Thursday, June 07, 2007

Academic Boycotts, what are they good for?

Charles Small here opposes the British University and College Union's recent 'boycott' of Israel- or more specifically of Israeli academics and universities, regardless of their own positions on the actions of their government. I've stated here, and elsewhere, that I think such boycotts are rather arbitrary and ill-conceived- why not China? Or Saudi Arabia? Or Sudan? I've opposed other proposed boycotts of Israeli academics and universities for that, and other, reasons.

But I also object to the boycotts that I've heard proposed lately against Iranian research institutions over that nation's horrifying, malicious, and totally unwarranted arrest of Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari. This in spite of the fact that I couldn't be paid enough to step foot over the Iranian border myself. But academics should not start cutting the intellectual ties that our beleaguered colleagues cling to. Those of us in this little world constitute a community and should not penalize other academics for living in countries that we don't happen to like. There's something vaguely nationalist/exclusionary about such boycotts. So I'm planning to boycott the boycotts.

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