Responsibility in Crisis: Knowledge Politics and Global Publics

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Responsibility in Crisis: Knowledge Politics and Global Publics

The Scholarly Publishing Office
the University of Michigan
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Published by The Scholarly Publishing Office,
The University of Michigan University Library

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Copyright © 2004 by David William Cohen and Michael D. Kennedy. All rights reserved. Copyright to individual texts belongs to the authors of these texts. No part of this book may be reproduced without permission of the author(s) of that part.

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Preface and Acknowledgments

What are the responsibilities of intellectuals and their institutions before a world in the midst of apparently profound change?

The violence of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath suggest the potential for a world transformed. But the nature and extent of such transformation are not self-evident. Location in the world, and varying association with social, economic, political and cultural forces, shape how these transformations will be anticipated, understood, and addressed. With the challenges of differing location and identification, and with a sense of the enormous weight of these projected transformations, the responsibilities of intellectuals and of diverse institutions of knowledge production are tested in new and significant ways.

With these challenges as our leading concerns, we invited prominent public intellectuals from across the world to join faculty and students associated with the University of Michigan International Institute in an extended seminar in August 2002 to consider the necessary, if discomforting questions, that might define a public university aspiring not only to have global reach, but to be in, of, and with the world beyond this nation. We consider this volume to be an extension of that conversation. Moreover, it is an invitation to others to consider the nature of the space that enables intellectual responsibility to be realized and the qualities of knowledge that enable the work of scholarship toPage  viii be consequential.

There are very many people who have made this final product possible, and to them we owe enormous thanks.

First, we of course wish to thank the Ford Foundation for support through its "Crossing Borders: Revitalizing Area Studies" initiative. We especially wish to acknowledge the inspiration provided by this initiative's original coordinator, Toby Volkman.

Second, we've relied on a wide network of faculty colleagues to realize this broad project, including those who helped select our invited seminar participants as well as others who contributed to the seminar and its sequels.

Third, we benefited enormously from the insights of our graduate student colleagues, and are particularly grateful to Monica Patterson for facilitating graduate student participation in the seminar.

Fourth, the International Institute staff has been central to the Institute's accomplishments, though we especially wish to thank Donna Parmelee, Melissa Beck and Christine Billick for their extraordinary dedication to and care for this project.

Fifth, we wish to thank our colleagues in the publication process, notably Maria Bonn and Kevin Hawkins from the Scholarly Publishing Office at the University of Michigan University Library, who have not only supported this work but also devised a form of presentation consistent with the volume's own sense.

Finally, we wish to express our appreciation for the conditions that make this work possible, and to recognize the importance of those principles for which universities should stand and to which the University of Michigan is devoted, and to their specific realization through the International Institute—the organization, the network, and the people that have made exceptionally innovative collaborations of consequence across the university, and across the world, possible.

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Constituting Sacred Spaces, Producing Heretical Knowledge
David William CohenMichael D. Kennedy


Through the production of basic knowledge in virtually every field and its application to the betterment of lives around the world, the North American research university has professed—especially over the past half century—a privileged location in that world. Not only has the university claimed a unique position in the transfer of learning across generations, but it has also sought to overcome national boundaries and the limitations of its own national or regional formation through the international exchange of learning and through the articulation of universal values.

Yet here lies the essential challenge for the North American research university: how to be both of and in the world, pressing universal values and underlining the indivisible and transcendent nature of knowledge while irrevocably located within the histories, constituencies, and demands of the nation. For some, this challenge may be but a pause in the globalization of institutions of research and learning around the world; for others, the challenge represents an essential contradiction within the very nature of the North American research university's project in the broader world. The challenge, simply put, is the following: should the university transcend its national foundations as it engages the broader world? Can it?

This discussion is especially important, and especially difficult, in the period following the attacks of September 11, 2001.Page  2 The intensified culture of belligerence and the narrowing of national interest mobilized in the wake of the attacks seemed an instant threat to the cultures of conversation and collaboration that marked the North American university's engagement with the world throughout the 1990s. Suddenly, the institutional ground of international conversations and collaborations seemed a fragile and critical and much threatened "sacred space," while the knowledge produced—much of which articulated universal values and addressed global needs—could appear "heretical". In the generation of this volume's project, the motifs of "sacred space" and "heretical knowledge" have marked not only the risks of worldly engagement in an era of extreme national belligerence but also the conceits that have long inhabited the claims to universals in the research university's productions, transferals, and applications of learning.

We are writing in critical times. We can ask whether, in these last few years, the research university's privileged position has been unmade, or inhibited, or lost. We should ask whether, in these times, the North American research university can sustain a unified ethic of responsibility in its address to the world, an ethic built around universal values while attentive to the complex unfoldings of global publics. We must ask whether the university can provide the support and ensure the freedom that will enable its members and supporters to generate and pursue questions critical to understanding the world, to produce the knowledge vital to human betterment and global security, and to respect the productivity of heresies in the transcendence of convenient positions and national ideologies.

This volume, and the seminar which gave rise to it, developed around a position paper completed in April 2002. Canning, Cohen and Kennedy wrote that paper in order to stimulate reflection on the possibility of an international address for the North American university that could sustain its highest ideals in an era of belligerence and uncertainty charged by the events of 9/11/2001 and the political responses that followed.

While animated by the uncertainties produced by the attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath, the position paper's concerns for the university's open inquiry and reasoned engagement, intellectual rigor, and responsibility to the world beyond the university itself have not declined in significance over the last several years. In many ways, especially in the contentious justification of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and with the failures in the application of knowledgePage  3 and intelligence and the tragedies of occupation that have followed, we have found even greater reason to be concerned about the fates of intellectual and institutional responsibility within this era of extreme belligerence.

The Project

Since 1993, the University of Michigan has been engaged in a new international project: harnessing the quite remarkable international resources of the university to an institution-wide "internationalization" mandate defined by the university's leadership. They, in turn, delegated the execution of this mandate to the International Institute, one of the first of a number of such renovative and aggregative institutions to emerge within North American higher education following the end of the Cold War. Constituted in the shadows of emergent globalization, such entities as the International Institute also appeared to make obsolete certain knowledge boundaries associated with area studies, most notably those which distinguished institutions of expertise located in "the West" from the societies, economies, and cultures that were located elsewhere in the world and were subject to Western expert analysis. With the emphasis on global flows analyzed in English language collaborations through the Internet, cross-regional comparisons and virtual connectivity seemed to define the new global mission. Nevertheless, area studies was one of Michigan's strongest concentrations in international studies, and the International Institute was invited to negotiate, at its founding, the coordination of that concentration of regional competencies with the university-wide explosion of awareness about globalization's potentials.

Within that context, the Ford Foundation played its typically important role in shaping university concentrations, this time with a program to revitalize area studies, but not to support more of the same. It sought something new and different. The International Institute was one of those funded in that program, and developed a wide array of initiatives that explored privacies and power, citizenship and empire, and violence across global contexts in the grant's first phase, and in the second, a critical approach to the epistemological claims of grounding, translation, and expertise in area and international studies. This volume is the last project in this seven-year collaborative enterprise. But the volume, and the seminar which preceded it, were far different from what any of us had imagined when we started.

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We initially imagined that our final project would bring together all the different project authors as well as distinguished scholars from beyond Michigan to consider how well, and in what ways, we "revitalized area studies." As the date approached for such a traditional finale, the Institute's first director, David William Cohen, suggested that we should look much more toward the future than toward the present, with a focus much more on what needs to be done rather than to reproduce an unfortunate, and anachronistic, defense of area studies vs. international or global studies. We envisioned, then, a small seminar, with distinguished intellectuals from across the world, to anticipate just such a future. In order to provide focus, David William Cohen, Michael Kennedy, and Kathleen Canning, with the exceptional assistance of Monica Patterson and Donna Parmelee, wrote a position paper—this volume's lead essay—to serve as a common foundation for discussion. But as the position paper makes clear, the substance of our concerns had also moved far beyond the articulation of globalization and area studies.

Rather than figure a world defined by the increasing importance of trade and information flows, and the decreasing significance of national identities and violence, September 11, 2001 transformed the United States of America. At least it put much more centrally in the U.S. public sphere a new sense of national grief and insecurity before a kind of enemy most citizens could hardly imagine much less name, but whose efforts to explain brought into focus intellectual and political challenges on which there had been very little previous focus. Fortuitously for academic purposes, but tragically in human terms, our proposal to rethink national universities and global publics came when the U.S. sense of the world was moving away from globalization into an age defined by the quest for security and the uncertainties of violence.

Drawing upon nominations by our fellow U-M faculty, and decided by a subset of that group, [1] five visiting scholars—Veena Das, Konstanty Gebert, Elizabeth Jelin, Nurcholish Madjid, and Lamin Sanneh—joined six similarly selected graduate students—Juliet Erazo, Carrie Konold, Erica Lehrer, Monica Patterson, Hiroe Saruya, and Lingling Zhao—to participate in an August 2002 seminar prepared to discuss the position paper we previously circulated. To anticipate the seminar's work, Patterson assembled an amazing array of websites and publications focused on intellectual responsibility in light of 9/11's attacks, as well as the publications of our distinguished visiting scholars so that wePage  5 might all be more prepared for the nine-day seminar in August 2002. We also asked the five visiting scholars to prepare "briefs" on our own position paper, which were circulated and read in advance of the August meeting. In addition to each day's discussions, seminar participants attended a performance of Glenda Dickerson's Kitchen Prayers, [2] a special seminar discussion of Ross Chambers' paper, "Terrorism and Testimonial: Consequence of Aftermath," and a screening of Zareena Grewal's new film, By the Dawn's Early Light: Chris Jackson's Journey to Islam.

The Volume

We intended to revise the original position paper to complement the more fully elaborated briefs in a volume to emerge after the seminar. However, as conversation within the seminar proceeded, we came to believe that a paper smoothed over to represent some kind of consensus or key points of agreement/disagreement would not reflect the remarkable disarticulations produced in our original encounter. We therefore suggested that we experiment with a different kind of text, treating the original position paper as "frozen," and inviting scholars to contribute interventions which would themselves reframe the text as they would prefer. The original position paper and seminar participant interventions follow this introduction. We also invited seminar participants to prepare individual papers that could highlight particular dimensions of our search to elaborate the connection between knowledge politics and global publics, especially around our quest to define the meanings of sacred spaces and the productivities of heretical knowledge.

Those nine days in which we worked together were precious, for we realized an intensity of discussion and engagement with one another, across unfamiliar intellectual positions and personal biographies, which are rarely available for a world sped up and tracked in familiar networks. After our seminar's conclusion, we realized even more clearly how remarkable those days were, especially as we faced the challenge of keeping the project moving despite multiple individual obligations. Between the seminar's conclusion and April 2003, we collected interventions and chapters, as well as organized one final symposium focusing on the seminar's results. Commentaries by Meredith Woo-Cumings and Fernando Coronil, located here immediately following the position paper and interventions, represent that discussion. [3]

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Meredith Woo-Cumings recognizes threats to the university's sacred space, offering quite particular examples, but in the end is comparatively optimistic about the university's enduring openness and freedom in this age of belligerence. After all, she notes, this openness is rooted in the very tradition of the U.S. university, admired throughout the world despite growing anti-Americanism. For her, this anti-Americanism is rooted less in American power or privilege but in the unilateralism and problematic neoliberalism of its government policy, which is itself an artifact of those who rule. As an exercise in responsibility, universities could help articulate different U.S. policies not only grounded in different visions of the world, but of the various locations from which they are articulated. To be Midwestern, for example, may offer opportunities for globalism unbound by the imaginations generated by ocean rims of reference.

The University of Michigan's proximity to Canada should kindle a greater awareness as to the meaning of North American research universities, but that regional and political elaboration awaits others with greater expertise and awareness than those who contribute to this volume. Fernando Coronil's contribution moves in another direction, both analytically and regionally.

Coronil questions the very U.S. presumption he finds embedded in the position paper. First, rather than being apart from society, the university's sacred space has to be understood in the context of the societal transformations in which it is located. To remain sacred, he argues, the university works to conceal those connections; to understand how this sacred works, we must look more closely at the ways in which the university is embedded in the mundane, and in history. After all, September 11 has a very different resonance in Chile, and the North American university's worldliness has a very different association with globalizing knowledge politics since 1973 in the South. The very global ambition of the North American university is associated with the increasing concentration of knowledge production to its advantage; this inequality in fact is magnified by the presumption found in the position paper's title. Invoking the paper's invitation of heresy, he asks whether the way in which the North American university might globalize could reflect a democratization of knowledge production itself, apparent by undermining its own worldly privilege.

The final five papers represent more substantial arguments on specific Page  7themes suggested within the original position paper and were elaborated with other worldly contexts in mind. These five papers reflect work begun, and first presented, within the August 2002 seminar itself.

Veena Das's paper, "Universities, States of Emergency, and Censorship," emphasizes the provisional nature of our collective intervention. She agrees that the university's location within the state and market needs constant address, but she wonders whether we overstate the significance of 9/11, and whether "sacred space" is the right way to defend it. We emphasized both the sacred and 9/11's significance, in part, in order to anticipate and forestall the worst challenges to academic integrity. But Das has some doubts about our formulation. She writes,

If the idea of sacredness refers to a separation from the profane interests of the world or a promise of limitless freedom to pursue any kind of truth, then it is not only idealist and utopian—it fails to consider the importance of limits as the very condition for the pursuit of knowledge. These limits may be internal to the process of rational inquiry as for instance, when I limit my claims to that which is knowable through reason; or these may be external as when inquiry is limited by considerations of ethics. Thus, the idea of the university as the site from which a critique of the present could be mounted cannot be made to rest on some utopian idea of freedom. The debate then must center on how we are to define the limits within which a university must operate and what the legitimate demands are that the state can place on the university.

Does 9/11 shift those demands in consequential ways? More properly, of course, it is not 9/11 that marks the shift, but the ways in which different actors respond to that day's attacks that shape the function of the university, and the conditions for the integrity, openness and universality of knowledge production within the academy and beyond. Certainly the debate about the use of intelligence in the justification for Iraq's invasion in winter/spring 2003 demonstrates that the autonomy of analysis and expertise before the use of power of all sorts is a common concern across institutional sites. Thus, and here we agree very much with Das's recommendation that we examine more specifically,Page  8 and concretely, how reason and intellectual integrity are violated. Consider, for example, the constraints university leaders themselves face. While they may have objected to certain surveillance policies, dependency for other resources could prevent that forthright stand. Das suggests that possibility:

I assumed that the major universities would simply refuse to comply. If indeed, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, California, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Columbia, or Michigan (among many others) would jointly refuse to obey the administrative directives that take away their own jurisdiction over their students, surely there would be some impact on the policies of the administration on these issues? It took me some time to realize that the weak and sporadic dissent perhaps represented that universities were so dependent on funding from federal grants and their prestige as research universities was so tied up with funding that opposition was not a simple matter of withdrawing consent.

To be sure, as a single organization with its integrated budgets, the university must find ways to assure that policies undertaken in one sphere don't undermine practices necessary for the existence in others. But this is not only an economic relationship. It might be, just as Das's Kantian reference implies, that universities need the engineers in order to provide the evidence of accomplishment so that the poets can wax appropriately. But this is more than live and let live in diversity. She argues appropriately in conclusion:

It would appear to me that, after all, there is work to be done. I am reminded in my moments of despair (seeing how ordinary people can begin to take pleasure in such obscenities as the "mother of all bombs")—of the figure of Gandhi and his homespun technology of satyagraha or the insistence on truth. It was in the work of the everyday—spinning, cleaning, writing, fasting—that Gandhi found the resources for his struggle against the British rule. I suggest that we will have to invent our own forms of insistence on truth from within the everyday life of universities if the urge to fanaticism, superstition, delusion, and exorcism is to be overcome in the Page  9darkness of these times.

Das's invitation requires a measure of discussion of purpose, debate, and elaboration that is very difficult to have in the political economy of university life. By this we don't mean only the drive for patents or licensing, or dependency on the good will of legislatures near and far. By this we also refer to the preferences and resources of the arts, humanities, and social sciences. People may not have the time or the interest for taking up Das's challenge. She asks us to do more than demonstrate disciplinary accomplishment—that we find new ways to bring those competencies to the purpose of public life. She asks us not only to exercise individual intellectual integrity, but also to find a politics of institutional compromise and efficacy. She invites us to develop some cultural sense of obligation to one another, in order to use the institution more effectively not only in defense of the sacred space, but in the production of heretical knowledge that is consequential and transformative. That is why, much as 9/11 justified a new logic of American warfare, we might anticipate that it could inspire a new level of intellectuality in public engagement.

Michael Kennedy's paper, "Transforming Globalization's University around the Challenge of Difference in an Age of Belligerence," explores one such direction. Finding the focus on connectivity in globalization's university poorly prepared to recognize the challenge of difference in disciplinary, regional, and religious terms, as well as in other more conventional markers of diversity in American academic discussion, he suggests that we attend more to the conditions of transformative engagement. Constituting cross-cultural and interdisciplinary engagements that both respect the anchors of difference and transform them in their encounters, universities might generate new kinds of knowledge production that find no other home. By considering one such project—the globalization of one performance of global loss, motivated by 9/11—he discusses the challenge to easy extensions of common concern, even when the politics would suggest transparent recognitions. Rather than consider this difficulty of dialogues a loss, however, he suggests this encounter might exemplify the kind of learning possible when scripts assigned by familiar identifications and issues are transformed by unfamiliar collaborations.

Kennedy's paper suggests that the university's sacred space may not only be a place to identify injustice and mourn losses, or to explore the unsettledPage  10 nature of identity and challenge of recognition in the world. It is also about cultivating competencies in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary engagements, which in turn depends on having a space where heresies can be considered, transformative dialogues nurtured, and their implications considered and refined. How can the university develop its potential, he asks, to experiment with new modes of communication that reach across working divisions of culture, language, religion, and discipline?

Konstanty Gebert's paper, "Forgetting Amalek," redirects our concern beyond the university, toward the sites of evil's production. Drawing on the insights afforded by the story of Amalek in the Torah, he asks us to consider "radical evil," as something defined by "an intentional group attack on a collectivity of individuals, selected necessarily to be defenseless, but possibly also on the basis of other characteristics, with the aim of exterminating them." This is a critical complement to the concerns addressed in the preceding chapters, for it raises not only the question about preserving the university's intellectual vitality, but also its moral responsibilities:

For there are values, which are not relative, but absolute, such as the right to life, and in freedom and dignity at that. Criticism of these values does not just introduce another, equally worthy perspective into the debate. It contains the threat of liquidating the entire debate, concepts, discussants and all.

Above all, Gebert argues, it is irresponsible and wrong to defend radical evil by elevating the justifications for its exercise:

It is important to note that this definition does not take into consideration the justifications that the perpetrators might give for their act. It is assumed that, on the basis of the natural right of humans to life, such justifications are to be considered irrelevant.

The challenge, of course, is not to resurrect Amalek, but to consider to whom the Israel/Amalek analogy might be applied. For Americans, the most provocative is the analogy between Americans and Arabs after 9/11.

Gebert puts the greatest responsibility for radical evil's address on thePage  11 people from whose community that attack has come: "it is incumbent on that community to show the Amalek perception is mistaken: by dissociating itself from the perpetrators, condemning them and bringing them to justice, expressing sympathy for the victims, offering moral and material compensation—and foremost making sure this does not happen again." At the same time, much of what he argues focuses on America's own response, finding more discretion, and less inclination, to indict all Arabs and Muslims for this attack than what could have been expected of this nation, or of other nations. But why would Americans work as hard as they do to distinguish (however adequate one might find that distinction) between terrorists and their ethnic or religious compatriots? Gebert suggests that it could reflect America's inability to recognize evil, for the fact that America has not experienced that kind of evil on its soil until 9/11.

But is it really true that Americans have not experienced radical evil on their soil? Or is it that that radical evil is so delicately/dangerously/desperately mixed up in their goodness? Consider, after all, the deep implication of slavery and genocide against Native Americans and racism more generally in the making of American power and manifest destiny. Americans struggle mightily with the simultaneous sense of being another chosen people, on the one hand, and on the other, a people made great on evil foundations. Perhaps it is America's experience with its own deep and abiding racism, not its innocence, that makes it so careful not to indict whole peoples for the actions of their ethnic kin. Of course it was the experience of interning Japanese Americans during World War II that most powerfully informed American restraint after 9/11.

This, then, ties Gebert's chapter back to Das's. Once again, Gebert raises the challenge to consider how the victim responds to evil. When can one discover Amalek within, and not only beyond, one's community? And can we assume, especially in an era of globalization, that the boundaries of the community are obviously drawn? To be sure, one should not legitimate radical evil, but is it also so obvious who has the greatest opportunity for ending evil? Who, beyond the perpetrator him or herself, has actual responsibility for that evil? Especially when actions are not taken by "finished nations," but by networks organized beyond accountability to publics, who is finally responsible?

Although one could get tied up into profound philosophical disagreements, some of which Gebert considers to be illegitimate, he neverthelessPage  12 offers a compelling mission for the U.S. university in his conclusion: to work to identify the individuality of radical evil, by helping communities associated with that exercise to dissociate from its practice, and put responsibility on those individuals who commit it. Universities can work to eliminate those gross glosses that enable radical evil to be unfairly generalized by seeking out (and helping to constitute?) the very assumptions of responsibility for evil's practice that make individuals, and not nations, the bearers of radical evil.

Lamin Sanneh's paper, "Sacred Truth and Secular Agency: Separate Immunity or Double Jeopardy? Shari'ah and National Politics in Nigeria: Lessons for the National University," works powerfully to bring the challenges of communities of identification, and positive morality, more directly to the center of our imagination. Indeed, what moral code should be at work? Are moral codes, especially their "basic variety," so obvious?

Through an examination of debates within West Africa Sanneh helps us to appreciate a transcendent point that:

general warrants cannot alone uphold sacred truth, nor can specific political enforcement avoid the risk of jeopardizing the moral intent of the religious code. The jurists have recognized in their methodology, for example, that theocracy and ideological secularism pose a common threat to religious truth claims as well as to political legitimacy.

This point is more difficult to make within the United States, given the delicate balance between a nation whose currency states trust in God, but whose constitutional amendment assures separation of church and state. The challenge of moral codes in public action can be more clearly seen in places where no singular religious tradition holds such obvious dominance, as in Nigeria with its original hybrid legal formation.

Sanneh helps us consider this religious/secular relationship by introducing an important distinction embedded in Nigerian debates. By considering the distinction between the islamization of society and of the state, one can

shift the focus from the role of the state exclusively to the role of civil society in dealing with issues of tolerance, diversity, and pluralism. Page  13The distinction does not deny the challenge of secularism, but instead mitigates it by restructuring it as a matter of the civil order.

With this, of course, Sanneh introduces a powerful shift in our sense of community. Rather than assume religious affiliation to be the marker of one's identification, he asks us to consider how different communities use the religious/state relationship in the pursuit of their own secular interests, and how that sits with the pursuit of religion in its own, spiritual, terms.

The spiritual integrity of religious claims has, of course, a difficult space within a public university whose constructed distance from organized religion works in ways similar to that of the state itself. [4] However, Sanneh's questions about forcing religion's distance from public life raise an important question for the university itself: are there ways to envision religion's practice that have more, and less, compatible forms with the exercise of university responsibility? Gebert advocated, quite forcefully, that this can be seen in avoiding certain practices, like justifying radical evil. But are there more positive ways that the university's normative grounding, and the normative grounding afforded by certain religious practices, might find common cause? Or is that a heretical question that the sacred space of the university cannot itself entertain? And if we can't ask it, does that silence implicitly elevate one religion over another, much as ideological secularism elevates Christianity within Nigeria?

The answer to that question certainly cannot be offered simply, but it could be a question worth considering. Indeed, one might take Sanneh's own invocation of the university's responsibility as just such a guide:

The national University should not be the designated metronome, the public register, of adopted national mandates, but a dynamic environment for shaping humane, cosmopolitan ideas and values that bear directly on the national agenda in a critical way. Theprophylacticbelt of black-and-white moralizations with which a breached nation girds its loins in defense of its innocence conflicts with the open borders, with the "heretical" intrusions, that define the work and mission of the academic community.

Importantly, Sanneh's analysis provides a substantial instance ofPage  14 how American presentments regarding religion, governance, and nation—foundational to the country—can be better understood through engagement with a larger, more global, consideration of the fates of religious and political ideals and institutions as they come together in other settings.

Universities should engage the questions that not only animate the academy, but define the agonies of a nation and world, whether or not they are in focus. David William Cohen's paper, "The Uncertainty of Africa in an Age of Certainty," makes that very clear.

Cohen argues that no simple location or heritage explains the problem of Africa's awkward location in the world. At the same time, race, and its essence, appears to construct the problem, but race also offers "restricted and confounded epistemic grounds for rendering the complexities of Africa into knowledge and into the world."

Cohen identifies problems not only with race, but also with other metanarratives used to construct useful knowledge about Africa. Those enduring narratives about continuity/change, strong/weak states, and internal/external sources of change shape knowledge production about Africa in coherent, but also enormously problematic ways. And universities are deeply implicated in that counterproductive exercise.

Metanarratives are variously problematic, and variously apparent, of course. Crude racialisms are easily marked and typically easier to challenge than those that implicated in tales of tragedy reanimated by worries over national security. In cases of the latter, expertise that challenges the assumptions of anxieties could be identified as a threat, and to be eliminated, or at least defunded. Expertise that sails with that current of concern might be newly vaunted, and put in front of all the rest to legitimate a university's responsibility. But is there a way, more generally, to avoid having to make such crude political choices?

Probabilistic reasoning about middle range issues is one method for avoiding those problems, but may be insufficient, especially when that work helps to reinforce, by not challenging, the metanarratives that themselves continue to shape policies and practices that redefine the world. Cohen invokes one particular project to elaborate one such alternative.

By focusing on the protocols of investigation used by former Minister of International Affairs Robert Ouko to challenge individuals with nationalPage  15 and/or global power, the protocols used to investigate his assassination, and the interpretations of those protocols within official and broader public realms, Cohen not only offers a different method for doing history, but challenges the certainties with which larger bodies of scholarship organize their questions. Should, he asks, we do more to sustain and elevate the quest for meaning? Certainly he realizes that ambition in his particular case study, but this inquiry also should be viewed in relation to what Africa is about, in relation to how methods reflect variable grounding in spaces and times, and in relation to how method, metanarrative, and location cannot be assumed. That might just be one powerful invocation to consider what a university of the world means.

Cohen's arguments regarding the values of uncertainty attach themselves to the research university's support for the values of relativity in reasoning and representation, which might be said to lie at the epistemic core of area studies—and of the anchorages of grounding, expertise, and translation. In an implicit way, Cohen's arguments here are in tension with Gebert's position regarding the importance of absolute values that make unconscionable certain attendance to "the justifications that the perpetrators (of radical evil) might give for their act." For Cohen, this attendance would seem to be a responsibility of scholarship, supporting the very possibility of scholars to know, represent, and act upon the world in productive and intelligible ways, rather than to extend evil itself.

In the end, however, Cohen's recommendation that "contested meanings"—the stuff of relativity, the essential ground of area studies—be elevated does not sit easily with Das's observations on the implication of the university in larger webs of state power and commercial interest, especially in times of belligerence. This cannot be only a matter of university discussion, of course. It must also be a larger question of whether resources are devoted to assure that the best questions are raised, guided by a normative strength that makes crude interference into the affairs of the university difficult.


Contested meanings are critical to this entire project, from the concluding essays' ambitions to the organization of the original position paper's presentation. We even wish to represent in the form of this volume how we envision that articulation of national university responsibilities and intellectual challenges.

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One cannot presume that any national, regional, or historical experience represents sufficient grounds for viewing the world. Of course, this is obvious to those who see such universal claims or ambitions as cloaks for the interest of the powerful, wealthy, and privileged, and thus as "other people's goods". This limitation is not so easy to grasp from within the North American research university's "sacred space". The university's professions of universalism and claims to global reach are themselves outgrowths of the economic wealth, national history, and international power of the United States, all of which paradoxically limit the university's universal potential.

At the same time, there is no easy symmetry. Narratives challenging imperial or corporate power—alongside critiques of "globalization"—likewise cannot achieve analytical and representational transcendence, given the complexities and particularities of the workings of power and capital in the world. The contradictions inhering within claims to universality and the complexities of particular experience conspire against general claims; at the very least, they combine to raise the value of recognizing difference—in historical experience and historical narrative, in grammars of explanation of change and circumstance, in political economy, and in philosophical and religious tradition. The value of difference should be apparent, and elevated, within this sacred space.

We are not only marking the challenge in the politics of recognition—an underlining of the mix that constitutes the world. We are also addressing the university's engagement of that world. If we simply appropriate newfound data within familiar frames of analysis, and if we just assimilate different points of view within ready and accessible frames of reference, we will only underline our own limited intellectual imagination, our own self-fulfilling internationalism. If we aspire to engage less familiar formulae, to take note of questions formed elsewhere, and to open to view and reflection less familiar ranges of data, we may approach the constitution of an internationalism that is located beyond a home, or national, nexus.

And with that aspiration, we reflect our location, to be found in a question: what would constitute a broader, and deeper, intellectual and institutional responsibility of learning in conditions of crisis? Whether that space is sacred, or its questions heretical, is not so important. We find it more important to recognize the vexed conjuncture of American power andPage  17 philosophical universalism in which we work, and to press forward the broader objectives of the original "Sacred Spaces and Heretical Knowledge" position paper: to provoke reflection and debate on the challenges facing the North American university in its address to the broader world and "to contribute to the making of global public cultures that extend and value the principles for which universities stand in their highest ideals."

Page  18


1. Beyond Cohen, Canning, and Kennedy, these included Mamadou Diouf, Susan Waltz, Glenda Dickerson, Don Lopez, and Simon Gikandi.

2. See Kennedy's contribution to this volume.

3. One significant part of the commentary of a third discussant, Don Lopez, figures in intervention 44a to the position paper.

4. For consideration of that challenge, see D. G. Hart, The University Gets Religion: Religious Studies in American Higher Education (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1999).

