Monday, March 14, 2005

Princeton unbecoming?

While our eyes are on the Columbia University Middle East Studies controversy, another row is brewing at Princeton, where a popular and centrist/right-wing Near Eastern Studies professor, Michael Doran, has been denied tenure, and professors and students are lobbying hard for/against. The University apparently claims it chose to defer his consideration because he was invited to serve as the chairman of a new program at Brandeis, although he declined the offer. NRO's take:

[H]is presence serves as a symbol of Princeton's resistance to the post-modernization — and with it, the politicization — of its Middle East studies. The fact that he is not only a serious and right-leaning scholar but also a popular and influential one means that, if he sticks around, Princeton will be even less likely to succumb to trendy approaches in lieu of rigorous scholarship. As Martin Kramer puts it, "The attack on [Doran] comes from the very far-left 'popular front' that has squelched diversity in Middle Eastern studies for the last 20 years. They'd like every place to be a Columbia or NYU or Berkeley — they regard the existence of even one pocket of diversity as a mortal threat." (Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi's recent decision to apply for a position at Princeton's Transregional Institute suggests the battle may have just been ratcheted up a notch.)

Essential background here.
It's hard to tell from this distance whether these specific allegations in the Doran case have any validity or not (can anyone report from the ground?) -- although it is clear that university campuses and Middle East-related depts. are, in general, under increasing pressure to conform to a political position on the Middle East which is more extreme than the PLO's... Watch for further developments.

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