BIO of Nadia Abu El-Haj, assistant professor, recently published Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (University of Chicago Press, 2002). She spent the past academic year at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and has received numerous fellowships. Her research focuses on the Middle East. At Barnard, she will teach “Theories of Culture” and “Race and Sex in Scientific and Social Practice.” B.A., Bryn Mawr; Ph.D., Duke
To understand the nature of the campaign against Professor El-Haj, please first read the following posts:
“Facts on the Ground” by Dr. Nadiah Abu El-Haj
El-Haj is currently up for tenure at Barnard, but due to the controversial nature of her work, she has some powerful opponents who claim that her own findings have been influenced by political interests. From the New York Times:
It is Dr. Abu El-Haj’s book, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society, that has made her a lightning rod, setting off warring petitions opposing and supporting her candidacy, and producing charges of shoddy scholarship and countercharges of an ideological witch hunt.…The Middle East Studies Association, an organization of scholars who focus on the region, chose her book in 2002 as one of the year’s two best books in English about the Middle East. The other was Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship, by Gershon Shafir and Yoav Peled, published by Cambridge University Press.
Jere L. Bacharach, a historian at the University of Washington who presented the awards, said at the time that both books were “nuanced, nonpolemic works on subjects that too often lend themselves to political tirades and polemics.”
Critics of Dr. Abu El-Haj’s book, however, said her aim was to undermine Israel’s right to exist, and challenged her methodology and findings.
Read the rest of the article on the New York Times website.
Here is the petition on behalf of Professor El-Haj:
To: Columbia University/Barnard College
We the undersigned strongly endorse the tenure case of Nadia Abu El-Haj at Barnard college. We completely reject every unsubstantiated allegation made in the related petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/barnard/) to deny Ms. Abu El-Haj tenure. Moreover, we wish to register that we find to be deplorable such unsubstantiated attacks on the autonomy of free academic inquiry and academic self-government from outside the academy. Ms. Abu El-Haj’s work has undergone peer review and has been published by a premier academic press (University of Chicago) and it stands on its own merits, which have been widely recognized in the academic community. We believe that these attacks on Ms. Abu El-Haj are part of an orchestrated witch-hunt (reminiscent of course of McCarthyism) against politically unpopular ideas. We also believe that Ms. Abu El-Haj has been singled out from among many other authors who make the same points essentially because of her last name, thus, we suspect that something like simple ethnic prejudice is at issue here.