Another Palestinian-American scholar struggles for tenure at Columbia

May 30, 2008
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jacket imageWe have previously noted the tenure battle of Nadia Abu El-Haj, who was granted tenure by Barnard last November after a contentious public dispute. Another Columbia professor—and Chicago author—Joseph A. Massad, has been in the grips of a similar tenure controversy for more than a year. Massad is an associate professor of Arab politics in Columbia’s department of Middle East and Asian languages and culture and the author most recently of Desiring Arabs, a study of the representation of sexuality in the Arab world.
Departments of Middle Eastern studies are flash points of controversy at a number of universities and nowhere have the flashes ignited more careers than at Columbia, where off-campus and alumni groups have joined in the discussion. The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article about Massad’s case that gives more details about the controversy as well as contextualizes the conflict in terms of a larger debate “over what constitutes academic freedom” and “whether outside groups should have influence in academic decisions.”

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