Leaving the MLA: Letters of Protest

Critical Inquiry’s blog site has just posted a set of letters of resignation from the MLA in response to last year’s shameful passage of Resolution 2017-1, which sought to ban any further discussion of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions at the MLA: https://critinq.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/letters-to-the-mla/, together with Lenora Hanson and David Palumbo-Liu’s eloquent letter of resignation from the Executive Committee: https://critinq.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/lenora-hanson-and-david-palumbo-liu-why-we-resigned-from-the-mla-executive-council/

Together these letters not only make a powerful collective statement but also offer an important analysis of the ethical and political failings of the MLA as an organization with a potential public intellectual role that has been disabled by its capture by conservative forces and white supremacist ideologies for whom “professional” values are a cover for reaction.  Such an analysis may help to clarify the terms for any possible reform of the association under future presidents like Judith Butler.

Those of us who have felt the need to resign from the MLA honor and respect the decision of those who have decided to stay in the association and fight to transform it.  At the same time, we are very aware that there are many former members who have quietly declined to renew their membership, whether over the issue of justice for Palestine or in consequence of the MLA’s ongoing failure to address forcefully the current racist political and cultural climate in the United States and in the academy in particular.

If you are someone who has lapsed from the MLA recently, or if you are contemplating resigning from the association, please consider co-signing the letter of “non-renewal” posted below if you would like to make your resignation public in a manner that may have some impact on the MLA’s future character and commitments.


Please circulate the letter below to anyone you think would be interested. Continue reading