Nostalgia for the State: A Response to Julia Schleck’s Dirty Knowledge

By Lenora Hanson
Issue 6     October 16, 2023     Download PDF

“[…] the origin of every contract also points toward violence.”

Walter Benjamin, “Critique of Violence”[1]

In an earlier draft of this response to Julia Schleck’s Dirty Knowledge, I ended up ending on watermelon. Undoubtedly, this had something to do with the fact that it was summer in Brooklyn when I drafted my thoughts. But watermelon occurred to me in what was originally my conclusion because it is tangled up with the problem of Dirty Knowledge, which is, per Schleck, a knowledge that is rooted in forms of life. Watermelon is one word that proliferates such forms in my memory and in my present. Most recently, it came to my mind during the brutal Israeli state and settler war on the Jenin refugee camp in Palestine. As I struggled to write this review on academic freedom, I simultaneously messaged with a friend who is a professor in the West Bank and who updated me over the course of the week on the interminable state of exception that targeted stateless people in the refugee camp for further destruction, with the authorization of the United States and the Palestinian Authority. In the last year or more, militants in the refugee camp have begun fighting back against the continued encroachment of settlements around Jenin and against the constant onslaught against Palestinian’s life and the land on which it is sustained.

If it was not destroyed in this most recent colonial rampage, you could go to Jenin and see a watermelon sculpture installed in the center of a roundabout. Depending on your perspective, it might obscure a police station. That sculpture is a marker of the agricultural prominence of watermelon in northern Palestine. So is Noura Erakat’s essay “Designing the Future in Palestine,” which begins by tracing the anti-colonial gleanings of Vivien Sansour, who sought for six years and finally found the seed for the Jadu’ watermelon “in the knickknack drawer of a Palestinian farmer.”[2] While Israel preserves an heirloom seed library in the enclosures of the Arava Institute and has forced other seeds onto Palestinian farmers, Sansour is working to archive and recover the knowledge and history of those seeds that, as Erakat describes, are denied to settlers no matter how much property they create.

But I did not have to go to Palestine to know something about this fruit as an archive of anti-colonial and anti-capitalist forms of life, of its growth in the non-equivalence between life and property. I grew up with the taste of the destruction of such non-equivalence and what Saidiya Hartman calls the fungibility of humans and commodities in my mouth, having been raised in a white Evangelical home in Alabama. My earliest memories are saturated with the paranoia that sustains a “we” the select, a unique “us.” It took me decades to understand that this paranoia was fostered by the destruction of a general condition of indenture and its reconstruction as the separation between lawful white subjects and those who threatened it. It took an education that I gained only partially in college to understand that the sweetness of watermelon was inseparable from the largely unstated but ever-present knowledge of the brutal separation between whiteness and blackness, and an even more silenced separation between whiteness and indigeneity in the South. This separation went unspoken mostly because it could be presumed. The knowledge of truth was given in my home, and the question of how we came to enjoy its possession was irrelevant.

Where does such knowledge get preserved? How does it get disseminated? And in what ways does the work of preservation and dissemination get monopolized by a select form of life? My worry about Schleck’s predication of knowledge on academic freedom, which is also the freedom of the academic, is that it requires the preservation of the universi(al)ty in which such freedom is intimately bound to what it is not and who it is not for. To be fair, it is a project of collectivity and not of division that Schleck’s project avows. It is my interpretation of her combined pragmatics and prophecy, of her clear-eyed historical assessment and secular devotion to the uniqueness of academic forms of life, that yields this concern. But for Schleck, the university is a site of struggle, and I want to take her at her word and accept her invitation to engage in this struggle openly here.

Most directly, Dirty Knowledge is not a call to preserve the past but to be more honest about it, and about our present. It declares a “new academic freedom” through the terms of a transparently politicized “us” and for a “we” who have dedicated ourselves to the only form of life that will make available “the varied seeds that will be necessary to feed the world in the future.”[3] Dismissing the nostalgia that fuels defenses of academic freedom on the basis of what she calls the liberal public good model (or “the language of liberal democracy and service to the public” [31]), Schleck argues for a break with any justification based on the moral ethos of neutrality. Such a moral rhetoric only obscures the actual economic principle of academic freedom. In contrast to the public good model of disinterested research done for the sake of national social progress, the new academic freedom frees “us” up to avow the agonistic material conditions and political convictions, along with funding resources, that motivate and enable “our” research. Schleck thus replaces the idea of an academic freedom practiced for the sake of the public of the nation-state with an academic freedom for the sake of something that, as she admits, “will sound familiar to advocates of the public-good model” but that “differs in that it explicitly places this good in the realm of economic theory, providing a definition for it pertinent to arguments over material resources” (109). But in spite of her grounding this new academic freedom in debates about material resources, Schleck concludes that “the good it offers is not actual, but potential” (109).

