UI Trustee Breaks Ranks! Chancellor Distances Herself from the Decision! We Have an Opening!

by Corey Robin on September 5, 2014

I said in my last post that “barring some major developments,” I wouldn’t be posting on the Salaita affair for a while. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you some major developments.

One of the University of Illinois trustees has broken ranks with his colleagues, publicly voicing misgivings about the decision to dehire Salaita, revealing that the boycott has had a definite impact on the university, and, most important, that this case is not closed and that we have an opening to get the Board to reverse course.

In a bombshell interview with Ali Abunimah, the trustee says, well, I’ll just hand it over to Ali.

A trustee of the University of Illinois has added to public criticism over the decision to fire Palestinian American professor and Israel critic Steven Salaita.


“I think it would have been far better had it been dealt with differently and had it been done with more consultation with faculty,” James D. Montgomery told The Electronic Intifada today.


He also acknowledged the “adverse” impact that a growing boycott was having on the university’s ability to function.


Montgomery, a prominent Chicago attorney, echoed the regrets expressed by Chancellor Phyllis Wise over her own role in the affair.


Montgomery was careful, however, to say that he was undecided about the merits of the case, but he sounded far less certain and more circumspect than a public statement he signed last month along with other trustees forcefully backing Wise’s decision.



Montgomery laid out some of the issues that the board would be faced with at its upcoming 11 September meeting.


“Obviously there’s a lot of uproar on both sides of the issue from the perspective of students and alums who are offended by the manner in which Salaita spoke,” Montgomery said.


“And there are folks who are claiming that is a violation of the right to academic freedom. It’s a difficult decision in terms of what is right and what is wrong,” he continued.


“I know we’re going into executive session and obviously there are people who are seeking to pressure the university to reverse its decision. It’s coming from very significant places. It’s had an adverse impact because people are declining to participate in university activities and there have been a number of events canceled.”



“How it will turn out is anybody’s guess and I would not hazard one at this point,” Montgomery now says, adding he personally has not made up his mind about the issues the board would have to decide.


Montgomery’s public statements come on the heels of Chancellor Wise’s statement yesterday to the faculty that she herself was not the decider in the Salaita affair but rather the agent of the trustees’ wishes. In other words, all those folks, including some commenters here, who credited Wise with making a principled and judicious academic decision, must now come to terms with the fact that she has distanced herself from her own decision, claiming that it was not even hers.

From Illinois Public Media:

The chancellor of the University of Illinois Urbana campus Thursday expressed regret about the way she came to a decision to withdraw a job offer to a professor who posted inflammatory comments on Twitter – a decision she said was “pretty unilateral.”


Chancellor Phyllis Wise said members of the Board of Trustees told her in July that they likely would not approve the appointment of Professor Steven Salaita. A week later, Wise sent a letter to Salaita rescinding the job offer.


“The judgment I made in writing him was to convey the sentiment of the Board of Trustees, it was not mine.” She said. “And I did it because I thought I was doing something humane for him.”


Humane, she said, because she didn’t want Salaita to move his family to Urbana only to learn his appointment was not approved.


Wise also admitted in another colloquy (with students) that she did not involve the faculty in the discussion in the way she should have:

 

I, in hindsight, wish I had been a little bit more deliberate and had consulted with more people before I made that decision.


So here are the takeaways:

First, you have a university leadership in total disarray. The fact that a member of the Board of Trustees and the university’s own chancellor would be publicly voicing so many misgivings is not merely a sign that they made a bad decision that they are now regretting; it’s also a sign that no one is in control and all the principal agents are speaking out of turn, on and for their own behalf. That’s a bad sign for the university politically and legally: when you see this kind of unraveling, you’re likely to hear someone in authority say something that they shouldn’t have said, which will come back to haunt the university in court.

Second, this is not a done deal. Montgomery clearly says that he has no idea how or what the Trustees will decide, and how he will vote.

Third, a member of the Board of Trustees and the university chancellor have now publicly admitted that the faculty should have been involved in this decision.

