W. J. T. Mitchell: “Palestine at the 2016 MLA”

W. J. T. Mitchell, editor of Critical Inquiry, reflects onScreen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11.55.43 AM the increased interest in Palestinian culture and politics at the 2016 MLA Convention in Austin. He also notes the growing commitment to the boycott of Israeli academic institutions among US scholars and students of languages and literatures. He writes: “There were no less than a dozen sessions devoted to the question of Palestine. Many of them were, of course, devoted to the movement known as BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction), which for the last ten years has been directed at Israel’s financial, agricultural, and military institutions and now includes academic and cultural institutions as well. Like the boycott of apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, the BDS movement seems to be reaching a critical mass in its effect on professional organizations in the American academy.”  Mitchell then goes on to point out that these developments are “a far cry from the days when Palestine was only a distant rumor at the MLA, with the voice of Edward Said crying in the wilderness. Today numerous scholars from many different disciplines are converging on the issue, using their considerable skills of research and analysis, not only to illuminate the oppressive conditions of Palestinian life in Israel, but also to bring Palestinian culture into a new prominence.” You can read Mitchell’s post on the Critical Inquiry blog here: Palestine at the 2016 MLA