Phi Beta Cons

The Damage Wrought by El-Haj and her Ilk

The Current of Columbia University has a revealing series on the controversial decision to grant tenure to Barnard’s Nadia Abu El-Haj: here, here, here and here. (Campus Watch

In “Searching for ‘Facts’ on the Ground,” David Rosen provides a detailed analysis of El-Haj’s book and methods, concluding that El-Haj’s “Facts on the Ground is a book that turns the gaze of post-colonial discourse to the subject of archeology. Inspired by mythology, it tells a powerful story that never lets facts get in the way.”
In “Ideology over Integrity in Academe,” James Russell discusses the history of anti-Zionism and the damage that politicization has done to the humanities.  He cites especially the Columbia Armenian Studies program (part of the famed Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department), which has languished due to ideological infighting.  This is likely a story not previously told.  
Finally, in “Is Truth Attainable?” Jonathan Rosenbaum assesses how postmodern concepts of truth have affected academic archaeological work, as the so-called Minimalists “have sought to challenge the historicity of virtually the entire biblical narrative despite the conclusions of more than a century of archaeology and epigraphy.” 


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