Marla Braverman, a reviewer of Martin Kramer's Ivory Towers on Sand, draws some interesting conclusions in Azure about the work Kramer, I, and others are doing:
In the last few years … the growing demand for alternative explanations of events in the Middle East has encouraged a much broader wave of scholarship. Many of its scholars are residents at think tanks and independent research institutes, which arguably offer greater freedom than do universities to individuals whose perspective on the Middle East does not fit the mold of mainstream academic research. These scholars include [Daniel Pipes, Stephen Schwartz, and Kramer]. A key element of this new type of Middle East scholarship has been the pronounced presence of Israelis [such as Yigal Carmon, Michael Oren, and Dore Gold].
It is still too early to tell what impact these American and Israeli institutes will have on the West's policies in the Middle East. But the new breed of Middle East scholar bears a striking resemblance to what Kramer calls the "intimate strangers" who alone have helped to restore a discipline hobbled by its dogmas. Although Kramer does not give this development the attention it deserves, the recent erosion of MESA's monopoly on Middle East scholarship may eventually prove to be the most important part of the story.
Not surprisingly, the Middle Eastern studies establishment has reacted viscerally to this new threat to its intellectual hegemony.
Comment: The defensiveness with a sometimes hysterical tinge that has met our work suggests that Braveman is on to something.(May 21, 2003)
Related Topics: Academia, Middle East studies
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