Fourth, as Bonnie Honig pointed out to me, the UI Board of Trustees is small. There are twelve members, two of whom (students) can’t vote. That means we don’t have to sway a lot of individuals. At least one out of ten of the trustees is undecided, with the potential ability to bring some folks with him. (As an important side note, Martha Biondi wrote this on my FB page: “Faculty in African American Studies should write to James Montgomery [the trustee who’s broken ranks], who once served as an attorney for the family of slain Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, and remind him that African American Studies would never have entered the academy without the principle of academic freedom. He has a history fighting racial discrimination as a lawyer. We need to appeal to this history.”)

Fifth, when we went through a similar battle over BDS at Brooklyn College, this is how it happened. One key figure cracked, then they all fell down. No predictions, no guarantees. But this could be the beginning of the end.

Sixth, and most important, email the Board of Trustees. We have an opening, so let’s take it. Be polite, be firm, reach out to them as people. All of you have gotten us to this point. Now take us all the way there.

Again here are the emails:

Christopher G. Kennedy, Chair, University of Illinois Board of Trustees: chris@northbankandwells.com


Robert A. Easter, President: reaster@uillinois.edu


Hannah Cave, Trustee: hcave2@illinois.edu


Ricardo Estrada, Trustee: estradar@metrofamily.org


Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Trustee: patrick.fitzgerald@skadden.com


Lucas N. Frye, Trustee: lnfrye2@illinois.edu


Karen Hasara, Trustee: hasgot28@aol.com


Patricia Brown Holmes, Trustee: pholmes@schiffhardin.com


Timothy N. Koritz, Trustee: timothy.koritz@gmail.com or tkoritz@gmail.com


Danielle M. Leibowitz, Trustee: dleibo2@uic.edu


Edward L. McMillan, Trustee: mcmillaned@sbcglobal.net or mcmillaned@msn.com


James D. Montgomery, Trustee: james@jdmlaw.com


Pamela B. Strobel, Trustee: pbstrobel@comcast.net


Thomas R. Bearrows, University Counsel: bearrows@uillinois.edu


Susan M. Kies, Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the University: kies@uillinois.edu


Lester H. McKeever, Jr., Treasurer, Board of Trustees: lmckeever@wpmck.com

{ 72 comments }

1

Anarcissie 09.05.14 at 4:58 pm

I think it might be interesting and even useful to identify the political structure, the set of relationships, which promoted the dumping of Salaita in the first place. If it’s already been done, I missed it.

2

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 5:24 pm

When this is all over and if the author is willing, would the CT hosts please consider doing a book event on the serious academic work of Steven Salaita? I think it’s pretty clear there is an audience.

3

Lynne 09.05.14 at 5:44 pm

Corey, typo in title: Chancellow for Chancellor

4

Lynne 09.05.14 at 5:49 pm

Joshua, I take my hat off to you, a self-described Zionist requesting a book event for Salaita. Really, my admiration is sincere, especially since I remember you have a son in Israel.

5

Corey Robin 09.05.14 at 6:05 pm

Lynne, thanks for the catch; now fixed. I think Joshua is trying to make a point about the audience, not the work. Or, put more precisely, that the worthiness of (and interest in) the work is a measure of the worthiness of the audience. Which is not a lot. He thinks.

6

Lynne 09.05.14 at 6:10 pm

Oh. Joshua, is that true? Do I need to clamp my hat back on my head asap?

7

bi-state curious 09.05.14 at 6:14 pm

2: Yes! Everyone should read Israel’s Dead Soul. I’ve heard there’s a pdf of it out there.

8

milx 09.05.14 at 6:18 pm

I think a “book event on the serious academic work of Steven Salaita” might be problematic as the scholarship seems to be mostly not very serious.

9

milx 09.05.14 at 6:18 pm

I think a “book event on the serious academic work of Steven Salaita” might be problematic as the scholarship seems to be mostly not very serious:

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/183813/steven-salaita-academic-work/

10

Anarcissie 09.05.14 at 6:38 pm

11

Theobald Schmidt 09.05.14 at 6:54 pm

Wow, Corey, way to be an asshole.

Is it too much effort to assume good faith on the part of your commenters?