The justification for this break is often couched in strategic terms informed by a historical transformation not so much in political economy as in the arrangement between political economy and the civil sphere, which Schleck understands as the transformation from the Progressive Era to present-day neoliberalism. For Schleck, the material conditions of liberal democracy that afforded a more mystified and less transparently political version of academic freedom included a scarcity of academic labor, a surplus of faculty jobs, and a generally Progressive Era mentality. But even this limited historical materialist context is, for the most part, a superficial setting. Indeed, Schleck declares herself agnostic on the extent to which the proscriptive declaration of academic freedom was ever really realized as a set of autonomous relations among the university, the state, and the market; and her treatment of the relationship between the university and the capitalist economy renders any such diagnosis largely superfluous. Rather than an analysis of the Cold War era of capital accumulation that enabled certain forms of autonomy to professors, it is the proscriptive feature of academic freedom and the futural temporality it enshrines that Schleck is really concerned with.

The historical contexts that ostensibly inaugurated the need for a strategic embrace of dirty knowledge are provided in Dirty Knowledge more for the sake of achieving greater transparency around the essence of academic freedom. Strange as it may sound, dirty knowledge is a purified, subjectively open knowledge, and Schleck’s preservation of academic freedom is rooted in its transhistorical character. The replacement of one moral justification—neutrality—for another—transparency—is ironically in the service of what often reads as the increased freedom to participate in a Manichean battle between the specter of neoliberalism and “we” possessors of the good. This fundamental separation entails numerous others throughout the book, including a separation between those who think and those who work at the university; between the university and capitalism; and between a universi(al)ty noumena and the arbitrary phenomena that it has the power to organize into freedom.

One can, it seems, be agnostic about the extent to which academic freedom was the product of a capitalist economy differently arranged than our own. What is really at stake here is the preservation of the ontology of academic knowledge, which appears most fully in the concluding chapter of the book as a vital/ist spirit that ensures the future of a democratic polity. And it is the promise of the contract that secures such a future. Academic freedom is a contractually-guaranteed precondition of academic labor that ensures a “process and a product that are necessary to our collective future” (103). That contract provides the material security to struggle over the ideas that will function as “a vast bank of knowledge,” not in the present, but for the uncertainty of what is to come. In other words, dirty knowledge enables the sanctioning of a more essentially free knowledge that is even more non-instrumentalized and non-teleological than that of the past. This contract is not made on the basis of an exchange of labor for wages, however. Schleck rejects the notion that “the right adheres to the work, rather than that the employment contract that precedes and codifies the work and thus the conditions in which it is to be undertaken” (52). It is a contract that recognizes subjects of freedom, not those subjugated workers that Marx described in the terms of the double freedom to sell their labor in the absence of any other means by which to live. Here Schleck’s indifference towards the actual separation between academic labor and capitalism or the state returns in her conviction that the university is an essentially moral entity, “a battleground for contending notions of the good.” Academic freedom thus enshrines a metaphysical separation between the university and capitalism that may or may not be realized in practice.

In the firm distinction that Schleck makes between labor and academic contracts, the liberal politics of the recognition of difference becomes the primary terrain of struggle. Here the metaphysics of the contract is at stake as the transparency of separation or division itself. Others have written extensively about this contractual logic, oftentimes in terms of the innate distinction it presupposes between productive and unproductive labor, productive and reproductive labor, waged and unwaged labor, etc. What the contract recognizes for Schleck, however, is an innate uniqueness of an academic “form of life”—in other words, its exception to the generalizability of labor construed in Marxist terms. Such a “form of life” is not a matter of labor in the abstract or of an economy of exchange. It is, in its essence, a Kantian freedom, which is to say the freedom of nonpurposive purposiveness or the freedom granted to a form of life not determined by external conditions or constraints. This is why academic freedom is not the product of work but rather an a priori condition—a necessity not dictated by material conditions, but rather a transcendental freedom that the contract recognizes.

