Last month IAM reported on a petition calling to boycott conferences in the U.S in response to President Trump ban. Among the hundreds of scholars who signed the petition some 150 are from Sussex University in Brighton, UK. One signatory, Jan Selby, professor of International Relations, had organized a workshop which hit the British news. The workshop questioned how to “deal with right-wing attitudes in the classroom”. The University has been accused of undermining free speech, students and staff complained that the institution was revealing its political bias.
Not surprising, Selby is a disciple of Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist imprisoned by Mussolini who urged the intellectual elites, notably the academics, to launch a "quiet revolution' by reconfiguring societal values to reflect progressive ideas. Gramsci stipulated that academics need to combine scholarship and political activism in one seamless act. Gramsci's disciples took up this mandate by evolving neo-Marxist, critical scholarship, a paradigm which dominates much of contemporary social science.
Clearly, Selby fits the profile of a neo-Marxist, critical scholar well. In his article "Post-Zionist Perspectives on Contemporary Israel," Selby applied the Gramscian logic to Israel. He stated that in "Gramscian terms," the Labor Settlers Movement was a highly successful 'hegemonic project'." He then went on to note that "there is no necessary reason why the power of the Israeli military could not be acknowledged and analysed within a Gramscian framework." Using his Gramscian toolbox, he concluded "the previously disgraced Ariel Sharon has been rehabilitated as trustworthy guardian of the Israeli national interest" and a new "privatisation programme" implements "repression in the West Bank and Gaza."
Selby also laments the fact that "in the academy, the best-known of the New Historians, Benny Morris, seems to have become an advocate of ethnic cleansing and has given credence to Ehud Barak's frankly racist view that the Palestinians, being not of Judeo-Christian culture, do not understand the concept of truth. More critical voices, like that of Ilan Pappe, have found themselves ostracised within their universities and even threatened with dismissal. The study of Israeli society may have become more heterogeneous and contested, but a postcolonial liberal Israel seems almost as far away as ever."
This conference features "leading UK and international experts on the occupation", including Israeli neo-Marxist, critical and post-Zionist scholars such as Orna Ben-Naftali, Neve Gordon, Aeyal Gross, Hagar Kotef, Yoni Mendel, Amir Paz-Fuchs, Yoav Peled, Horit Herman Peled, Yael Ronen,and Haim Yacobi.
In another article, "The myth of liberal peace-building," Selby blamed Israel for the failure of the Oslo peace process. In Selby's reading of the historic effort to conclude the bloody conflict, it was the "Israeli economic liberalization," which tripped up negotiations and ironically, led Israel to "outsource the occupation" to the Palestinians who are in charge of the most populated parts of he West Bank.
To bring this type of scholarship into the public arena, Selby is now organizing a conference "The Occupation at 50: Pasts, Presents, Futures" at Sussex University in May. The invitation reads, "2017 marks 50 years for the longest standing military occupation in the world. During that time, the political, demographic, legal, economic and social dimensions of the occupation have changed dramatically, in Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, in the region, and beyond. The two-state solution has moved from being perceived as a threat to Israel’s existence, to the only possible solution, and now to one that is slowly fading into the realms of an unrealistic prospect. The West Bank and Gaza, once viewed as two parts of one political identity, have taken different trajectories. The international arena has moved from bewilderment, to active engagement, to frustration and perhaps, to apathy. Resistance has taken the form of violent uprising, civic protests and international collaboration. The legal system has been portrayed by some as the final frontier for the protection of Palestinian rights, but is seen by others as one of the main facilitators of the occupation. The terms of economic engagement have changed dramatically, from the incorporation of Palestinian labour and markets into the Israeli economy, to selective disengagement during times of upheaval, to complete removal of non-citizen Palestinians from the Israeli labour market, and to calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions."
Unsurprisingly, no alternative perspective will be represented on the panels.