12

Barry 09.05.14 at 7:00 pm

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 5:24 pm
“When this is all over and if the author is willing, would the CT hosts please consider doing a book event on the serious academic work of Steven Salaita? I think it’s pretty clear there is an audience.”

Seconded.

Corey, the more blogs which do this in the next week, the better. You and the other academic bloggers should ask others to do this on their blogs, as well, or to participate here.

13

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 7:02 pm

Link @8. Moderator, I think this is contributory infringement of a US copyright, and would urge you to take it down immediately.

14

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 7:09 pm

Oh. Joshua, is that true? Do I need to clamp my hat back on my head asap?

No, not a bit. But Corey has been under a lot of stress, some of it from me — I wouldn’t read too much into his jumping peevish here.

I certainly wasn’t promising to withhold my part in a lively discussion if we can bring Dr. Salaita onboard, mind you. I think it speaks well for what Corey calls the worthiness of the audience that a wide range of readers here would also do their share. Bring it!

15

J Thomas 09.05.14 at 7:30 pm

I hadn’t seen it. After reading the first chapter I’d say I’m more likely to buy it now than I was before, and also recommend my public library buy it.

Are you more interested in making sure Salaita gets his royalties, or is it more that you don’t want people to see his writing?

16

Anarcissie 09.05.14 at 7:31 pm

Well, there were at least three PDFs on Google last time I looked (an hour ago) so it will be easy enough to find whether it’s linked from this page or not.

17

Crooked Timber Commenter 09.05.14 at 7:47 pm

Corey, I can’t find your email address. Would you send me an email? Something relevant has come my way that I think you might be interested in.

18

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 7:51 pm

J Thomas @12: Are you more interested in making sure Salaita gets his royalties, or is it more that you don’t want people to see his writing?

Honestly, it’s that I can’t imagine any self-respecting author joining a discussion at a site which tolerates this behavior. And I don’t think the discussion will be up to the standards of past CT book events if the author doesn’t show up.

I would note in passing that I recommended @2 an event covering Salaita’s work as a whole, not because his latest book isn’t relevant nor because we’re tired of discussing I/P but because we’re likely to get more interesting reflections (yes, even on I/P) by standing off at a distance. Also, the “gotcha” caucus has had enough time to move on to goodreads, and that book is surely next for soundbite scrutiny. Let’s start at the other end, and flank them.

19

Anarcissie 09.05.14 at 8:09 pm

I think the almost instant appeal to the authorities for censorship says more about the issues, the ideologies, the people, the organizations, the IP laws, and so on, than anything I could possibly have written intentionally. What a knot of threads! Amazing.

20

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 8:24 pm

censorship . . . What a knot of threads!

OK, you’re on — untangle it for us, please. I want an influential blog (where more people have posted about Dr. Salaita in the last month than read, much less buy, a typical academic-press book) to discuss his books, presumably by either buying them or encouraging libraries to do so and then reading them. I want to use the prestige of the blog to bring him here, to hear things he hasn’t written yet and possibly to ask him questions directly in a public forum. I think this is more likely to happen if he feels this is a place where his intellectual property is respected by law and custom, and incidentally where he might profit both financially and professionally from many new intelligent critical readers who will all need access to his books at once.

Therefore . . . I am appealing for censorship. Go ahead and fill in the missing steps — I am aquiver.

21

Lyle 09.05.14 at 8:28 pm

@JWB:

I think this is more likely to happen if he feels this is a place where his intellectual property is respected by law and custom, and incidentally where he might profit both financially and professionally from many new intelligent critical readers who will all need access to his books at once. Therefore . . . I am appealing for censorship.

You don’t seem to know much about academic publishing. Nor about the Google.

22

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 8:36 pm

Anarcissie @15: Aha, I just saw a more charitable reading of your remark. I had read you to say, with the concerned gentleman at @12, that I was somehow trying to censor Salaita; squaring that circle deserved the center-stage heckling I proposed. If, as I now read, you were saying that I was trying to censor you, or rather prevent your thoughtlessness from reflecting on our hosts, then yes, quite right, I was and am, and no more need be said about it.

23

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 8:45 pm

You don’t seem to know much about academic publishing.