Academic freedom is, in this sense, a replica of the liberal state, however much it might be distinguished from the historical instantiation of the public-good model. Schleck recognizes the imbrication of the university and the state in its earlier iteration, in which autonomy was granted to faculty with the understanding that such an indirect relation was ultimately in direct service to the state: “the university is a state institution not supported in the interest of or for the professors. They are merely tools in the service of the state” (25).[4] Such a form of life is granted freedom because it self-regulates in accordance with the law and such law-abiding self-regulation ensures its security.

The “we” that Schleck addresses throughout the book is a “form of life” in a sense that she paraphrases from Wittgenstein, as “patterns of practice and agreed upon activities (including speech, or ‘language-games’) that characterize groups of people and exhibit their shifting understandings of being in the world” (80). This particular form of life and the way it uses language is embedded in a moral claim about “the deep investments faculty in different fields have to their notion of the way the world works and how one should appropriately engage with it” (80). The faculty form of life, in other words, is especially defined by its commitment to the regulation of appropriate engagement with the world, which it incubates in its own practice of self-governance and in its ability to discipline and adjudicate ideas internally based on its own established norms. Faculty constitute a form of life because their work is not defined by pre-determined outcomes but dictated freely of their own accord to be in accordance with the state. Schleck offers continuity between the past and present commitments to regulating such knowledge production, citing in the first chapter the rationale originally offered by the AAUP in which faculty “judged its peers’ work and ‘purged its ranks of the incompetent and unworthy…to prevent the freedom which it claims in the name of science from being used as a shelter for inefficiency’” (30). This self-adjudicating activity finds its present-day context in the struggle over financial resources and the scarcity of jobs. Indeed, such rigorous judgment and self-regulated separation is now more important than ever in the context of entrenched contestation in which no less than the future is at stake. Such a context demands “strong contenders who can most fully embody” (102) their forms of life in “an arena of contention in which faculty and administrators argue over what is the best way to use their finite resource” (103). It is in this privileging of an entirely Kantian notion of faculty, freedom, and self-governing judgment that Schleck’s defense of academic freedom and the university retains perhaps the strongest form of nostalgia for the university.

Thus, while the bulk of Schleck’s argument is dedicated to the replacement of one justification of academic freedom for another, the law-preserving role of the state haunts the text. Having instituted itself as the sole legitimate force, the vast majority of the work of the state, in the account Benjamin gives us, is the preservation of its monopoly on violence through the construction of the myth of its legitimacy. One way that we might understand that monopoly is through the disciplining work of educational institutions, along with the establishment and preservation of disciplinary knowledge. And Schleck is clear that the faculty form of life is capable of self-regulation and internal disciplining in the context of scarcity and a surplus population of labor that mimics the work of the state.

To this extent, Schleck reiterates Nancy Fraser’s description of a thick and multiple public sphere: “What is needed, rather, is a post-bourgeois conception that can permit us to envision a greater role for (at least some) public spheres than mere autonomous opinion formation removed from authoritative decision-making”; in other words, we need multiple public spheres that do not adhere to a “sharp separation of civil society and the state” but rather “some sort of inter-imbrication of those institutions” (76). In contrast to an idealized separation between the public sphere and the state, Fraser suggests that what is bourgeois about the public sphere is its fantasized separation from state power. In a post-bourgeois [for Schleck, in a post-liberal] context, publics need to acquire authority in order to intervene into decisions about equality and the redistribution of resources. Fraser offers this potential in 1990, but the critical allure of a politicized transparency between the public and the state also underlies Schleck’s critique of the liberal public good model in favor of dirty academic knowledge that is “inter-imbricated,” to borrow Fraser’s term, with the state, explicitly through state funding but also through its centrality to democracy. This continuity tells us something about the tradition that the new academic freedom draws from.

As with all such addresses, Schleck’s conjuring of a “we,” an “us,” and an “ours” is performative. It relies on an interpellative turn, which is itself caught up in the that capacity of language to describe a givenness that our use of language is at all times re-making. For this reason it is worth saying that there are other ways of addressing the composition of academic labor in which what is given is constitutively dirtier than the separation of an “us” and a “them.” In contrast to the distinctions that Schleck makes between academic labor and other forms, and between the university and capitalism, and between a “we” and an unstated “them,” the Cops off Campus Research Collective offers a “theory of the university” that “calls for a fundamental rethinking of property relations.”[5] This is “a theory that refuses many collective assumptions of the university, perhaps most centrally its benevolence and its inevitable future.” For those in the CCRC, such a theory asks us to consider “the ways that we’re all of [the university], whether or not we want to be” and thus to “refuse absolution from complicity with the institutions’ violence.” This refusal of absolution, and its release from original sin, is both a deconstruction of the any presumed beginnings—speculative or historical—of the university apart from violence and of the givenness of separability—moral or value producing—in the forms of life sustained there. 

