David Lloyd Reports on Academic Boycott at MLA 2016

“It is beginning to seem as if the arrival of winter spells academic boycott season as well as the festive season,” writes David Lloyd in his recent contribution to Jadaliyyah. In the essay titled “Racism in the Defense of a Racist State: Some Reflections on BDS at the Modern Language Association,” Lloyd reports on the 2016 MLA convention and the growing support for an academic boycott resolution among members of the largest humanities professional association. He notes that during the two MLA debate panels included in the Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 8.30.34 PMconvention program, opponents of the  boycott of Israeli academic institutions, exposed “The intimate connection between the partial defense of academic freedom and the defense of Israel’s systemically racist state became all too apparent . . .  It would be invidious to dwell on the breath-taking assertion let slip by one opponent of the boycott, that ‘Muslims are terrorists’, though it certainly revealed how swiftly indifference to the plight of Palestinians slips over into the scarcely concealed racism that underlies it.”  Lloyd concludes with the affirming observation that, despite the important work that needs to be done within the MLA, “literary scholars . . . are ceasing to be intimidated or confused by the monotonous reiteration of misrepresentations and half-truths, slurs and invective, that have been the unchanging mantras of Israel’s supporters.”

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