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The Imperial University

Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent

2014

Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira, Editors

The Imperial University

From the front lines of the war on academic freedom, linking the policing of knowledge to the relationship between universities, militarism, and neoliberalism

The Imperial University brings together scholars to explore the policing of knowledge by explicitly linking the academy to the broader politics of militarism, racism, nationalism, and neoliberalism that define the contemporary imperial state. Based on multidisciplinary research, autobiographical accounts, and even performance scripts, this urgent analysis offers sobering insights into varied manifestations of “the imperial university.”

The public space of higher education is under siege. The Imperial University interrogates in brilliant detail the nature of such attacks and the hidden structures of power and politics that define them. But it does more in providing a passionate call to rethink higher education as part of a future in which learning is linked to social change. A crucial book for anyone who imagines the university as both an essential public sphere and an index of what a democracy should be.

Henry A. Giroux, McMaster University

At colleges and universities throughout the United States, political protest and intellectual dissent are increasingly being met with repressive tactics by administrators, politicians, and the police—from the use of SWAT teams to disperse student protestors and the profiling of Muslim and Arab American students to the denial of tenure and dismissal of politically engaged faculty. The Imperial University brings together scholars, including some who have been targeted for their open criticism of American foreign policy and settler colonialism, to explore the policing of knowledge by explicitly linking the academy to the broader politics of militarism, racism, nationalism, and neoliberalism that define the contemporary imperial state.

The contributors to this book argue that “academic freedom” is not a sufficient response to the crisis of intellectual repression. Instead, they contend that battles fought over academic containment must be understood in light of the academy’s relationship to U.S. expansionism and global capital. Based on multidisciplinary research, autobiographical accounts, and even performance scripts, this urgent analysis offers sobering insights into such varied manifestations of “the imperial university” as CIA recruitment at black and Latino colleges, the connections between universities and civilian and military prisons, and the gender and sexual politics of academic repression.

Contributors: Thomas Abowd, Tufts U; Victor Bascara, UCLA; Dana Collins, California State U, Fullerton; Nicholas De Genova; Ricardo Dominguez, UC San Diego; Sylvanna Falcón, UC Santa Cruz; Farah Godrej, UC Riverside; Roberto J. Gonzalez, San Jose State U; Alexis Pauline Gumbs; Sharmila Lodhia, Santa Clara U; Julia C. Oparah, Mills College; Vijay Prashad, Trinity College; Jasbir Puar, Rutgers U; Laura Pulido, U of Southern California; Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo, California State U, Long Beach; Steven Salaita, Virginia Tech; Molly Talcott, California State U, Los Angeles.

The Imperial University

Piya Chatterjee is Backstrand Chair and professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies at Scripps College. She is the author of A Time for Tea: Women, Labor, and Post/Colonial Politics on an Indian Plantation and coeditor of States of Trauma: Gender and Violence in South Asia.

Sunaina Maira is professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City and Missing: Youth, Citizenship, and Empire after 9/11.

The Imperial University

The public space of higher education is under siege. The Imperial University interrogates in brilliant detail the nature of such attacks and the hidden structures of power and politics that define them. But it does more in providing a passionate call to rethink higher education as part of a future in which learning is linked to social change. A crucial book for anyone who imagines the university as both an essential public sphere and an index of what a democracy should be.

Henry A. Giroux, McMaster University

Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira’s The Imperial University charts the many ways that institutions of higher education fail to meet the needs of students and the teachers who instruct them. It’s a wonderful, stimulating and anger-inducing book.

Truthout

The Imperial University

Contents

Introduction. The Imperial University: Race, War, and the Nation-State

Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira
I. Imperial Cartographies
1. New Empire, Same University? Education in the American Tropics after 1898
Victor Bascara
2. Militarizing Education: The Intelligence Community’s Spy Camps
Roberto J. González
3. Challenging Complicity: The Neoliberal University and the Prison-Industrial Complex
Julia C. Oparah
II. Academic Containment
4. Neoliberalism, Militarization, and the Price of Dissent: Policing Protest at the University of California
Farah Godrej
5. Faculty Governance at the University of Southern California
Laura Pulido
6. The BDS Movement and Violations of Academic Freedom at Wayne State University
Thomas Abowd
7. Decolonizing Chicano Studies in the Shadows of the University’s “Heteropatriracial” Order
Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo
III. Manifest Knowledges
8. Normatizing State Power: Uncritical Ethical Praxis and Zionism
Steven Salaita
9. Nobody Mean More: Black Feminist Pedagogy and Solidarity
Alexis Pauline Gumbs
10. Teaching outside Liberal-Imperial Discourse: A Critical Dialogue about Antiracist Feminisms
Sylvanna Falcón, Sharmila Lodhia, Molly Talcott, and Dana Collins
11. Citation and Censure: Pinkwashing and the Sexual Politics of Talking about Israel
Jasbir Puar
IV. Heresies and Freedoms
12. Within and Against the Imperial University: Reflections on Crossing the Line
Nicholas De Genova
13. Teaching by Candlelight
Vijay Prashad
14. UCOP versus R. Dominguez —The FBI Interview: A One-Act Play á la Jean Genet
Ricardo Dominguez

Acknowledgments
Contributors
Index

The Imperial University

UMP blog - The BDS movement and the front lines of the war on academic freedom. By Sunaina Maira.

One of the major counter-arguments levied against the academic boycott movement is that it silences academic freedom. The rub here is that this counter-offensive is concerned only with the academic freedom of Israeli scholars, erasing the degradation of academic freedom—as well as of other freedoms—of Palestinians. This argument disappears Palestinians, and it also evades the assault on academic freedom of U.S. scholars and all those who speak openly about the Israeli state’s violence and racism, including dissident Israeli academics.

Read the full article.

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UMP blog - The definition of academic freedom, for many, does not accommodate dissent. By Steven Salaita.

Academic freedom is often a diversion from the free practices of academic labor. It does not yet fully accommodate dissent. In many ways, as the essays in the collection The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent illustrate, academic freedom is a byproduct (and progenitor) of deeply conformist institutional cultures. It can be an administrative convenience, a high-minded diversion, a platitude, or an appropriated symbol. 

Read the full article.