Page  19
Sacred Spaces and Heretical Knowledge: National Universities and Global Publics
David William CohenMichael D. KennedyKathleen Canning


By the late twentieth century, the American university had emerged as a critical and powerful site of research and learning on the broader world. Global engagement promised a new kind of intellectual space in which the national grounding of the university would be superseded by a new worldly resonance. Through the international circulation of scholars and students, the global flow of ideas and circuit of scholarly collaborations, and the redefinition of academic missions themselves, the university's commitment to academic freedom implied a new sacred space in which scholarship would know no national boundary. Knowledge of and from the wider world brought into the American university through research, reproduced in scholarship, and disseminated through training, seemed without limit or constraint. After September 11, 2001, however, the precious qualities that had affirmed the university as a space that could be both of and in the world were marked as heretical ... now thePage  20 openness and worldliness of the university, and the values associated with the cultivation of broadly shared communities of learning, had become heresies. The sacred space of the American university is threatened ... and it perhaps is only in these circumstances in which the sacred space of the university is recognized as something extremely fragile, and possibly even also a conceit, that we can recognize the importance of the possibility of the university. By marking the heresies essential to global learning, and the conditions of their danger and importance, we hope with this collective enterprise to contribute to the making of global public cultures that extend and value the principles for which universities stand in their highest ideals: open inquiry, reasoned engagement, intellectual rigor, and responsibility to the world beyond the university itself.

We offer this position paper as a provocation to further reflection on the fates of these ideals under present and future conditions. We do so to open to challenge and reformulation the views presented here. And we do so toward sustaining the university's openness to the learning of the world, as a space capable of protecting the powers not only of the sacred but also of the heretical.

Academic Presumptions

The growth of university-seated expertise on the world reflected remarkable national, institutional, and private investments in faculties, libraries, research programs, and curriculum.1 This growth also reflected the play of national security interests on the priorities and capacities of the university. And, especially in the 1990s, this growth reflected an engagement with the idea of globalization and its anticipated effect on every area of life. Not only were the academic disciplines involved in the productions of knowledge on the broader world but training, research, and practice in virtually every profession represented in the university became engaged with the world beyond the United States. The "international" became an essential and well-supported life-stream within the institutions of American higher education. Institutions elsewhere sought to draw on that model and to develop collaborations. These collaborations would, in turn, tie the success of universities and other constituencies from across the world together with the fates of American universities. The meanings of these ties for different national universities, and for the articulation of publics in different nations and across them, are yet to be measured, but evidence of thisPage  21 globalization of knowledge is wholly visible across the American university.2/2a

The opportunities presented to the American academy by new and well resourced openings to the world, the recognition of enlarging fields of practice and research, the challenges of remaking curricula to account for dramatic changes across the globe ... these assured—within American higher education—a heightened level of attention to the broader world, the world beyond the United States. As well, schools have in more formal ways even redefined their mission in international or global terms. For example, the University of Michigan Business School recently redefined itself around a global mission:

Understanding and being effective in the global business environment is not an option. It is a fundamental. At Michigan, that reality is reflected throughout the MBA curriculum, in the international cast of the student body, and in the most comprehensive and in-depth advanced opportunities available anywhere for developing global business knowledge and capability. The University of Michigan Business School is itself a thoroughly global organization, interacting with businesses and educational organizations in dozens of countries and with operations and company partnerships all over the world. [1]

Universities elsewhere in the world have also sought to reach beyond their own national terrains. Whether in the expression of consortia such as Universitas 21 [2] or in the making of specific bilateral linkages, the creation of relationships among institutions across national boundaries has become integral to the ideals of globalization of higher education. For example, the University of Michigan College of Engineering and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) signed an agreement on August 21, 2000, to restructure the School of Mechanical Engineering at SJTU with the following jointly evolved justification:

SJTU wants to become the first institution in China to develop a rigorous faculty evaluation and promotion/tenure system, which will be based on Michigan's system. It is SJTU's goal to develop a faculty with four or five internationally recognized leaders as well as 30 to 40 faculty members who speak English, leading toPage  22 the development of a bilingual lecture system. Also, SJTU hopes to establish research groups that will gain international recognition and a possible Engineering Research Center (ERC), modeled on ERCs in the United States. It is expected that one important result of these changes will be to improve SJTU's ability to recruit top engineering students. [3]

Today these partnerships may seem to arise from a general process of globalization, but, when viewed closely, many such partnerships have developed as extensions of the particular research interests of individual faculty members (to assure continued access to research fields and laboratories for themselves and their students). And they have, as well, been constructed around the ambitions of smaller institutions to build connections to specializations beyond their means. The narratives of globalization of higher education have overwhelmed the diverse and situational developments through which many of these international partnerships have been constituted. Yet they have been drawn into the strong narrative of globalization and, in turn, underwritten heightened attention to the values of the international within higher education.3

These global ties and international partnerships may, in the language of globalization, represent a new stage in the development of the flow of ideas and practices across nations, but they also bring new and enlarged debate about the character of international scholarship, and the implicit relationship of the United States to the broader world. The moves toward the globalization of higher education have placed American-seated initiatives in a paradoxical and potentially irreconcilable position. On the one hand, the initiatives developing from within American institutions have been predicated on values of sharing knowledge globally, creating knowledge institutions of the world. On the other hand, the centering and self-centering of American institutions—themselves promoting international values within a competitive North American institutional environment—have tended to fashion the internationalizing and globalizing American institution as even more distinctively American. Within the United States, these debates over the terms and structures, the priorities and interests, through which the academy would address the wider world, have often reflected the particular institutional histories of the academy within the United States more than any direct comment on the place of America in thePage  23 world. There have been rigorous debates over the relative virtues of area studies and comparative social science models. There have been debates over the place of national security investments in the training of graduate and professional students. There have been debates over the integration of professional schools into humanities and social science-seated area and international studies. There have been debates over the degree of centrality of international relations within the ranges of disciplines, approaches, and interests. There have been debates over the relative importance of more or less applied and more or less theoretical fields of scholarship, research, and training. And there have been debates over the values of engagements and linkages with "the private sector" in the recasting of global and international studies in the university.4/5/5a

For many scholars and university administrators outside the United States, these contests and debates over what constituted the more appropriate and powerful addresses to the world seemed peculiarly American, and without seeming value, as they unfolded in one American institution after another. And some, both within and outside the United States, could reflect that these contests sometimes seemed to be much more about competition for scarce resources than about the relationship of American scholarship to the world. Nevertheless, and quite paradoxically, these variably parochial debates have strongly embedded the "international" into the American university ... if not quite yet embedding America into the international.6

In certain ways that are difficult to evaluate, the research university's early investments in broad computerization, in the development of the Internet and especially electronic mail, but also engagement with new knowledge management networks such as LexisNexis and digital public libraries, new dissemination models in electronic books and journals, and new instructional developments such as long-distance learning and Internet conferencing, reinforced the university's new relationship with the world beyond the campus, the world beyond the nation, intensifying the processes, at least the appearances, of internationalization. New technologies of communication were being constructed out of traditional university infrastructures; and they were promising opportunities for sharing and building knowledge at unprecedented speed and across networks unlimited by ideology, nation, language, region, or position in the world economy. [4] Such investments in technologies and communications inevitably repositioned university-based knowledgePage  24 production within, or accessible to, for-profit ventures, and to a certain extent this has, in turn, rendered the university's productions of knowledge within a commodity system in which questions are asked—even in public and non-profit institutions—concerning "the returns on investment." [5] These rationales have encouraged new pressures toward internationalization, toward reaching "broader markets," toward offering more and more valuable goods to the wider world.

In university after university, "comprehensive internationalization" has come to be seen as a benchmark of success in the race to become global leaders in higher education. And with that effort to realize a new level in the globalization of knowledge, an extraordinary range of practices and programs, sometimes cumulative, sometimes contradictory, have come to constitute "the international." The settlements of contests most commonly turned the university's international arrangements toward greater inclusiveness, giving more and more parties and units stakes in the process of internationalization. Comprehensive internationalization, seated in part in a situational and opportunistic inclusiveness, unfolded in tandem with an idea, or an ideal,of the North American university as a rather special, or unique, place in which conversations about the world, about the representations of others, about the appropriate role of knowledge institutions and expertise in the fate of the world, could be carried on as if outside the conventions and parochialisms of particular nations or regional interests.

The American university could be seen as a place illuminated and protected as a sphere of universal values, of unfolding protocols of research, learning, and practice that transcended national and secular interests. [6] This universal standing of the institution—an institution of the world as well as in the world—even encompassed recognition of the weight, the importance of, pluriversal (or multiversal) values. [7] American debates about multiculturalism, and the pressing forward of the values of diversity within America, seemed to resonate and reinforce the importance of transcending limitations of the nation. [8] This, paradoxically, seemed only to underwrite still more strongly the claims to, and the promotion of, universalism within the university, for only via the work of universal values could there emerge a recognition and appreciation of difference and of the values and meanings that others placed upon their worlds, their knowledge, and their perspectives.7/8

Page  25

Whether experienced as ideal or delusion, for many across the globe from the middle of the twentieth century, the American university came to be viewed as a microcosm of a future universe within which diverse experience could be respected and virtually any idea whatever its source could be expressed. [9] With its link to technological dynamism and claim to intellectual authority, the American university could be taken not only as an especially privileged and uniquely open site of learning but also as a model for institutions of higher learning anywhere in the world. Moreover, the university's openness, its freedoms, its diversity, could be taken as critical markers, or models, of a stronger future for the world's peoples. The research university, in its approach to the international, was hinged to two relatively distinct, and in certain ways irreconcilable, modalities: (1) the pursuit of values to extend "the rights of man" through knowledge construction, translation, and transfer; and (2) the pursuit of means—one could say the "modern"—to improve "the lot of man," to serve the world, and to rationalize that service to the world. Skeptics could argue that in the heady competition with for-profit organizations in pursuit of the latter, the university came to understand more clearly that its edge would increasingly be mainly in respect to the former.9/9a Links might be realized through consultations, partnerships in technology transfer, and the exchange of faculty and students, yet the implicit hope embodied in globalizing higher education rested on the assumption that openness, tolerance, and innovation simply, unproblematically, worked together, within America and across the world. [10]

These positive attributions from outside were also mirrored in the self-reflections of academic leaders within the American university, and within the networks and consortia that constantly brought together leaders, faculty, and students into common conversations. Not only did these parties believe these attributions to be correct, they also recognized that critical resources, monies—from government, foundations, and university administrators—were closely bound with discourses regarding the values of internationalization and globalization of higher education. The American future of higher education could represent, in these presumptions, the global future of innovation, openness, and the capacity for improvement through academic freedom, embodied within the American university but with an anticipation of the university of the world. Recently, major new investments in the internationalization of American higherPage  26 education by foundations such as Rockefeller, Mellon, and Ford tended to support scholarly openings to international engagements. Competitive grant programs encouraged relationships among scholars internationally and between American and overseas institutions as ways of further encouraging such connections and simultaneously seeding values of the international within American institutions in fresh ways ... that is, beyond the frameworks of older investments in the development of area-specific American expertise. The larger point seemed to be to move American universities and colleges beyond their American anchorages, towards a new station of the world. On September 10, 2001, there appeared to be little doubt that the great North American university was an institution of the world, something beyond the nation, something reflecting a future ... a future shaped by the increasingly sophisticated recognition of plural as well as universal values, a future in which such learning institutions as the North American university were beacons of a new and open order. One recognized the depths and complexities of the broader world, and one acknowledged that the university must adjust its facilities, faculties, and programs to attend to these depths and complexities. If something was sufficiently important, the university could address it. If something was sufficiently wrong, the university could say it. If funding could be found, the university could research it. Perhaps the priorities of legislatures, foundations, and donors would not match the integrity and ideals of the university's global ambition, but that was something that might be fixed by the increasing power of international learning among those who preside over allocations.

Utopian, naïve, or merely optimistic, such an academic presumption animated the vision of a university of the world located within North America, a university identified with global values and global futures. The university had positioned itself, or become positioned, as a "sacred space," a space that seemed far from confined by national or parochial interest. Rather, the university was defined by its commitment to learning through open and reasoned dialogue, teaching, and research.10 We develop this provisional formulation—"sacred space"—to mark the ways in which attributions of the unique standing of the institution, along with self-reflections of this standing, were held to be beyond contest. Academic freedom, the hallmark of the American university's distinction, was unlike other freedoms associated with the democracy or independence of the nation state. This freedom was supposed to stand beyondPage  27 question—and certainly beyond national interest—as it engaged the world and enabled the American university to realize its universality through its own comprehensive internationalization. But this comprehensive internationalization hardly questioned the grounds, translations, and expertise that underlay these ambitions.11/12/13/14

Grounding, Translation, Expertise

In 1998 and 1999, the International Institute of the University of Michigan was engaged in a regular internal and external review process. Founded in 1993, the new International Institute brought together most of the international academic programs and centers at the University, as well as a range of pre-existing and new resources including some forty-two faculty positions (some filled, some open, some new). On the one hand, the Institute was founded with a generously open and ambitious mandate "to internationalize" the University; on the other, its strengths lay with pre-existing resources (centers, programs, grants, faculty) dedicated to context-grounded ("area studies") international scholarship and training.15

By early 1999, the Institute was well positioned strategically and intellectually to interrogate both long-standing and newly evolving claims to authority in the international address of the North American university (specifically exemplified by the University of Michigan) in the pursuit of research, training, and practice in and on the world. In response to a request for a proposal from the Ford Foundation,16 the Institute identified three elements at the core of claims to the university's authority in respect to "the international": grounding, expertise, and translation.

We argued that the "work" of university-based area studies in North America rested on three foundational claims to authority: the virtues of groundedness, or grounding; the capacity to translate knowledge; and the transferability of knowledge through expertise into practice. These elements had long served as banners for international and area programs within the North American university. With Ford Foundation support, we have sought to foreground these presumptions, to understand how these elements function in scholarship and practice. We also have tried to identify weaknesses in these foundational claims. And we have tried to see how university-based international and area studies scholarship may create new strength through critical reflectionPage  28 on its own practice.

With "grounding," we referred to the deep engagement in knowledge of a region and period as well as in the methods of the disciplines. We sought to understand how "grounding" in a region is situated in processes beyond the local and how "grounding" in the disciplines is peculiarly embedded in the historical development of the disciplines and professions. As one becomes more grounded in place ... and as one becomes more grounded at a point on a trajectory of unfolding of a discipline, the complexities of these conjunctures become more apparent and challenging. We were intrigued by the epistemological contingencies and ambiguities inherent in the claims to "grounding." We sought to move our attentions from a topical approach to international and area studies in which the status of claims of "grounding" was withheld toward a focus on the facilities of "grounding" that have given a certain authority to area studies and international scholarship and training.

With "translation," we referred to the capacities (or claims to capacity) to move findings, methods, and theories back and forth among different frames of grounded knowledge and into conversation with trans-local and global processes. We sought to move attention from the vexed circumstances of specific translation to the institutional and epistemological grounds that constrain, and may yet facilitate, translation.

By "expertise," we referred to the emergence of new constituencies, and to the constitution of arrays of different sites and modes of intellectual authority, in the international field, as claims to know-how were remade into practice ... more particularly into professional claims to competence. Here, claims to expertise from within the university stood among competing claimants, raising questions of the relative standing of different sites and modes of expertise and different circuits of practice. We sought to reconsider the claims of international expertise within the university amidst these broader economies of expertise operating across the globe.

In an important way, the International Institute's readiness, in 1998 and 1999, to draw questions towards its own practice, and towards its own claims to competency, could only have developed within the "sacred space" of the American university of the late 1990s. It is difficult to imagine that such a program of critique and self-critique could have been imagined ten years earlier. The opening might in part be attributable to a distance from the ColdPage  29 War, from the primacy that national security interests had within American higher education's approach to "the international." But this readiness to engage in self-critique almost certainly draws as well on the new vocabularies of transparency and self-critique that were reconstituting public and for-profit sectors throughout the world.

The "sacred space" of the American university permitted a range of reflective and critical conversations that were seen as potentially strengthening the university's address to the wider world, rather than questioning that project or the core assumptions on which it was based. With each of these competencies—grounding, translation, and expertise—we identified facilities that could be both questioned and strengthened. We recognized that such critical work could only develop in a setting that allowed relatively open conversation and debate among ranges of scholars and practitioners both within and outside the academy, and from within and outside North America, and among American-based institutions and institutions outside North America. From August, 1999 through June, 2001, via a series of conferences, workshops, special programs, and other engagements, we came to understand more clearly the historical locations of specific practices that had long underwritten international and area studies in the research university and to see ways to introduce and engage more explicitly a range of different standpoints beyond this nation and the epistemes this nation privileges. In some ways, September 11 magnified the value of this project more than we could have anticipated.

September 11

The idea of the American university both in and of the world seemed almost suddenly to be a conceit. On the one hand, some would claim that America was attacked for those very values that universities elevated—openness, freedom, and democracy. [11]17/18/19 At the same time, with the circumstances of the pronounced/unpronounced war of the United States, and its proclaimed values, on those of the world who would not share or recognize these values, the American university appeared to lose its transcendent global resonance. Expertise about the world became, once again, explicitly associated with national security rather than global engagement while faculty and students from abroad, once providing evidence of American openness, became newly vulnerable to detentions and interrogations if they happened to be male andPage  30 from a nation marked as responsible for harboring terrorists. Some clearly attacked the idea of the university's willingness to consider multiple standpoints; in this cast, political resolve, rather than critical doubt, should now be the university's common ground in its dedication to freedom. In these conditions, the university could be open to the world only so long as the world did not threaten American security.

A new and strong standpoint entered the academy. It may have needed little explicit external direction. Nevertheless, external direction was indeed generously offered, sometimes without subtlety, including the production and circulation of lists of faculty or courses that questioned America's new posture; the lobbying of university trustees, regents, and administrators regarding the proper role of the university in "war-time"; and the marshalling of new regulations regarding the surveillance of international students and the protection of security-implicated labs, libraries, and technologies. More provocatively, national leaders engaged and attacked the intellectual foundations of American-based international scholarship, as for example New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani did in a speech to the UN General Assembly on October 1, in which he presumably sought to answer the few American scholars or commentators who attempted to explain, in historical, political, and economic terms, the 9/11 attacks:

There is no excuse for mass murder, just as there is no excuse for genocide. Those who practice terrorism—murdering or victimizing innocent civilians—lose any right to have their cause understood by decent people and lawful nations.

On this issue—terrorism—the United Nations must draw a line. The era of moral relativism between those who practice or condone terrorism, and those nations who stand up against it, must end. Moral relativism does not have a place in this discussion and debate.

There is no moral way to sympathize with grossly immoral actions. And by trying to do that, unfortunately, a fertile field has been created in which terrorism has grown. [12]20

Under these conditions, how can the pluralism and contentions characteristic of the idealized scholarly community work? How are thesePage  31 "sacred spaces" of open and reasoned intellectual engagement to be defended within the university after years of evolution in which defense seemed hardly necessary?21/21a/22 What would now be the fates of conversations and of collegial engagements and movements across the globe which days before seemed both essential and largely unproblematic? And what would be the fates of scholars who had come to accept the North American university as a space apart, a space where conversations were possible that were not possible elsewhere? [13] With this association, how can one engage publics beyond America, and beyond the scholarly communities already tied to universities?23 In this atmosphere, where security and belligerence, rather than globalization and collaboration, become the terms of international engagement, has a vision of identification with publics across the world in addition to those of one's national polities, become not only naïve, but dangerous? Are there now things of importance that cannot be said, that cannot enjoy the regime of unfettered conversation? What are the new risks of ideas that had enjoyed important standing and productive power within the university? And what are the new risks of dissent?24

To turn these questions toward our core formulations of the sacred and the heretical, does the sanctity of university space promise even more when heretical knowledge about others can be so readily marked as threatening or dangerous?25 Does this new cast of the world defined in a contest over global terrorism promise to make other heretical knowledge grounded in exclusion and ignorance, rather than apostasy itself, even more invisible in the claims to global relevance and recognition of difference? Would certain spheres now be rendered irrelevant or invisible because they appeared to be located on the margins, or the sidelines? Would fresh claims to "the universal" now be used to eliminate rather than nurture openings to "the pluriversal"?

We may now see more clearly the fragilities and transience of the sacred space of the American university as a space in which conversations about the world, about the representations of others, about the appropriate role of knowledge institutions and expertise in the fate of the world, could be carried on as if outside the conventions and parochialisms of particular nations or regional interests. At a moment of heightened valuation of belligerence, we may now see more of the ways in which such a unique space as the university at the beginning of the third millennium was highly privileged. We might also consider the kinds of scholarly engagements best designed to preserve, and extend this Page  32unique space ... to find fresh openings to an understanding not only of terror but also pain, sorrow... to consider the opening of a new era of belligerence, to understand the hard work of tolerance, to attend to the complex stories of "unfinished nations," to find ways to think about the trenchant powers of race, to reconsider our address to the subject of faith, and to recenter the challenges of remembrance and representation.

Uncertainties and Events

The violence of September 11 and of its aftermath suggests the potential for a world transformed, but the shapes and trajectories of such an unfolding world are not self-evident. [14] At the very least, our anticipations (however nuanced) of that transformation are to be understood now more clearly as shaped by our location in the world and of our variable and multiplex associations with the social, economic, political, and cultural forces that affect these transformations and condition our interpretations of them. As a start, both for the value of a university open to the world and as a place where heretical knowledge can find intellectually rigorous scholarly interrogation, one needs to bring to these events a sense of their varied readings, implications, and importance. Above all, one needs to cultivate that critical doubt regarding any single, or alternative, master narrative. What is the standing of these various readings of these events? What are the shapes of their audiences? In what ways are new histories ready to attend to the diversity and multiplicity of the readings of these events surrounding, preceding, following September 11? And, now, what are the risks of advancing readings and interpretations and histories that stand outside particular master narratives?

Both now and in the long term, part of the challenge of "reading 9/11" lies in addressing the representations of these events as unique events. Ways of speaking of 9/11 in their first incarnations after September 11 lamented that the world would never be the same" ... "our lives have changed forever" ... "we will never feel secure again." "Pearl Harbor" was presented as an apt, prior "unique event." These expressions of uniqueness inevitably, and probably unknowingly, stood against views elsewhere that events of this order were quite commonplace in the world (even that America had played parts in devastation on this scale elsewhere).26/27

The claims to uniqueness, opening perhaps to asymmetrical and as yetPage  33 largely unwaged debates regarding such claims to uniqueness, made proximate other debates. It may be especially important to recall discussions from the 1980s on the Holocaust as a unique event in human history. Such debates invite digressions into the adjudication of numbers of victims, as if collective pain, large tragedies, and genocide can only be evaluated by reference to the numbers of the dead. [15] This kind of empirical work helps to turn attention away from empirical investigation of an even more challenging nature: how can we explain the ways in which certain events come to be seen as exceptional and beyond comparison?

In the case of 9/11, the assertions of uniqueness gain conviction and influence through their performance, through their repetition, and through the exceptional means of media and the state in America to impress its discourses onto the broader world. They then recycle back into American-seated notions that its own particular experience must be read as events of the world and must be read within one frame without qualification. The complex authoring facilities of a diverse world are displaced, or partly overpowered, by the powerful authoring capacity of one nation in the world as part of its exercise of power and of its elaboration of its unique national security imperative.

Are there scholarly addresses to this question of uniqueness, beyond saturating the claims to uniqueness with a multitude of not-so-unique comparisons or invading these claims with questions about relative numbers? We do not propose to know how to address the uniqueness of 9/11, except to invite its scholarly engagement. One might focus on how discourses on uniqueness work, but we also suspect that this will leave much undone, and most particularly will risk missing the ways in which pain and loss are felt and unfold through broad communities and even distant ones that find some affinity with victims and their survivors. We need to recognize and appreciate both the poetics and the powers associated with felt pain and loss.

There is also opportunity to consider how, more generally, claims to "the exceptional" can ossify, how they can disengage people from critical thought, how they can push further away complex understandings that might not only be empirically sound but, in the long-term, healing and confirming.

Time is itself an issue. Scholars, as others, are caught within the temporalities and temporicities of memory: when is it possible to extend, or intensify, reflection on and analysis of the experience of trauma and loss? SomePage  34 scholars may distance themselves from the challenge of 9/11 in hopes that the passing of time might enable more dispassionate analysis. However, waiting to reflect also means that retribution, revenge, and justice take over the address of pain, loss, and death. Remembrance and vengeance work on different schedules, but the fulfillment of scholarly responsibility might demand more immediate focus on the first, in order that the latter finds greater reason and possibility for justice.28 For that to happen, heretical knowledge must find its sacred space, especially when belligerence rules and tolerance looks to find its place.

Belligerence and Tolerance

Before September 11, 2001, conversation and negotiation were privileged frames of reference across a range of international issues. These frames of reference reflected growing understanding among nations and regions in the world-system. They reflected the values of shared, commensurate information in international negotiations. And these frames of reference reflected agreements on the possibilities of moving through conversations (as in the work of international conferences in a range of fields) and negotiation to arrive at goals shared, or evinced, among multiple international partners. International scholarship, training, and practice based in the American research university found affinity with these frames of reference ... frames of reference that attended to tolerance, appreciation for diversity and universal standards that were being ever more strongly constituted in the open flow of information, knowledge, and ideas. Even the apparent retreat of the White House from such conversation and negotiation in several arenas across the first eight months of 2001—for example in relation to the Durban Conference on Racism, the Vieques negotiations, the Kyoto talks—did not suggest the collapse of these frames of reference; rather, the importance of such flows and sharing of knowledge was marked and reinforced.

After September 11, 2001, the paradigm of aggressiveness, of power made more raw and visible, almost instantly displaced the frame of reference based in conversation, negotiation, and open sharing of information [16] and knowledge across the globe.29 Within three days following the attack on the World Trade Center, Mayor Giuliani offered a remarkably explicit assault on relativism (produced in a more studied address at the UN two weeks later—and quoted here above), one that under the circumstances was and to some extentPage  35 is still difficult to answer. The language of aggressiveness and belligerence was newly privileged in America and in many other settings around the world. Familiar and obvious ways of working in our scholarly fields, in our training, and in our practice became dangerous exercises for us; [17] they became still more dangerous for our partners in scholarship and practice around the world, as well as for our students coming from other countries.29/30

The disposition that privileged the tolerance and recognition of difference finds a new and peculiar space when violence is centered in the American global imaginary. First, some kinds of knowledge and expertise about the world become newly valorized or revalorized. The American government has stepped into the academic debate about area studies and established anew its mark of relevance and importance with significant increases in funding research and teaching about parts of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Global security, and not global business, becomes the dominant theme of international discussions. Religious studies, and Islam in particular, become newly significant as well to American universities, but in a new and awkward fashion, now to be reckoned as a challenge to national security rather than as an opening to the world's knowledge.31

American multiculturalism and commitments to diversity rested upon a kind of secular assumption; they rested, moreover, on the belief that a free flow of ideas was not only the future, but also a force that would ultimately reshape the contours of the world.32 Now, this recognition of difference and this search for knowledge about unfamiliar others are tinged with an anxiety marked by uncertainty about global futures. Or perhaps thought of differently, it is marked by the certainty of violence.33 Tolerance becomes an even more important value to celebrate and to find in sensibilities and practices elsewhere precisely because America is no longer so confident that its own sensibilities of its multicultural self will be extended elsewhere. But tolerance is not something only to celebrate. It is not a uniform that some wear and some do not. It is, as can be seen so clearly since 9/11, a field of hard and never-ending work and struggle.34

But in these "war-time" circumstances, where tolerance becomes less a search for mutual understanding and more one side in a war against intolerance, the marks of an American nation simultaneously parochial and universal becomePage  36 apparent. American power and interests produce presumptions about the world (and about America) more consequential than those produced by other nations. At the same time, America's limitations also become more visible on the world stage; these limitations make the nation's action, or inaction, readily accessible. Whether in the unacknowledged conditions of its action or in its unintended consequences, the effects of America's presumptions and interventions into the world are inevitably being read from a variety of standpoints. Is recognition of such various standpoints heresy or a means to competency or is it simply a matter of responsibility?35

The appreciation of different interpretations of the world during a war against terrorism is one kind of recognition. It is also important to mark differences that go unnoticed as a new master narrative around the fight against terrorism succeeds and in part displaces the debate about globalization's promise and problems. While economic crises in Southeast Asia in the late 1990s animated debates about globalization, the economic crisis in Argentina over the last year is rendered, at least within the vision of America, as nothing more than a distraction from the new problem of global terrorism, if that. Poverty abides, and perhaps acquires a new significance as the seedbed for terrorism, but when that poverty is linked to devastating health conditions whether around AIDS or less recognized plagues, its importance is less clear for the battle against terrorism.

The American university is deeply caught up in the political economy of its global engagements. Whether as a source of funding or a search for relevance, the sacred space of open discourse is itself shaped by the power of those narratives seeking to influence it. In some ways, the tolerance for difference finds a new and difficult space when readings of American power prove inconsistent with the search for dialogue. Perhaps certain heresies that sustain value in our work—the attention to pain, sorrow, want on their own terms—are at risk as they are reconstituted as critical issues within national security and foreign policy discourses.

We might also recognize that this attention to tolerance is situational and short-term. Tolerance has another life, in the cautious, continuing, and courageous support of acceptance of others in everyday life. Tolerance may not be advanced by national or trans-national dictates but rather through the almost invisible little acts of accepting and allowing difference at a work-Page  37site, in a market-place, at a border, in a government office, in a school, in a neighborhood, within families, among friends, in policing, in the handling of news, in rituals and ceremonies, and in activities of leisure and pleasure. What are the fates of such critical civilities under the weight of languages and acts of belligerence spanning the globe and engrossing global media?

Perhaps this is the heretical knowledge we seek, these critical civilities that go unmarked by those new efforts to redefine the world in the light of unique tragedy threatening an even more barbaric future. Or perhaps the tolerance we need to define is one that stands in the glare of belligerence itself. That, however, suggests the need to mark forms of identification and layers of difference that organize visions of dialogue and violence.

Unfinished Nations

"Unfinished nations" have enjoyed a long and tumultuous career, from failed attempts at modernization to the often unsuccessful releases from imperial entrapments, from the submerged "nationalities" of the Cold War era to the perpetuations of invented countries within the modern world system, from authentic developments aspiring to a reborn or new born collective formulation to fake or confabulated efforts to use the nation-form as a means to claim rich resources, from long and almost finished processes of unfolding of new identities and new states to processes of emergence of identities and states that seem, arguably, never to be completed. We are aware that nation-making has almost invariably involved extraordinary violence, whether through imperial and colonial and liberation wars, through the severance of once united populations and the production of stateless and refugee populations in the wake of nation formation, through Cold War strategies of claiming and undermining respective surrogates. But we have also been ready to suspend that awareness.

Before 9/11, the "unfinished nation" had become a global project, at least provisionally reformulated as such. The "unfinished nation" had become a project jointly enacted among communities of experts and communities of subjects aspiring to some better position in the world. New ranges of expertise suggested that nations could be finished without violence, that the violence associated with the "unfinished nation" was not inherent. Moreover, such expertise operating on a global scale tended toward a narrow range of scripts, such as meeting popular aspirations and assuring good governance. ThePage  38 "unfinished nation" was, before 9/11, a project that could be thoroughly mined and solved through the effective application of expertise.