I got a $16 royalty check from Japan a few years ago, apparently for a photocopy of my dissertation. After looking carefully at everything I signed that long-ago spring, I am still without a clue who wanted to buy it, who was entitled to sell it, why they thought I was entitled to a cut, and how they tracked me down to deliver it. The department and school who granted the degree also profess ignorance; I haven’t been persistent enough to ask higher. I did check the file copy in the school library, and the $20 bill I left in there for the first reader is still safely tucked behind the dedication page.

24

Lyle 09.05.14 at 8:47 pm

I got a $16 royalty check from Japan a few years ago, blahblahblahblah

Who cares, except you? Are you consciously trying to overshadow all other voices here?

25

godoggo 09.05.14 at 9:06 pm

Besides, he’s a “bald-faced liar,” I understand. Christ, someone’s derangement is contagious here.

26

William Berry 09.05.14 at 9:15 pm

Damn’, you all sound like a bunch of cry-babies. Grow up, already.

Your piss-fight is not really at issue here. Shouldn’t be, I mean.

27

Dean C. Rowan 09.05.14 at 9:55 pm

@JWB: Are you the author of “Fermion loops in the effective potential of N = 1 supergravity, with application to no-scale models,” submitted at UC Berkeley in 1990? If so, subscribers to ProQuest’s Dissertations & Theses service can purchase your dissertation for $38-72, depending on format. It took me two minutes to locate this information via PQ D&T. My guess is that somebody searched the service for dissertations about particle physics in D&T or a similar Japanese service, perhaps one licensed to PQ.

28

J Thomas 09.05.14 at 9:59 pm

Honestly, it’s that I can’t imagine any self-respecting author joining a discussion at a site which tolerates this behavior.

Ah. I guess I’ve been associating with too many science fiction authors. Some of them think that their sales go up when they release some (or all) of their work online.

The argument is that they are more likely to sell to people who know how good they are. It’s worked that way for me as a reader. I’ve bought more Cory Doctorow novels after I read them than I would have blind.

Salaita’s situation is special. We’re talking about a $27 paperback that must be ordered mail order or online. Probably not a giant print run. They might sell out of paper copies, and interest in him might die down before most of them arrive.

On the one hand this is a good time for him to maximize his income. On the other hand if he wants to get his point of view across, this is the time to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible. He might get a chance to influence thousands or even millions of American voters who have never heard about palestinians except through Zionist propaganda.

It doesn’t seem as one-sided to me as you make it. Maybe you just lack imagination.

29

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 10:05 pm

Cory Doctorow invites me to sleep on his living room couch (this has never actually happened, by the way). Lacking imagination, I fail to generalize the license to other people’s couches. Whatever . . . everybody have a good weekend.

30

Mario 09.05.14 at 10:07 pm

I suppose these posts could be a lot less intrusive if Corey made use of the “fold” functionality of the blog. Some formatting would also help. Like this, it has the looks of a spam blog.

[...] no one is in control and all the principal agents are speaking out of turn, on and for their own behalf.

I’d say that’s pretty typical of academia, and not necessarily related to the merits of the case.

31

Ronan(rf) 09.05.14 at 10:10 pm

Cory Doctorow came to me in a dream last night. Told me to kidnap the pope.

32

J Thomas 09.05.14 at 10:12 pm

Cory Doctorow invites me to sleep on his living room couch (this has never actually happened, by the way). Lacking imagination, I fail to generalize the license to other people’s couches.

You can’t imagine that Cory Doctorow has self-respect and also tolerates his own behavior.

I can imagine it. I can imagine that Salaita might feel that way or might not.

Ideally we would ask his opinion about it, but he might be a tad busy at the moment.

33

J Thomas 09.05.14 at 10:12 pm

Cory Doctorow invites me to sleep on his living room couch (this has never actually happened, by the way). Lacking imagination, I fail to generalize the license to other people’s couches.

You can’t imagine that Cory Doctorow has self-respect and also tolerates his own behavior.

I can imagine it. I can imagine that Salaita might feel that way or might not.

Ideally we would ask his opinion about it, but he might be a tad busy at the moment.

