WP on Middle Eastern studies

Michael Dobbs writes in the Washington Post today about the attack on Middle Eastern Studies by groups such as CampusWatch:

These are the best of times and the worst of times for the once-neglected field of Middle East studies. Enrollments in Arabic-language courses and area studies programs have boomed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Government funding is up. Universities and colleges are recruiting Middle East experts as fast as they can.

At the same time, academics who specialize in the region complain that they are under siege from conservative think tanks and self-appointed campus watchdog organizations. They say these efforts have resulted in a flood of abusive e-mail and calls for tightening congressional control over the funding of Middle East studies programs, which, they contend, could undermine academic freedoms.


The article could have used a little more digging on the ways funding for Middle Eastern Studies programs has or will be been affected. Also, as Brian Ulrich points out, Dobbs mistakenly says that Edward Said's Orientalism criticized US policy.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.