In an era of belligerence post-9/11, the "unfinished nation" is represented now as a threat to national and international security, to be dealt with not so much through the recognition of popular aspirations and the expert practice of consultants but rather through the application of new forms of power and control organized from an American center.36 "Unfinished nations" now have come to be defined less in terms of national fulfillments and more in terms of a nation's articulation with an international security system structured around America's definitions of its needs, its appropriate influence. The deeper and surviving histories of imperial constructions of nations are forced back to the surface in all their interestedness and banality. Past imperial nation-making, porous and unsettled and open for a purpose, becomes newly recognizable, inviting us to consider, once again, whose security is sought, and what definitions of security motivate the articulation of empires and nations after 9/11.37/38

What approaches to the study and comprehensive representation of the histories of these "unfinished nations" are possible, viable, potentially productive, in the present circumstances? Are all nations in a sense "unfinished" in the present context, or at least frozen at some moment in which various complicated and contradictory vectors of change are overwhelmed? What constitutes a "nation" under the circumstances of the present "global war on terrorism"? Might one say that it is increasingly less possible for people to extricate, liberate, themselves from the nation that has chosen them? Might one find illumination in contemporary struggles by considering the movements of new nations in their liberation-from over the past 250 years?

The Layers of Race

America has played a central role around the issue of race, not only in the enactments of race across its history, and in the allowances of race and racism to invade every seam of the nation, but also in the efforts to achieve understanding of the nature and power of race and racism, present and historical, and to move toward some different and better future. The "debate" about race has for the most part presumed a common American "citizenship" and secular identification even as it reaches out beyond national boundaries.39 And, thePage  39 American university has come to play a critical role in this doubled sense, in which the felt experience of race and racism are everyday present and in which there is, in the institution of higher education, the will and the means to move toward a different future and better future.

But the events of 9/11 and their aftermath have brought to the fore a range of questions freshly drawn or newly important, especially as the representation of an adversary, and the animation of a nation, reaches into the treasure-box of already evolved racial stereotypes. For America, the verge between race and racism, on the one hand, and the demonization of the beliefs of others, on the other hand, has grown especially close and frightening.

What were the trajectories in global discussions of racism leading into and out of the 2001 Durban conference, a pre-9/11 marker of the emergence of a more universal and a more institutionally authorized understanding of racism? What shifts in these trajectories seem evident after 9/11? What do we make of an avowedly seamless national policy on terrorism and defense that reflects parochial and transient notions of racism in its detention programs at home and stresses universalistic anti-racialist policies in its liberationist program abroad, pressing freedom irrespective of race and religion and gender?40/41

Yet is this war also about other people's racism, other people's fashionings of notions of race? Is the racism in American racism the same racism as the racisms in other parts of the world? Is there a process by which certain understandings of racism become privileged and come to write the scripts of other "racisms" around the world? Is the American reading of racism a particularly strong reading? What are the advantages of a more consensual and universal construction of racism? What are the risks and difficulties of such a consensual or universal construction of racism? [18] What are the possibilities, and likewise the limitations and risks, of more pluriversal understandings of racism that may resist universalization?42/43

How have university and scholarly-seated reflections and research on racism been shaped, reshaped, in the post-9/11 period, and what are the possibilities of more contextually-grounded, historically sensitive, and more thoroughly integrated understandings of racism in the post-9/11 setting? Are we able to discuss at all the tensions between more universal (or American writ-large) understandings of race and more pluriversal understandings of race—if we could get to them? Is there some risk to America "orientalizing" race and racism?

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Communities of Faith

Nation and race have come to be recognized as enduring axes of identification and cultural difference for the world, overwhelming most other possibilities, but their articulation with religion has not been simple to grasp. Nation and race are often bound up with religious struggles. Secularism itself is presented as a response to the challenge of religion's intrusion into political life. Academic life and university work themselves can have religious implications and identifications, most obviously in those institutions with explicit ties to particular faiths. But even in those public universities of North America, religion is, at best, bracketed as apart from the aspirations to the globalization of knowledge anchored by secularism's assumptions. Such secular assumptions would hold the nation as constructed, perhaps heroically, yet open to deconstruction; race as constructed but almost beyond deconstruction; and faith as almost yet not quite accessible to these familiar tools of historicization and deconstruction. How can faith be brought within the domain of discussion and analysis of the felt associations with, or virtually inescapable conditions of, nation and race? There is virtually no grand contention over our efforts to grasp a workable sense of the nation, of race: such projects, long the labors of the academy, bear credibility as ways of finishing the nation or solving racism. But how are we drawn toward workable empirical and theoretical addresses to faith? How should we proceed? And, parenthetically, who are we in doing so?44/44a/45

Religious studies and schools of theology organize the secular academy's engagement of faith, but they have done so, at least so far, without the explicit spillover into every field that scholarship on nation, race, and gender has witnessed. There is a presence of attention to faith, of course. Certain religious complexes are unquestioned elements of a forestage in the organization of higher education's approaches to the study of faith, while others are presented as being in need of greater recognition and understanding, and still others are overlooked virtually altogether. Campaigns for the inclusion within the American academy of excluded faiths have been from the beginning openings toward the international in higher education, in reaching beyond the nation into cultural worlds beyond America. For religious minorities, these dynamics have long been familiar, but after September 11, they have becomePage  41 manifest; Islam occupies a new and peculiar space within the North American academy,46/47/48/49 while other religious traditions of identification wind up being the implicit lens through which religious questions are asked, and questions about tolerance, belligerence, and openness posed.50

The challenge can be turned into a familiar one for popular American media: how do Arab American and Jewish American students coexist on the American campus when war rages in imagined, ancestral, or real homelands? Race, ethnicity, and religion commingle, finding familiar expression in the American search for mutual understanding, tolerance, and recognition. Now, however, the challenge of difference is inescapably bound up in faith. Well beyond imaginaries of left and right and of diasporas made by race or nation, religious identification occupies a new central ground in the articulation of geopolitics and of intellectual responsibilities. Approaches to race and nation might be drawn toward the study of religious identification, but the linkage of these categories might also reflect American presumption, or a particularly momentary American preoccupation, or fear. Is there a way to center religion's place in the globalization of knowledge without privileging particular faiths? Can the sacred space of the open university find a place for religion's engagement without making unproductive heresies commonplace? Or, to move in another direction altogether, is it perhaps now opportune if not also necessary to begin engagements with the international with the question of faith?

Learning to Represent, Learning to Remember

In an important way, these discussions are about the fate of learning and knowledge based institutions in the construction of comprehension of present events and their connections to the past and to the future. The challenge here may be to sustain and strengthen the capacities to remember ... in the sense of holding on to all the complexities of experience felt and understood virtually simultaneously in different quarters, to build control of ranges of information and views. And the challenge is also to represent ... to hold on to, reproduce, and enhance the capacity to represent, through analysis and narrative, events that are not only multi-sided but also multi-sited, and events around which there are powerful interests seeking to hold the world's attention to particular narratives.

Representation and remembrance are, through varieties of expertPage  42 practices, the domains of competence, indeed excellence, long built within and through the research university. The tensions unfolding between the sacred and the heretical have placed all this in at least a short-term jeopardy.

At Ann Arbor, August 2002

In our proposed conversations in Ann Arbor in August we wish to consider how to create spaces and forms of engagement that encourage intellectual responsibility reaching beyond conventional obligations and references ... to acknowledge both the "of the world" and "in the world" formulations as pieces of that responsibility. What pressures do the claims for relevance and for political realism place on our responsibilities to generate, organize, and disseminate knowledge that bears meaning and value? In the wake of September 11, and against the backdrop of debates over globalization that preceded it, what are the basic intellectual challenges facing a university committed to engaging and serving publics across the world? And what are the fates of such conversation, and the fates of our essential competencies of grounding, translation, and expertise, when aggression and violence—belligerence—become associated with the professions of democratic values and democratic systems?

David William Cohen, Michael D. Kennedy, and Kathleen Canning

University of Michigan International Institute, Ann Arbor

May 15, 2002

Page  43


* Superscripted numbers refer to endnotes to the original position paper completed in May 2002 and discussed at the International Institute's seminar in August 2002. Subscripted numbers refer to seminar participant interventions designed to address critical contentions and omissions in the engagement of national universities and global publics. These interventions include those produced explicitly for this volume as well as others adapted from briefs written by visiting scholars before the seminar or based on syntheses of workshop discussions.

1. See <>.

2. See <>.

3. See <>.

4. Of course, the same research universities that were geared to these promises have faced unanticipated difficulties: the high cost of sustaining cutting-edge technology and the challenges of dealing with hacking, spam, plagiarism, the oversight of hate speech and employment of networks to deal in illicit materials, and the pressures from states and other bodies to limit "freedoms" through filtering and controlling access to the networks. Such networks became new sites for more volatile conflicts over what constitute public and private goods within the American setting, with such conflicts moving via these very networks onto the global stage. At the same time, overseas-based initiatives have been able to devise and use new channels of access to the American academy.

5. Even the active policing of patents and copyrights, especially in the medical sciences but also in a range of new media, which would suggest a national tide against globalization, has involved the university in the active exploration of the contours of international legal debates and processes regarding the circulation of ideas and materials around the globe.

6. Of course, the unfolding of this idea of the university was more arguable with the end of the Cold War and the "forgetting" of the persecutions and the disappearances of left-wing and radical scholars from the academy. And one could bracket the attacks on "tenured radicals," the many racial incidents, the savaging of right-wing campus speakers, and the efforts of legislatures and donors to influence the shape of instruction, research, and the campus environments as not quite deforming the ideal of the university as an open and protected sphere. Indeed, the university appeared to have an inner quality quite capable of surviving a range of insults to the ideal.

7. Reflected here was the influence of the critique of orientalism. In the wake of Edward Said's powerful work, institutions, scholarship, and teaching sought distance from the orientalist traditions in the West's address to the wider world. Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978).

8. Grant H. Cornwell and Eve W. Stoddard, "Globalizing Knowledge: Connecting International and Intercultural Studies," Association of AmericanPage  44 Colleges and Universities, 1999.

9. The notion of "microcosm" seems relevant to this idealization, the intersection between a model in the present and the desire for a more open and tolerant society in the future.

10. Of course, it was often self-evident to university administrators in the United States and overseas that such connections tended to be uneven, asymmetrical, that symmetry required quite extraordinary negotiations and contracts between and among institutions. Even in the simple equation of one-for-one international student exchange, the result was not two more identically formed students, but rather two individuals whose respective international study experience meant entirely different things for each in the respective home countries.

11. See William Bennett's Americans for Victory over Terrorism at <>.

12. See <>.

13. And, of course, what risks did overseas colleagues now face in situations where alignments with the United States could be deadly?

14. Of course, in attending to the powers of uncertainties here we assume a position different from that of President George W. Bush, who has remarked that "The course of this conflict is not known; yet its outcome is certain. And we know that God is not neutral." As reported in The Daily Mail & Guardian, a South African newspaper.

15. The thread through genocide opens another range of questions regarding intent and the challenge of comprehending intent. The 1949 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide includes the defining stipulation of an "intent to destroy" a people (see Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, <>). What are the possibilities, within public discourse, scholarly research, or available juridical resources to get at the intent of people and organizations here defined as "terrorist"? And what are the risks of examining the "intent" of those perpetrating the September 11 violence beyond the most simplistic representations and allegations? Are the long-established scholarly protocols for close examination of intent and motivation in the histories of such events now relocated into the category of "the heretical"?

16. Now, the recent U.S. renunciation of its signature to the Rome StatutePage  45 on the establishment of an International Criminal Court has been compounded by a U.S. announcement that it will refuse to cooperate in any foreseeable way with the new Court, from information sharing onwards. Neil A. Lewis, "U.S. Rejects All Support for New Court on Atrocities," New York Times, May 7, 2002.

17. See Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can be Done About It, a report issued by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in November, 2001, and revised and expanded in February 2002 (<>). Commenting on Defending Civilization, Lewis H. Lapham writes: "Proceeding from the assumption that the nation's universities—all the nation's universities—wander in a desert of ignorance, the report sets out to show that the nation's universities—all the nation's universities—failed to respond to the provocation of September 11 with a proper degree of 'anger, patriotism, and support of military intervention.' Right-thinking people everywhere else in the country were quick to recognize evil when they saw it, prompt in their exhibition of American flags, wholehearted in their rallying to the cause of virtue. 'Not so in academe.' Most university professors succumbed to 'moral relativism'; 'Some even pointed accusatory fingers,' not at the terrorists but at their fellow Americans. So monstrous was the betrayal that 'the message of much of academe was clear: BLAME AMERICA FIRST.'" Lewis H. Lapham, "Mythography," Harper's Magazine, February 2002.

18. Such as seemed being constructed within the process of the Durban Conference of 2001.

Page  46Page  47
David William CohenVeena DasJuliet ErazoKonstanty GebertElizabeth JelinMichael D. KennedyCarrie KonoldNurcholish MadjidMonica PattersonLamin SannehHiroe Saruya

Academic Presumptions

1-Kennedy: It is perhaps a conceit of those primarily interested in international affairs to imagine that among the most critical questions facing the North American university are those that address the international. For example, one recent publication proposing to address the future of the city of intellect [1] contains no special address to the national location of the global university. Even its index has only one page devoted to the international, and that is with regard to new students. Globalization merits slightly more attention, but is mostly an afterthought. The international or the global is only a derivative of other interests, whether in expanding markets, the information technology revolution, or in the search for expertise itself.

The international or the global can be everywhere at once. This is one of the most common strategies pursued by universities that seek to globalize or make their internationalism comprehensive. That is good bureaucratic strategy, for it gives everyone a stake; at the same time, it leaves (productively?) ambiguous just what internationalizing or globalizing means and dependent on its attachment to other knowledge projects. That may be appropriate, but it also minimizes the challenge of difference with which a more critical engagement of globalizing knowledge might be organized.

Page  48

A university's commitment to diversity is usefully understood not only as a national project associated with affirmative action, but also one embedded in the search for the value of differing perspectives from across the world on all manners of intellectual inquiry. By marking the North American university's challenging global location, we can create the conditions that might combine the wealth of the North American university with a humility that comes from being located in one nation within the world, despite our differences within the nation along the lines of race, gender, class and sexual orientation, among other vectors. And with that reminder of national location, we might create a different stream along which notions of asymmetrical collaboration can find new opportunities for learning.

2-Jelin: I find this paper to be extremely U.S.-centered. Reacting from the southern part of the Americas, I must say that the "national" in the title, and the permanent references to the "American" university, provoke a strong reaction in me. The Americas include much more than the United States, and there are multiple "national" universities in the world—as there are nations. The problems with the way "American" and "national" are used is not, in my view, only a choice of words that may not sound politically correct. I think it reflects deeper misunderstandings of the relationships between U.S. institutions and others, in other parts of the world.

Thus, a paradox: the paper attempts to present a world view, with a reference to (North American) universities being IN the world—i.e., located in a time/space bounded matrix, that should include a consideration of concrete power relationships, inequalities, asymmetries, reciprocities, and so on—yet there is no single reference to any "other" being IN the world. Thus, what pervades the paper is a very self-focused notion of "OF the world," from a center that becomes identified with the whole, i.e., an imperial center. In that sense, much of what is said about the "American university" ("sacred space") sounds to me as part of the vision of an imperial eye.

The international links of the U.S. university (not the "American" or "national"), seen from the deep South (I would claim, in both geopolitical senses of the "South"—within the United States and in the world), were always a site of political struggle within the United States (a struggle where the international security agenda of the United States had and has the strongest voice), and a site of political struggle between North and South (or center and periphery, empirePage  49 and backyard).

Within the United States, academic freedom involves pluralism in views about the world. Imperial eyes coexist with respect of others, reciprocity with exploitation. Funding for university-based international studies has followed historically the security considerations of the United States (both which area of the world is defined as a priority, and which subject or theme is to be studied). Up to the 1990, international interests and studies grew considerably in U.S. academia as a result of the Cold War. Governmental funding for higher education international programs (Department of Education Title VI programs, for instance) were clearly justified in terms of national security and U.S. interests. The rationale was to create the knowledge about the rest of the world, and develop the professional capacities needed, to further U.S. interests abroad.

Within this model, however, academic institutions and scholars varied in the way they reacted and "used" the resources that the Cold War governmental attitude implied because there is a plurality of perspectives and views within the U.S. academy, and there are academic and political struggles about what the role of scholars and intellectuals should be. Some accepted the conditions and shared the goals of the government. Others took the message to be about developing free and "neutral" knowledge about world processes and "the others" in the world. And there were those who reacted to U.S. governmentally sponsored attempts to build "academic hegemony", and worked towards introducing and legitimizing diversity and knowledge generated in different locations (i.e., "others' knowledge") into the United States.

Thus, the idea of THE (American, or national) university is, in my understanding, to be replaced by a recognition that there has been always a plurality of positions, and power struggles around them within the U.S. academic world. The challenges, then, are not new and do not come only from outside academia.

Over the years we (scholars in the South) have been approached and/or confronted by U.S. colleagues of all persuasions. It is worthwhile to read back into the experience of Project Camelot in the 1960's [2] because it was an extreme case of a pattern that was much more extensive in space and time. That was a case in which an "academic" research project was, in fact, a cover operation for U.S. intelligence and intervention in Latin America.

Page  50

In broader terms, resources for academic work abroad, and the patterns of relationship between the rich colleagues of the North and the poor scholars of the South, have been quite diverse: from junior partners and cheap labor (collecting data or doing fieldwork at exploitative wages), to truly reciprocal and intellectually symmetrical relationships, compensating or attempting to overcome the great inequalities in financial resources; from attempts to export and even impose a given (U.S.) paradigm or model of knowledge to a recognition of diversity, searching for dialogue and mutual enrichment.

In sum, if the plurality of outlooks and the power struggles between forces of the left and the right—in the center, in the periphery, and in the exchanges and links between center and periphery—are recognized, there is little room for neat types and for unproblematic contrasts.

The 1990's, with the end of the Cold War and the clear and uncontested U.S. world hegemony, one of the trends within the United States became stronger: the one that interpreted "globalization" as the expansion of market economies and the U.S. model of international technological innovation and business practices into the rest of the world. This brought about the expansion of U.S. university programs abroad (especially but not only business schools), and the expansion of the number of foreign students attending U.S. universities (to get the "appropriate" training and the "appropriate" connections and networks). Other views, more reciprocal and oriented towards intellectual symmetry, could still exist, but the LARGE funding went to the hegemonic model.

The positions vis-à-vis international partnership (and/or domination) of U.S. universities and scholars was complex and muddled before, and will continue being complex and contested after September 11.

2a-Cohen: On views that transnational conversations are inherently unequal, it may be worth introducing into the "equation" the strong values of transparency and openness that were central to the transition discourses in post-Soviet and post-Apartheid settings and critical in the unfolding of non-governmental organizations and international "communities" of expertise in the post-Cold War era. Such values of transparency, information sharing, and cooperation found their way into the practice of North American universities as they reached toward "partners" overseas. Equally, transnational and global corporations learned that win-win negotiating practices were often more effective than older models of holding back essential information from foreignPage  51 and local counterparts. Open information sharing has been an aspect of most international treaties through the 1990s. But, clearly, the rhetorics of transparency cannot assure that the interests of different partners will be equally realized.

That a "moment" of such transparency, of the valuation of equilibrium in international partnerships, was substantial may be reckoned in the contrast with a new U.S. governmentality towards secrecy and towards the undoing and rejection of many spheres of international cooperation and information sharing. The U.S. administration recently rejected participation in the International Criminal Court; it also pronounced that it would not cooperate in any way with any foreign or international agency bringing an action before the Court.

3-Saruya: Both the curriculum and structure of higher education in Japan have changed in various ways under the intensifying influence of the American university. The most noticeable change is the expansion of English programs which focus on communication. Currently, reading Shakespeare in its original prose, which was relatively prevalent until the 1970s, is rare, and studying a second foreign language is no longer mandatory in basic courses at undergraduate programs. Instead, the English curriculum concentrates more on listening and speaking, mostly in American English. In addition, the number of lectures in English has increased, and short- and long-term programs to study in English-speaking countries have proliferated. Thus, the English curriculum in Japanese higher education has shifted from traditional, broad-based liberal arts courses to more practical courses focused on developing communicative competence in English.

Undergraduate and graduate programs in Japan have been reforming several aspects of their structures using the model of the American university. For instance, although not requisite for admission, some universities consider the TOEFL scores in the admission process as an alternative to other more commonly used English examinations. Other universities have changed their grading system to conform with the American system which ranges from A to F. Some graduate universities offer MBA and MA in International Studies degrees, which are already popular doctoral degrees in Japan, with lectures and seminars conducted in English. Furthermore, in 2001, the government's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology initiated guidelines on establishing law schools resembling those in U.S. universities.Page  52 Responding to the guidelines, some universities such as Tokyo University and Sophia University plans to provide courses in English.

Moreover, until recently, it was not uncommon for permanently-employed professors to start teaching and obtain their doctoral degrees in their later careers. However, some graduate universities have now introduced qualifying examinations, and it is becoming standard practice for current graduate students to finish their dissertations and obtain their degrees before assuming teaching positions. These changes illustrate Japanese universities' adaptation of U.S. university practices, especially those concerning standardization and evaluation.

Other examples reveal a more direct relationship between Japanese and American higher education. In the 1980s some U.S. universities established satellite campuses in Japan to offer American educational programs. In 1982 Temple University founded a campus in Tokyo, and in 1987 Columbia University inaugurated an MA program in TESOL in Tokyo. Furthermore, in 1988, the Nevada-California International Consortium of Universities and Colleges was established to transfer students to universities in Nevada or California after one year of study in Japan.

Japanese universities have been globalizing toward Asian countries as well. In the 1990s, universities began accepting larger numbers of international students, mainly from Asia than ever before. Some universities have established recruitment programs where university representatives visit potential applicants in their home countries. Moreover, other universities founded new campuses with the clear intention of attracting Asian students from across the continent, such as Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University which was established in 2000.

Overall, universities in Japan have sought to reach out to U.S. and Asian countries beyond their national terrains. They are, in my view, driven by the need for their survival, given a declining national birthrate and the heightened demand for competent English communication skills and distinct professional credentials.

4-Madjid: Just as it is very well justified for America to see itself as the beacon of freedom and democracy, it is also a claim well-based for American institutions of higher learning that they are standard bearers for openness and academic freedom and scientific universalism. Such a position is perceived by most people, I think as the corollary of a society being free and democratic.Page  53 Thousands upon thousands of people from around the world, including those from "unfinished nations," marked by the authoritarianism and despotism of their ruling classes, have had chances to share the blessings of American learning. This came into reality either by the privilege of having direct contact with the American institutions or by reading their intellectual and scientific research products and participating in numerous international discourses with some form of American involvement, and in other open and free intellectual engagements. It may sound hyperbolic, but it could also be just a truism to hope that the unique American position would remain intact and be maintained with the highest degree of consistency and dependability.

5-Gebert: In the spring of 1992 a poem appeared on the front page of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's leading daily. Penned by Wisława Szymborska (who was to receive the Nobel Prize for literature in 1994), it was titled "Hatred". [3] It immediately became one of the most important pieces of political writing published in the country at that time.

Gazeta Wyborcza was, and remains, a phenomenon on the Central European media scene. It had been set up in a month's time by a group of young journalists from the underground press, under the leadership of veteran dissident Adam Michnik. We also availed ourselves of the invaluable assistance of some of our older colleagues who, though having worked "aboveground," as the saying went, had managed to preserve their professional and personal integrity. Its creation had been made possible by a political deal struck by the Communist authorities and the "Solidarity" underground in the spring of 1989. Gazeta was to be the voice of the opposition in the forthcoming electoral campaign (hence its title, Electoral Gazette), continuing, legally now, the incredibly successful experience of the underground press, and countering the government's otherwise unbridled control of the media. At that point, we did not think far beyond Election Day.

Gazeta became "the first independent paper between the Elbe and Vladivostok." Immediately immensely successful with its readers, it quickly started making profit and repaid its debts. To this day it remains Central Europe's biggest and most influential daily and the only one to be independently owned. Its success was a tribute to the public involvement of Poland's intelligentsia, which had in the past decade been on the forefront of the anti-Communist struggle. Intellectuals not only wrote and taught their mind, creating theirPage  54 own—illegal—press and education structures. They often manned these structures as well, printing, distributing and organizing, hand in hand with the huge workers' movement they had helped develop. The intellectual-worker alliance was the key to the victory of Poland's bloodless revolution.

The public involvement of intellectuals had by then become something both to be expected and reckoned with, by the authorities and by the people alike. It took many forms: I remember standing all night long in a queue to buy the first legal edition of the poems of Czesław Miłosz, after that émigré poet and critic of the regime had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1980. Most of his work is not directly political, but his powerful moral message was in sync with the ethos of the struggle. ["Do not be safe"—in "The Moral Treatise" he admonishes an anonymous tyrant—"The poet remembers. / Words and deeds shall be written down" (Gebert's translation). Another poet—Zbigniew Herbert, who had remained in Poland—strengthened our moral backbone: "Do not forgive. It is not in your power / to forgive in the name of those betrayed at dawn" (Gebert's translation)].

And Szymborska, with her humility, intimacy and decency elevated to a striking philosophy of life was capable, with just one stanza, to demolish the impact of Communist collectivist and relativist indoctrination. Just as much as political tracts and exposed secret documents, poems such as these, philosophical essays, plays and public statements were a fundamental part of the struggle. "Words"—sang Jan Krzysztof Kelus, Poland's later-day Bob Dylan—"were loud as dynamite."

And such, too, was the impact of Szymborska's poem. At the time Jan Olszewski's right-wing Solidarity government was conducting a witch-hunt against also real, but mainly just suspected or wholly imaginary agents of the former Communist secret police. As the tone of public debate deteriorated, Szymborska's poem—published in lieu of an editorial—was widely considered a warning voice against the government's policies. The poet certainly did not write it as a comment on current developments, nor did she ask the paper to publish it as such. Nor was the poem allusive—a tactic often used by writers under Communism, who developed an "Aesopian language" to metaphorically speak about current events. The tactic was so successful that the authorities started to read subversive meanings even in works written in another time and age. In 1968, for instance, the government had banned a performance of aPage  55 patriotic anti-Czarist play by the great nineteenth century Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz on the grounds that it was "damaging to Poland's international alliances" (i.e. to Soviet domination). The philosopher Leszek Kolakowski then famously quipped: "We have reached the embarrassing situation in which the entire body of world literature has become a set of allusions to the Polish People's' Republic."

But the timing and place of the publication of "Hatred"—Gazeta was in the vanguard of Olszewski's critics—automatically made the poem a public statement on current events. It was widely understood and debated as such, not only among the elites, but also on buses and in coffee shops. It ultimately became one of the many factors that led to Olszewski's downfall.

With the passage of time, and the development of normal democratic institutions, words had lost much of their dynamite quality. This in itself was not an unwelcome development: as the political situation changed from black-and-white to a dazzling spectrum of shades of gray, what was moral integrity started to become stridency, and ethical authority often morphed into insupportable self-righteousness. Yet many deplored the weakening of the moral role of the intelligentsia and its decreased social impact. Still, intellectuals remain active and at times influential participants of the public debate. Media routinely seek out their opinions. Open letters signed by many, a genre which developed under Communism, are still being published, especially when their authors believe a public event needs to be highlighted, either to be approved, or—more often—to be condemned. This is particularly true of cases of anti-Semitism or other intolerance, which seldom pass without being publicly censored. The intelligentsia once the spearhead of the struggle for democracy, has in this democracy admittedly lost most of its political influence. Freedom Union, the party it mainly identifies itself with, fares dismally at the polls. But the intelligentsia's moral voice in Polish society, articulated mainly through liberal media such as Gazeta Wyborcza is yet neither silent, nor insignificant.

5a-Kennedy: As I read Kostek's reflection on the power of Szymborska's poem, I recalled the moment in which Adam Michnik, Gazeta Wyborcza's publisher, and Robert Pinsky, America's former poet laureate, embraced in the night preceding their common award of an honorary degree at the University of Michigan. Public intellectuals and PEN activists both, knowing each other from less celebratory times, they obviously cherished each other. But as theyPage  56 embraced, I also thought about these very different cultures in which they live, with one culture moved by poetry to responsible political action, the other always struggling to place well chosen word in the cacophony of our commodity-seduced public sphere. Pinsky works hard and thoughtfully to cut through that culture, evidenced once again by his reflection on the meanings of 9/11.

By Robert Pinsky
We adore images, we like the spectacle
Of speed and size, the working of prodigious
Systems. So on television we watched
The terrible spectacle, repetitiously gazing
Until we were sick not only of the sight
Of our prodigious systems turned against us
But of the very systems of our watching.
The date became a word, an anniversary
That we inscribed with meanings—who keep so few,
More likely to name an airport for an actor
Or athlete than "First of May" or "Fourth of July."
In the movies we dream up, our captured heroes
Tell the interrogator their commanding officer's name
Is Colonel Donald Duck—he writes it down, code
Of a lowbrow memory so assured it's nearly
Aristocratic. Some say the doomed firefighters
Before they hurried into the doomed towers wrote
Their Social Security numbers on their forearms.
Easy to imagine them kidding about it a little,
As if they were filling out some workday form.
Will Rogers was a Cherokee, a survivor
Of expropriation. A roper, a card. For some,
Page  57
A hero. He had turned sixteen the year
That Frederick Douglass died. Douglass was twelve
When Emily Dickinson was born. Is even Donald
Half-forgotten?—Who are the Americans, not
A people by blood or religion? As it turned out,
The donated blood not needed, except as meaning.
And on the other side that morning the guy
Who shaved off all his body hair and screamed
The name of God with his boxcutter in his hand.
O Americans—as Marianne Moore would say,
Whence is our courage? Is what holds us together
A gluttonous dreamy thriving? Whence our being?
In the dark roots of our music, impudent and profound?—
Or in the Eighteenth Century clarities
And mystic Masonic totems of the Founders:
The Eye of the Pyramid watching over us,
Hexagram of Stars protecting the Eagle's head
From terror of pox, from plague and radiation.
And if they blow up the Statue of Liberty—
Then the survivors might likely in grief, terror
And excess build a dozen more, or produce
A catchy song about it, its meaning as beyond
Meaning as those symbols, or Ray Charles singing "America
The Beautiful." Alabaster cities, amber waves,
Purple majesty. The back-up singers in sequins
And high heels for a performance—or in the studio
In sneakers and headphones, engineers at soundboards,
Musicians, all concentrating, faces as grave
With purpose as the harbor Statue herself. [4]
Page  58

I treasure efforts like Pinsky's for the U.S., and look forward to the time when poetry in America might carry public impact like that which Szymborska's stanza managed in Poland. But as we wait, we can also recall that the place in public life of the university, and its various specialties, varies, sometimes consequentially.