34

mud man 09.05.14 at 10:25 pm

I know we’re going into executive session and obviously there are people who are seeking to pressure the university to reverse its decision. It’s coming from very significant places.

THEY are applying preassure, WE are expressing concern, I am examining the issues. And following policy.

35

Anarcissie 09.05.14 at 10:49 pm

Joshua W. Burton 09.05.14 at 8:36 pm @ 17:
‘Anarcissie @15: Aha, I just saw a more charitable reading of your remark. I had read you to say, with the concerned gentleman at @12, that I was somehow trying to censor Salaita; squaring that circle deserved the center-stage heckling I proposed. If, as I now read, you were saying that I was trying to censor you…’

I thought you were trying to censor CT, or rather, get The Authorities to censor CT. See bad thing, call the cops. Obviously neither you nor they can censor me or Salaita (under present conditions). The story is about you. In any case, I will not be picking apart the knot in comments on a mostly unrelated article. So you’re all safe until my next gaffe.

36

Andrew F. 09.05.14 at 11:09 pm

Here’s a quote from Wise the day prior:

Wise said she withdrew Salaita’s appointment because trustees would likely have rejected it — and because there’s no place on campus for words that “demean or abuse” people just for expressing certain views.

So I’d take the quote of what she said the day after with a grain of salt (though either quote could be misleadingly clipped from context).

As to Montogomery’s remarks, though one always must consider the views of the source who is reporting them, even taking them at face value, he’s doing what any good attorney would be doing in those circumstances. The case for viewpoint discrimination just became a little more difficult.

Also note that he’s speaking in terms of whether to “reverse [the University's] decision” – not in terms of whether to approve or disapprove of Salaita’s appointment to tenure as a matter of first impression.

All that said, if there is evidence made available undermining the reason for declining to hire him, it’s certainly possible for the Board to reverse course.

It is excellent that the University recognizes the deficiencies in the way this was handled, regardless.

37

Corey Robin 09.06.14 at 2:24 am

Joshua at 13: Glad to hear it.

38

Greer E. 09.06.14 at 6:53 pm

I’m curious about journalists’ use of the term “Israel critic.” When people object to the invasion of Iraq and other U.S. actions, it would be inconceivable for a journalist to refer to them as “America critics.” The apparent purpose of “Israel critic” is to bolster the idea that any criticism of Israeli policies or actions is a criticism of the nation’s very existence.

39

anon 09.08.14 at 2:54 pm

The funniest thing about this is that Prof. Salaita seems to have no expertise what so ever in Native American issues. Yet his hiring was approved by that department along with the leadership of UIUC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

If you academic types want to understand why the majority of people outside your Ivory Tower bubble think you are, at best, considered to be ‘brilliant idiots’ out of touch with the ‘Real World’, this sort of hiring decision is a prime example.

40

J Thomas 09.08.14 at 3:08 pm

#37 anon

[...] seems to have no expertise what so ever in Native American issues [....]

What expertise in NA issues do you use to judge that, Anon?

41

sparrow 09.08.14 at 3:10 pm

@37, Salaita’s doctorate is in Native American Studies.

Not that you were arguing in good faith, but at least try an angle that can’t be refuted in 2 seconds.

42

Watson Ladd 09.08.14 at 3:19 pm

The sort that believes that if you work in the area of a subject, your books should have something to do with that subject. Has Salaita actually published an article dealing with Native Americans? There seems to be an ocean in between the area he researches and the one he was hired to study.

43

Corey Robin 09.08.14 at 3:37 pm

“Has Salaita actually published an article dealing with Native Americans? There seems to be an ocean in between the area he researches and the one he was hired to study.”

You know, putative statement of fact, even when framed as rhetorical questions, can be verified. Salaita has something called a CV, which has been posted in a set of publicly available and downloadable documents on this very blog. If you read those documents, you’ll see that the answer to your question is yes (in fact, he’s even published a book on the topic), and the response to your statement is: You’re wrong.

44

AcademicLurker 09.08.14 at 3:50 pm

If you read those documents, you’ll see that the answer to your question is yes (in fact, he’s even published a book on the topic), and the response to your statement is: You’re wrong.