If the university is not separate from the violence of imposing property relations, and if we viscerally feel a desire to refuse the logic of the innate that secures the properties of the universi(al)ty, then we might begin to imagine other, more porous, and more generalized bases upon which relations of collectivity have already broken through its walls. Rather than a narrative of decline from self-regulated autonomy to a realpolitik of dirty knowledge, the university and so-called academic labor would have been a porous exposure to and the imposition of indebtedness, gentrification, policing, and knowledge extraction that constituted the universi(al)ty through different phases of capital accumulation. Stating such a history does not make us free from the metaphysics of contractual freedom I described above, nor does it make us pure through the knowledge yielded by critique. What it can do is make available a different topos of origins in which a “we” is not grounded in the desire for the freedom of separation but composed by the desire for the ever-shifting, always sedimented sharing of resources.

One site amongst others, the university is the place in which a “we” is caught in the recomposition of labor along racialized and gendered lines that the Lumumba-Zapata movement, Roderick Ferguson, Nick Mitchell, Abigail Boggs, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and others have documented and analyzed.[6] Reading their studies of the university, we can understand the proliferation of divisions and hierarchies through which the activity of labor is internally turned into disciplined orders, including those of “us” who think and “those” who work, “we” of the employment and “they” of the labor contract—but also the internally divisive lines of the paid versus the unpaid, the productive versus the reproductive, and the citizen versus the intruder/outsider. Each division functions as a double contract: a contract with the state and against the generalizability of labor.

As Boggs and Mitchell describe in a stunning review of recent texts in Critical University Studies, it matters whether or not we begin our analysis of the university as such with the knowledge of our embeddedness in the project of “accumulation by education” and the use of this embeddedness to foster a solidarity that “takes shape in modes that are potentially imperceptible by conventional means.” [7] This notion of “accumulation by education” expands to include the history of academic labor in a “context constituted as much by students and instructors as it is by those who cleared furnace ashes and emptied chamber pots, by those whose communities were removed for campuses to take root, and by those whose bodies were used as raw materials.” The university has never been autonomous from the project of capital accumulation, even if at times certain relations of relative autonomy were integral to that project.

What Schleck speculates as the uniquely separable status of the faculty form of life and the attendant narrative of decline it presumes is part of what Boggs and Mitchell have called the “crisis consensus” in Critical University Studies. As described by them, such a consensus “settles in advance the constitutive problems and paradoxes” that constitute “the university as such” and approaches “privatization as transparent evidence of the crisis-ridden nature of the now.”[8] The critical and affective orientation of this consensus is predisposed “toward rescue and repair,” which narrows in advance the “temporalities to which it conscripts our imaginations, the forgetting it requires, and the limits it places on visions and strategies.”[9] Nostalgia for the liberal public good model that Schleck opposes here takes on far more than a yearning for neutrality. It is what Stuart Hall might have described as a cognitive mapping of common sense. Such a map makes the university necessary for the future by occluding or exceptionalizing its embeddedness in racialized capital accumulation, which also occludes other arrangements of possible “we/s” who work in and live around it. In contrast to Schleck’s presentation of the university as only recently captured by market logics, incentives, and rewards, which she juxtaposes to the autonomy of the university from direct state of capital intervention in the Progressive Era, Boggs and Mitchell track a continuous accumulation of capital through the university’s beginnings in slavery and indigenous genocide, a process that is not the result of an intensified onslaught from some outside or a “them,” but that follows from the generalized hierarchy of debt, securitized futures, and surplus population of racialized others upon which capital depends in different ways at different historical periods. The context described by Boggs and Mitchell, which is borrowed and recited from others, is one that we need to know if we are to know how to compose ourselves together against the theological givenness of knowledge as property.

I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that these other critical analytics are more accurate because they are more properly historical, whereas Schleck’s argument is specious because of its more speculative or philosophical orientation. These other approaches are open about their treatment of the university “as such,” and thus also operate at a certain level of abstraction and generalizability towards which conceptual work tends. The difference between them, to my mind, has everything to do with the extent to which the conceptual does or does not become an active Kantian project of disciplining and ordering—and, in this case, a still-liberal project of disciplining and ordering that Schleck calls forms of life.