Selby has signed a petition in a paid ad in The Guardian which reads "we will not: • accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; • act as referees in any of their processes; • participate in conferences funded, organised or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them. We will, however, continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities. We will maintain this position until the State of Israel complies with international law, and respects universal principles of human rights." He also lectured in a protest of students in support of Gaza, organized by Sussex Occupation.
Selby is not the only Gramscian at Sussex University, another conference will be taking place devoted to "Echoes of Fascism in Contemporary Culture, Politics and Society." The invitation starts with a quote "Every age has its own fascism" by Primo Levi, the famous author and Holocaust survivor. The conference organizers go on to state: "Within the past year, we have witnessed a number of alarming social and political developments in the UK but also globally." One could have imagined some fascists movements, but no, "The success of the Brexit campaign in the UK, the election of Donald Trump in the USA and his recent imposition of a travel ban". All these have been "dependent on racially charged ideologies, and accompanied by a notable rise in racist, misogynist, and homophobic attacks in the UK and in other Western countries, as the Far Right mobilises and becomes more legitimated."
Neither Selby nor the "Echoes of Fascism" conference mention the role of Islamist radicalism in creating many of the problems they purport to address. Selby should know that the Oslo process was torpedoed when Hamas and Islamic Jihad, acting on order from Iran, launched a wave of suicide attacks in Israel. The resulting carnage undermined the faith in the Labour government. When Ehud Barak regained power in 1999, he found that Yasser Arafat was too intimidated by the jihadists to go through with the generous deal offered by Israel in Camp David II. Selby is wrong; it was not "economic liberalization," the neo-Marxist boogeyman that sank Oslo, it was Jihad.
But of course, the neo-Marxist, critical paradigm does not have a category for religious extremism of the kind that ISIS has exhibited. As a result, the second conference cannot mention that much of what is going on in Europe is a reaction to the masses of immigrants that have arrived. Tramped in antiquated and obsolete analysis of reality, the "Echoes of Fascism" conference cannot even acknowledge that the murder of innocents in the street in Europe by jihadists, either homegrown followers of ISIS, or terrorists who arrived as refugees, have been a contributing factor to the popular unease.
Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research (SCSR)
The Occupation at 50: Pasts, Presents, Futures
A two day conference marking 50 years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza
Fulton Building, University of Sussex
11-12 May 2017
2017 marks 50 years for the longest standing military occupation in the world. During that time, the political, demographic, legal, economic and social dimensions of the occupation have changed dramatically, in Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, in the region, and beyond. The two-state solution has moved from being perceived as a threat to Israel’s existence, to the only possible solution, and now to one that is slowly fading into the realms of an unrealistic prospect. The West Bank and Gaza, once viewed as two parts of one political identity, have taken different trajectories. The international arena has moved from bewilderment, to active engagement, to frustration and perhaps, to apathy. Resistance has taken the form of violent uprising, civic protests and international collaboration. The legal system has been portrayed by some as the final frontier for the protection of Palestinian rights, but is seen by others as one of the main facilitators of the occupation. The terms of economic engagement have changed dramatically, from the incorporation of Palestinian labour and markets into the Israeli economy, to selective disengagement during times of upheaval, to complete removal of non-citizen Palestinians from the Israeli labour market, and to calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
This two-day international conference seeks to take stock and shed light on these issues, by reflecting on the pasts, presents and futures of the occupation, on its implications not just for Palestinians but also for Israelis, and worldwide, and on its global connections and comparisons. Though its principal focus will be academic, it will also include significant non-academic representation, this being especially important given the role of non-academics – activists, charities, civil servants and elected representatives – in designing the occupation’s pasts, presents and futures.
