Substantive Erasures: Essays on Academic Boycott and the American Studies Association

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Members of the American Studies Association (ASA) first considered an academic boycott seven years ago, discussed it openly four years ago, and presented a resolution to endorse it a little over one year ago. As with most boycott, divestment, and sanctions efforts (BDS), opponents made little noise about it assuming that it would disappear quietly under the crushing weight of establishment opposition and explicit threats to professional advancement. But it did not disappear.

As this year’s annual ASA conference began in Washington, DC, it became apparent that the possibility of boycott was very real. By the third day of the conference, and at the open session designated to discuss the resolution, the possibility of an academic boycott became imminent. Membership support for the resolution was overwhelming and an affirmative endorsement of boycott seemed inevitable. The opposition slowly began to lift itself from its laurels. Once the National Council unanimously endorsed the resolution and submitted its endorsement to a membership-wide vote, public opposition to the initiative began to cascade. Since sixty-six percent of the ASA’s membership voted for it, the opposition has been relentless….


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