6-Konold: I would like to challenge this last sentence. "The international" has not truly been embedded in the North American university if what is constituted as "the international" is defined by debates taking place within those very American spaces. Does the concept of "the international" have any real meaning if its articulation stems from parochial interests, debates, and self-conceptions? Instead, the statement should be articulated in the reverse. America has been embedded in the international precisely because the North American university has defined the international in relation to itself, and has projected itself into the world by producing and disseminating knowledge through channels that it controls. Stated more directly, fundamental inequalities in resources exist in most relationships of exchange between power centers and peripheries; scholars and researchers at U.S. institutions need not emempt themselves from these fundamental inequalities. The North American university, by nature of its resources and its dominant channels of knowledge creation and transfer, has quite successfully embedded America in the international. It has quite unsuccessfully incorporated the international into the university, at least an "international" that has meaning to those who reside outside these national boundaries.

The field of political science offers an example that may mirror similar debates in other disciplines. The division of the field into "American" and "Comparative" politics tends to define "the international" in relation to the "American". America becomes a part of the international by offering itself as the principal comparison, whether the analysis compares democracy, institutions, or values. Certainly, many scholars reject these tendencies, but readers and colleagues often implicitly assume the comparison. Furthermore, funding institutions ask that scholarship of the "international" be justified for its larger relevance, often in relation to our knowledge of "the American."

All too often, scholarship of "the international" remains in the hands of American universities, but the result is that the international is poorly understood while the American is embedded into the international. American universities determine which international collaborations take place, and while important exchange occurs, foreign scholars may return with a greater sensePage  59 of the American than the other way around. Furthermore, universities have projected themselves further into the global sphere by dominating the sources of knowledge production and transfer. Disciplines within the American university define the sorts of knowledge that are valued, as authoritative journals tend to be those published in the United States. Access to knowledge resources, especially web-based versions such as JStor, often unintentionally push the American into the international as American-produced knowledge is more widely accessible in the global sphere.

Undergraduate and graduate programs that incorporate the international are dominated by texts that are international in scope but American by publication, and these texts become the "disciplinary standard." Even when this scholarship is critiqued, it remains the common frame of reference within these critiques and across national boundaries.

I do not intend to argue that scholarship of the international is inherently flawed, but only mean to suggest that we should look more carefully at the resources that exist in the U.S. university system and how these resources do successfully embed America into the international. The real challenge lies is in our efforts to incorporate different visions and voices of the international into the American framework, even when these voices may challenge what have emerged as dominant standards.

7-Sanneh: The universe of the University has been beholden to the idea of universal truth and truthfulness, of veritas verified. The American University as an idea has endorsed the nation's view of its mission which is the production of values and the means and arrangements for their implementation. The American University has shared in the mission of America, a new nation conceived in liberty and the sanctity of life, and committed to the unfinished task of making the fruits of freedom plentiful and imperishable, as Lincoln might have phrased it. Frontiers of knowledge were expanding throughout the nineteenth century, keeping tempo with the new nation's westward expansion and with waves of immigration that stirred the population to new enterprise and purpose. The history of higher education in America is a reflection of this dynamism of territorial expansion and attendant progressive social impulses. America has always been driven by purpose, as Santayana once expressed it ('to be an American is a moral condition'), and the University has characteristically responded to that. Land grant colleges and Universities facilitated and expandedPage  60 the process, with state and federal government support.

The academic enterprise in America has been characterized by a passion for showing how things could be done differently and better, looking to results without getting entangled in the means toward them, as Tocqueville put it. The true end of knowledge has become the inculcating of the habit of self-reliance and individual judgment, and the fostering of the habits of competitive enterprise, not the uncritical transmission of tradition or the replication of past models. The roots of this muscular view of the social order go back to the Puritans, particularly to those associated with Cambridge University, and to their New World Pilgrim heirs, including those who founded Harvard and Yale. As Milton put it, the end of learning is to repair the ruins wrought by our forebears, in effect, "to be like God" (Milton, "Of Education"). The pursuit of truth, Milton insisted, did not need the cowardly license of protection in order to contend with falsehood, its enemy. Whoever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter, Milton asked rhetorically? The Harvard of Increase Mather and of his son, Cotton, as well as of John Eliot, John Dunster, Charles Chauncy, John Udall, among others, was profoundly committed to unstifled intellectual inquiry, with scholarship funds for young people of ability, whatever their social or economic status. In 1647 Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the compulsory common and grammar schools act. When Harvard, deeming itself free from the control of church and state in Britain, assumed the power to grant degrees, it tacitly made in the educational sphere 'the first declaration of independence' some one and a half centuries before the corresponding act in the political sphere. Free intellectual inquiry evoked freedom in the political sphere...

8-Das: In my view we need to give greater historical depth to our understanding of the university in Europe and North America because the relation between the state and the university appears to me to be much more complicated than is suggested in the present paper. Jacques Derrida has suggested that the Kantian idea of the university can be deployed to shed light on some of our present concerns going beyond the local context in which it was first formulated. Kant's "The Conflict of Faculties" written in 1798, sets the tone for a reflection on the university as a faculty or artifact of the State. As Derrida points out, this transformation led to a new social role for the philosopher and intellectual who was no longer seen as an artist or a technician but becamePage  61 a public servant and a teacher and thus an officer of the State. The academy in the late middle ages or the early modern period was still largely a clerical institution and hence had no role to play in the emerging public sphere and was in that sense it was not the space from which any criticism, however oblique, of absolute power could be waged. So two changes from that position can be seen in the reformulation of the university on the model of rationality.

First, was the factory like organization of disciplines and teachers as functionaries of the state, responsible for administering these disciplines? In this context it was the division of the academy into theology, law, and medicine, which was seen as constitutive of higher faculties that were directly concerned with the projects of the state. In the lower faculty of philosophy, the emphasis was on the pursuit of truth. However, one has to remember that this was a delicate balance and that what could upset this moral order was the notion of the state of exception. For Kant, as for Schmitt, everything depended upon who can decide whether, when, and where war can be declared.

I have gone into this detour because it seems to me that there is a delicate balance between knowledge that was essentially instrumentalized in the service of the state (and I don't mean this as a straight-forward criticism) and knowledge in the pursuit of other virtues such as truth, curiosity in the very idea of the university. Indeed it seems to me that unless we forego the temptation of a narrative rendering in terms of "before" and "after"—we will not be able to accurately formulate the force of field within which the modern university as an idea operates. It is the tensions between instrumental forms of knowledge (both in relation to the market and in relation to the state) and the will to truth that we can situate censorship as a series of restrictions rather than an all or nothing affair...(For elaboration, see Das's essay in this volume.)

9-Konold: In the United States, as compared to national contexts, power within educational institutions operates, arguably, through more de-centered channels rather through direct state mandate. Thus, we should be wary of claims that the North American university has become a model for all others if we focus solely on our history of academic freedom and open inquiry. We miss something important about the "institutional histories" mentioned if we focus solely on theoretical, epistemological, and organizational debates that have taken place in the American university.

Part of the peculiar history of U.S. institutions includes their undeniable ties to market forces. The American university is, in many important respects, a for-profit institution in its own right, and this should make us question itsPage  62 designation as a sacred space. University admissions programs "compete" with their peers for a pool of applicants offering ever-better athletic facilities, student centers, and of course, even international curriculum. College tours and sales brochures "sell" an undergraduate experience to students and parents for tuition and fees beyond comparison to those found in other national universities. The sheer number of universities competing for scarce government resources, student enrollment, prominent and victorious athletic programs, and alumni donations is a part of this concept of the university-as-corporation. We see universities creating formal corporate alliances, often for research in science and technology. But we have yet to reflect on the increasingly powerful informal ties with corporate America and its effect on the production of knowledge and education. The university has been a site of professionalization, and the introduction of global education plays an increasingly important role in this process, as corporations demand undergraduates and graduates with ever-more international expertise to fill their positions and meet the expanding needs of corporate globalization. Universities create collective communities, or brand-images, that aid not only in the competition for students, but provide social and professional access to the corporate world. Alumni corporate recruiters return to campuses yearly and increase these ties. Perhaps even more importantly, universities' ever-expanding budgetary and endowment needs increase the reliance on networks of global alumni who will generously share in their own fortunes, thus increasing the links between the university and the for-profit world.

Has the university become a private corporation, or has it not? Certainly, the de-centered American university provides freedom from government censorship that does not exist in other national contexts. But we should shun efforts to envision the university in the United States as above all a sacred space, one divorced from the daily needs of for-profit institutions. If American universities truly have become models for other national universities, we must begin to ask what effect this model has had or will have on other universities, and how the introduction of private universities in countries around the world will shape knowledge production, and more importantly, education and professionalization, in the international sphere. Finally, we must resist efforts to see national governments as the sole holders of power able to label the university "heretical." We may begin to see, or may already be seeing, anPage  63 even more insidious self-censorship within the university in response to private donors and the hidden but powerful for-profit forces of the university.

9a-Patterson: As we reflect more on "the increasingly powerful informal ties with corporate America" and "the hidden but powerful for-profit forces of the university" as Konold rightly urges, it is also important to acknowledge the importance of student activism as a powerful and increasingly effective check to these forces. University and college campuses have long been bases of activism, and this history has been well documented. From my own experiences as an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, I can recall sundry strong and successful student movements that addressed a range of economic issues. Through boycotting clothing produced in sweat-shops and various types of produce served in the campus dining hall (because of the labor conditions under which they were grown and harvested), lobbying for same-sex domestic partner coverage for college employees and a living wage for all university staff, and demanding more transparency in regard to the institution's economic ties to corporations, we helped shape institutional policy.

Here at the University of Michigan in 1983, the Board of Regents was one of the first to divest from apartheid South Africa. In 2002, the Graduate Employees Organization of U-M went on strike and succeeded in achieving most of its goals during a one-day strike and extensive contract negotiations. In Spring 2003, the student group BAMN (the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary) worked feverishly to prepare for the recent Supreme Court case on affirmative action, organizing rallies, educating members of the university community, engaging with the press and elected officials, and organizing a bus trip for over 1,000 U-M students to Washington D.C. in time for the opening arguments. The power of students to affect administrative policy, force increased transparency, and increase awareness about various policy issues on campus and in the community cannot be underestimated.

10-Konold: If we place undue emphasis on an almost idealized world of the university "beyond "national and parochial interest" prior to September 11, we unintentionally silence the powerful critiques of globalizing forces that had been increasing within and outside the U.S. university. [5] Even more importantly, however, by splitting the university's existence into pre- and post-9/11, we also falsely portray the nature of the sacred space by exaggerating the extent to which it allowed critiques of its own dominant paradigm-namely,Page  64 the globalization of knowledge and the construction of "the international."

Furthermore, this emphasis on pre- and post- 9/11 ignores the ever-present tensions between national interest and the business of the university. Globalization and the interconnections it builds—of knowledge, of culture, of economies, of political institutions—should be viewed as serving American interests, even as a direct American-led policy initiative. Whether these efforts came from government or non-governmental organizations, the primary goal was to build global support for the "universal" yet American values of democracy, freedom of the individual (including economic and political freedoms), and human rights—a global enlightenment project of sorts. Of course, hidden behind these values are very real and very old interests—to open national borders for economic exchange and production, to ensure access to resources, and to open markets after the collapse of the most visible alternative to the American capitalist system. An additional hope was that global engagement would serve national security by making violent conflict too costly.

Many critiques of globalization came from within the university-whether of foreign or economic policy, or the university's own attempts to globalize its curriculum-and attempted to make globalization more liberal, more just, more humanitarian, more along the lines of the universal values as debated and articulated within universities in the United States. Yet surprisingly, no clear alternative to the "universal" and "international" arose from these debates. Many within the university shared the underlying liberal values and goals of engagement of the globalization project, believing that the ultimate result would be increased international understanding. Many critiques thus tended to argue that globalization should only be done better. This attitude is reflected in parts of this position paper and its embrace of the sacred space where universal and plural values peacefully coexisted. I challenge the implications of the statement that though "utopian, naïve, or merely optimistic," most within the university identified "global values and global futures" linked to truly universal values that would lead to a new era of open inquiry. Was this new era of open inquiry an achievable reality given that it existed within an increasingly dominant paradigm of "the international" in the university? The problem with the concept of the sacred space is that by embracing the globalization of knowledge as initiated from the American center, it does not explicitly allow room for other models. Furthermore, an almost hegemonic discourse of "the international" begins toPage  65 silence alternative voices, especially those coming from outside the American university.

Perhaps even more important, and prior to September 11, the university seemed to be implicated in national interests given its own emphasis on globalization and "the international". The university and the government did not seem to be at odds—they could mutually work for the promotion of universal values, as defined largely by American expertise. Government funding institutions encouraged work that fit this liberal paradigm, and scholars framed debates within the discourse of "the international." Because the dominant paradigm was liberal, many within the university have not questioned their own role in being a part of a national interest, or else they were comfortable sharing these interests. It seems that only when national interests and university interests diverge, as in a war-time situation such as after 9/11, do we feel that our sacred space is threatened. I contend that the sacred space was neither as sacred nor as autonomous as the framework of pre- and post-9/11 suggest.

We must challenge the university to resist the imposition of a dominant paradigm, even one of its own making, no matter how universal it views its mission or how international in scope. We must acknowledge the links that exist between the university and national/parochial interests, both when these do and do not match the interests of the university, in order to guard the academic freedom that is the "hallmark" of the American system. Prior to 9/11, the globalization of knowledge as defined by American universities risked becoming such as hegemonic force. While we should fight to protect the sacred space, we must resist attempts to silence its detractors as we move into the post-9/11 world and allow alternative visions to come forward.

11-Jelin: Universities are not "sacred spaces", and should not be. The notion of the "sacred" implies the idea that there is something above and beyond human will and human action that is the ultimate power to judge good and evil, justice and fairness. And that what happens in those sacred spaces is part of that godly design. The sacred refers always to a deity, to a god, that is always and necessarily so, more than human, beyond the human condition. The great religions of the world, and other religious-like belief systems, offer in their Holy Writings and in the wisdom of their leaders, the dogma or creed to be followed. Whatever does not fit with the tenets of the creed is then "heretical".

The idea of free inquiry, of openness in knowledge searching, cannot bePage  66 guided by dogmas or creeds. Unless—and I think this is the metaphor used in the title of the paper—the "sacredness" of the university refers to this freedom of inquiry, unfettered, emancipated from political or worldly commitments and interests. That, in my view, is impossible and undesirable. Impossible because universities need financial resources, and the allocation of resources is always part of the political game. And because scholars are human beings and citizens -with passions, interests, and commitments—that cannot be left at the door of the laboratory or office. Undesirable, because it would imply a strict and narrow definition of the "ivory tower", a search for knowledge without a "for what", without assuming or taking up the political responsibilities involved in any type of inquiry—or of any type of human activity.

The fact that there are different models of universities in the world is a clear indication of their embeddedness in worldly (i.e., political, economic, social and cultural struggles and conflicts) matters. Issues such as whether the responsibility for higher education should be solely in the hands of the state (reflected at times in the public vs. private university conflict, and other times in the conception of access to higher education as a social benefit linked to citizenship rights), whether there should be open admissions and even affirmative action programs or a meritocratic system, not to talk about research resources linked to security issues and industrial interests—all these and many other are clear examples of the fact that there is no "sacredness" in the university.

I see a double danger in using the sacred/heretic metaphor. The first relates to the fact that this conceptualization implies the existence of some meta-human force that will have the last word in defining what is sacred and what is heretic. If this is simply the pursuit of knowledge, one should remember that it does not come from heaven but is based on the existence of a human community that sets the standards of inquiry, hopefully according to some democratic rule. [6]

The second danger is failing to differentiate between religious (and therefore legitimate beliefs in the "sacred") systems and arenas of independent search and public openness that foster dialogue and debate, with open and broad participation. Democratic theory, more than beliefs in the sacred, seems to offer more appropriate tools to analyze and reflect upon the university and its worldly role in times of uncertainty and political turmoil.

Universities and public spheres are to be much more modest thanPage  67 religious systems. In open systems of knowledge, nothing is sacred and there is no absolute TRUTH. Everything is subject to doubt and to change, findings and explanations can be corrected, and knowledge is constructed and not revealed. Thus the need for asserting and reasserting a lay arena of open interaction, and the need to struggle to assure the most horizontal and symmetrical interactions in it.

12-Kennedy: We included sacred space in the title of our position paper, but chose in the end not to include it in the title of the book because it led to relatively unproductive discussions. First, some read our position paper as saying the university was a sacred space, a place apart from everyday life, various publics, markets and the state. Others read it to say that we believe it should be apart from these spheres. Finally, some intimated that our use of sacred was a call to bring religion into secular spaces associated with public universities.

Coauthored documents always represent some kind of compromise, and clever writing can mask different intentions. I believe I had more of a stake in the invocation of sacred space than either Kathleen or David. It falls, therefore, on me more than them to explain the sense behind its use.

In the time between our workshop and this writing, Nancy Cantor delivered a lecture on intellectual diversity that resonates very well with the intentions of our paper, and I draw upon her imagery to help make our point. [7] She suggested that universities might be understood as existing somewhere in between the logic of the monastery, entirely secluded from the world but heavily dependent on shared assumptions, and that of the marketplace, entirely embedded in the world but open to radically different values and assumptions, veering toward one or another value depending on the issue at hand. Those images are useful.

First, to be sure we do not argue that the university is a place apart. Indeed, invoking the sanctity of the university space is a way to argue that its distinction from the logics of markets, states and publics should be preserved. In that very act, the implication of universities in these other spheres of social life is marked, for if universities were not so implicated, there would be nothing to defend.

Secondly, if this were a place entirely unto itself, there would be little space for productive heresies. While monasteries might produce heresies, they are not always viewed as so productive for the monastery itself, and rarely have muchPage  68 productivity beyond the shared assumptions of the community. Universities should be set up to test the bounds not only of academic community, but also the intellectual integrity of the social networks in which they are embedded, or to which they might be connected.

Thirdly, and here is where I probably differ more from my coauthors, I do find too little religion in our secular universities. By this I don't mean we should have more professions of faith in our universities' public squares; quite the contrary. I believe we should be considering more directly the normative, evidentiary, and rhetorical frameworks embedded in different religious systems, do more to compare them to frameworks embedded in political, economic, and scientific systems, and consider more explicitly the articulation of each of these systems with one another. The research and educational priorities of public universities are not set to engage these questions well.

This is not, however, necessary to the invocation of sacred space and heretical knowledge. It is only a reflection of our particular conjuncture. I would propose, only, that one of the most productive heresies that might be articulated from within the sacred space of the university is one that questions the adequacy of the secular standpoint for engaging the challenge of difference in international affairs. [8] The invocation of national interests inevitably carries certain religious presumptions. Globalization and international security shape discussions of appropriate religiosities. And even efforts to articulate broader normative foundations, even when they are addressing religious heritage, rarely escape religious inheritance. Jürgen Habermas is a good example.

My notion of sacred space is clearly informed by Habermas's ideal communication community. [9] That notion doesn't describe an existing condition, it is rather a philosophical standpoint embedded in communication structures that enables us to recognize ways in which communication is distorted. When we extend that to the university, and recognize the ways in which the sacred space is shaped by power, wealth, and public obligations, we mark the ways in which conditions external to the "pure" academic engagement shape analysis. It opens the space for critique.

Of course many have argued that Habermas's notions are embedded themselves in problematic assumptions of the public sphere and the limits of a male Central European bourgeois society. [10] There is much room for productive disagreement about that, but I also note that in most of those discussions, thePage  69 limits of relying on the Judeo-Christian heritage are themselves not marked, even as they become markedly apparent in his own reflections on the association of religious heritage with critical reasoning. [11]

I am not advocating some return to civilizational studies, for religious systems are themselves understood best not only in their principal homes but also necessarily in their transnational transformations. [12] And I am not suggesting that religious studies ought to have a new privileged place in the halls of university departments. I am suggesting, however, that scholars in different disciplines ought to consider the challenge of religiosity in the articulation of questions that presume secular foundations, and this might be one of the most productive heresies the university's sacred space might offer.

13-Cohen: The North American university (or, more generally, perhaps any institution of higher learning) inevitably bears the image, or caricature, of an "ivory tower," condensing different meanings including independence and irrelevance. Albeit the work of the caricature, the university is thickly engaged with the world at many points—and demonstrably beyond the applied fields—while it works to realize fully the benefits of an independence from state or corporate oversight and control.

But we can move beyond a discussion of caricature to recognize the university in a different way, that is as institution constructed of contradictory interests and forces introduced over time, and never fully resolved. In this sense, the university may resemble "the colonial state." I inevitably draw here on the theorization of the colonial state by Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale: "The colonial state ... was only the partly intended outcome of the often contested interaction of numerous impersonal structural forces and subjective agents, both metropolitan and local." [13]

The challenge here may be in considering the ways in which the university can contain and support contending orientations: on the one hand serving the nation, national values, and national interests; on the other, serving the world and interests, standards, values, and goals broader than the nation. The university has done so before, though with risk and damage.

To return to the caricature, it may worth asking the question: in whose interests is it to see the university as apart, as bounded, as an ivory tower, rather than as an unsettled frame of contradictory interests and forces?

14-Cohen: Of course, universities consistently take up and engage timelyPage  70 issues. Multiple interests and pressures, as well as particular constituencies, assure that timely issues are addressed. The university today is in part the composition of surviving elements from enormous ranges of such engagements over time. Yet the university is also an economy in which only a relatively small number of engagements and initiatives can sustain themselves or be sustained. In a sense, the university's response to a new American attention to Islam—seeking fresh federal government funds for Middle East studies, constituting a range of focused conferences, symposia, and courses, assuring the supply of language courses, assisting students at risk—may be posited as conventional, vulnerable in time to the pressures and desires of new issues.

Grounding, Translation, Expertise

15: On the history of the International Institute (II), see: David William Cohen, "Welcome to the International Institute," Journal of the International Institute 1, 1 (1994), <>; David William Cohen, "Four Years of the International Institute," Journal of the International Institute 5, 2 (1998), <>; and David William Cohen, "II in Retrospect: Building Strong, Building Light: Building 'the International' at the University of Michigan," Journal of the International Institute 7, 1 (1999), <>.

16: For elaboration on various Crossing Borders projects undertaken by the University of Michigan International Institute, see <>.

The following articles address work sponsored in whole or in part by the Ford Foundation grant: Fernando Coronil, "After the Dialogue: Reflections on Two Memorable Events," Journal of the International Institute 9, 1 (2001), <>; David William Cohen, "International Expertise: A Position Paper," Journal of the International Institute 9, 1 (2001), <>; Michael D. Kennedy, "Globalizing Knowledge through Area Studies," Journal of the International Institute 9, 1(2001), <>; "Report on a Workshop: Pragmatics and Social Conflict in the Andean Region," Journal of the International Institute 9,1 (2001), <>; BrianPage  71 Porter, "Interrogating Reconciliation" Journal of the International Institute 9, 2 (2002), <>; Monica Eileen Patterson, "Reconciliation as a Continuing and Differentiated Process," Journal of the International Institute 9, 2 (2002), <>; Hitomi Tonomura, "A Workshop Presented by the International Institute: Experts and Expertise in Pre- and Early-Modern Societies," Journal of the International Institute 9, 2 (2002), <>; Ronald Grigor Suny and Fatma Müge Göçek "Discussing Genocide: Contextualizing the Armenian Experience in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of the International Institute 9, 3 (2002), <>; David William Cohen and Michael D. Kennedy, "The North American University and the World: Sacred Spaces and Heretical Knowledge," Journal of the International Institute 10, 1 (2002), <>; I. William Zartman, "Algeria at Forty: A Midlife Crisis," Journal of the International Institute 10, 2 (2003), <>; and Monica Eileen Patterson, "Memory Across Generations: The Future of 'Never Again'," Journal of the International Institute 10, 2 (2003), <>.

September 11

17-Cohen: There is of course at least one other significant "9/11," and this is 9/11/1973, the date that the Pinochet forces overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile, with the murder of Allende and large numbers of Allende supporters. Those who recognize the U.S. interest in Allende's overthrow have drawn attention to the elision of American memory of the Chilean events. Against the idea that 9/11/2001 has no peer, there is an opening to rumination on the uses and representations of U.S. power in the world, of who owns or controls the management of these histories.

18-Jelin: September 11, 2001, is seen here as a marker of a major historical turning point. I would like to see that date in two different levels, internally (within the United States) and in terms of the position of the United States in the world.

Regarding the first level, my comments come from a different location: aPage  72 region of the world where there were military dictatorships in the seventies and eighties, dictatorships that were initially sponsored by the United States. In that sense, September 11 is for us a significant marker of U.S. intervention: in 1973, airplanes bombed the Chilean presidential palace, ousting a constitutional president, and this military coup was instigated in part by the covert intervention of the U.S. government. A few years later, the Carter human rights policies saved many lives in the dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America. As academics, intellectuals and citizens, we lived through periods of censorship and lack of academic freedom, open state terrorism and repression. Buenos Aires was also the scene of two major acts of "international terrorism": the bombings of the Israeli embassy and of the Jewish community center. Thus, in a sense, September 11 marks the fact that the current U.S. population, which seemed to believe itself outside these threats and uncertainties, has to start dealing with them. Vulnerability as a way of life entered the United States. [14]

U.S. universities, as all institutions and actors in the country, undoubtedly are affected by it. National security considerations, new types of censorship and surveillance (especially but not only regarding foreign-born populations), restrictions of various sorts —a new McCarthyism, when the "original" has long been forgotten—come into being. There will be new pressures to engage in what is defined as priorities by the State (Department).

As in other periods of U.S. history, scholars and universities are faced with new and significant challenges. It is hard, in such times, to see oneself as in the "ivory tower" model of knowledge production. Open and explicit engagement is the call of the day. Yet the direction of engagement is not necessarily fixed and crystallized. My hunch is that the balance of power in the struggles about academic freedom and national security—and perhaps even the interpretive frameworks of this and other dilemmas—has shifted. This means that the political responsibilities of scholarship will be much more apparent, and scholars will have to face the challenge and act in the public sphere much more openly than before.

In fact, the issue of the meaning of the date should become a guiding idea to elaborate hypotheses about it, for different social and political groups in different locations—within the United States, U.S. universities, and abroad. But again, I see it as a subject for further research. Hopefully, the date will be understood by many not as a "unique event" subject to a literal reading but ratherPage  73 as an event that may have an exemplary role (to use Todorov's terminology). [15]

In fact, one could think that under the new conditions, critical intellectuals—those who bring their abilities, knowledge and expertise to bear upon issues of urgent political and social importance, and who do so actively participating in the sphere of public debate—will have to heighten their critical abilities. There will be attempts to lower, silence, or suppress their voices. Hopefully they will find allies in the more professionally and academically oriented scholars, who have come to value academic freedom and the "free" pursuit of knowledge, and may now (for the first time) feel these values at risk. If this is the case, then one can imagine that in the near future, more and more critical intellectuals will come to the fore and engage in the issues of the day. Nobody, however, can guarantee that the scholars that will engage in this activity will be open-minded and believers in pluralism, dialogue and debate. There is the danger that the various forms of fundamentalism that circulate in the United States today, admitting only one TRUTH and thinking that the only way to engage with "others" is to annihilate them, will gain adepts and invade the realms where freedom of thought was supposed to reign.

These new threats are not unique to the United States. Critical dialogues, alliances, and global networks and movements are actually a world phenomenon. The voices of opposition to unilateral decisions on the part of the U.S. government cover the globe, as the concerted protests against the war and for peace (on February 15, 2003, for instance) mobilize millions of people. In the same vein, the voices of concern for the increasing poverty and polarization in the world also grow. The three renderings of the Social Forum in Porto Alegre (in January of 2001, 2002 and 2003) show that there is human energy and initiative to bring together the voices that oppose the path that the world society is taking—led by the U.S. hegemony and its power within the multilateral world organizations.

19-Gebert: Even as they dreamt of America, they knew that their dreams are but dreams. America was rich—and yet one could die a beggar. America was free—and yet one could be lynched. America was ruled by law—and yet gangsters roamed its streets and institutions. In this, the difference between America and the Old Country they so longed to leave was one of quantity only. And yet that difference was so great that it alone was reason enough to go.

But one dream they dreamt without reservations. America was safe.Page  74 Separated from the rest of the world by two mighty oceans, blessed with weak if not meek neighbors in the North and South, America could not be invaded. Yes, one could die poor, lynched, murdered even. But never the feeling of helplessness when a war breaks out and houses are gutted just because they were in the way. Never the rage of seeing your family, your neighbors murdered en masse just because it could be done.

So they came—and they saw this dream is real. As the Old Country burned in war after war, as letters stopped coming and hope was lost, they remained safe in the fortress beyond the ocean. They felt guilt and relief, and massively enrolled in the armies of their new country, as they left to liberate the Old Country, or what was left of it. They would return to tell tales of horror, comforted by their knowledge that it can't happen here.

It did.

On 9/11 the Old Country caught back with them, trapping the descendants of those who had fled its horror in the awareness that this time there will be nowhere left to flee.

20-Patterson: Reducing alternative understandings or attempts to contextualize the events of September 11 as "moral relativism" dismisses too much too quickly and on false grounds. In many ways, the debate about moral relativism sparked by Giuliani's comment reproduces a central strategy of members of the right in a much longer-standing debate about political correctness. Like the derogation "politically correct," calling someone a "moral relativist" is an attempt to take away his or her legitimacy to speak rather than engaging with the content of what is being said. It is an inflammatory accusation used to dismiss, delegitimate, and silence speakers by undermining their right to be taken seriously. This strategy is intellectually dishonest and unfair.

In their article "Earth to Ivory Tower: Get Real!," authors Kay Hymowitz and Harry Stein draw a straight line between the old demons advocating political correctness to the more recent "moral blindness" of "academic apologists" opposed to the war in Iraq. [16] They deplore the "moral lethargy, rising out of affluence and security, out of New Age religious longings combined with all-you-need-is-love pacifism, out of therapeutic nonjudgmentalism, multiculturalism, and a virtually total historical amnesia. All these trends have generated an almost willful inability to imagine evil—except, of course, the evils of American racism, sexism, and homophobia." [17]

Page  75

Although the targets tend to be the same (mainly academics and leftist critics), there are some striking differences in these two debates as well. The term "correct" suggests that there is one right answer, term to use, or set of positions to hold. But the intent behind the considerations that have brought us to think more critically about the political implications of our language and views, particularly in regard to members of historically disadvantaged groups, is more about an orientation or a commitment to engagement rather than merely learning the accepted phrases and terms, or reading an appropriate smattering of "diverse" sources in classrooms. In contrast, "moral relativism" suggests that its adherents take no stands, draw no lines, and pass no judgments. As Hymowitz and Stein describe,

The two main stripes of critic seem stuck in the ideas of the sixties...the blame-America-firsters...but possibly more insidious...the moral lethargists. Offspring of the therapeutic culture, New Age spiritualism, and an entrenched multiculturalism suspicious of Western values, these so resist passing judgment that they shrink from seeing even murderous Islamic fundamentalism as the evil it is and shy away from the tough steps needed to crush it. Though relatively small, these two groups cluster in the powerful opinion-forming institutions: the academy, the liberal churches, the press, and the entertainment media.