Please, professor Robin, introducing facts into the discussion is terribly uncivil. Can’t we all just get along?

45

Joshua W. Burton 09.08.14 at 4:37 pm

If you read those documents, you’ll see that the answer to your question is yes (in fact, he’s even published a book on the topic), and the response to your statement is: You’re wrong.

A book event would push on past this level of refutable discourse in about 30 seconds, and past the soundbites in a couple of hours. (Leaving some sustained eddies in its wake around any outstanding soundbites, no doubt, but with enough clean water the river keeps moving.) Is anyone opposed?

46

In the sky 09.08.14 at 5:24 pm

If you read those documents, you’ll see that the answer to your question is yes (in fact, he’s even published a book on the topic), and the response to your statement is: You’re wrong.

Corey, stop abusing his viewpoint. In the interests of free speech, I simply won’t stand for it.

47

Joshua W. Burton 09.08.14 at 5:26 pm

This is the strongest Salaita quote I’ve found so far for how his scholarly approach bridges Watson Ladd’s “ocean” @40:

In Native American Studies, the ethical tenets I put forward have been discussed widely. My goal is not to recapitulate those discussions, but to examine them in the context of interculturalism. In particular, I would like to argue that an Indigenous Studies best positions itself to succeed as both academic discipline and communal advocate by exploring its immanent comparative possibilities, especially those contradistinctive of the colonialist and neoliberal alliances working against it. To put it another way, if an Indigenous Studies is to cultivate a political commitment, a prerequisite of its distinctiveness, then it must continue to simultaneously cultivate a vision that can be transformative interculturally. The subject of transformation is not limited to Indigenous communities themselves, but also encompasses the objects of neoliberal power that cannot be separated from the Indigenous pursuit of viable self-determination. The ethics of intercultural work, then, are in their most basic form seditious: they cannot distinguish themselves from extant scholarly norms or entertain any type of activist mission without endeavoring to reorder unjust power structures. This proposition is not only intellectually tenable; it is ethically reasonable. To use a personal example, I would much rather read work that illuminates serious problems affecting Indigenes and offers intelligent possibilities for change. And I would rather produce scholarship that is more germane to people contesting Israeli barbarity than to the folks who scrutinize nametags at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention. That this sort of work, so common among Indigenous intellectuals, is considered by the scholarly establishment to be crude or punitive reveals less about the quality of the work than it does about the complicity of Western scholarship in neoliberal centers of power. (Intl. J. of Critical Indigenous Studies, Vol 1, no. 1, p. 9.)

And this is the strongest quote I’ve found for UIUC taking his tweets much more seriously than they should those of a typical humanities hire:

As my CV indicates, I have also published a variety of articles and book reviews in refereed journals. In the tradition of my forebears and contemporaries in Native and cultural studies, I believe in the concept of the public intellectual, placing work in a variety of print and internet media. I also advocate engagement with material politics and the betterment of the communities about whom writers and scholars purport to be concerned. (Salaita, cover letter to UIUC English department, 22 Oct 2012.)

But I’m jumping the gun. Still hoping for a book event!

48

Harold 09.08.14 at 5:59 pm

A clear instance of lèse-majesté.

49

Rich Puchalsky 09.08.14 at 6:54 pm

Joshua W. Burton apparently thinks that because Salaita has stated that he “advocate[s] engagement with material politics” that the university should police his politics.

50

Harold 09.08.14 at 7:03 pm

As long as he doesn’t frighten the horses.

51

Joshua W. Burton 09.08.14 at 7:06 pm

More precisely, if the case he chooses to make for his job is that they’re hiring the whole man, then every stage of the hiring process should consider the relevant evidence he is presenting, particularly because he invokes the norms of his tradition as counterpoised to the hegemonic norms of the existing power structure.

52

Joshua W. Burton 09.08.14 at 7:32 pm

To be clear, this is what Salaita says. Were the trustees to reject his broader vision and review him only on the same narrowly academic criteria that have suppressed other indigenous voices, I would expect them to do their job honestly as they (unimaginatively and from a stance of colonial privilege) understand it, and it might then fall to future generations of public intellectuals to argue in alternative media that it was ill done.

