The Perils of Academic Freedom

An issue of: Social Text

The Perils of Academic Freedom
Journal Issue Pages: 152 Volume 25, Number 1 Number: 90 Published: 2007 An issue of Social Text
Special Issue Editor(s): Malini Johar Schueller, Ashley Dawson
The special issue—in which academics from around the country discuss the threats to academic freedom presented by the war on terror—offers an indictment of the partisan political meddling and corporate ethos that have transformed academia over the last three decades. These trends threaten the mission of higher education in the U.S. to offer disparate and innovative viewpoints.

Contributors discuss historical and present-day academic freedom offenses, illustrating how ideologies of world dominance and neoliberal economic imperatives have made academia particularly vulnerable to the dictums of the security state. In “The Myth of Academic Freedom,” Ward Churchill gives a blow-by-blow account of his (as yet unfinished) battle with University of Colorado administrators following his controversial comments concerning 9/11 victims. Malini Johar Schueller anatomizes “multicultural imperialism” in her account of the surveillance of Middle East studies. Ashley Dawson details the conflicting positions staked out during the Area Studies crisis at Columbia University. Other topics include W. E. B. Du Bois’s critique of the liberal university in the United States; egalitarian notions of academic governance; and the global trend towards segmented knowledge production and outsourcing. To read the introduction of this special issue for free, visit


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Table of Contents Back to Top

1. Introduction–Malini Johar Schueller and Ashley Dawson

2. The Myth of Academic Freedom: Personal Experiences of a Liberal Principle in the Neoconservative Era (Fragments of a Work in Progress)–Ward Churchill

3. Area Studies and Multicultural Imperialism: The Project of Decolonizing Knowledge–Malini Johar Schueller

4. The Crisis at Columbia: Academic Freedom, Area Studies, and Contingent Labor in the Contemporary Academy–Ashley Dawson

5. Blacklist Redux: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Price of Academic Freedom–

Bill V. Mullen

6. Teaching by Candlelight–Vijay Prashad

7. Academic Labor at the Crossroads? An Interview with Andrew Ross–Malini Johar Schueller and Ashley Dawson

8. Tributes to Ellen Willis:

An Incomplete Exchange–Laura Kipnis

Pleasure and Freedom: Remembering Ellen Willis–Alisa Solomon

Additional InformationBack to Top