The post-September 11 atmosphere, dominated by demands for a narrowly defined patriotism, allowed little space for critical thought or questioning. Leaders like Bush and Giuliani exerted significant control over public speech and debate by suggesting that anyone who did not unquestioningly support and strictly adhere to the decisions being made in the Pentagon and White House was a moral relativist and terrorist sympathizer. Patriotism was constructed as blind allegiance to the highest authority in the land (President Bush), rather than a commitment to holding our nation and its leaders to higher standards, or trying to participate in the democratic process through discussion, examination, critique, and debate.

While those who attempted to contextualize and better understand the events leading up to September 11 were accused of moral relativism, PresidentPage  76 Bush and Mayor Giuliani created the impression that we were following a very rigid, predetermined, and obvious script, excluding such possibilities of treating the attacks as a crime rather than an act of war. Choices about the options, possible responses, and consequences of particular actions were being made all the time, but presented as foregone conclusions to the great frustration of many Americans, members of the UN, and citizens and leaders across the globe.

21-Gebert: "De omnium dubitandi," Karl Marx's famous motto, could well be inscribed on the walls of every modern Western university. Indeed, university education and scholarly inquiry is based on two premises: that everything is open to question, and that reason is sufficient to find the answers. These two Enlightenment principles have been accepted by society at large, without enough attention being paid to their consequences.

For of course no society exists which does not hold some principles sacred beyond question, nor can any religion agree that reason alone is sufficient. Thus the principles taught by the university are fundamentally at odds with those endorsed by society. This conflict, usually, is glossed over thanks to the fact that the members of academe are at the same time members of society and, even if they do not endorse all its principles, they see no reason to drag the conflict out in the open.

Things change, however, when the university, as it unavoidably will, develops a culture of its own. If dispassionate criticism is indeed the guiding principle, then society at large is ideally suited to become the object of that criticism. For the university, ultimately, is not value-free: it strives to improve society. To do that, it necessarily needs to unmask its contradictions and evils.

Doing this the university necessarily starts being seen by society as not only a source of strength, but as the enemy within. Especially as the university, after declaring that all value systems are relative—for reason cannot perceive an absolute foundation for any of them—then go on to criticize especially the value systems of its own society, which it knows best and ultimately cares most about. This latter approach has in the American university produced "political correctness," a linguistic and conceptual code which prohibits the utterance of ideas or concepts considered insulting, unfair or painful to those the majority society had harmed in the past, or is still harming today. Combined with the relativism of its approach to the values of that selfsame majority, this creates the impression that the only values the university is willing to stand for are thosePage  77 which are alien to a majority of the citizens of the society it is part of. People have been burned at the stake for less.

As an immediate consequence, the university loses much of its moral credibility among much of that majority society; ultimately it might lose the trust in its judgment and reason which makes parents want to send their children there. If this happens, the university will have deprived itself, in the name of social values, of the capacity of effecting social change.

To an overseas observer such as myself, relativism that does not stop at the collection of values enshrined in the collective human accomplishment of human rights documents is suicidal. Political correctness smacks of hypocritical self-censorship. Both are indications of the inherent limitations of the university's founding principles: the principle of doubting in everything cannot be exempt from scrutiny in its own light, nor can reason investigate itself and its follies.

21a-Patterson: Admittedly, for some people being "PC" is merely a disingenuous performance of saying the "right thing" or using the most recently coined term for groups of people who have been historically underrepresented or disadvantaged. But it is important to consider the approach and intent of those to whom this phenomenon has been attributed on their own terms rather than accepting a caricatured version of a complicated and varied group of people promoting a range of ideas. Those who have tried to expand the traditionally white male canon on university campuses, and who urge us to consider the power in language to hurt, anger, and oppress people do not conceive of their efforts in terms of a learned code but rather a continued engagement with issues of power and identity that makes one sensitive to and aware of experiences beyond one's own (regardless of identity). This engagement benefits everyone, and should acknowledge and address the enduring inequality of our society, particularly as reflected in the words we use. More often than not, the charge of "political correctness" serves to stifle debate rather than to engage it. This is a disservice to those of us who think seriously about language and its powers to harm, and the many ways in which inequity is deeply imbricated in not only the words and concepts we use but the things we assume and the way that we speak.

22-Das: The issue as I see it is not of relativism versus some kind of absolute values but rather that, increasingly, it is not only absolutist states but also democratic states in which the right to declare something as "war"Page  78 or "a state of exception" has come to be accepted as the "normal" condition of functioning of modern states in relation to threats variously defined as those of terrorism, militancy, etc. Thus unfettered power to declare that something is an act of war rather than crime as the attack on the World Trade Center was performatively declared to be, does require us to rethink the balance between the legitimate claims of the state and that of the unfettered pursuit of truth on which the idea of the university is based. As more and more states define themselves primarily as security states, we will be forced to rethink the meaning of the state of exception in clearer terms.

23-Sanneh: The University as a national institution must normally be self-conscious about its American identity: the language, ideas, values, ideals, programs, priorities, goals, and limitations bind it so intimately with the country's life that separation is as inconceivable as it is undesirable. The challenges of national life cannot except be reflected in the agenda of the University. The pragmatist John Dewey (1859-1952) on that basis criticized higher education in America for its "narrowly disciplinary and cultural character," and for its "tendency to isolate intellectual matters till knowledge is scholastic, academic, and professionally technical, and for the widespread conviction that liberal education is opposed to the requirements of an education which shall count in the vocations of life." [18]

24-Patterson: One of the greatest challenges for the multiple and overlapping scholarly communities within U.S. universities after September 11 was to determine and negotiate their relationship with a changing U.S. state and to respond to its increasing demands. As some departments, schools and experts jockeyed for authority status, others sought to extricate themselves from certain types of involvement or to reconfigure and reframe the very questions being asked. For instance, what role would and should university administration play in responding to the U.S. government's call to investigate and report the increasing number of suspicious persons in the new war on terrorism? Questions of responsibility, capability, legality, resources and ethics continue to be debated within a larger consideration of the meaning and limitations of academic freedom within this period of crisis.

According to the American Studies Association in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on March 14, 2003, "The climate for academic freedom has worsened severely since September 11 because of new governmentPage  79 policies, as well as decisions by university administrators." Citing "restrictions on scholarly research" and the intimidation of students protesting the war in Iraq, the report argues that free speech has been considerably restricted on U.S. campuses. [19]

For an account of the impact of responses to the September 11 terrorists attacks on the availability of information on the Internet and those who provide it, see the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Chilling Effects of Anti-Terrorism: 'National Security' Toll on Freedom of Expression" at <>. See also the American Civil Liberty Union's well-documented chronology of "the toll taken on civil liberties by the Bush administration since September 11" ("Civil Liberties in the Post 9/11 World" at <>).

25-Madjid: If the massive Jewish and Catholic immigration of the nineteenth century threatened the American experience, is it now the turn of the Muslim immigration to present the obstruction? The calamity of 9/11 may suggest that the answer to such a question will be "yes!", were it not that most Muslims, out of the genuine religious consciousness or of fear that such a calamity would sooner or later fall upon them themselves, condemn such irresponsible action as against the fundamental principles of Islam. The supporting arguments for the condemnation are abundant, and they are all available for Muslims who are not religiously illiterate. But it is both ironic and logical that the sacred spaces of the Western academic world are still the best positioned modern source of authority to provide the supporting arguments easily at the concerned Muslims' disposal. [20]

Uncertainties and Events

26-Cohen: 9/11/2001 has provided extraordinary views of, and texts on, loss, mourning, and remembrance, producing an almost everyday expertise on the arts and politics of trauma and memory. There is the possibility that the richness of these rituals and exercises could overwhelm understandings of historical memory, memorials, commemorations, unfolding on different temporicities, for example on silences and trauma, on the importance of what cannot be said or seen, on the power of fiction and rumor. [21]

In American media, politics, and conversation, the mantra "since 9/11" would sometimes seem to have the effect of erasing the history of 9/10/2001Page  80 and everything that came before.

27-Kennedy: For discussion of the extent and nature of media attention regarding 9/11, see the conference entitled "Relentless Searchlight: Terrorism, Media and the Public Life" organized by the American Political Science Association Political Communications Section and the Shorenstein Center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government on August 28, 2002, reported in <>.

28-Patterson: A preoccupation with temporality pervaded the U.S. response to the events of September 11. In their many speeches and appearances in the days and weeks which followed, both Bush and Giuliani sought to establish shared timetables in their efforts to lead and unite the American people. From Bush's repeated insistence on the coexistence of Americans' feelings of sadness and anger to Giuliani's September 22, 2001 announcement on Saturday Night Live that it was okay to laugh again, top government officials offered remarkably specific scripts of recovery to the U.S. public. As the authors of the position paper note, "remembrance and vengeance work on different schedules," and these schedules also vary quite considerably from individual to individual. But frequently, and at many levels of society, adherence to the government's proscribed emotional timetables was equated with a newly requisite patriotism. As professor of media and popular culture Robert Thompson noted, "Both Giuliani and President Bush kept saying we've got to get back to the idea of laughing at a sitcom or watching a WWF event became tantamount to a patriotic act.'" [22] A slew of articles and news stories reveal the national concern with the idea of "laughing again," as if national consensus was necessary to determine individuals' behavior. [23] Commenting on the atmosphere of censorship, Tony Norman, a columnist of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stated, "I look forward to the day we'll be able to make fun of the president again without being charged with sedition." [24] Bush also proscribed the appropriate moments for Americans to go back to work, resume normal lives, and even to go shopping.

Issues of time and consensus were also, of course, extensively debated during the fiasco of failed UN negotiations and the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The investigations were cut short by the United States' rush to war in defiance of the majority of world opinion. Perhaps it is neither new nor surprising that in times of crisis there is a pressure to conform to dominantPage  81 opinion, but the tendency toward micromanagement, increased surveillance, and violence in the top echelons of U.S. government have certainly pervaded our society and affected international relations in disturbing new ways.

Belligerence and Tolerance

29-Das: Writing from India right now after the disastrous experience of violence against the Muslim minority in Gujarat with the active connivance of the state government, I am led to ask, how does censorship become operative in a democratic society? Unlike the Emergency of 1977 when all fundamental rights were suspended, we are presumably living in a democratic setup with regular elections and a Constitution in place. While journalists, some NGOs and students and teachers from outside Gujarat have mobilized support to provide evidence/ testimonies of the atrocities, they have not been able to move the state government to institute cases against the guilty. Thus despite evidence provided by journalists and People's Commissions that police stations refused to accept First Information Reports in which the names of the guilty were mentioned, there has been no serious movement by universities or other institutions devoted to pursuit of truth to provide any theoretical reflection on the meaning of such silence. Thus how has the everyday become "the state of exception"?

I believe that if we are to understand the way in which a self-imposed censorship comes to be instituted within democracies we need to understand the everyday life of universities in countries such as India. On the assumption that the state is an unfinished project and that national security is always in danger—the state of exception becomes like an ever present potential standing on the door of reality, as it were. The state then positions itself as always in the job of "educating" the university on its responsibilities and subjects it to a plethora of regulations that are instituted through administrative injunctions. For instance, even in premier institutes devoted to research, scholars cannot invite foreign scholars to speak without prior clearance from the Education Ministry. In some places this rule is followed—in others it is consistently flouted. There are similarly other rules about clearances for organizing seminars, or for foreign visits. The rationale behind all this is that the national interest needs to be protected and that the bureaucrats are the natural actors for the protection of these interests. The result is a strange balance of power so that asPage  82 one professor recently put it, to have academically survived in India is to have broken some rule or the other so that in the eyes of the state you are already, always culpable. I can take an example from my own work—I wrote on the militant movement in the Punjab in the eighties and nineties on the basis of the militant literature in Punjabi and audiocassettes of speeches by militant leaders. This literature is banned in India although it circulates freely and my publisher had to take the decision to be ready to face legal impediments in publishing my book. So the point is not that one is put into prison for the crime of possessing banned literature but that your culpability in the eyes of the state is always a resource that can be activated to punish you. Hence the shadow of being an officer/offender of the state and in relation to the state is always falling on academic life.

It is not my contention that there is ecology of fear comparable to the fear in campuses in societies in which governance is in the hands of dictatorial authorities. Clearly the complicity of ordinary citizens in which crimes as those perpetrated against Muslim minorities are seen as somehow justified, needs a more comprehensive review. I am not going to provide that review here but I do wish to focus attention on how the processes of mobilization in democratic societies could lead to the suspension of such goods as citizen rights, tolerance for diversity, or even the right to life. Agamben's idea that polities have become split between membership and inclusion needs to be seriously considered and the pathways by which democratic societies become implicated in non-democratic measures with popular support need to be understood. How do diasporic imaginations, global programming and the refashioning of institutions in accordance with notions of global public goods available as constraints or resources? It is interesting that activists in India have tried to find international openings in which the crimes of Narendra Modi—the Chief Minister who is seen to be complicit with what is in effect a pogrom against the Muslim minority—may be tried. The visits of Labor MPs from the U.K. and Amnesty International seem to be important resources in this struggle to have the truth recognized and acted upon.

30-Erazo: While I believe that the position paper makes an important point in saying that invisible acts of accepting and allowing difference are critical components of true tolerance, we must not forget that grave acts of intolerance such as persecution, arrest, or even torture occur regularly inPage  83 spaces where freedoms such as those of speech, religion, and assembly are not protected. Specifically because attention to tolerance is "situational and short-term," national and trans-national laws and dictates are necessary forms and tools for protection, although not sufficient for true tolerance.

31-Kennedy: Colleagues from abroad may have difficulty appreciating the degree to which the attacks of September 11, 2001 have changed American sensibilities and practices.

Security, not openness, now threatens to dominate discourses of how the U.S. university relates to the world beyond its nation. The introduction of new measures to assure security, or demonstrate the concern for security, have overwhelmed most sectors, most obviously at airports. But universities have also been directly affected. The University is working with federal officials to implement a new and more integrated tracking system called SEVIS [25] that would provide better data to the federal government on student whereabouts. This is one part of a much larger enterprise that is transforming the ways in which those within the United States from abroad are treated.

To a considerable extent, of course, that treatment depends on the nation's vision of that larger world. For example, FBI interviews with young men from countries associated with terrorism, and new stricter guidelines for issuing visas have been established with the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act signed into law by President Bush on May 14, 2002. [26] These measures are complicated, for they introduce new and serious questions into our discussion of American identity, civil liberties [27] and effective intelligence, and its effect on human rights, [28] none of which can be elaborated here. [29] It is, nonetheless, directly relevant for it affects quite immediately certain categories of actors more than others. For example, Iranian students, faculties and staff at the University of Michigan wrote to President White on May 17, 2002 expressing their concern about how section 306 of the newly approved HR 3525 Bill will lead to a categorical ban on Iranian students' receiving visas; it also makes it very difficult for Iranian students or scholars to go abroad for any reason. Globalizing knowledge clearly has a new element of inequality built into the system.

32-Sanneh: For all his effusions about an enlightened education coming like the dawn to banish all that kept human beings in the dark in mind, body, and spirit, for example, Jefferson flinched at the thought of diversity. ThePage  84 issue of diversity came to a head on the matter of slavery, and, as such, was perceived as a threat that had to be overcome. "Nothing," Jefferson urged, "is more certainly written in the book of fate, than that these people [the blacks] are to be free; nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion have drawn indelible lines of distinction between them." In other words, slavery no less than racial diversity conflicted with freedom and national harmony. We know better today, but such views suggest that the dogma of an enlightened secular education, free from religious association, was no safeguard against narrowness and intolerance. Nation building in America had taken a huge toll on diversity and pluralism. The American melting pot reduced difference to nothingness. Or, as Sinclair Lewis put it in Main Street, it was the process by which "the sound American customs absorbed without one trace of pollution another alien invasion."

33-Patterson: From the earliest possible moment, even before we knew precisely who to blame for the terrorist attacks, the U.S. response was professionally packaged by the White House administration in terms of its absolute predeterminancy. President Bush explicitly established the use of violence as the only imaginable reaction in his "Address to the Nation" on the evening of September 11. He stated, "A great people has been moved to defend a great nation...Our military is powerful, and it's prepared...The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts." Then, casting the field of possible enemies as broadly as possible, Bush declared: "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." Similarly, the president insisted that the attack was not just on "our people, but all freedom-loving people everywhere in the world." In what has proven to be an unfulfilled prophecy, he declared, "We will rally the world." The attacks were defined as the first act in a new war, and allies in this war were assumed: "America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism." [30] In subsequent speeches, President Bush continued to impose a U.S. agenda onto the rest of the world (as when he stated, "This is not a war between our world and their world. It is a war to save the world. And people now understand that."), [31] and demanded allegiance with his often repeated mantra, "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nationPage  85 that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." [32]

Recent history provides a helpful reminder that there are always alternatives to war and the use of extensive state-sponsored force, even in the face of devastating tragedy in the form of mass murder. Consider, for instance, President Clinton's response to the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995. He too promised to "bring to justice those who committed this evil," but described the attack in terms of a criminal act, and assured the nation that "We are sending the world's finest investigators to solve these murders." In marked contrast to Bush's repeated refrain of "hunting down" the enemy, Clinton urged Americans to show restraint as they dealt with their understandable feelings of anger. Reading from a letter written by a young widow whose husband was murdered when Pan Am flight 103 was shot down, he urged, "The anger you feel is valid, but you must not allow yourselves to be consumed by it. The hurt you feel must not be allowed to turn into hate, but instead into the search for justice. The loss you feel must not paralyze your own lives." Clinton closed by revoking hatred and violence: "we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it. In the face of death, let us honor life." [33]

34-Kennedy: The value of tolerance in the lexicon of North American academic keywords and public discussion has risen dramatically since September 11. While I share that appreciation, I am also reminded that tolerance wasn't so central during the 1960s, or at least its simple virtue was seriously doubted. One exemplar of this discussion was the assembly of three essays by Robert Paul Wolff, Barrington Moore, Jr. and Herbert Marcuse in A Critique of Pure Tolerance (Boston: Beacon Press, 1965).

Its strongest advocate, Wolff, found tolerance to be both the "virtue" and condition of modern pluralist democracy, but also dangerously close to being an ideology defending American society as it is. In particular, it focuses more on defending the plurality of groups already in existence rather than those in formation or those marginalized by the dominant axes of conflict and forces of recognition in society. It also attends poorly to those issues weakly identified with any particular group, but critical to the public good, for which a "new philosophy of community, beyond pluralism and beyond tolerance" is needed (52). That community, however, is no longer simply drawn within thePage  86 boundaries of a nation state.

In contrast to Wolff, Marcuse finds tolerance to be a means of domination in America, and by America and other dominant actors, across the world. Strangely enough, Marcuse's rhetoric sounds now more at home with those who seek to establish a militarily-assured Pax Americana: "Tolerance is extended to policies, conditions and modes of behavior which should not be tolerated because they are impeding, if not destroying the chances of creating an existence without fear and misery... Tolerance toward that which is radically evil now appears as good because it serves the cohesion of the whole on the road to affluence or more affluence..." (82-83). Of course Marcuse means something very different than the notions of those who seek to extend American unilateralism against the obstacles put up by the cumbrances of multilateral decision-making.

Marcuse's critique of tolerance is based on the distortions established by society's inequalities. He seeks with his theory and practice to demystify those claims of tolerance by marking their contribution to domination. But this is extraordinarily difficult:

with the concentration of economic and political power and the integration of opposites in a society which uses technology as an instrument of domination, effective dissent is blocked where it could freely emerge: in the formation of opinion, in information and communication, in speech and assembly. Under the rule of monopolistic media...that mentality is created for which right and wrong, true and false are predefined wherever they affect the vital interests of society..." (95).

One might debate fruitfully subsequent transformations of technology and its effect on the coherence and plurality of opinion formation, [34] but the more critical change that transforms Marcuse's point rests with the location of violence. With the attack of September 11, 2001 and the elevation of terrorism as real and perceived threat, the U.S. public is prepared to see the sources of violence to rest in the opposition to a virtuous American power, rather than lodged in the "advanced centers of civilization" themselves (102). Marcuse's ambition to distinguish progress and regression (105) is now more complicatedPage  87 than in the 1960s because this new kind of war makes the simple distinction between the forces of progress and regression difficult to identify with the confidence once accorded by the language of liberation.

Moore appears to offer a more conducive approach for these times. He argues that the "secular and scientific" outlook is critical, for when properly used, it can identify the conditions when tolerance is appropriate, and when it reflects cowardice. We should be prepared, he argues, to marshal evidence in support of our accounts, and alter them when evidence suggests otherwise. His commitment inspires:

The real task of the intellectual is not to be committed to any political doctrine or ideal, not to be an agitator or a fighter, but to find and speak the truth, whatever the political consequences may be. Even if, as we have said, political concerns help to determine what truths intellectuals look for, the truths they uncover may often be and actually are extremely damaging to exactly these concerns...if the intellectual finds that the current situation is one of sham debate and unnecessary repression, yet without any serious prospect for change, he has the task of relentless, critical exposure—destructive criticism of destructive reality. His commitment to politically significant truth carries with it the obligation to point out the illusions, equivocations, ambiguities and hypocrisies of those who raise the banner of freedom in order to perpetuate brutality, be they Communist or anti-Communist (78).

The contest between communism and capitalism animated all of these authors' principal concerns. The social question and the struggle against imperialism shaped their critique of pure tolerance. Moore has provided inspiration throughout my own intellectual career, but the critical intellectuality informed by the contest between capitalism and its counterculture in socialism is now at least complicated, if not profoundly altered, but terrorism's threat and the civilizational contest brought to life by the conduct of U.S. policy in terrorism's aftermath.

While I still find hope in the scientific and secular worldview, I find it especially important that this viewpoint be tempered by a humility that seeksPage  88 from religious traditions the limits of its own critical authority. Moore again provides great inspiration, but this time in the negative. Rather than identify the Koran as the opposite of science and reason, as he does in the final paragraph of his essay (79), I find in those religious sensibilities seeking dialogue across religious traditions and with science one of the greatest hopes for the production of a new kind of tolerance that might itself alter the questions we pose about destructive realities.

35-Sanneh: On another level, and especially when times are not normal and it is no longer fashionable, the University must maintain open borders and insist on the unfinished task of nation and school. Before 9/11 the University, for example, could indulge a certain entitlement to national or global exemption. (The Thatcher era of the 1980s shattered that illusion for British Universities long before 9/11, though seemingly to little purpose beyond penny pinching.) Since 9/11, however, a new urgency has gripped the public about turning the University into a national security enterprise, a gated community with identity checks for international students and reporting mandates for administrators and faculty, this while an economic and political crisis has engulfed much of the world. It is inconceivable for the University at this juncture to refuse any share in the unfinished task of national and social development. Threat and danger have encroached on the research agenda of the University. Once more, difference, diversity and pluralism are seen as a threat to be overcome. Yet the temptation must be resisted.

If we look to the recent past of World War II, for instance, we find the University gripped by the same emergency mentality of imminent peril and chauvinistic patriotism. Yet there were voices then calling us to robust engagement with the challenges of the time. That was how Wendell Willkie (1892-1944), for example, called for America to rise to its global responsibility by responding to the new fact of "One World," the title of his influential book on the subject. Echoing Woodrow Wilson and his vision of the League of Nations, Willkie, a Presidential candidate in 1940, cautioned that isolationism would only breed national neurosis about difference and distance and be disastrous for America and for the world. The historian Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) made much the same point in his Civilization on Trial (New York: Oxford University Press, 1948) where he warned his Western compatriots about the need to outgrow their pre-de Gaman worldview. [The reference was to VascoPage  89 de Gama (1460?-1524), the Portuguese explorer who opened the sea lanes to India, and thus opened the world to Europe, and vice versa.] The remote and the unfamiliar, according to Toynbee, were merely symbols of Western shortsightedness.

Unfinished Nations

36-Patterson: Central to much of the literature and thinking on nation-building are issues of citizenship. With the knowledge that most of the terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks entered the U.S. under legitimate circumstances, a new concern with citizenship and assimilation has emerged along with the increased surveillance and regulation in place at our international borders and airports. In addition to the increasingly difficult process of securing entry into the U.S. for non-citizens in general, and citizens of the so-called "rogue states" in particular, this new belligerence has manifested itself in the relations between the U.S. government and many Arab communities in the United States.

There is now a sense that along with unfinished nations, unfinished citizens (or false ones, for that matter) threaten the nation. Much attention has been paid to the fact that it was not merely a group of al Qaeda members who made the terrorist attacks possible but also a broader network of funders and supporters, some of whom are based in the United States.

In his recent article on otherness and identity in Arab Detroit, Andrew Shryock offers an interesting counterpoint to this discussion of unfinished nations by using a more localized unit of analysis, namely Arab citizens residing in the United States. In many ways, the events of September 11 and the national response to them served to "undo" the citizenship of the members of these communities, for some in a quite literal way and for others more figuratively. [35] The imagined or idealized endpoint of the finishing process for immigrants to the United States is often conceived of and marked in terms of "assimilation." Not all of the markers of this finishing/assimilation process are achievable through action. They include the language one speaks, place (country) of birth, dress, religion, and what may be described as one's politics, views, or ideology.

As Shryock writes, "On September 11, 2001, Arab Detroit entered its own state of emergency. Its image as 'an immigrant success story,' as 'the capital of Arab America,' changed within hours of the attacks; suddenly, it wasPage  90 a scene of threat, divided loyalties, and potential backlash" Literally overnight, "a resurgent imagery of Otherness and marginalization, increasingly Muslim in focus, is now the backdrop against which Arabs in Detroit are struggling to (re)define themselves as 'good citizens.'" [36] The markers of assimilation were sought and read with a new suspicion, not only by government agents, but by accepted American publics whose citizenship or loyalty to the United States was not questioned.

37-Gebert: The use of the English term "nation," which can designate both "ethnic group" and "State," is the source of much confusion in the writings on historical and political events. Its current usage is embedded in the political development of the United States, where a nation of immigrants built a non-ethnic state. This confusion is currently seen in the debate on "failed nations," in which often the correct diagnosis of some states (e.g. Somalia, Afghanistan, at a point Albania, etc.) to function as such, is followed by the ambiguous postulate of "nation-building" as a remedy. This implies not only the reconstruction—or construction—of a functioning state, but also the development of a "nation," made of one or several ethnic groups, of which that state would be the institutional expression.

This latter postulate, however, is one that most probably can never be implemented. The experience of colonialism shows that such "nation-building" (admittedly, never a primary objective of the colonialist enterprise) not only fails to meet its mark, but often is in fact counterproductive. Later non-colonialist ventures, such as trusteeship (say, Britain in Palestine) or, more recently, international community administration (e.g. Bosnia) seem to validate that conclusion, though in this last case it is arguable that it is yet too early to tell. What does seem to be possible is the reconstruction of states, through the reimposition of a state's primary attribute: the monopoly of legitimate violence. This has in fact been seen in Bosnia and Timor, and might prove true also in Kosovo. The objective here would not be the construction of democracy (though in Bosnia this goal seems well within reach), but the elimination of plural agents of violence, by enforcing a uniform system of obligations, safety and compliance. In other words, it is preferable for inhabitants to live under a predictable system of rewards and punishments rather than under one in which these dramatically vary from place to place and over time.

Needless to say, such a system almost certainly can be neither just norPage  91 fair, nor will it be permanent. Its main objective is to ensure that most people can be reasonably sure to be safe from arbitrary detention, violence or death if they abide by a relatively clear system of rules, uniform for all. By the same token, a monopoly of violence in the interest of one (usually ethnic) group alone would fail to meet the test. Once the power of warlords is abolished, a modicum of safety established, democratic development may, though by no means must, follow.

In particular, it does not seem to be useful to export the American model of "nationless nation" to countries where the state has failed, the civic bond is weak or nonexistent, and ethnic or tribal bonds are dominant. Such an attempt is usually doomed to failure, and thus may in fact compromise the very ideals on which it is based. This is not to endorse of the spurious concept of non-universality of human rights, but to admit that human rights implementation is a process, not a one-time act. Furthermore, it is feasible only in places where people can be reasonably sure their lives are not routinely under threat, and where basic solidarity exists between all or most of the inhabitants. Failed states meet neither of these criteria; rebuilding "nations" (as opposed to "states") does not help either. For the process to begin, a state needs to be able to function again. International intervention cannot be expected to achieve much more, at least in the short run.

38-Patterson: Several critics have suggested that the contemporary United States may be best understood as an empire among nations, increasingly exerting its disproportionate power through the use of force to consolidate, extend, and maintain its influence over the rest of the world. [37] United States involvement in shaping and determining the outcome of nations is very selective, however. The nation building process is now seen as one that not only leads to secularism and democracy (including cases in which the United States puts a leader in power), but the establishment of favorable trade relations and economic ties to the United States.

In his article "The Arrogant Empire," Fareed Zakaria examines the character and consequences of the United States' unique position in the world. [38] Prior to the outbreak of war in Iraq, he noted that "in its campaign against Iraq, America is virtually alone. Never will it have waged a war in such isolation. Never have so many of its allies been so firmly opposed to its policies. Never has it provoked so much public opposition, resentment and mistrust.Page  92 And all this before the first shot has been fired." He argues that the war has much larger ramifications for the United States than regional concerns: "The debate is not about Saddam anymore. It is about America and its role in the new world. To understand the present crisis, we must first grasp how the rest of the world now perceives American power." The unilateralism that now defines U.S. foreign policy has undoubtedly impacted the way that Americans are perceived and treated. But it has also had and will continue to have devastating consequences for many Afghanis, Iraqis, and Americans. Responding "on a scale that was almost unimaginable" to the September 11 attacks, the United States demanded international compliance. As Zakaria observed, "Suddenly terrorism was the world's chief priority, and every country had to reorient its foreign policy accordingly." Arguably, however, the world is now less secure and less amenable to rule by law than before the tragic events of September 11.