53

anon 09.08.14 at 8:28 pm

# 39 – Sparrow

Could you cite some of his thesis? Or perhaps some of his published works on Native Americans? All that I have been able to find surfing the web is his ‘work’ on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

One example I found was:

“It is well known by Palestinians that anytime one of them enters or exits Israel, regardless of nationality, he or she will likely undergo an anal or vaginal probe. These probes… aren’t intended to be pragmatic. They are acts of psychological domineering and political assertion. The agents of these coercive actions are rehearsing their own depravity through fulfillment of their Orientalist notions of Arab and Muslim sexuality.”

That seems somewhat hard to believe. But then again, most of what I read about this issue seems extraordinary.

54

Colin Danby 09.08.14 at 8:34 pm

@49 and @50: a nice try, but nope.

Let’s start with the job ad, findable in the trove Corey posted the other day. The main paragraph:

“American Indian Studies is searching for a scholar in interdisciplinary American Indian or
Indigenous Studies. While fields and regions of coverage are open, evidence of innovative
transnational, comparative, creative, or interdisciplinary approaches to American Indian or
Indigenous studies is preferred. The successful candidate will have a record of research
excellence and publication in American Indian or Indigenous studies (tenured) or demonstrate
potential to develop such a record (tenure-track). Along with research and publication, the
position requires significant contributions to undergraduate teaching, graduate mentoring, and
program, university, and other forms of professional service. Current program faculty conduct
research in comparative Indigenous studies, media studies, expressive culture, intellectual
history, literary history, educational history, sports, social and political theory, language
revitalization, policy, governance, health, militarization, and performance, and the search
committee will be interested in candidates who can complement those areas. A joint appointment
or teaching arrangement with another academic unit on campus is likely. Minimum
qualifications include the PhD or equivalent by the start of appointment, clear knowledge and
experience in American Indian and Indigenous studies, scholarly achievement and promise, and
evidence of teaching excellence. Experience working with American Indian or other Indigenous
communities is a plus.”

Anyone with experience doing academic hiring should know that once you post an ad, you are morally and legally constrained to use the ad’s criteria to assess candidates for the position. This is one of the reasons ads get so much review before going out. (You will also see in the document trove the hiring committee’s pre-review memo on how it plans to use the ad’s criteria in its screening.)

So even if a candidate *does* try to argue that their application should be assessed by standards different from the posted ad, you ignore that in hiring. But I don’t see even that going on in Salaita’s letter. Read as a whole, his 22 October 2012 letter is a wholly traditional application letter, carefully addressing each element in the job ad. The public intellectual stuff that you pull out follows the lengthy paragraph on the scholarly work.

And where are you getting these bits about “counterpoised to the hegemonic norms of the existing power structure” and ” stance of colonial privilege”? I don’t see those in Salaita’s letter, but perhaps you are reading more widely than I.

55

Joshua W. Burton 09.08.14 at 8:35 pm

Dissertation is here, in revised published form.

56

Colin Danby 09.08.14 at 8:41 pm

anon, you’re in luck!

You can find the application letter, full CV, and a couple of samples of Salaita’s research here: http://www.news-gazette.com/sites/all/files/pdf/2014/08/30/Salaita.pdf

57

Joshua W. Burton 09.08.14 at 8:57 pm

And where are you getting these bits about “counterpoised to the hegemonic norms of the existing power structure” and ” stance of colonial privilege”? I don’t see those in Salaita’s letter, but perhaps you are reading more widely than I.

There’s some of this in the intro and the overview chapter of the dissertation, more in the critical indigenous studies article I quoted. His core argument is that, because all departments need to hear noncolonial voices in a new way, the specific justification for indigenous studies as an academic discipline is not its subject matter but its openness and insight into new ways of engaging with privilege. This is pretty solid stuff, though not as groundbreaking as it might sound from outside; Edwin Reischauer was saying similar things about East Asian studies in the 1950s, for example.

Let’s get everybody lined up on the same page before we tackle this chapter and verse, though.