This conference will feature leading UK and international experts on the occupation, including Bashir Abu-Maneh, Marco Allegra, Yukata Arai, Abeer Baker, Orna Ben-Naftali, George Bisharat, Martin Evans, Rosa Freedman, Neve Gordon, Aeyal Gross, Eric Heinze, Horit Herman Peled, Salma Karmi-Ayoubb, Viktor Kattan, Michael Kearney, Ghada Kharmi, Hagar Kotef, Alan Lester, Akanksha Mehta, Yoni Mendel, Karma Nabulsi, Nadia Naser-Najjab, Jacob Norris, Amir Paz-Fuchs, Yoav Peled, Mezna Qato, Ronald Ranta, Yael Ronen, Ruba Salih, Leila Sansour, Jan Selby, Sammy Smooha, Joy Stacey, Hedi Viterbo, Haim Yacobi, and Ruvi Ziegler.
This will be a full two day conference beginning on the 11th May at 9.30am and finishing on the 12th May at 5.15pm.
The conference is open to Sussex staff and students, researchers and students from other institutions and the general public. There will be no attendance charge. Teas and coffees will be provided but there will be no food provided. The university has a number of food outlets for purchasing lunch and refreshments, for information on these please click here
Please arrive promptly at 9.30am at Fulton Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9NZ. Metered parking is available during the day, however there are no parking charges after 5pm. For a campus map and directions please click here
This conference is sponsored by the Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research, the Middle East and North Africa Centre at Sussex, and the Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research.
Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research (SCSR)
Please see below for the framework programme. The full programme will be available soon.
9.30-10am Coffee and registration
10-10.30am Introduction and greetings
10.30-12pm Plenary session: The Long Occupation
1-2.30pm Parallel Panels 1
Panel A: Depicting the Occupation
Panel B: The Occupation and the Transformation of Israeli Society
2.45-4.15pm Parallel Panels 2
Panel A: International Comparisons and Connections
Panel B: The Geography of the Occupation
Panel C: Prisoners
4.15 – 4.30pm Coffee and tea
4.30-6pm Policy Making under the Gaze of Occupation: The Last, and the Next, 50 Years
9-9.30am Coffee and tea
9.30-11am Plenary session: Law and human rights under occupation
11-11.30am Coffee and tea
11.30-1pm Parallel Panels 3
Panel A: A Gendered Occupation
Panel B: International Community, and International Institutions
Panel C: Settlements
2-3.30pm Parallel Panels 4
Panel A: Refugees and the Diaspora
Panel B: Resistance
Panel C: Philosophies of the Occupation
3.30 – 3.45pm Coffee and tea
3.45-5.15pm Plenary session: Where to now?
21 FEBRUARY 2017 • 9:00PM
Sussex University under fire over workshop on how to 'deal with right-wing attitudes in the classroom'
Sussex University has been accused of undermining free speech after one of its leading professors held a workshop for academic staff of how to “deal with right-wing attitudes in the classroom”.
The event stoked controversy among students and staff, who complained that the institution was revealing its political bias.
The workshop, titled “Dealing with right wing attitudes and politics in the classroom" took place last week and had been advertised on posters around the university.
Dan Hough, a politics professor at the university, published a picture of the poster on Twitter, with the caption: “Perhaps we should just talk about, analyse and then evaluate all positions in any given debate, no?”
He said there is a “worrying aversion” to right wing opinions at the university adding that “universities should be intellectually diverse, rather than echo chambers of left wing opinion”.
Professor Claire Annesley, head of the law, politics and sociology faculty, wrote a blog on Tuesday in response to the debacle. She said she is concerned to learn that students are keeping their "economically liberal" views to themselves in seminars, and that undergraduates with conservative views had "kept schtum".
"Silencing student voices is never what we aspire to as a department," she wrote.
Earlier this month, a survey by the online magazine Spiked found that a fifth of universities are “hostile to free speech and free expression" and mandate explicit restrictions on speech, including, bans on specific ideologies, political affiliations, beliefs, books, speakers or words. The survey found that university administrations are becoming increasingly “censorious”, with nearly a quarter of them having “actively censored speech and expression” in 2017.