The Layers of Race

39-Cohen: It has been widely noted that the essential contradiction of American culture and society, of its democratic tradition, is centered on the question of race—including racially organized slavery—in the foundation of the nation. Race always has and continues to confound the meanings and powers of democratic ideas. Race is, in this sense, foundational in the American nation in ways distinct from other the narratives of construction of other nations. This essential contradiction in the foundation of America, in the foundation of the nation, finds its way into every arena of life ... it is perhaps the work of the immutable contradiction, rather than race itself, that reproduces this condition from arena to arena, era to era. It also becomes a structure that finds its locus and does its work in respect to such questions about loyalty to the nation of, or the dangers to the nation from, immigrant communities from Middle Eastern lands. The foundational nature of race (or the essential contradiction of race/racism and democracy) means on the other hand that there is no monological structure of ideas about democracy, nation, society, the United States, equality ... there is always a second reading in contention with a first.

40-Cohen: In our discussions, one of the seminar members took up the question of the intense focus on race and racism within the North American university. Does this centering of race, diversity, and multiculturalism in the university reflect the momentous shift from—to borrow Nancy Fraser'sPage  93 formulation—"redistribution to recognition". [39] Could Fraser's meditation on politics in a post-socialist age comprehend a shift in the university from a social sciences attentive to economic injustice and justice toward a social sciences consumed by questions of identity and rights? What is gained in such a shift? What is lost?

But Fraser's attention to a politics of justice is more complex than simply laying out a linear model. Fraser has argued that something critical is lost when we cannot sustain a simultaneity of attention, intellectual and political, to these two essential elements of justice, one resting in cultural recognition and one resting in economic equity. For scholars in the university debating the appropriate approaches to the study of the world, was our work shifting in important ways outside our own agency, beyond our own particular debates over priorities, relevance, inclusion, and objectivity, leaving us at a distance from an earlier focus on economic justice in the world and not quite yet comprehending a quite powerful and new politics of recognition?

41-Erazo: While the political correctness movement has made important strides in increasing awareness of subtle and not-so-subtle forms of discrimination and dominance, it also has a dark underside. This is particularly the case when ideas about rights, discrimination, and dominance are imposed on the members of very different societies without an understanding of the way in which those societies are different from our own. In my own experience working with indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon, I have seen multiple instances of American-funded development projects attempting to impose North American ideas of gender equality, often with violent or counterproductive consequences. For example, in one project sponsored and carried out by an Ecuadorian, Quito-based non-governmental organization (NGO), women were invited to participate in ceramics classes, and men were purposefully excluded from these classes. This occurred under the development rationale that if women's income increases, they use their earnings to improve the livelihood of the family (purchasing food, medicines, etc.), while when men's incomes increase, they spend it on alcohol, gambling, and other "wasteful" pursuits. The men resented the exclusion, and violently took any earnings the women obtained from selling ceramics from them. This was not a typical reaction to the earnings that women obtained from other types of market-oriented work, and thus appears to have resulted primarily from thePage  94 NGO's politics of exclusion. The hydro-powered ceramics factory, installed at great expense to the foundation supporting this NGO, now sits deserted and rusting in the humid rainforest. Had the NGO personnel looked beyond their Western notions of gender equality and practiced more humility rather than almost missionary zeal in their attempts to train only women, the small factory could have provided a source of increased earnings for both women and men.

42-Gebert: "Well, in that case I'm Jewish, too" said a disgusted Mary Robinson in Durban, looking at a pamphlet distributed at the UN Conference Against Racism by the Arab Lawyers League. The pamphlet was illustrated by a cartoon depicting a Jew with bloody claws and fangs, bearing Israeli and Nazi insignia. The topic—"Zionist apartheid and genocide in Palestine."

Never since the anti-Semitic campaign in Communist Poland in 1968 did I experience an environment as deeply anti-Semitic as in Durban in September 2001. Pamphlets, posters and leaflets distributed by Palestinians and their supporters routinely described and depicted Jews and Israelis in vicious racism terms and form, directly reminiscent of "Der Stirmer." There is no doubt in my mind that if any other group (with the possible exception of Dead White Males) were to be depicted in that fashion, those responsible would be run out of the Conference—and rightly so. But anti-Semitism was a racism that the Conference allowed to fester.

The evils Israel was being accused of were real enough, but the Jewish State was by far not the only, or most serious perpetrator. Whatever may be said of the fate of Israeli Arabs—apartheid it is not—not with fourteen Arab MPs in a 140-member Knesset. Whatever can be said of the fate of the Palestinians—ethnic cleansing it is not—not when deportees are but several hundred over the years. And it certainly is not genocide.

While the racist campaign against Jews and Israel was unacceptable, criticism of Israel was legitimate—if accompanied by a proportional criticism of those more guilty of the same evils. If the treatment of Palestinians elicits outrage, that of the Chechens should generate fury—but there was not one pro-Chechen demonstration during the whole event. If job discrimination of Arabs in Israel is to be condemned, then the legal interdiction of other faiths than Islam in Saudi Arabia should be branded, but nary a word was said about it.

Attacks on Israel and the Jews—the conflation itself a racist concept—Page  95were conducted using racist imagery and rhetoric, with the Jewish state singled out for condemnation and hatred totally out of proportion to its real or imaginary sins. This is racism. And it was racism that prevented delegates from expressing the solidarity an attacked minority now feels entitled to. In Durban the Jews were all alone.

And it was racism that made many delegations oppose almost to the end including a condemnation of the Holocaust—humanity's most massive racist crime—in the final declaration. As a partial rapporteur at the European preparatory meeting I had to lobby hard to convince Council of Europe delegates to include a condemnation of anti-Semitism. Eventually, a compromise solution was worked out: anti-Semitism would be condemned every third time racism would. The fact that during our debate synagogues had been torched in France might have helped convince the delegates.

9/11 occurred just three days after the conference ended. Though of course there is no cause-and-effect relationship, the same hatred, which pervaded the halls in Durban, motivated the al Qaeda killers.

43-Patterson: The pervasiveness of institutional racism in the United States certainly enables the practice of racial profiling and may partially explain its long and continuing life despite the unconstitutional and discriminatory foundations on which it is based. But prior to 9/11, critical mass seemed to be mounting toward a rejection of racial profiling as a legitimate means of apprehending criminals. In the academy, scholars in the social sciences and humanities had long been arguing for an understanding of race as socially constructed, and they were backed by colleagues in the natural sciences as to the biological fallacy of inherited racially-based behaviors. Several studies were conducted that uncovered institutionalized practices of racial profiling in police forces across the country. David A. Harris, of the University of Toledo College of Law authored a detailed report for the American Civil Liberties Union in June 1999 entitled, "Driving While Black: Racial Profiling On Our Nation's Highways," in which he traced the historical trajectory of the practice and argued that "racial profiling is based on the premise that most drug offenses are committed by minorities. The premise is factually untrue, but it has nonetheless become a self-fulfilling prophecy." [40] In his words, "skin color has become evidence of the propensity to commit crime, and police use this 'evidence' against minority drivers on the road all the time." AmnestyPage  96 International investigated more than ninety cases of alleged ill-treatment or excessive use of force by New York City police officers dating from the late 1980s to early 1996, and found that "more than two-thirds of the victims in the cases examined were African-American or Latino and most, though not all, of the officers involved were white. Nearly all of the victims in the cases of deaths in custody (including shootings) reviewed by Amnesty International were members of racial minorities." [41]

Vocal sectors of the U.S. public were commanding more attention as they decried the risks and injustices of racial profiling in the criminal justice and law enforcement systems. They responded with increasingly publicized outrage to the cases of police brutality that repeatedly target black males in such disproportionate numbers in the United States. Demonstrators gathered in New York to mourn and protest the death of Amadou Diallo, the twenty-two-year old immigrant from Guinea who was shot at forty-one times in front of his apartment door by police who had mistaken him for a suspect, and also Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, arrested outside a New York City nightclub and brutally beaten, assaulted, and sodomized with a toilet plunger by a group of four police officers. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, police officer Frank Gutowski made national headlines when he explained in a training lecture that Latinos, Indians, and members of other ethnic groups may be immune to pepper spray because of their diet of spicy foods. [42]

There was nothing all that new about the selective list of events described above, but the connections being made between them, particularly in the eye of the mainstream U.S. media, were forcing local and national leaders to speak out against the practice of racial profiling. In fact, in George W. Bush's February 2001 address to Congress, the president stated that he had asked Attorney General John Ashcroft "to develop specific recommendations to end racial profiling. It's wrong, and we will end it in America.'" [43] Since September 11, however federal authorities have committed themselves to this practice with new vigor. Now racial profiling is not only fully embraced by leaders in government and police spheres, but it has been put into practice with an alarming intensity. Shortly after 9/11, males of Arab descent in our own community in Ann Arbor received letters in the mail requesting they come into police stations to be interviewed for possible leads in the search for the terrorists. While the target of racial profiling in the United States has shifted to include Arabs and Muslims, blacksPage  97 and Latinos continue to be disproportionately monitored and stopped by police for unmotivated searches based on their perceived racial or ethnic identity.

One of the reasons that racial profiling has been so difficult to eradicate is that it consists of a range of practices, carried out by different types of people at various levels. Like discrimination in general, it permeates all levels of U.S. society. "Special Agent Richard Egan, head of the Boston FBI office's civil rights and public corruption units, stated that the FBI has been receiving up to 1,000 calls a day about 'suspicious activity, noting that police officers are not the only ones guilty of racial profiling. He told of people calling the FBI to report others whom they consider suspicious because of their appearance. He explained that the FBI only follows up on calls alerting them to certain types of behavior, not appearances. In the words of expert David Harris, "Racial profiling is a communicable disease. It spreads by contagion from the police on the beat, to the security at the airport, to the customer at the post office to the stranger on the street." [44]

Regardless of historical moment or targeted group, racial profiling is detrimental to us all. As Harris eloquently writes, "This vicious cycle carries with it profound personal and societal costs. It is both symptomatic and symbolic of larger problems at the intersection of race and the criminal justice system. It results in the persecution of innocent people based on their skin color. It has a corrosive effect on the legitimacy of the entire justice system. It deters people of color from cooperating with the police in criminal investigations. And in the courtroom, it causes jurors of all races and ethnicities to doubt the testimony of police officers when they serve as witnesses, making criminal cases more difficult to win." Many critics have argued that the time and resources spent sifting through huge numbers of perceived potential suspects would be better utilized in following established leads and developing informed intelligence. In the words of Angela Davis, "racial profiling isn't the best way to catch terrorists. One important lesson of the War on Drugs is that focusing on race rather than behavior causes law enforcement officials to miss a lot of criminals." [45]

In the United States, perceived racial identity affects who is watched, stopped, searched, arrested, imprisoned, and increasingly, deported. [46] In the post September-11 context, racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims has spread fear among members of these communities, and as Arab-American Jennifer Riddha wrote to the New York Times, it "has only served to marginalize thePage  98 Arab community and foster fear among its members and their neighbors. As a result, it has likely discouraged those who may have relevant information from coming forward. For the same reasons that it is wrong in ordinary criminal investigations, racial profiling is inappropriate in the government's terrorism investigation." [47] On June 2, 2003, the inspector general of the Justice Department released a highly critical report on the treatment of detainees in connection with terrorism inquiries. The report cited detainees being held without being informed why, harsh conditions of confinement, and excessively slow processing by the F.B.I. Some detainees were subjected to a "pattern of physical verbal abuse," and according to the New York Times, "detention centers routinely blocked efforts by detainees' families and lawyers to locate them." [48]

Making judgments based on race alone is inefficient and ineffective, not to mention a breach of basic civil liberties. While it may be newly permissible in the post-September 11 climate of insecurity and fear, as Benjamin Franklin said, "He who sacrifices freedom for security is neither free nor secure."

Communities of Faith

44-Cohen: Do we recognize that we are within an era in which the idea and the facility to speak about the faith of others have essentially been naturalized? While religious institutions and communities developed around a virtually entire self-referentiality, and while the frames of understanding and reproducing religious thought and practice rested largely on their internally derived diagrams, we now have access to, or are inundated by, frames of understanding that derive strongly from an externally constructed gaze.

44a-Kennedy: During the U-M symposium organized around this position paper and the commentaries on it, Donald Lopez offered a similar observation to David's, but with a more critical tone. First, he argued that the very notion of religion was itself constructed through the knowledge systems associated with modernity, which our text faithfully reproduces. The very emphasis on "faith" indicates its modern, and Western, roots, and its inadequacy as a vehicle for considering religion's historical formation. Religion has been deeply implicated in the recognition and development of other markers of distinction among peoples, in language, race, and nation, formed around European expansion, and thus is hardly a subject easily separated from larger histories, Lopez observed, to which he added the following point. FaithPage  99 is the "pivot" around which Christians tell their own story, and "belief" is the successor concept that many social scientists and comparative religionists invoke to develop its science, which in turn became the way in which non-Christians tell their own tale. It may not, however, be the best method with which to understand these religions; indeed, religion should not be explored, he argued, independently of race, language or world history itself. To do so, he suggested, is to "prolong a legacy of colonialism."

I find the way this paper weaves in and out of colonialism's embrace to be one of its most productive problems. To question the arrogance of the North American university's presumption to be a university of the world is perhaps the most familiar charge of recurrent imperialism. To raise the specter of religion's elevation in the public university would not have appeared to me, initially, as the reinstatement of that imperial presumption, but rather a means to make more explicit the hidden arrogance of a secular world power denying its religious particularity. In order to mark that distinction, we invoked a language of difference that is, itself, embedded in a modernity formed through empires. Embedded in publics as that language has become, it becomes important to consider how we might escape the tyranny of faith or belief in religion's definition, while at the same time refiguring its place in the explanation of how power and culture work across the world.

45-Cohen: There are significant asymmetries among the ways different religious communities enter the university's academic life. At the University of Michigan, one can see something of a continuum, from the situation of a well established, internally unfolding strength in Buddhist studies, to the externally supported growth of Sikh and Hindu studies as well as Jewish studies. Some of the increasing attention to religious studies as an academic field rests in the growing demand from students; some from specific developments within the disciplines: anthropology, history, literature, philosophy, and sociology. And perhaps some attention develops out of the momentary interest in Islam as a challenge to certain U.S. values and interests in the world as well as the U.S.'s design as an immigrant and multicultural society.

46-Cohen: One can ask how the present focus on Islamic fundamentalism will bring understanding of the simultaneity of the evident growth of fundamentalism within most of the world's religions.

47-Cohen: Michael M. J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi have offered a framePage  100 of reference to the complexities of discourses on faith with reference to Iran. See their Debating Muslims:Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990).

48-Kennedy: It is difficult to imagine a responsible university address of the world that does not now seriously extend its engagement with the worlds of Islam, not only in terms of its theologies, cultures and histories, but also their articulation with politics, society, economy, and the professions, not only within the Middle East, but across Asia, Africa, Europe and America. But this is complicated for it involves not only the study of other religions but also questioning the secular or religious assumptions that make up the university and its environment. One university's approach to this challenge was debated vigorously in the U.S. public during our workshop.

There was certainly considerable good will behind the University of North Carolina's August 2002 requirement that 3500 freshmen read Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations by Michael Sells (Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press, 1999) before they begin their studies in Chapel Hill. The book contained 35 suras from the Qur'an elaborated with commentary by the author. The Carolina Reading Program offered this explanation for the selection of its book:

Westerners for centuries have been alternately puzzled, attracted, concerned, and curious about the great religious traditions of Islam. These feelings have been especially intense since the tragic events of September 11. Approaching the Qur'án is not a political document in any sense, and its evocation of moral "reckoning" raises questions that will be timely for college students and reflective adults under any circumstances. The Carolina Summer Reading program is especially happy to offer a book of enduring interest this year that also offers the Carolina community an appropriate introduction to the literature and culture of a profound moral and spiritual tradition that many of us now wish to learn more about. [49]

Some Christian groups found this to be unfair to their young faithful. Three students and a couple organizations filed a lawsuit arguing that this violated the separation of church and state because it required students at aPage  101 state-run university to read a religious text. The character of the religion has something to do with it, however. Joe Glover, president of the Family Policy Network, said in a USA Today editorial that UNC fails to maintain "neutrality" toward religion, as required by another Supreme Court decision, Rosenberger vs. University of Virginia. By forcing students to read a single text about Islam that leaves out any mention of other passages of the Koran in which Muslim terrorists find justification for killing non-Muslims, the university establishes a particular mind-set for its students about the nature of Islam. This constitutes religious indoctrination forbidden by the Supreme Court. [50]

Even in thoughtful defense, however, the difficulty of Islam's place in secular/Christian America is evident. Defending their choice, the university's chancellor, James Moeser, emphasized that this reading assignment was not advocating Islam any more than teaching about the Iliad advocated ancient Greek religion. [51] To treat the Qur'an/Islam as equivalent to the Iliad/Greek mythology is hardly the respect the Muslim faithful would hope. But then the faith that mobilizes the movement to keep church and state separate, in this instance at least, is one that also finds Islam's claims to peace doubtful. Although the case against Carolina is now moot, the war of words against Islam by certain Christian conservatives continues. Jerry Falwell in the CBS news program 60 minutes, broadcast on October 6, 2002, says "I think Muhammed was a terrorist.... A man of violence, a man of war". [52]

September 11 and its aftermath have certainly made the religious pluralism Diana Eck sought to elaborate [53] more important than ever, but it has also provided more challenging barriers to its cultivation than one could have previously imagined.

49-Kennedy: During our workshop, David suggested that this new attention to Islam and comparative religions in the academy may be akin to other surges of interest in particular international topics, from the relatively enduring concern for communism's threat to the shorter but intense fascination with the Japanese economic miracle and the never preeminent but relatively significant investment in understanding the AIDS crisis across the world and especially in Africa. I disagreed vehemently, but I was later surprised by the intensity of my reaction.

Having been deeply involved in the first subject, and having watched from a distance the others, I resented the comparison. To be sure, communism,Page  102 like the fundamentalist Islam described by Daniel Pipes, [54] could fuel a new national security—inflected academic project. To be sure, money could flow into university coffers to study Islam much like the Japanese and the private sector fueled the study of Japan in the 1980s. To be sure, studying AIDS or human rights might be a matter of (inter)national security and the inherent dignity of humanity, much as Islam can be figured as the object of security's study and another form of sanctity. But this seems different for several reasons.

First, the challenge of different political projects is embedded in a common modernity; the challenge of different religiosities is embedded not only in modernity but a deeper history and sensibility that potentially denies even the world as a primary reference. In this sense, the challenge of difference, or even discovering commonality, requires a depth of understanding that the contest with communism did not.

Second, while money fuels academic projects, the engagement with religious difference will be motivated additionally by a resource that is not simply understood. For example, when one considers the "resources" typically studied in the study of social movements, one looks to people, money, and power. [55] Faith, even more than loyalty to the nation, is not, I would propose, easily embedded in a resource mobilization model for understanding social movements or university projects. It's especially challenging in this case because it is not only the faith of the devout, but of their opponents, which may also shape the priorities of university engagements.

Third, the sanctity involved with the study of AIDS or human rights can be based on universalisms associated with secular assumptions and modernity's project. It can, then, be appropriated into various knowledge projects, whether in the health sciences, law schools, and the social sciences associated with them. The challenge of religiosity cannot be so easily commandeered either by modernity or its knowledge systems. This ambiguity makes this particular challenge seem particularly hard to contain with analogies.

The challenge of religiosity may indeed have the same shelf life in the American academy as other major issues in international affairs. But to the extent that it does, it will only reflect the academy's incapacity to recognize the gravity of the challenge.

50-Gebert: For the believer any event can be religious, but for the non-believer none can, and 9/11 obviously has not changed that. For the believersPage  103 9/11 repeats the fundamental challenge to belief that radical evil always poses, strengthening the faith of some and undermining or destroying that of others; non-believers can but marvel at that. And yet we know that for some, 9/11 has opened the possibility of faith.

But the perpetrators of 9/11 were, by all accounts, religious people, their motivation one of faith. This poses a different, though also not new challenge to all believers, whether of the perpetrators' religion or not: how is it possible that radical evil can be committed in the name of good? Many will take the easy way out, stating that theirs was a perversion of religion, a denial of its true message. This might be true, but this denial has been nurtured in the womb of the faith. And it would be foolish to believe this is a problem for Islam alone.

The death of the victims of 9/11 will then, or not, be a religious event, depending on the religiosity, or lack of it, of the survivors another paradox well deserving investigation. But their murder remains a religious event, because of the religious motivation invoked by the perpetrators. And since even non-believers consider religious motivation "lofty," this poses a more general quandary for believer and non-believer alike. To wit: was their act vile and base, or—as Susan Sontag had had the courage to say—in fact an act of bravery, for they had sacrificed their lives for something they believe in?

Although religions vary in their attitudes toward pursuing martyrdom: from supportive (Catholicism) to mistrustful (Judaism), they all agree that life is a gift from God, belongs to Him, and can be taken back only by Him when He so chooses. It takes great trust in the necessity of the act to return His gift at one's own discretion. And it does not help if one posits that it is in fact God who acts, by giving would-be martyrs their courage. A world in which He abolishes free will at will is one in which no consistent faith or morality is possible. There are reasons to expect He has not gladly accepted their sacrifice.

Be that as it may, the sacrifice was not of their lives alone. The perpetrators had chosen to sacrifice three thousand people at the altar of their hubris. This murder voids their self-immolation of any moral or religious meaning. Murderers who vilely strike the unsuspecting and defenseless innocent are just that—vile. Their claims to moral or religious motivation are thus rendered void.

If 9/11 were a religious event, it was that only in the sense of reminding all of us that religion is neither a private affair, nor necessarily a force for the good only.

Page  104


1. Steven Brint, The Future of the City of Intellect: The Changing American University.Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.

2. Rise and Fall of Project Camelot. Studies in the Relationship Between Social Science and Practical Politics, ed. Irving Louis Horowitz (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1974).

3. "Nienawisc" by Wisława Szymborska, (trans. as "Hatred" by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh) in View with a Grain of Sand (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993), 181, as well as in the more recent Poems, New and Collected: 1957-1997 (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1998), 230.

4. Washington Post Sunday, September 8, 2002, W26. To hear former poet laureate Robert Pinsky read the poem, visit <>.

5. E.g., critiques of the "American-centric" definitions of the international and global, and the failure to place globalization in a larger historical context, appeared here at the University of Michigan see Linda Lim, "Globalizing the Intellect," and Geoff Eley, "Globalling toward Bethlehem," Journal of the International Institute, 8, 2 (2001), <>.

6. Claude Lefort, "Los Derechos del Hombre y el Estado Benefactor," Vuelta12 (1987).

7. Nancy Cantor, "Thoughts on the University as a Public Good," Nancy Cantor Distinguished Lectureship on Intellectual Diversity, University of Michigan, September 25, 2002.

8. See Craig Calhoun, Critical Social Theory: Culture, History and the Challenge of Difference (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995) for an elaboration of this challenge.

9. Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action: Reason and Rationalization of Society and The Theory of Communicative Action: Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, trans. Thomas McCarthy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1981, 1987).

10. See the various contributions in Habermas and the Public Sphere, ed. Craig Calhoun (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993).

11. Jürgen Habermas, Religion and Rationality: Essays on Reason, God and Modernity, ed. Eduardo Mendieta (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002).

12. See, for example, Donald Lopez, Prisoners of Shangri-La: TibetanPage  105 Buddhism and the West (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).

13. Unhappy Valley: Conflict in Kenya and Africa, Book One: State and Class (London: James Currey, 1992), 4. See also Berman's extended analysis of the state in Control and Crisis in Colonial Kenya: The Dialectic of Domination (London: James Currey, 1990), 1-48. The Berman-Lonsdale thesis on "the colonial state" first appeared in their article "Coping with the Contradictions: The Development of the Colonial State in Kenya," Journal of African History 20 (1979): 487-506.

14. There have been since September 11, 2001, several waves of freight and panic that followed—the Anthrax scare, the fear of chemical warfare, or of new terrorist attacks. In February 2003, while preparations go on for an attack on Iraq, there is massive sale of gas masks and duct tape on the one hand, while massive anti-war demonstrations go on around the globe, including the United States.

15. See Tzvetan Todorov, On human diversity: nationalism, racism, and exoticism in French thought (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993) and Les abus de la mámoire (Paris: Arléa, 1995).

16. Kay S. Hymowitz and Harry Stein, "Earth to Ivory Tower: Get Real!," City Journal 11, 4 (2001), <>.

17. Curiously, the "about" page of the City Journal (<>) opens with the following description of the publication: "City Journal is the nation's premier urban-policy magazine, 'the Bible of the new urbanism,' as London's Daily Telegraph puts it. During the Giuliani Administration, the magazine served as an idea factory as the then-mayor revivified New York City, quickly becoming, in the words of the New York Post, 'the place where Rudy gets his ideas.' The Public Interest goes further, calling City Journal 'the magazine that saved the city.'"

18. John Dewey, Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (New York: The Free Press, 1966) 136.

19. Chronicle of Higher Education, March 14, 2003, <>.

20. Robert van de Weyer, Islam and the West: A New Political and Religious Order post September 11 (Kuala Lumpur: Synergy Books International, 2001)

21. See, for example, the rich and complex articles by Veena Das, PhilipPage  106 Gourevitch, and Saul Friedlander in Disturbing Remains: Memory, History, and Crisis in the Twentieth Century, ed. Michael S. Roth and Charles G. Salas (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2001). The volume, based on a conference in Hamburg in 1997, appeared 6/1/2001.

22. Joel Reese, "Is it OK to Laugh Again?," The Daily Herald, posted on September 10, 2002, <>.

23. For example, Robert Bianco, "Sincerity with Laughs Creates Uneven 'SNL'," USA Today, October 1, 2001, <>; Gary Levin, "When is it OK to Laugh Again?," USA Today, September 19, 2001, <>; Paul Lieberman, "N.Y. Finds it can Laugh Again," Los Angeles Times, <,0,1976599.story>; Deborah Mendenhall and Mackenzie Carpenter, "God Not Only Gave Us Hearts...He Gave Us Laughter, Too," Post-Gazette, September 23, 2001, <>; and Patty Wooten and Ed Dunkelblau, "Tragedy, Laughter, and Survival," Nursing Spectrum: Career Fitness Online, October 22, 2001, <>.

24. Malcolm Kushner, "Unleash USA's Secret Weapon: Humor," USA Today, October 4, 2001, <>.

25. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS); see <>.

26. This act "Bars visa for any alien from a country that is a state sponsor of international terrorism unless it has been determined that the alien does not pose a threat to the safety or national security of the United States." This has been a problem for Iranian and Iranian American students at the University of Michigan, but not only for them. "U.S. consulates are performing background security checks on students from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. While background checks will be done on all males from these countries, checks on women may also be required at thePage  107 discretion of the consular officer. Security checks are also required for students from other countries on the State Department's "watch list," including Cuba and North Korea, and for students from other countries who want to study especially sensitive fields. Indeed a consular officer may require a background check on anyone entering the United States on a student visa." John Godfrey communication, June 20, 2002.

27. Katherine Q. Seelye reports the inconsistencies, where in some cases citizens of other countries have access to legal counsel while U.S. citizens do not (see "War on Terror Makes for Odd Twists in Justice System," New York Times, June 23, 2002, A16). While this "patchwork" approach might reflect the unprecedented nature of the legal challenges, it also might reflect a strategy: when they have a compelling case, they might take the civil route. When it is not adequate, they will identify these actors as enemy combatants which do not require speedy trial, right to counsel, or other civil rights. Debate also continues about the legitimacy of keeping information about detainees secret is constitutional. Susan Sachs, "Ashcroft Petitions Justices for Secrecy in Deportations," New York Times, June 22, 2002, A9. For elaboration, see also Ronald Dworkin, "The Threat to Patriotism," in Understanding September 11, ed. Craig Calhoun, Paul Price and Ashley Timmer (New York: New Press, 2002), 274-84.

28. For example, while certain governments have been regularly able to avoid indictments for their human rights abuses, times are getting even more difficult. "A resolution, sponsored by European countries, to condemn Russia's record in Chechnya, where it had been accused of executions, torture and disappearances of civilians, was narrowly defeated. In the previous two years, Russia had been taken to task for its actions here, but ignored commission calls for an independent investigation into alleged abuses. This failure underlined a recurring question of this year's session—whether combating terrorism can excuse curbs on human rights. Russia vigorously maintained it was fighting terror in Chechnya, a breakaway republic. That view helped sing a resolution, proposed by Mexico, that antiterrorist measures conform with international humanitarian law. Mrs. Robinson had urged that he commission send a signal that 'human rights should not be sacrificed in the fight against terrorism' but the motion was withdrawn in the closing hours of the meeting on Friday. Human rights advocates criticized the move. "From Illinois in the United States toPage  108 Xinjiang in China, counterterrorist measures have placed human rights at risk," said a coalition of advocacy groups. The commissions silence on this critical issue sends a dangerous signal in the fight against terrorism: anything goes". Elizabeth Olson, "U.N. fears 'Bloc' Voters are Abetting Rights Abuses," New York Times, April 28, 2002, 13.

29. It has, of course, been an object of some debate, though not as substantial as one might imagine. For a discussion of the Jose Padilla case, see for example Bob Herbert, "Isn't Democracy Worth It?," New York Times, June 17, 2002, A21. As he writes, "I believe the government has the goods on Mr. Padilla, but for whatever reasons finds the due process route to be inconvenient. That kind of arrogance of power has no place in the U.S., where the rule of law is supposed to be something very special. Freedom comes with a heavy price tag. Ben Franklin said in 1755, 'Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety'."

30. George W. Bush, "Presidential Address to the Nation: 'Today Our Nation Saw Evil,'" September 11, 2001. From 27 Days: The President Responds to September 11, 2001, comp. by iUniverse, Inc. (Lincoln, NE: Writers Club Press, 2001), 3-5.

31. George W. Bush, "The President Directs Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan," October 4, 2001. From 27 Days: The President Responds to September 11, 2001, comp. by iUniverse, Inc. (Lincoln, NE: Writers Club Press, 2001), 167-172.

32. George W. Bush, "Presidential Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the Nation," September 20, 2001. From 27 Days: The President Responds to September 11, 2001, comp. by iUniverse, Inc. (Lincoln, NE: Writers Club Press, 2001), 89.

33. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary (Oklahoma City, OK), For Immediate Release April 23, 1995, Remarks by the President During "A Time of Healing" Prayer Service, Oklahoma State Fair Arena Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 3:32 P.M. CDT, <>.

34. For example Manuel Castells, The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

35. Andrew Shryock, "New Images of Arab Detroit: Seeing Otherness and Identity through the Lens of September 11," American Anthropologist, 104, 3 (2002): 917-22.