Instead of a liberal, contractual notion of forms of life, we might consider what Amaia Pérez Orozco describes as “the processes of sustaining life by understanding the socioeconomic system as an integrated circuit of production-reproduction, paid-unpaid labor, market-state-home and evaluating to what extent it generates conditions for a life that deserves to be lived while understanding how it participates in reconstructing power relations.”[10] It is in association with this process of sustaining life that the Jadu’I watermelon, Jenin, Alabama, anti-blackness, and the knowledge of subsistence that has been preserved by Arab and Black social life first occurred to me as I was drafting this review. Such knowledge is not secured by academic freedom. It is bound up with forms of life that have accumulated against the brutality of so-called democratic states like the U.S. and Israel. For Orozco, a shift towards the “process of sustaining life” has deep implications for how knowledge is produced and what it is understood to be. As she writes, “the wager could be for thinking itself to become collective. In other words, the conceptual framework and its many implications […] can be shared and appropriated by a community and not only learned from what is taught by an oligarchic intellectuality.”[11] Rather than faculty autonomy, the wager of collective thinking against the accumulation of capital through “production-reproduction, paid-unpaid labor, market-state-home” would have to invest in the undoing of the separation between forms of life that think and forms of life that labor.

I do not mean to dismiss the importance of the strategic utility of academic freedom as a tool for maintaining status quo protections for a certain subset of academic labor. As Fred Moten wrote in regards to justifying an academic boycott of Israeli institutions on the basis of any potentially-universal academic freedom: “It is, of course, entirely possible to understand the tactical necessity” of academic freedom without letting go of the “strategic legitimacy of recognizing the limits of academic freedom […] in how we relate to one another in our common struggle against settler colonialism.”[12] Indeed, the boycott was grounded in the very real recognition of the brutal denial of academic freedom to Palestinian scholars and teachers, as well as on the basis of it as an exemplary expression of academic freedom “in the traditional sense because it represents the autonomous, self-regulating activity of the academy.”[13] In this way, the BDS movement was and is strikingly consistent with some of Schleck’s notion of a new, politicized academic freedom.

Where the boycott might depart from a reinforcement of the lawful contract between academic labor and the state is in its demonstration that the state cannot tolerate forms of life that remind it of its derivative power. If the failure of the attempt to pass a BDS resolution in academic organizations like the MLA and the AAA shows us anything, it is that the law’s monopoly on violence requires our acceptance of the exchange between contractual autonomy and a mimetic self-regulation. Against that mimetic economy of ever-derivative forms of “autonomous, self-regulating activity,” Palestinian civil society’s call for a boycott of Israeli universities’ sanctioning and participation in settler colonialism allows us to, as Moten writes, “attend to the local conceptual field in which the state-sanctioned, institutionalized individual intellectual, the state-sanctioned intellectual institution, and the settler colonial state animate and support one another.” “Surely such an inquiry,” he continues, would allow us to ask “the question of an- or sub-autonomous knowledge.”[14]

Recalling the constitutive porosity of the university and state violence described by the CCRC, Moten’s proposal of an “an- or sub-autonomous knowledge” is not a pursuit of a pure or originary “we” that is outside of the brutality of sovereignty or neoliberalism. Instead, Moten proposes that such brutality, which we must constantly strive to disentangle ourselves from because we are so bound up with it, is a response to the “anoriginary counterviolence of thought and of imagination.”[15] This anoriginary violence is the violence of what was never pure or separable and thus what is the an-archic condition of the mess that we are and we are in. As settlers in Israel become only increasingly legitimized by an increasingly far right state—which was enabled first by a democratic state—and as settlers in the U.S. issue letters of concern for the safety of “our” children against the presence of humans in migration, the limits of the legitimacy that we grant to the law to police and allocate freedom can only appear as an alignment with state violence. We should ask for whom this is a strategic, a pragmatic, move, and whose lives appear deserving of being-sustained in the light of the myth of the state’s, and the public’s, nonviolent origins.

Against the abstraction of the separable knowledges of the academic and the non-academic, the state subject and the not-yet-sovereign, I take this notion of the anoriginary to figure the actual practice of intensifying the entanglement of working conditions and the forms of labor to which we are contracted with the life-sustaining activities that are continuously being improvised in and through the failures of the contractual around us. From what I gather, we must study—which is to say, we must continuously devise ways to be in relation to—the life-sustaining failure of the contract in order to both recover and create mediations with what can be generalized in our labors.

