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Multi-Dimensional Threats to Academic Freedom

Special Session V-32, 2023 Annual Meeting

On Friday, November 3 at 1:30 pm

Special Session Description
The Middle East Studies Association has long been committed to protecting academic freedom for those in the field of Middle East Studies in both North America and in the MENA region. MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) and at times the MESA Board have written intervention letters to heads of state, university presidents, various federal and state authorities in the United States, and many others in defense of the academic freedom of scholars, researchers, faculty and students. This panel will address the ongoing work of CAF and provide a survey of current risks to academic freedom in the MENA region and North America that the Committee has worked to address. In addition, this panel affords an opportunity to explore the ways in which other MESA committees have been called upon to address novel threats to academic freedom in North America and beyond. These threats have emanated from structural changes in higher education globally that have exacerbated precarity in our field, as well as from the politics of political polarization in the U.S., with universities subject to new forms of censorship resulting from the anti-CRT and anti-LGBTQI initiatives gaining momentum across the country. This panel will bring together the chairs of various MESA committees to initiate a conversation with MESA members about the impact of these threats to academic freedom broadly construed and how best to address them.