Page  109

36. Shryock, "New Images of Arab Detroit," 1.

37. For example, Jeff Guy's "Lessons from Imperial History" Daily Mail & Guardian 10 March 10, 2003, <>; Paul Schroeder, "Is the U.S. an Empire?," History News Network, February 3, 2003, <>. "Is the U.S. an empire?" From the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential: "The concept of imperialism basically designates the existence of relatively concentrated authority and rule and is diffused over broad territorial contours. In modern times, it has more specifically come to denote a type of political system through which one state has extended its rule over other states, mostly territorially noncontiguous ones, without entirely incorporating them into a framework of common political symbols and identity. It thus refers essentially to attempts to establish formal sovereignty over subordinate political societies, but is also often equated with the exercise of any form of political control or influence by one political community over another," <>.

38. Fareed Zakaria, "The Arrogant Empire" Newsweek, <>.

39. "From Recognition to Redistribution? Dilemmas of Justice in a 'Postsocialist' Age," in Nancy Fraser, Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the 'Postsocialist' Condition (New York: Routledge, 1997), 11-39.

40. As Harris argues, "According to the government's own reports, 80 percent of the country's cocaine users are white, and the 'typical cocaine user is a middle-class, white suburbanite.' But law enforcement tactics that concentrated on the inner city drug trade were very visibly filling the jails and prisons with minority drug law offenders, feeding the misperception that most drug users and dealers were black and Latino. Thus a 'drug courier profile' with unmistakable racial overtones took hold in law enforcement." See <>.

41. "Rights for All: Amnesty International's Campaign on the United States of America," <>.

42. Mary Ann Sorrentino, "Pepper Spray Idiocy Backfires on Police," South Coast Today, August 18, 1999, <>.

43. See Department of Justice website: <>.

Page  110

44. David Harris, "Civil Rights and Security: The Dangers of Profiling," <>.

45. Angela J. Davis, "Racial Profiling Post 9/11—Still a Bad Idea," <>.

46. Susan Sachs, "Threats and Responses: Security; Government Ready to Fingerprint and Keep Track of Some Foreign Visitors," New York Times, September 9, 2002; Michael Moss, "False Terrorism Tips to F.B.I. Uproot the Lives of Suspects," New York Times, June 19, 2003; Eric Lichtblau, "U.S. Report Faults the Roundup of Illegal Immigrants After 9/11," New York Times, June 3, 2003.

47. Jennifer R. Riddha, letter, "Federal Racial Profiling" New York Times, June 22, 2003.

48. Reuters, "Audit Finds Big Problems in Handling of 9/11 Detentions," New York Times, June 2, 2003; Editorial, "The Abusive Detentions of Sept. 11," New York Times, June 3, 2003.

49. "Carolina Summer Reading Program," University of North Carolina, <>. For an overview of the debate, see <>.

50. Joe Glover, "Book fails to tell whole truth," USA Today editorial, August 8, 2002, <>. See also "North Carolina Students to Study Koran," Maranatha Christian News, August 27, 2002, <>.

51. Jennifer Medina, "Colleges and High Schools to Observe 9/11," New York Times, July 28, 2002, 20.

52. Associated Press, "Falwell Calls Muhammed a Terrorist," New York Times, October 4, 2002.

53. Diana L. Eck, A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2001).

54. Daniel Pipes, Militant Islam Reaches America (New York: Norton, 2002).

55. Mayer Zald and John D. McCarthy, Social Movements in an Organizational Society (New Brunswick: Transaction, 1994).

Page  111
Mundane Heresies from a Not So-Sacred Place
Fernando Coronil


I want to thank the authors of the position paper, "Sacred Spaces and Heretical Knowledge: National Universities and Global Publics," for producing such a thought-provoking and timely essay, and Michael Kennedy for inviting me to participate in this symposium. I celebrate the paper's intention to subject universities in the United States to critical self-reflection. If self-reflection is an essential responsibility of critical intellectuals, it is more so during these urgent times, when this country has declared an endless global war against terrorism, and there are growing pressures to place public discussion, including research and debate within the universities, at the service of constraining patriotic ideals. For me, one of the greatest merits of this paper is that it encourages us to be attentive to these pressures and to defend the university as a place for independent research and thinking, free from societal pressures, as a "sacred place."

My comments will center on the paper itself, but I have also benefited from the interventions provided by seminar participants. My own response to this exemplary dialogical document is also dialogical, reflecting my own internal dialogue among my multiple selves—a colleague as well as a friend of the paper's authors and their comrade in many ventures here and abroad, aPage  112 "Michigan" anthropologist and historian but also a Venezuelan anthropologist and historian with deep roots in Latin America. Just in the last few months I have been involved in research and teaching in universities in Cuba, Ecuador, and Venezuela and have shared concerns with Latin Americans from all our countries about the future of our universities and our nations. My comments about the role of universities in this country are therefore very much colored by my experiences in Latin America.

The paper's basic argument is that in the last decades U.S. universities had emerged as global centers of independent thinking, but that after September 11, 2001, such freedom of inquiry and concern with global issues are being constrained by the pressure to defend narrow national interests. As a result, knowledge that was once produced in these protected spaces under the sign of global, universal concerns, runs the risk now of being marked as heretical knowledge. The paper's force comes from its sense of urgency and commitment to counter this danger. Perhaps in order to highlight this sense of danger, it draws a sharp dichotomy about the character of the university before and after September 11, 2001. Let me quote the paper at some length:

By the late twentieth century the American university had emerged as a critical and powerful site of research learning on the broader world. Global engagement promised a new kind of intellectual space in which the national grounding of the university would be superseded by a new worldly resonance. Through the international circulation of scholars and students, the global flow of ideas and circuit of scholarly collaborations, and the redefinition of academic missions themselves, the university's commitment to academic freedom implied a new sacred space in which scholarship would know no national boundary. Knowledge of and from the wider world brought in the American university through research, reproduced in scholarship, and disseminated through training, seemed without limit or constraint. After September 11, 2001, however, the precious qualities that had affirmed the university as a space that could be of and in the world, were marked as heretical...Page  113now the openness and worldliness of the university, and the values associated with the cultivation of broadly shared communities of learning, had become heresies.

I share the paper's concern with the global responsibility of U.S. universities as well as its perception that the current crisis intensifies pressures to make them serve narrow rather than universal interests. Yet, in the critical spirit of this paper, from this "sacred place," I am going to be heretical and question both the paper's conception of the American university as a sacred space and the argument that its character has radically changed after September 11, 2001. My argument is not so much that universities in this country have not occupied a sacred space, but that the sacred, in any society, is never sacred in the ways it appears to be. Revealing the hard cultural work through which societies create "sacred spaces" is part of the critical work we do as intellectuals. Understanding how certain spaces are set apart from mundane concerns helps discern not just the nature of these spaces, but the nature and transformations of the society within which they evolve. Thus, while I agree that the role of the university has changed after September 11, I have a different understanding of this change. My heresy, therefore, comes from a mundane place—from an attempt to place the university in the world—thus my title, "Mundane heresies from a not so-sacred place."

To some extent, in saying this I'm only wearing my rather mundane anthropological hat and pronouncing an anthropological commonplace. From Durkheim, Van Gennep, and Mauss, we have learned to see the sacred in relation to the profane, and to understand the social taxonomies and rituals through which they are mutually constituted in different societies. Anthropologists have produced detailed ethnographies that show the arduous cultural work through which in different societies the sacred and the profane are related to each other and are often made to appear as separate spheres. While respecting theological complexities beyond their analytical competence, anthropologists have shown that the sacred is not constituted by an inherent essence, but precisely by its articulation with the mundane through careful rituals and cultural work. For the sacred to appear as inherently sacred, as an autonomous sphere, anthropologists have also shown that this cultural work must conceal its own operations. The key insight here is not that the sacred is not so, but that it can only be so byPage  114 mystifying its links with the mundane.

The university in the United States occupies an ambivalent and ambiguous relation to its nation and to the world. The university is part of national society; it is financed and regulated by it; it trains its students for jobs in the market, both national and global. But at the same time, it is set apart from society; it presents itself as an independent space that transcends its partisans and mundane concerns, a space for research and reflection on issues of transcendental and general significance. Presenting the university as a space of independent critical reflection, as a separate space from society reveals one side of an important landscape, a truth that is powerfully highlighted in the document we are discussing. We must cherish and defend this truth. But this manner of presenting the university also obscures the other side—its location within a particular social context and its intimate links with other institutions. We must also recognize and examine this truth. In this case, if we are to treat the university as a sacred place, self-critical reflexivity entails seeing the sacred and the secular in relation to each other, and thus questioning the conceit through which the sacred appears as separate from the mundane, and its specific manifestations take the form of autonomous and universal contents.

It may be argued that since most political work is carried out in terms of a society's cosmology, the task of demystification inhibits political work. But a politics of universal or "pluriversal" emancipation requires attending to the relations of power and interest that present the partial as the universal, the particular as the general.

If we question the radical separation of the sacred and secular, if we examine the intimate links between the university, the market, and the state, I believe we are better prepared to observe the changing role of the university after September 11, 2001. By placing the university within its social and historical context, I think we can recognize changes that are now taking place, but also significant continuities. It is by understanding these continuities that we may also grasp what is new and discern ruptures and transformations.

In order to support this point, I want to focus on two emblematic elements presented in the paper. The first is a date, September 11, 2001. The second is a name, the "American university."

Page  115

September 11: Pluralizing History

As I indicated before, the paper is organized around the notion that the aftermath of September 11, 2001 has entailed a change in the nature of the American university, affecting its capacity to stand as an independent center for global thinking and research.

In my view, presenting September 11, 2001 as a rupture or radical change in the role of the U.S. university misrepresents the changing role of the university in this country. If we pluralize September 11, if we transport ourselves to another September 11 three decades earlier, we may get a different view of the changes taking place now. In Chile, September 11 also stands as a landmark. That day in 1973 there took place an attack from airplanes also against an emblematic building leading to many deaths, but this time the attack was against a presidential palace, el Palacio de la Moneda, with the support of the U.S. government. At that time, a president elected by constitutional means died battling in defense of his principles and his nation. Salvador Allende sought to redefine the course of Chilean history, including transforming not only the economy and social relations, but also the role of the universities as centers of learning and training of citizens for the nation.

One consequence of this dramatic rupture was the establishment in Chile of a monstrous dictatorship, supported by the government of the United States and many U.S. scholars. Through the extensive use of state violence and terror, the Pinochet regime treated the opposition to its regime as a cancer that had to be violently removed from the social body, killing several thousand people. With the support of experts from the University of Chicago, it established a new economic model of development that has come to be hegemonic in the rest of Latin America and the world: the dismantling of the protectionist state and the development of a free market in financial flows, capital, goods and services, but of course not of labor, which remained confined to the domestic economy and the heavily repressed civil society. The Chilean dictatorship, like other dictatorships and repressive regimes in Latin America, redefined the universities, expelling or killing scholars and students, transforming research agendas, and leading to a massive exodus of professors and students to other countries.

At the global level, the generalization of a neoliberal framework has led to widening gap between the rich and the poor not only within, but alsoPage  116 between nations. After World War II, through decolonizing struggles and modernizing programs, many countries of the so-called Third World sought to develop their economies, diversify their productive structures, and promote educational institutions. As the Gubelkian report has shown, throughout the nineteenth century most academic knowledge was produced by five countries: France, England, Germany, the United States, and Italy. The push towards modernization after World War II included efforts to develop strong national universities in nations previously colonized by these countries.

September 11, 1973 marked a shift in global patterns of economic and intellectual production. The emerging international order resulting from neoliberal globalization has concentrated academic power in Western centers and weakened the universities and research centers of the South. From World War II to the early 1970s there were many flourishing centers of research and education in the South; after 1973, many of these centers have been weakened or dismantled.

Of course, other factors played into this change. 1973 was also the year of the oil shock, when a group of primary product exporters sought to change the terms of international trade by increasing the price of their basic export product. In a perverse historical twist, petrodollars ignited not national development in these countries, but a massive reorganization of the world economy, the concentration of economic power in flexible transnational corporations, and the creation of a massive debt structure that has trapped vast financial resources of both oil exporting and oil consuming nations from the South. This burden continues to affect most nations of the South. The recent crisis in Argentina illustrates a general situation. A country previously known for the excellence of its universities, Argentina has faced an intense erosion of its system of higher education. As in other nations from the South, its libraries have cut down subscriptions. Professors have been fired or have had to take several jobs outside academia in order to survive; thousands have left the country. Money for research has been drastically reduced. In most countries from the South, programs and institutions to promote local development of technology, such as the CONACIT in Mexico and the CONICIT in Venezuela, have been dismantled or significantly reoriented towards less ambitious goals.

More than ever before, the production of knowledge—from basic research in the hard sciences, to technological transformation in professional disciplines,Page  117 to advances in the social sciences and the humanities—is concentrated in metropolitan centers. I have read recently somewhere that over ninety percent of global basic and technological research is now being carried out in the United States. That much of this knowledge is produced by diasporic intellectuals coming from the South, that their presence often enriches the work and expands the agendas of these universities, confirms the centrality of metropolitan universities as global centers of learning and research. In the new international division of academic knowledge, metropolitan centers appear increasingly as producers of knowledge and universities in the South as consumers. Even when universities in the South manage to produce innovative knowledge, whether in the hard sciences, the social sciences, or the humanities, it is typically the case that this knowledge is marginalized or is defined as "local" knowledge; regardless of its intrinsic merits, it seldom becomes part of the canon, and to do so it must circulate in English and be legitimated by metropolitan centers.

The "American University": Provincializing and Pluralizing the University

I have pluralized September 11 in order to draw a wider temporal arc within which to place changes taking place in universities in the United States after September 11, 2001. I now want to take as my second emblematic sign not a date, but a name: the "American university." The paper's subtitle is "National Universities and Global Publics." Yet, in fact, the only national universities considered in the paper are universities located in the United States, which are referred to as the "American university." Just as I sought to pluralize September 11, I think it is necessary to pluralize the notion of "national universities" so as to include the universities of other nations. At the same time, I think it is necessary to provincialize U.S. universities: they are not the "American university," but a large number of very different U.S. universities. If U.S. universities as a whole are indeed playing a global role today, it is necessary to examine why this is the case. Certainly, their centrality offers positive opportunities that never before existed, but also reveals profound inequalities in the structure of global education that we must address.

I share Elizabeth Jelin's discomfort with what she has identified as a paradox of the paper: while the U.S. university is represented in the paper as a university of the world, it is not adequately situated in the world, that is, in a terrain of reciprocities, but also of asymmetries. As she says, "there is no singlePage  118 reference to any 'other' being IN the world. Thus, what pervades the paper is a very self-focused notion of 'OF the world,' from a center that becomes identified with the whole, i.e., an imperial center."

Familiar with the view from imperial eyes, Latin Americans are particularly sensitive to the operations through which some places in the world are presented as its center, and we are turned into lower "others" or marginalized from history. From a Latin American perspective, the very notion of the "American university" to refer to U.S. universities is deeply problematical. Since I also share Elizabeth Jelin's discomfort with the use of this term, I quote again from her reaction to the paper: "The 'national' in the title and the permanent references to the 'American' university, provoke in me a strong reaction. The Americas include much more than the U.S., and there are multiple 'national' universities in the world—as there are nations." As Jelin says, this is not just narrowly semantic issue: "The problems with the way 'American' and "national' are used is not, in my view, only a choice that may not sound politically correct. I think it reflects deeper misunderstandings of the relationship between U.S. institutions and others, in other parts of the world."

This misunderstanding has multiple dimensions; redressing it requires hard work. I would like for us to pluralize "national universities," and also both to pluralize and to provincialize the "American university"—to treat it not just as the "U.S. university," but as many U.S. universities. U.S. universities are indeed plural, and allow for a plurality of positions within them. Universities in the U.S. have complex relations with transnational corporations, with the local and global market, with the U.S. government, with U.S. intelligence, with the military, with what once was called "the military-industrial complex." Their relationship with other national universities in the South (and in other parts of the world) has also been plural, ranging from exchanges based on equality and respect to those based on inequality and subjection. While there have been exemplary reciprocal exchanges between universities and scholars from the United States and the South, there have also been disturbing uses of universities and scholars in projects of surveillance, intelligence and destabilization. The ideal of respect for diversity and free scholarly exchanges has often been subverted by the imposition of political agendas and intellectual paradigms.

The fall of the Berlin Wall, the demise of really existing socialism, and the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism, helped consolidate the global hegemony ofPage  119 U.S. universities. It is true that before September 11, 2001, U.S. universities—some U.S. universities, some programs within them—took advantage of this situation to promote more reciprocal and democratic relations in the world. But it is also true, as September 11, 1973 shows, that before and after September 11, 1973, and therefore before September 11, 2001, U.S. universities—some U.S. universities, some programs within them—were also implicated in sustaining a hierarchical and unequal world order. Knowledge is produced and circulates in fields of power. If we wish to produce what Edward Said has called "non-dominative" forms of knowledge, we must attend to the conditions under which knowledge is produced and distributed, as well as to their impact in countering or intensifying global inequality and inequity.

September 11, 2001 has indeed changed the national and global context within which U.S. universities function. Under these new conditions it is imperative to preserve the role of the university as a space of reflection about the nature and uses of knowledge. One can take better advantage of the liberating and democratizing possibilities offered by the global reach of U.S. universities if one understands the conditions of possibility that have made these universities so disturbingly central today.

Although it may seem paradoxical, in my view, a central task of a global university is to undo itself as a privileged center of knowledge, and promote instead a more democratic global structure of knowledge production. Universities may be seen as sacred spaces to the extent that fundamental questions about knowledge are not separated from questions about ethics, critical spaces where we ask not only about the facts of knowledge, but about their value. I hope that we may continue to ask, from this not so-sacred place, such basic questions as: What knowledge? For what ends? By whom? And for whom? And I also hope that when we ask these questions, we do not assume an imperial "we," but seek instead to create conditions that include as the subject asking the questions the same subject that is their object: humanity at large. The construction of a university as a sacred space of the world, in the world, must recognize its mundane position, its role in the world, and its responsibility to undo the privileges and inequalities that divide humanity against itself.

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Comments on "Sacred Spaces and Heretical Knowledge: National Universities and Global Publics: A Position Paper"
Meredith Woo-Cumings


This position paper, "Sacred Spaces and Heretical Knowledge," is a tough paper to comment on. It is a paper full of multiple meanings and intentions. The very first word in the paper, the word "sacred" in the title, is a good example. The use of this word implies that the university is an honored realm in which we are privileged to pursue truth. It also implies a place of tolerance where many sacred—religious—ideas can be studied, even in the increasingly hostile environment after September 11. It also underscores—and I get this from the intervention made by Michael Kennedy [1]—the need to think anew about the place of religion in our lives, including the university, as well.

Fortunately not all is so complicated. The main idea does come through fairly clearly, and it is that the university, understood as the sacred space for all the reasons cited above, has come under attack over the past year. The authors don't mince their words: "In the aftermath of 9/11, the university's commitment to academic freedom and global learning has come under assault," and that "the paradigm of aggressiveness, of power made more raw and visible, almost instantly displaced the frame of reference based in conversation, negotiation, and open sharing of information and knowledge across the globe."

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said in the days after September 11 that we were likely to experience more restrictions on our personal freedom thanPage  122 has ever been the case in our country, and she was most certainly right. On campus, too, we see evidence of restriction on civil liberties, starting with but not limited to, foreign students and exchange scholars. Foreign students find that new bureaucratic hassles are suddenly added to their lives, from the length of time need to obtain and renew visa to obtaining work when they graduate. Exchange scholars, especially from areas like the Middle East, are watched with Gorgon eyes. Even more worrisome, academic freedom has been compromised in the new environment after the terrorist attack on the United States. Let me give an example.

Some scholars of the Middle Eastern studies, here on the University of Michigan campus and elsewhere, have been spied on or "monitored" in their classroom, suspected of harboring "anti-Semitic" sentiments. For those of you who are familiar with these cases, these scholars had been blacklisted on a website maintained by Daniel Pipes, as "anti-Semitic." I am told that Pipes did not himself handpick the scholars to be blacklisted, but he did not prevent his faithful vigilantes from doing compiling such a list, either. A friend of mine, Professor Rashid Khalidi at the University of Chicago, was one victim of this academic vigilantism. He suffered the terror of having his words recorded by the vigilantes who had infiltrated his lecture halls, whose sole intent it was to slander him by misquoting or quoting him out of context. He has also had his Internet identity stolen, meaning that people were sending out false and unmistakably anti-Semitic messages under his name. This is a crime that prompted police investigation, and whoever is responsible for stealing his identity can be punished. But the damage has been done. Once false messages go out under your name to thousands and thousands of people, who would forward them to thousands and thousands of other people, how do you reach all of them and let them know that the anti-Semitic messages they had received did not come from him, and that he was a victim of an identity theft?

Now, I have heard people laugh at this, saying, "Nobody takes Daniel Pipes and his vigilantes seriously!" But I have to take what they have done seriously, as would the authors of the position paper. Rashid Khalidi is not only a fine scholar of the Middle Eastern history, but he is one of the most knowledgeable and articulate voices commenting on the Middle Eastern conundrum today. When I used to teach at Northwestern, I was able sometimes to catch Rashid Khalidi on Jerome MacDonald's "Worldview" on Chicago's NPR station, andPage  123 marvel at his immense knowledge and clarity of logic—and his unfailing sense of fairness. I always learned a lot from listening to him, and learned also about the art of sticking to one's beliefs while being fair, and giving one's intellectual adversaries the benefit of the doubt.

Now, what are the causes of this kind of intolerance on campus, this "paradigm of aggressiveness," that has replaced the "frame of reference based in conversation...and open sharing of information and knowledge across the globe"? Is this a new phenomenon that is likely to endure? These are some of the questions I would like to explore today. But to do so, we need a coherent understanding of the larger meaning of the terrorist attack on the United States. The position paper does not discuss September 11 directly—only its putative impact on campus. But unless we have a more coherent understanding of September 11, we won't be able to prepare ourselves adequately for the changes that will be forthcoming.

"September 11," Norman Mailer said, "was the 'open sesame' to the path to world empire." [2] He is right, of course. It is in the context of the United States becoming a world empire—or a very different kind of an empire than one we were used to, since the end of the Second World War—that we have to understand the changes being wrought on campus. James Kurth put it more dramatically, in the December issue of Current History:

The United States today is not just an empire on which the sun never sets (the British Empire), and it is not just an empire that radiates like the sun in its own universe (the Roman Empire). It is something new under the sun, something that has never before existed in history: a sole empire global in scope that seeks to reinvent the nations of the globe in its image. [3]

The security rationale for this new empire under the sun was laid down in the days after the terrorist attacks, and spelled out in the so-called National Security Strategy of the United States. [4] This strategy argued that we face two kinds of enemies: one consists of terrorist networks with global reach, and the other consists ofPage  124 the rogue states with weapons of mass destruction—Iraq, Iran, and North Korea of the infamous Axis of Evil trio. Furthermore, these two enemies of the United States are linked through the network of arms sales, with the rogue states providing arms to the terrorists. Just as this situation is utterly unprecedented, the Strategy argues, so must the means to stop the enemies. Instead of the former strategy of containment and deterrence, our new strategy would be preemption and unilateralism.

Similar arguments were advanced in a document entitled National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction. [5] It calls for the use of nuclear weapons against any chemical or biological attack risks. In blurring the distinction between chemical/biological weapons with nuclear weapons, the new doctrine further undermines in effect the logic of nuclear deterrence, namely that the sole role for nuclear weapons, as long as they are part of the U.S. arsenal, should be for dissuading, or responding to their use by others. Now, the most immediate response to the new doctrine was not enhancement of our national security, but an effort by the states, designated as "rogue," or "evil," to accelerate efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, thus to thwart the possibility of being "pre-empted." North Korea is one such state. In other words, our new doctrine undercut the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), and almost surely invited other states to go nuclear—and North Korea responded in a predictably manner.

In displacing the half-century policy of deterrence and containment, the new National Security Strategy of the United States invokes an analogy, in term of importance, with the influential National Security Council document, known as NSC-68. [6] Just as NSC-68 formulated the strategy of deterrence, the National Security Strategy would formulate a new strategy for the new empire under the sun. This analogy is well worth exploring.

The promulgation of NSC-68 had a profound impact on the university and on the intellectual environment in the United States. In recommending a massive military buildup, including hydrogen bombs, it also emphasized the need for mobilizing American society, including a government-created "consensus" on the necessity of "sacrifice" and "unity" by Americans.

A half-century later, as a new doctrine to combat terrorism comes into place, it is, as Yogi Berra said, déjà vu all over again. In the name of sacrifice and unity, civil liberties are increasingly violated. In the days after September 11, scores of suspects were arrested and detained in solitary confinements as "material witnesses," legal proceedings go on in secrecy, laws governing wiretapping, immigration, asylum, and extradition are being rewritten. There are new restrictions on religious groups, as new leeway and freedom are grantedPage  125 intelligence agencies.

The authors of the position paper argue that throughout the 1990s, "the American university represented the global future of innovation, openness, and the capacity for improvement through academic freedom." The Ford Foundation projects like "Crossing Borders" were good examples of this. Giddy in the confidence that the future of electronically wired globalization heralded a new age of international studies, grant-giving organizations and research institutions eschewed area studies of the navel-contemplating type that thrived on exclusivity of esoteric knowledge. Instead, the focus became one of "openness" and "border crossing," that sought to reorganize area studies along thematic lines. The mandate of the International Institute, aptly described as "grounding, expertise, and translation" is a perfect illustration.

How will the focus of the 1990s change, as the result of September 11, and as the result of the new doctrines of unilateralism and pre-emption? We have already said that civil liberties are the first casualty, and we have also discussed the kind of hysteria of academic vigilantism that has saddened us. But at the end of the day, I remain hopeful. I do not think that the fundamental character of the American university, as the place of open exchange of ideas, especially with the rest of the world, is under as much of an assault as the authors of the position paper argue. Even if it were, higher education's commitment to academic freedom is fundamentally strong enough to withstand the assault.

The main reason for my thinking—and this is where I differ from the authors—is that the kind of admirable openness and freedom of the American university that the authors ascribe to the atmosphere of the 1990s is not fundamentally about the 1990s. The same could have been said, I think, about the American university one hundred years ago, as fifty years ago, as in the days after September 11, and as today. In spite of so much irritation we feel about the growing constriction on the academe imposed by the government, the ideals of the American higher education remain robust and, yes, sacred. This is main reason why American educational institutions is so revered, even as American government and policies have come under attack around the world, and its flag burned by anti-American crowds.

There is another reason why the kind of national security concerns, as spelled out in the "Bush Doctrine," are limited in its ability to compromise the campus. The Bush administration policy of "go it alone" is not supportedPage  126 by the rest of the world, and it is not supported by the American public. After the brief period after the terrorist attack, when the United States enjoyed the outpouring of sympathy and support, with the European allies rushing to send more troops to Afghanistan than we were ready to accept, all hell broke loose. The rhetoric of violence against Iraq has quickly dissipated the good will, and the simmering resentment against the American refusal to accept binding constraints on its sovereignty within multilateral institutions—the US rejection of the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Protocol, the global ban on land mines, verification measures for the Biological Weapons Convention—all came to the fore. Anti-Americanism is on the rise just about everywhere in the world—in the Arab world (fundamentally because of the Israeli-Palestine conflict), in Europe (because of the reasons cited above), and also in East Asia (because of the belligerent and not helpful policies toward North Korea). If the United States attacks Iraq (at the moment of this writing, there were some 130,000 US troops being amassed in the Gulf), this anti-American resentment will reach its new peak.

There is also little sign that the American public supports the Bush administration's foreign and national security policy—quite the contrary. According to the recent Chicago Council of Foreign Relations/German Marshall Fund of the United States survey of public opinion—and this was by far the best and most comprehensive of this highly reputable CCFR series—Americans do not support the "go it alone" unilateralism; in fact, the survey reveals strong multilateralism of the U.S. public. [7] The survey found that there was a very strong support for the United Nation, and for paying dues in full, contributing troops to a permanent rapid-deployment force, etc. A majority even supports direct taxing authority for the UN. There was also strong support for treaties, like Kyoto, International Criminal Court, land mines, and comprehensive test ban. The New York Times poll published in late January supports the conclusions of the CCFR survey.

So, this is why I am not worried, at the end of the day, about a new McCarthyism on campus.

I wonder what would have happened had Al Gore polled a few more votes in Florida two years ago or had the Supreme Court taken a different view of the Florida count. There would still be real differences over the Middle East, the environment, and Iraq, as there were during the Clinton years, but theyPage  127 would not be as severe as they are today. In other words, there was nothing inexorable in the after September 11th that pushed us in the direction of the sabre-rattling imperialism—except for the cast of characters who got put into place, with the help of the Supreme Court.

Even if the fundamental character of the university will stay the same, International Studies, however, will not. And I think this is where the comparison with the period after the start of the Cold War comes in handy. Area studies, somewhat reviled during the heady days of "border-crossing," is being revived, and just like it was a half century ago, with the help of the government. Studies of foreign languages, like Arabic, Pashto, Uzbek and other esoteric languages, are being encouraged, harkening back to the early stages of area studies when massive Ford Foundation—yes, the same Ford Foundation—funding created one area center after another, and a whole generation of scholars of areas, culture, and language came into being. This went hand in hand with the surge of classified research in the sciences and then in the social sciences.

In one sense the government sponsorship of area studies was a problem, in that scholars were expected to supply the government with information, whether through consultation with government agencies or through their published work. But in the end I don't think the problem was as severe as could have been. Because of the reasonably well-established sense of what is and is not proper in an academic setting, I think most scholars were able to situate intelligence and security concern where it belonged. Some area scholars, I know, routinely consulted with intelligence agencies, afraid that they would not have access to some coveted, classified information if they did not. But most did not.

Now, the U.S. government is gearing up to create area expertise that will be needed in the new century that is always looking like a very difficult one. The University of Michigan as the repository of various area expertise should be called upon to exercise leadership among the institutions of higher education. As we do so, however, we should always keep in our mind, as the authors of the position paper do, to maintain the academic and intellectual integrity of any projects that we undertake.

Let me close this talk with a couple of observations that relate to the "border-crossing" agenda of the International Institute. The border-crossing agenda was created during the heady days when promises of technology seemedPage  128 boundless, nations were—by and large—not at war with each other, and funding for globalization initiatives was abundant, thanks to the stock markets here and in Europe going through the roof. It is not surprising, therefore, that the agenda was long on the spatial and mechanical aspect of globalization, and not on the substantive aspect. The border-crossing agenda places a great deal of emphasis on communication, transference and translation of knowledge, and less on what is being communicated, transferred, and being grounded.

