some of those human rights and disregard others. (more…)

November 19, 2013, 1:09 pm

Burned-out, Dissenting and Staying Home: On Not Attending the ASA Annual Meeting

boyoboyI had not planned to attend this year’s American Studies Association Meeting, which is just as well. After I learned this week that a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel would be presented for discussion, I realized I need a time out from American Studies. Part of this is that the organization — which I have always loved, and still love, for its activism — has taken itself in an intellectual direction that I sometimes no longer even understand. This year’s meeting, for example, bears the theme, “Beyond the Logic of Debt: Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent.”

Does anyone but me look at this and say “Why does this one thing before the colon seem not to bear any relationship to the thing after the colon?” Speaking of colitis, some are getting it from next year’s CFP, which seems to deliberately mock the idea of scholarly meetings by arguing that conferences may …

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February 10, 2013, 1:36 pm

“My Friend, I Disagree.”

Shortly after yesterday’s post went up I heard from an old friend and colleague, Dr. David Shorter, who disagreed with my views about Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and wanted an opportunity to respond to them in this forum. I immediately agreed.  Shorter is a professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at the University of California Los Angeles. His first book, We Will Dance Our Truth: Yaqui History in Yoeme Performances (University of Nebraska Press, 2010), unpacks the biases associated with writing in educational and legal considerations of Indigenous rights. Shorter’s digital projects, his work with indigenous language revitalization, and his other research areas are described on his website.

Recently, my friend and previous colleague, the Tenured Radical herself, penned a blog posting about the matter of BDS and Brooklyn College’s defense of academic freedom. As usual, her …

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February 9, 2013, 12:38 pm

Protest, Engage and Discuss: Brooklyn College, the Occupation and Academic Freedom

Bloomberg to City Council critics: Brooklyn is not Pyongyang!  Photo credit.

As of this writing, despite saber-rattling of various kinds by donors and politicians, the Brooklyn College event featuring speakers from Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) seems to have gone off without a hitch. The Israeli state still exists; the Palestinian people do not yet have a state of their own; and the Mayor of New York has affirmed the principle of free speech in our public university system. Read about it here.

I realize that it is conventional to begin a post like this one be declaring that one is not an anti-semite, that one is a supporter of Israel — or not an anti-semite and not a supporter of Israel, and hence a supporter of Palestinian freedom (whatever that means at this moment in history.) I cannot tell you…

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September 24, 2012, 12:13 pm

Eroticizing Violence Against Women Is A Feminist Issue — So Why Don’t We Say So?

            Not sexy, dude, even in France.

Mostly I have been keeping my mouth shut about the vogue in mainstream S/M. I am certainly restraining myself on the pressing topic of the day, Naomi Wolfe’s vagina. There seems to be so little to say about these things after all the regular critics have finished with them except to be mean about heterosexuality and how dull it is becoming. Is it interesting that A Trillion Fifty Shades of Grey is popular among straight girls?

Not really. What’s more interesting, from this historian’s perspective, is that the Grey books, which feature the possibilities of changing your life by becoming involved with a wealthy kinky man, are being carried in Barnes and Noble; that having a man “do what a woman wants without being asked” doesn’t seem to include having him give …

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February 26, 2012, 1:33 pm

Sunday Book Review: Hey Daddy, What Was It Like To Be A Lesbian Feminist in the 1970s?

Jeanne Córdova, When We Were Outlaws:  a Memoir of Love and Revolution (Midway, FL: Spinsters, Inc., 2011), 256 pp. $14.95 paper. Citations refer to locations on the ebook version.

“I have always been fascinated by how a noisy swelling called a social movement arrives on the doorsteps of an individual’s life and how she responds to it,” longtime activist, writer and organizer Jeanne Córdova writes in the forward to her memoir When We Were Outlaws. “Most ignore the calling of the unfathomable energies of our times.  For the rest of us — how does one recognize a social movement when it comes calling at your door?” (115)

Today, being legible as queer or trans does not necessarily require a political community or a movement. Large numbers of GLBT folks seem quite eager to be politically indistinguishable from the heteronormative mainstream, preferring to participate in activism …

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November 11, 2009, 2:01 pm

The American Historical Association Annual Meeting: To Boycott Or Not To Boycott?

As many of you are aware, in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California, the decision to hold the the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) became controversial. This is because the meeting will be held at a hotel owned by someone who helped to finance the campaign to repeal reforms that had extended political marriage to same-sex couples (nothing required churches to perform those marriages.) Your favorite Radical is, as we speak, making final preparations to depart for South Africa, where such discrimination is viewed in the national constitution as the equivalent of racism and is banned. What I think is also important to note is that South Africa is reputedly still a very homophobic country where, if it were put to a vote, discrimination against GLBTI (the I stands for “intersex” and is always included by South African queer activists) would…

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