58

Rich Puchalsky 09.08.14 at 9:25 pm

So Joshua W. Burton is trying a rhetorical double backflip in which Salaita gets to redefine the characteristics of the job search to include political action as an academic qualification, and then Burton claims that because people don’t like Salaita’s particular political actions that they have grounds for disqualifying Salaita on the same grounds that he himself supposedly introduced.

It’s pure sophistry.

59

Limericky Dicky 09.08.14 at 9:34 pm

Yes, there is no need to assuage
his civil, teeth-gritted-smiled rage.
He’s run out of bullshit,
yet still tries to push it.
I’m not lining up on his page.

60

Joshua W. Burton 09.08.14 at 9:58 pm

The scholar’s not yet been invited,
And only short quotes have been cited.
Though lining up Dicky
Is out, I’m not picky.
When bulls run, the rats are afrighted.

61

phenomenal cat 09.08.14 at 10:12 pm

Not bad, Burton. Not bad at all.

62

Lyle 09.09.14 at 11:24 pm

Salaita has spoken.

Has anyone here seen a report of the event, other than that in the execrable local right-wing rag, the News-Gazette?

63

Lyle 09.09.14 at 11:27 pm

D Now! did do a nice job covering the mess today, though that was before Salaita spoke (I gather he has rejected a financial statement and demanded reinstatement) –

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/9/9/university_of_illinois_urged_to_reinstate

64

Rich Puchalsky 09.10.14 at 4:14 pm

From Lyle’s link above, here’s a transcript of one of Katherine Franke’s remarks:

“Well, what we see in that letter is basically a page from the playbook of the David Project. The David Project is a Boston-based pro-Zionist, pro-Israeli project dedicated to shaping the way in which Israel and Israeli state policy is discussed—are discussed on college campuses, in a way that is friendly towards Israel and Israeli state policy. They’ve recently issued a report where they said, “Our technique now will be in approaching the critics of Israel on campus to describe what they say as uncivil.” And if you read the chancellor’s letter and you read this strategy memo, you see that her letter—I don’t know if it’s actually been informed by that memo, but it certainly reflects it and was influenced by it.”

I also recommend the paragraph just under that, which begins with “Civility is not an academic norm.”

65

Lyle 09.10.14 at 4:40 pm

Rich quoted,

They’ve recently issued a report where they said, “Our technique now will be in approaching the critics of Israel on campus to describe what they say as uncivil.” And if you read the chancellor’s letter and you read this strategy memo, you see that her letter—I don’t know if it’s actually been informed by that memo, but it certainly reflects it and was influenced by it.

Makes me wonder, given the statement of Berkeley’s chancellor on “civility,” how much more broadly, and yet concerted, this effort is on the part of those in power. That is, the effort to use claims of incivility to silence voices saying things that power doesn’t like.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/09/09/berkeley-chancellor-angers-faculty-members-remarks-civility-and-free-speech

66

Lyle 09.10.14 at 4:42 pm

Vijay Prashad just wrote an excellent analysis of “Berkeley’s Faux Free Speech”:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/08/berkeleys-faux-free-speech/

67

Anarcissie 09.10.14 at 5:05 pm

@62 — If you go to news.google.com and search for ‘salaita’ you will find several links to reports of the event, and one of the stories includes a link to a transcript. I hesitate to post the links themselves here explicitly lest Mr. Burton become overexcited.

68

Lyle 09.10.14 at 5:33 pm

I hesitate to post the links themselves here explicitly lest Mr. Burton become overexcited.

That Mr. Burton sure is getting powerful around here!

69

The Temporary Name 09.10.14 at 5:43 pm

Makes me wonder, given the statement of Berkeley’s chancellor on “civility,” how much more broadly, and yet concerted, this effort is on the part of those in power.

This makes me think of the Confucius Institutes.

70

Corey Robin 09.11.14 at 3:03 am

Here’s a link to my post at my blog where I summarize and analyze yesterday’s events. With a full video of the press conference.

http://coreyrobin.com/2014/09/09/a-palestinian-exception-to-the-first-amendment/

71

Marc 09.11.14 at 5:54 pm

Voted down 8-1. Not surprising IMO.

72

Anarcissie 09.12.14 at 2:29 am

So, they’re locked in?

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