Sussex University said that the workshop was about “challenging extreme attitudes, such as racist or homophobic comments” and that the “wording” of the poster had not reflected this.
Professor Alan Smithers, head of the centre for education and employment at Buckingham University, said it is “alarming” that such workshops were taking place.
“The university is letting its prejudices show if it is conflating right-wing opinions with homophobia and racial prejudice,” he said.
“It is very sad the way universities are going. Within universities there has always been a spectrum of views and one of the pleasures of universities is having them rub against each other.
“That is what university is about – enabling its students to think widely and critically and come to their own views crucially backed by evidence.”
Jan Selby, Professor of International Relations
and the director of the university’s Centre for Conflict and Security Research, organised the workshop but declined to respond for comment.
A university spokesman said that the staff involved in the discussion recognise that the poster "did not reflect the aims of the discussion”.
The spokesman added: "The University will never try to stifle diverging political views, which are an essential part of learning.
"The University will address any instances where it feels its freedom of speech policy is being curtailed in anyway."
28 בפברואר 2017
מקום: ברייטון, סאסקס, אנגליה
SUSSEX CENTRE FOR CULTURAL STUDIES
ANNUAL CONFERENCE FRIDAY MAY 26TH 2017
Echoes of Fascism in Contemporary Culture, Politics and Society
Keynote speakers include:
Angela Nagle (author of ‘Ireland Under Austerity’ and ‘Kill All Normies’)
Gholam Khiabany (academic and political journalist, author of ‘Blogistan’)
‘Every age has its own fascism’ – Primo Levi
Within the past year, we have witnessed a number of alarming social and political developments in the UK but also globally. The success of the Brexit campaign in the UK, the election of Donald Trump in the USA and his recent imposition of a travel ban, have all been dependent on racially charged ideologies, and accompanied by a notable rise in racist, misogynist, and homophobic attacks in the UK and in other Western countries, as the Far Right mobilises and becomes more legitimated.
In broad terms, this conference poses questions around our ethical responsibilities (as academics, community organisations, and human beings) vis-à-vis these developments:
as the neoliberal consensus frays, how do we respond to resurgent nationalism?
how can, or should, we respond to the backlash against pluralism, the rise of the alt-right, and the waves of ‘populist’ movements that are sweeping across the West?
More specifically, the conference will provide an opportunity to consider the historical backdrop of contemporary conservative movements. Parallels have frequently been drawn in the media between, for example, 1930s German fascism and the contemporary political and social landscape. We thus seek to question:
to what extent are we currently seeing ‘echoes’ of past fascist movements?
If every age has its own fascism, as Levi has argued:
can we learn from the history of fascist movements in a way that will help us to understand our contemporary situation?
how can we put these lessons into practice as we mobilise against racism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia?
The conference will particularly be interested in (though not restricted to) papers on the following topics: past fascist movements and their bearing on the present; the rise of the alt-right and new right-wing populism, and the role of class within this; the right-wing critique of neoliberal globalisation and the space for alternatives; the current state of, and threats to, human rights, reproductive rights, rights of freedom of movement, LGBTQ rights, and social democracies; feminist activism (past and present); and racialised public discourse and the nationalist common-sense. We also invite papers that consider these issues through the prism of film, visual culture, literature, memory studies, creative practice, etc.
This conference will take place at the University of Sussex (Brighton, UK), and bring together people working in academia, community/activist organisations, think tanks and the media.
Please submit abstracts of max. 300 words to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for submissions: March 15th 2017
Matilda Mroz (conference director), Malcolm James, Sally R Munt, Robert Topinka, Victoria Walden of Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies
Please contact: email@example.com
Conference Team: Matilda Mroz (conference director), Malcolm James, Sally R Munt, Robert Topinka, Victoria Walden of Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies
רשת מדעי הרוח היא ערוץ להעברת מידע, ואין היא אחראית לתוכן ההודעות הנשלחות על ידה