Topics included the BDS boycott of Israel, Queer Studies, Gender Studies and more.

Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed reported.

More Than the Boycott

To Lisa Duggan, professor of modern U.S. social, culture and political history at New York University and president of the American Studies Association, this weekend’s annual ASA conference wasn’t “supposed to be all about the boycott.” And indeed, it wasn’t all about the association’s year-old endorsement of the Israeli academic boycott. There were hundreds of non-boycott-centered sessions, many with a focus on queer, gender and ethnic studies, according to the conference’s theme, “The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain in the Post-American Century.”

But the boycott still loomed large over the conference, with more than a dozen sessions dedicated to the topic, such as one called “Encountering Zionism: From Academia to Queer Activism and [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions].” It featured a critique of Israel’s so-called “pinkwashing” campaign, in which it seeks to attract support because gay rights are more established in the country than they are elsewhere in the Middle East, as well as a study of anthropologists suggesting widespread fear in the field of negative professional consequences for studying Palestinians. There was boycott creep even in sessions that weren’t boycott-specific, too: a pair of professors on one panel high-fived each other for having been labeled “self-hating Jews” for their support of the ASA position, for example. And there was an unusual amount of media interest in the conference, including from national and Israeli news outlets, that – safe to say – probably wouldn’t have been here apart from the boycott.

It’s a dynamic that Duggan and ASA leaders want to change – or at least broaden.

In an interview, Duggan said she’s personally and professionally “proud” of the boycott, which she said has been far more controversial outside of the association than within. She described it as a kind of done deal that will remain in place – despite ongoing internal and external criticism – until Palestinians achieve equality as defined by the boycott resolution.

Read the original article:
More Than the Boycott (Inside Higher Ed)