[1] Walter Benjamin, “Critique of Violence,” Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings Volume I, 1913-1926, edited by Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), p, 243.

[2] Noura Erakat, “Designing the Future in Palestine,” Boston Review. Dec. 19, 2022. Retrieved January 2023.

[3] Julia Schleck, Dirty Knowledge: Academic Freedom in the Age of Neoliberalism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2022), p. 80. Further references to this text will be cited parenthetically. See also the following passage from the book: “The university’s social function is not as a place apart from our society’s battles over resources and priorities but as one of the most important forums for debating such questions. In this, it is similar in kind to the fourth estate—the public press—but only the university provides a place where detailed, long-form arguments can be articulated over time by those who have dedicated their lives to debating such questions” (Schleck, my emphasis, 79).

[4] Along with the public, we also, of course, find the family. The autonomy granted to faculty was not only from the public. Academic freedom also granted male breadwinners relief from the “bread and butter” of “providing a living for a family” (25). Unencumbered by the anxieties of “providing a living for a family” (25), male faculty were free to educate and produce research for a “’well-educated public, one that has the knowledge and understanding to participate thoughtfully in public concerns and problems’” (16). Democracy, at least for the initial framers of academic freedom, could only thrive if the instrumentalizing demands of the public and of social reproduction were separated from the pursuit of knowledge and if the insights of knowledge contributed only indirectly to needs—whether that be of the family or the oikos of the public.

[5] Abbie Boggs, Eli Meyerhoff, Nick Mitchell, et all, “Cops Off Campus Research Collective Inquiry,” Viewpoint Magazine. Jan. 19, 2022. Retrieved June 2023.

[6] Abigail Boggs and Nick Mitchell, “Critical University Studies and the Crisis Consensus,” Feminist Studies, Vol. 44, No. 2 (2018): pp. 432-463. In their article, Boggs and Mitchell review the work of McMillan Cottom and Roderick A. Ferguson. I refer readers to that essay. On the Lumumba-Zapata movement, see Roderick A. Ferguson’s The Reorder of Things: The University and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012).

[7] Boggs and Mitchell, “Critical University Studies,” p. 460.

[8] Boggs and Mitchell, “Critical University Studies,” p. 435.

[9] Boggs and Mitchell, “Critical University Studies,” p. 436.

[10] Amaia Pérez Orozco, The Feminist Subversion of the Economy: Contributions for Life Against Capital, Translated by Liz Mason-Deese (Brooklyn: Common Notions, 2022), p. 22.

[11] Orozco, The Feminist Subversion, p. 9.

[12] Fred Moten, “Here, There, and Everywhere,” in Stolen Life: Consent Not to Be a Single Being (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018), p. 221. The argument for an institutional boycott of Israeli universities was grounded on the concept of academic freedom in a way that partially reflects Schleck’s argument for a politically-charged and agonistic freedom. At the Modern Language Association, the resolution for the boycott read as follows:

Whereas the MLA affirms: “When academic freedom is curtailed, higher education is compromised”;

Whereas the US materially supports Israel’s ongoing violations of human rights and international law;

Whereas these violations include the systematic denial of academic freedom and educational rights for Palestinian scholars and students;

Whereas Israeli universities are instrumental in perpetuating these violations;

Be it resolved that the MLA endorses Palestinian civil society’s call for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and

Be it further resolved that the MLA affirms the right of faculty and students everywhere to advocate for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, without retaliation.

[13] Nick Riemer, “A Question of Academic Freedom,” Jacobin, July 31, 2017. Accessed July 2023.

[14] Moten, “Here, There, and Everywhere,” 218. Citing the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, we documented how Israeli academic institutions were directly and materially involved in the denial of that freedom to Palestinian faculty:

III. Whereas these violations include the systematic denial of academic freedom and educational rights for Palestinian scholars and students;

Within both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), Israel systematically violates the academic freedom and educational rights of Palestinian scholars and students in three significant ways: 1) restrictions on travel and mobility; 2) campus invasions resulting in the closure or destruction of institutions; and 3) discrimination and censorship. Such violations have been well documented in recent reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and many agencies within the United Nations, cited throughout this section.

[15] Moten, “Here, There, and Everywhere,” p. 221.

Posted in Issue 2.

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