Monday, February 08, 2016

New trends in US social science

Edward Said talked in Orientalism about the distinction in US social science between political knowledge and pure knowledge.  But things are worse now than they were in the late 1970s.  I can't imagine someone back in the late 1970s writing a PhD dissertation in the finances of Abu Nidal or in the structure of a drug cartel.  But I now see an avalanche of new PhDs writings about the finances of ISIS and such. Who are those professors/advisers approving such topics at US and European universities? And why are the lines between the "terrorism studies" and political science being blurred? In my days, there was a contempt for terrorism studies in US political science department, and this explains how Georgetown University severed its ties with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in DC.  The answer is partly due to funding opportunities and partly due to people who want to become media visible.  A yet another disturbing trend in US social science.  I say that as I see the large number of books and articles on ISIS: how many articles or books being written on, say, social classes in the Middle East, or women in Middle East society, and the life of Palestinians under occupation, or about Zionism and Israeli intervention in the region?