This century has opened on a note of stark danger, signaling terrific difficulties ahead. It is not just that the United States was subjected to terrorist attacks, but that the economic program that it has pushed around the world—the program of so-called "neoliberalism"—has failed to improve the living conditions of the world around the world. This economic program of the global era, just like the political program espoused by the current administration, had a "moral clarity." Every country should have, or aspire to have, the same kind of socio-economic institutions as the United States: institutions of free trade and free capital movement, flexible labor market, strong central bank, no industrial policy. The United States also sought to create in developing countries something that we lack: transparency in accounting, rule of law, and corporate reform to reduce moral hazards.

It would be safe to say that this agenda has failed around the world—in East Asia, in Latin America, and in Africa—because the fundamental problems that beset these countries have not been solved through "neoliberalism": economic inequality, lack of growth, absence of social welfare, terrible educational system.

The border-crossing agenda, as it stands, is about the promises of globalization, which is all very well. But it should also recognize the problems of globalization, and bring the resources of the University to understand, and contribute to solving, the problems that persist and/or increase in the course of globalization.

The last point I want to raise relates to the identity of the International Institute. When I read the mission statement of the International Institute and about its activities, my reaction is one of admiration. But I also ask myself whether, if we had blotted out the identity of the University, one could tell that these activities were unique to the International Institute at the University of Michigan. This institute could have existed in the East Coast or West Coast, orPage  129 it could have been in the Midwest. This may or may not be a problem. After all the University of Michigan is one of the few truly great American universities, and where it happens to be located may be immaterial.

Except it would be a pity not to capitalize on the advantage of being in the Midwest.

Living in Washington or Cambridge means never having to apologize for your parochial views; living somewhere in the netherworld of the famous New Yorker poster that begins the Westward optical perspective in New Jersey and ends it as quickly as possible in California, means always having to apologize, or to demonstrate one's bona fides in a manner satisfying to denizens of the Beltway, New York, or Cambridge—and never representing in any way the middle part of the country.

This is historically understandable in that when the Midwest did stand for something, it was limited government and isolationism; Roosevelt's New Deal vanquished both, and no substitute—no serious regional perspective—has surfaced since that victory half a century ago.

A key difference between the United States as the leading world power and former hegemonic powers (like England), is that it has a continental economy that historically was essentially self-sufficient, one that is not export-driven even today, and that is open and involved on both continental coasts. If the discourse of the 1940s to 1970s was Atlanticist (NATO, the "special relationship" with the U.K., a unifying Europe) and that of the 1970s-1990s expanded to include the Pacific Rim (always presented as an addition to or an alternative to the Atlanticist perspective), the truth of the next century is that the U.S. is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power: and in many ways this is its great and unmatched strength. We believe that the International Institute at the University of Michigan is uniquely positioned to bring the Atlantic and Pacific perspectives together in a coherent, unified understanding of America's role in the world.

What does it mean for the International Institute to be connected to both the Atlantic and Pacific perspectives, to be a truly global center in a region still characterized by its long-term parochialism? What difference does it make that we experience internationalization in Ann Arbor and not in Cambridge or Berkeley? Is there still a residue of isolationism, or was Midwestern isolationism misconstrued by the dominant paradigm of Atlanticism? Perhaps in an agePage  130 of homogenization there is nothing particularly different about living and working in Middle America. But these are some of the questions that I wish for the International Institute to consider.

Page  131


1. See intervention 12-Kennedy in this volume.

2. See Julie Salamon, "Norman Mailer Ruminates on Literature and Life," New York Times, January 22, 2003.

3. James Kurth, "Confronting the Unipolar Movement: The American Empire and Islamic Terrorism," Current History 101 (December 2002): 409-413.

4. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, D.C.: Office of the President, September 2002). The full text is available at <>.

5. National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (Washington, D.C.: Office of the President, September 2002). The full text is available at <>.

6. NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security (Washington, D.C.: Office of the President, April 1950). The full text is available at <>.

7. See American Public Opinion & Foreign Policy, Worldviews 2002 at <>.

Page  132Page  133
Universities, States of Emergency and Censorship
Veena Das


I find the invitation to respond to the text on the university after September 11th, written by David William Cohen, Michael D. Kennedy, and Kathleen Canning, is an invitation to engage in conversation that has a sense of the provisional and a sense of the therapeutic. [1] A sense of the provisional because the meaning of such an event for life in universities is not self-evident—despite the rhetoric of the world having changed after September 11th, universities have repeatedly faced such challenges both in the United States and the rest of the world—so the proclamation raises a puzzle. A sense of the therapeutic not as psychological healing but in the challenge of asking what a redemptive reading of such an event might mean. This paper is written to join this conversation—it is nothing more but nothing less, either.

On the challenges of September 11th to the university, Cohen, Kennedy, and Canning (see their paper in this volume) state the following. "After September 11, 2001, the precious qualities that had affirmed the university as a space that could be both of and in the world was marked as the openness and worldliness of the university, and the values associated with the cultivation of broadly shared communities of learning, had become heresies." Has this sense of malaise come about after the events of September 11th,Page  134 or is it part of the enduring conditions of the university as an institution of the modern nation state? I will argue here that the tense relation between the university as a site of freedom and as a site located within the institutions of the market and the state is part of its constitution—one that requires constant address. This tension, I submit, cannot be resolved once and for all.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In the first section, I revisit Kant's formulation on the conflict of faculties taking my education from Jacques Derrida and Hent de Vries's discussion of the same text. [2] Specifically, I ask, whether the formulation of the space of the university as a sacred space represents the fantasy that within the confines of the university we can somehow escape the human conditions of knowing. Assuming that the university cannot escape (or fully escape) the fact that it is part of the institutional set up of the nation state, the second section asks: how the proclamation of states of exception that have become prominent after September 11th serve to limit criticism? In the third section, I turn my attention to the everyday life of universities and argue that tropes of danger, unfinished nations, and security concerns spill into policies and programs of universities instituting forms of censorship that often go unnoticed. In the final section of the paper I shall address questions of responsibility—how are we to understand the relation between curiosity and freedom on the one hand, and the constraints placed on knowledge on behalf of the needs of the nation state on the other? My reflections are formed by my experiences in Indian and North American universities but also by pictures of what it is to take seriously the human conditions of knowing. [3]

Kant on the Conflict of Faculties

Jacques Derrida has suggested that Kant's intriguing text on the conflict of faculties provides an important point of departure from which to engage in a discussion on some of our present concerns. Going beyond the local context in which it was first formulated, Kant's text, written in 1798, sets the tone for a reflection on the university as a faculty or artifact of the state. As Derrida points out, the transformation of the university into a place in which a factory-like discipline was instituted led to a new social role for the philosopher and intellectual who was no longer seen as an artist or a technician but became a public servant and a teacher and thus an officer of the state. The academy in the late Middle Ages or the early modern period in Europe was still largely aPage  135 clerical institution and hence had no role to play in the emerging public sphere. Thus, it was not the space from which any criticism of absolute power, however oblique, could normally be waged. The re-imagination of the university on the model of rationality constituted the condition of possibility for knowledge both to serve the state and to monitor its power. [4] The combination of these contradictory functions in the same institution became possible because of the blueprint that envisaged a strict division of labor between faculties of the university. Those faculties that served the interests of the state could be seen as imparting knowledge for the ends of practical reason and those that served truth, unhindered by considerations of governments, could be seen as servants of theoretical reason. The former were allowed to be represented but not to proclaim any truths on their own behalf; the latter were obligated to speak but their discussions were to be confined to restricted publics of scholars and philosophers. Thus, one could say that censorship and freedom to pursue the truth were simultaneously instituted.

In his exposition of this watershed development, de Vries puts it in the following way. "But from Kant's day on, the scholar has above all been a functionary—a teacher, or Dozent—in an official institution of higher education in which the "entire content of learning" as well as the 'thinkers devoted to it' are treated in a factory-like manner...." Yet, in its task of teaching "the totality of what is presently known, the university, according to Kant, can only be based upon the fundamental belief in the possibility of a purely theoretical language, guided by truth alone." [5] As Derrida explains this contradictory impulse, the possibility of upholding this distinction is premised upon the distinction between being able to think and say (but for restricted public) and being able to do, act, and obey (in relation to the wider realm of the civil). The former function for Kant was invested in the "lower" faculty of philosophy and the latter in the "higher faculties of theology, law, and medicine."

The correspondence between the ends of the government and the division of labor between the disciplines of theology, law, and medicine corresponds to the functions of ensuring the eternal well-being of its population; its civil well-being through regulation of property and settling of disputes; and finally, the physical well-being of its individual members. Yet this rational, objective order of principles is not self-sustaining, for, as Kant says, it might be overruled by the natural inclinations of men who would prefer physical well-being over their Page  136civic well-being and their civic well-being over their eternal salvation. It falls to the "lower" faculty of philosophy to provide the necessary critique since the higher interests of the state demand that the "natural" inclinations of the population be kept in control for the long-term interests of providing a just order.

In their functions as clergymen, civil servants and medical doctors, the officials trained in the higher faculties are forbidden to contradict in public, the teachings that have been entrusted to them by the government—"from venturing to play the philosopher's role." In its own turn, the philosopher's pursuit of truth is to be carried on within the confines of the faculty and not taken to the wider public. Thus, the search for truth is encouraged within an instrumentalist framework as an antidote for the members of the higher faculty who will remain in danger of succumbing to popular adulation (since their knowledge serves the interests of the population directly), unless they are reined in by the constant examination of their knowledge through the labors of the "lower" faculty.

My interest in this story is that it invites us to rethink the notion of the university as a sacred space as formulated by Cohen, Kennedy, and Canning. If the idea of sacredness refers to a separation from the profane interests of the world or a promise of limitless freedom to pursue any kind of truth, then it is not only idealist and utopian—it fails to consider the importance of limits as the very condition for the pursuit of knowledge. These limits may be internal to the process of rational inquiry, as for instance, when I limit my claims to that which is knowable through reason, or these may be external as when inquiry is limited by considerations of ethics. Thus, the idea of the university as the site from which a critique of the present could be mounted cannot be made to rest on some utopian idea of freedom. The debate then must center on how we are to define the limits within which a university must operate and what the legitimate demands are that the state can place on the university. If the university is engaged in informing the state of its long-term interests, how are these to be determined and who gets the right to pronounce these? These questions are likely to become more urgent as the questions of determining the general will become more complicated in liberal democracies, as we shall see later.

Here I want to touch on another aspect of Kant's argument that invites us towards a more subtle engagement with the question of truth and Page  137freedom. In his Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, [6] Kant goes beyond the expected enlightenment struggle that would take up the cause of reason on the battlefield of the "irrational." As Stanley Cavell [7] tells us, Kant instead, deepens the Enlightenment, by showing that each instance of the irrational is a particular form of the distortion of reason. Kant calls the four members of this class—fanaticism, superstition, delusion, and sorcery. Each shows a route through which we can see reason having gone demonic. From this perspective, danger comes not from the propensity of the population to fall into a state of nature, but from the possibility that the fanatic pursuit of reason could itself fall into unreason.

In the next section, I consider the events after September 11th, especially the war waged by the United States against Iraq. We know that despite massive protests in the world and despite the failure to get a resolution from the UN in its support, the United States has used its superior power to wage what it calls a pre-emptive war. We also know that all arguments about devising other ways of getting rid of a vicious dictator in Iraq were completely ignored by the United States and Britain. It is also evident, that the decision to wage a war and even discussions on the companies that would receive lucrative contracts for rebuilding Iraq, were already in place when the UN Security Council was debating the issue of whether inspections were yielding results in terms of destruction of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a disorder resulting from people having fallen into a "state of nature." Rather the reasoning offered in support of the war resembles the distortion of reason that has come about in the form of a fantasy of becoming completely invincible, of overcoming all dangers that are inherent to being human, even of overcoming any uncertainty about other minds, and thus of refusing the human. Forms of censorship are now being invented in the North American university that derive from the power of the President to appropriate the right to declare war with a kind of reasoning that seems to closely resemble the distortions of reason outlined above. I do not think that we have moved from a condition of free inquiry to that of complete censorship as Cohen, Kennedy, and Canning seem to suggest; but there are important and even ominous changes that are taking place. In order to understand why universities seem to be so ready to be co-opted in accepting intrusions into their jurisdictions, we have to go deeper into the normal functioning of the university. After all, the transformation of the statePage  138 as a security state poses great threats to academic freedom but these threats have not made an appearance all of a sudden from nowhere like the rabbit conjured out of a magician's hat. I do not discount the role of contingency in these transformations but neither can we afford to ignore the trends that were already evident in the functioning of universities.

States of Exception and Limits of Criticism

That September 11th came to be constituted as a unique event is not in question. Although there was much debate in the academy as to how we are to interpret the meaning placed on the uniqueness of the event, there is little doubt that it paved the way for the political expression of ideas that signaled a huge shift in policy regarding war. It also instituted new practices of governmentality in the United States. [8] Right after September 11th, several representatives of the administration argued that the world had changed because the attack on the World Trade Center towers had changed the nature of war. Immediately after this event, I wrote that "...political language slides into the idea of America as the privileged site of universal values. It is from this perspective that one can speculate why the talk is not of the many terrorisms with which several countries have lived now for more than thirty years, but with one grand terrorism—Islamic terrorism. In the same vein, the world is said to have changed after September 11th. What could this mean except that while terrorist forms of warfare in other spaces in Africa, Asia, or Middle East were against forms of particularism, the attack on America is seen as an attack on humanity itself?" [9] The uniqueness of the event, then, lay in both the spectacular violence and in the way in which it came to be narrated. Because other experiences of dealing with militant and violent forms of political action were completely eclipsed in the discourse of terrorism in the United States, many people came to believe that the whole world had been altered by this act of terrorism.

Soon after September 11th, some scholars drew pointed attention to the fact that similar acts of violence had taken place earlier. For all the moral indignation at the terrorists, it is hardly a secret that the United States had itself supported dictatorships and provided support to those who it now considers to constitute an axis of evil. [10] Catherine Lutz titled her reflections on September 11th, "The Wars Less Known." [11] She opened her paper as follows. "The wars of the United states have been showered with prose suggesting that they burstPage  139 open not bodies, but history. War gives birth to new beginnings; the story goes, even moving the course of human events in positive, if also tragic ways. Given this belief in war's grandeur and its tectonic role, what followed September 11, 2001 had to be declared another good war. And because most of its victims were homefront civilians, it was called a war like no other. But while the hijackers who killed so many that day might have created a new kind of violent spectacle, they were not the authors of one of the human era's uniquely horrific events. For, I wearily note, we have been here before and we have been led to forget. Today's war without end began long ago, and it has produced both the corpses of battle and economic and physical causalities in other arenas."

Despite this and many other such voices from academics, intellectuals and artists, the political rhetoric has worked to create a sense of paranoia and to insist that September 11th has changed the world, requiring a doctrine of preventive wars. [12] In the administration's view, September 11th introduced a new kind of war because terrorists used such weapons as martyrdom and because dictators of rogue states did not care for the lives of their people. The assumption underlying these statements is that terrorists and leaders of rogue states are new kinds of subjects—less than human—because they produce killable bodies in ways that are different from the way that killable bodies are produced under the sign of the legitimate state. By a sleight of hand, both terrorists and leaders of rogue states, of which Saddam Hussein has become the paradigmatic example, have been denounced as evil. It was as if the United States had suddenly discovered the dangers of weapons of mass destruction—the entire history of how, where, and by whom such weapons were produced and circulated; who was the beneficiary of this proliferation of chemical and biological weapons and where did profits go, were wiped off the record.

All of which is, I too wearily note, is well known and its repetition will serve little purpose. What is alarming in this picture is that the most powerful country in the world, now espouses a doctrine of its extreme vulnerability and persuades a large public of an imminent threat to its security. As the document on the National Security Strategy [13] stated, it was necessary to adapt the concept of imminent threat to the "capabilities and objectives of today's adversaries." As the rhetoric of preemption replaces the strategy of deterrence, it is becoming clear that "self defense" as propagated by this administration is defined so broadly that any fear of an adversary is enough excuse to inflict massive harmPage  140 on the population of countries designated as rogue states. It is not considered necessary for the government to show that the threat is, indeed, imminent-it suffices to argue that sometime in the future, someone like Saddam will acquire weapons of mass destruction. Simple apprehension that a potential adversary is out there can trigger the offensive use of force. President Bush has repeatedly stated that all Americans need to be forward-looking and to be ready for pre-emptive action when necessary to defend not only the liberty of America but also to protect its key access to world markets and its position of preeminence. In other words, it seems increasingly likely that the state of exception is going to become the normal state of affairs.

And what of proof? To my mind, there is an amazing slippage between terrorists and rogue states with regard to questions of proof. Terrorists operate in the dark but they resort to spectacular violence—for the purpose of the violence is precisely to leave a signature. Suicide bombers produce their own bodies as killable in the act of killing others. [14] On the other hand, weapons of mass destruction that Saddam's regime is supposed to possess were presumably hidden, but they were not immune to the search processes in which the inspectors were engaged. In fact, one may argue that leaders of rogue states are as vulnerable as other regimes to attacks by terrorists. Therefore, why one should assume an identity of interest between terrorists and rogue states is not self-evident. Whatever evidence exists suggests that terrorists are much more likely to have received weapons from either legitimate states in the pursuit of their own geopolitical interests or through shadowy markets that operate very much within the recognized state structures. I would argue that there are, indeed, extremely difficult questions regarding the limits to sovereignty that the possession and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction raise. [15] However, this situation was calling for a legal strategy that would have allowed Saddam Hussein or other dictators to be charged with the crimes he is alleged to have committed. [16] Instead, the standards of proof demanded by the present administration seem to verge on a witchcraft trial. What prompts my thought here is that the rage for proof is like testing for a woman's witchcraft in medieval times by seeing whether she will drown, declaring that if she drowns she was innocent but if she does not drown, then she is to be put to death as a witch.

It will take many years of hard work to meticulously document how it happened that fanaticism, superstition, delusion, and sorcery came to bePage  141 seen as forms of reasonable discussion of national security in the United States. We do know, however, that earlier projects of empire that were also defended on grounds of national interest or of the white man's burden were similarly discussed in languages that mimicked rational discourse. [17] My argument is not that violence and terrorism are like spectral presences that shadow globalization but, rather, that the re-imagining of the world as full of imminent threats to the United States is likely to have a serious impact on the concrete ways that knowledge is structured in universities. It is important that we prepare ourselves to undertake serious research on the way in which the routines of teaching, research and administration, as well as our relations to students has begun to alter under these pressures—general statements will not be enough. This is the same sort of question that we have asked about colonialism and the subsequent Cold War—viz., how did these political processes influence the agenda of social sciences and humanities? The end of colonialism created a moral imperative in the newly independent countries in Asia and Africa that research in these disciplines should be ideally conducted under the sign of the nation as if this was the only vantage point from which social sciences could be engaged. The trend came under strong critique from the subaltern historians and from theorist of globalization such as Arjun Appadurai: the historical events came to be woven into social science research in complex ways. The same rigor with regard to documenting the impact of the Cold War on the formation of disciplines was not evident. [18] But we now need to move ahead and look at the Cold War itself in relation to a new geography of violence within a global context, for it is likely to reconfigure knowledge in the metropolitan centers and the so-called peripheries.

States of Emergency and the Everyday Life of Universities

One of the things that September 11th and the subsequent war against Iraq has done is to dismantle the distinction between finished and unfinished nations. Commenting on the dangers of the present doctrine of preemptive war, Neta C. Crawford writes, "If simple fear justifies preemption, the preemptions will have no limits since, according to Bush administration's own arguments, we cannot know with certainty what the other side has and where it might be located or when it might be used...If simple fear does not suffice, then how much of what kind of fear, justifies preemption? We need to tread aPage  142 fine line. The threshold of evidence and warning cannot be too low: simple apprehension that a potential adversary might be out there somewhere and may be acquiring the means to do harm cannot trigger the offensive use of force. This is not presumption but paranoid aggression, and it promises endless war. We must-stressful as it might be psychologically—accept some vulnerability and uncertainty." [19]

So, paradoxically, the universities in North America are likely to feel the same kinds of pressures that universities in other countries that were designated as "new nations" or "unfinished nations" had to face from their governments on the grounds that national security required control over the production and especially the circulation of knowledge. To take completely banal examples of these processes, universities in India were required, by administrative fiats, to obtain permission from the Home Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry before inviting a speaker from abroad even if there was no salary or honorarium to be offered. The way this functioned was that the rules became a matter of testing one's strength as a university professor against that of the bureaucrat. I know that in the Delhi School of Economics, where I worked for almost all my adult life, the rule was honored more in its breach. However, this did not mean that serious restrictions could not be placed on research activities. For instance, during the national Emergency in 1976, the rules that had always been in place but were sparingly used began to be deployed to coerce compliance or punish the critics of government. Similarly in recent years as the Government solidifies its agenda of Hindutva it has begun to punish universities and departments from which it expects dissent. I do not mean to exaggerate these constraints but it seems to me that one often assumes that censorship is a problem of dictatorial polities alone. The ways in which censorship comes to operate in democracies are different from the direct imposition in many dictatorial regimes and may even appear to many to be banal, but unless one is wakeful to them, one may slowly become complicit in accepting forms of authoritarianism. [20] This is what I take Kant to mean when he cautioned that the long-term interests of the state might be jeopardized if the faculty of philosophy did not have the freedom to pursue the truth for its own sake.

The erosion of liberties in universities is becoming evident after September 11th and state intervention in the conduct of universities is likely to become more blatant. One consequence of this is the undermining of thePage  143 building of global publics for, with few exceptions, universities have quietly accepted the routine intimidation of their own students who come from foreign countries or have foreign sounding names. Charles M. Vest, the President of MIT in October 2002 in the President's Report, formulated these issues with clarity and characteristic restraint. [21] He argued that new legislative and administrative directives imposing restrictions on international students had various facets—student tracking, limitations on access to curricula and research in the university, and the potential impact on the S&E workforce. He accepted the need to provide basic directory information on foreign students-such as, whether someone admitted on a student visa was, in fact, enrolled in the institution, or what was the area of his or her study. Beyond this, he felt that the presidential directive issued on October 2001, requiring that universities determine sensitive areas of a study that were off limit for foreign students would seriously curtail the capacities of the university and would constitute unreasonable restrictions on the freedom of scientific research. In the presidential directive the sensitive areas included nuclear technology, robotics, advanced computers, and materials. The President of MIT noted that while restricting access to sensitive areas is not new, it was earlier applied to areas of research that either were classified or were linked to immediate development of weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Vest's report also drew pointed attention to the fact that over one-third of scientists and engineers in American industry were born elsewhere, with the number exceeding fifty percent in engineering and computer science. Despite the clear evidence of the positive contributions of foreign students to the scientific capabilities of the United States, it is intriguing that far from coming out in the open and acknowledging their contributions, the universities have tolerated all kinds of humiliations of these students in the name of security.

In their daily life, then, universities in the prosperous United States have become subject to the same kind of humiliation and erosion of autonomy as universities in other parts of the world. Like the corrosive power of banal nationalism to slowly eat away at the democratic capabilities of institutions, the forms of intimidation that appear banal or simply irritating, actually significantly reduce the free space for thinking. [22] They promote the distortions of reason and wear down the capacity of universities to inform the state about its long-term interests. In an atmosphere of paranoia and fear the universities in the UnitedPage  144 States are beginning to function like universities in many other parts of the world which are at the mercy of petty bureaucrats and self styled protectors of "national interest". To that extent, the distinction between nations secure in their nationhood and so-called unfinished nations has become unhinged. Instead of an absolute distinction between despotic and democratic regimes, we see emerging a general atmosphere of fear and a paranoid concern with security that can bring a democracy close to the very forces of despotism that it seeks to fight. I have watched with concern how many people in positions of leadership failed to demand that the administration provide reasonable proof that Saddam's regime possesses weapons of mass destruction or that his regime poses an imminent threat to the security of the United States. Instead, they were ready to give their approval for war because the President has told them so and they believe in the President of the United States who is the leader of civilized nations. The process bears some resemblance to the Frankfurt School's description of the fascist personality and fear of freedom but it is equally important to note that it has not managed to impose total silence despite memories of McCarthyism.

Questions of Responsibility

Although recent events may have forced this issue on us, I believe that questions about censorship and freedom need to be addressed continuously. Our pictures of the boundaries between knowledge as the pursuit of curiosity for its own sake and knowledge as instrumental, cannot remain stable. New sites for the production and circulation of knowledge continue to emerge, as do new standards for what counts as evidence and what counts as proof. These are issues that Paul Rabinow has examined in depth in his work on science and modernity. [23] I draw on his work specifically with regard to the emergence of novelty as an aspect of both modernity and curiosity. I give below some excerpts of a conversation between Rabinow and Tom White, his main informant who was formally the vice-president of Cetus Corporation. It seems obvious from the conversation that though Tom White is an industrial scientist (as opposed to a university scientist), what seems to drive his science is intellectual curiosity rather than clear-cut demands of industry. [24]

PR: What role does curiosity play in science?

TW: To me curiosity is an extremely powerful motivating factor. YouPage  145 know, food, sex, shelter, and stuff like could call it instinct or gut level, but we don't know. Henry Erlich [a senior scientist at Cetus] will justify his work on diabetes [as having commercial potential], and that's the right thing to do, but he just wants to know about how the whole thing works. He doesn't give a damn about whatever else is involved in it.

PR: What are the limits to curiosity?

TW: Boredom. I have seen curiosity end for some scientists. When it does end it is totally recognizable element in them.

PR: So, curiosity can die and become routine and boredom. But what about the other side: can you have too much curiosity?

TW: Yes, some people are so curious that they never complete a thing.

PR: But modernity faces the question of what are the limits to curiosity? There were the German medical and scientific experiments and so many others in the United States and elsewhere, which obviously cross the line of acceptable research or clinical practice...Perhaps there are no self-limiting principles within science itself to tell you not to do a particular experiment? Since curiosity and modernity combine to drive endlessly toward producing something new, perhaps the combination of newness and curiosity's boundlessness is the problem?

I have myself found this point of view (viz. that science cannot itself provide ethical limits) echoed in interviews with many scientists. [25] Indeed, the emergence of such disciplines as bioethics; the routinization of IRB procedures in universities; and other related developments are indicative of the fact that we expect limits to curiosity to be provided by some independent standards for which we wish to hold society rather than science to be responsible. [26] Rabinow's work is extremely important in showing us that new sites for pursuing scientific research have emerged in the world that have vastly complicated our pictures of industry and university. What I miss in this rendering, however, is the manner in which the very real material demands without which science could not be done at all in its present mode, have changed the balance between private and public interests in the university itself.

In recent examination of the corporatization of American universities, Masao Miyoshi draws attention to the fervent search for project grants and license income in the top research universities. [27] The most important concern seems to me to stem less from some idealist notion about freedom of thought and morePage  146 from the fact that universities often end up by subsidizing the corporate world. One may argue that the university-industry alliance leads to enhanced public goods since without this alliance the transfer of research into usable products for the consumer either would not happen or happen at a very slow pace. Some would argue, Moyshi says, that: "The transfer of federally funded research result to industry, the conversion of non-profit scholarship to for-profit R & D might well be deemed justifiable on the grounds that inert federal funds are being used and activated by private developers for public benefits." However, he then goes on to show the traps and snares in this argument. Instead of offering wide-open access to federally funded research, he says, the close alliance between university and industry with the related emphasis on patenting delays the dissemination of information or restricts it in other ways. Second, the beneficiaries of the academic technological inventions ultimately turn out to be not consumers but corporations. In addition, I would argue that the models for research laid out in the sciences then begin to inform social science research (if not humanities) so that routine evaluation of faculty is increasingly based on the number of grants they have received, and the number of papers published, rather than an exercise of judgment regarding the quality of research. In addition, as Marlyn Strathern has argued, the audit cultures introduced in universities are often out of joint with the temporality of teaching and research. For Strathern, the process of learning is not one of consumption but one of absorption so that there must a lapse of time between what has been taught and what has been learnt. Similarly, she argues that time must be set aside for all the wasteful and dead-end activities that inevitably precede genuine findings—yet, there is no space made in audit cultures for these non-productive activities as essential to the life of the university. Again, it is not my case that research grants are not important for doing certain kind of research or that maintaining something like a long-term cohort study is even possible without funding—rather, I suggest that we need to pay very close attention to the balance between different kinds of curiosities in evaluating research of faculty. [28]

If one were emboldened to produce an ethnographic study on how the evaluation of scholarship in terms of research grants and license income alters the academic culture of the university, one could show the demoralization among faculty who want to work on risky subjects, when outcome cannot be easily predicted. The kind of curiosity driven research to which Tom WhitePage  147 was alluding in his discussion with Rabinow, has to be constantly justified to university administration in terms of its capacity to generate grants or license income for universities. This is where the long-term impact of the corporatization of the university may turn out to be even more pernicious than we have imagined. Having come to the United States from India, when I first encountered the directives issued to universities to provide privileged information on foreign students from Arab countries, I assumed that the major universities would simply refuse to comply. If indeed, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, California, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Columbia, or Michigan (among many others) would jointly refuse to obey the administrative directives that take away their own jurisdiction over their students, surely there would be some impact on the policies of the administration on these issues? It took me some time to realize that the weak and sporadic dissent perhaps represented that universities were so dependant for funding on federal grants and their prestige as research universities was so tied up with funding that opposition was not a simple matter of withdrawing consent. [29] I remember that many academics in India learnt that the state could run roughshod over democratic freedoms during the National Emergency in India in 1976 and now under the Hindutva agenda of the state in India. The experiences of many academics with censorship around the world, both under dictatorial regimes and democratic ones, should invite us to reconsider seriously how we can redefine the legitimate interests of the state that the university is expected to serve? How are these to be balanced with the pursuit of truth for its own sake? How are new standards of research, especially in the sciences, to be supported materially? Finally, what does it mean for the life of the university to be placed within these contradictory demands? The formulation suggested by Cohen, Kennedy, and Canning, that the university was of the world and in the world, requires a cold, dispassionate inquiry from many angles on the meaning of the university. A simple scenario of before and after with regard to September 11th would betray the seriousness of the crisis we are facing.

Of Consent and Related Matters

Let us agree that political community would be impossible unless one was willing to recognize one's own voice in that of the other. In other words, one's willingness to be represented by someone else or the ability to representPage  148 constitutes the conditions of a democratic polity. Given that one cannot give consent everyday to what is being undertaken on one's behalf, it seems to me that the question of how a community of dissent may emerge becomes a question of vital importance. Right after September 11th, I felt that the necessity to inflict punishment on the "enemy" who was faceless, who was seen to be like a phantasm that could be anywhere and everywhere, defined the rhetoric of the administration. If I may be allowed to loop back to my earlier words, I wrote: [30]

The tremendous loss of life and the style of killing in the present wars-call them terrorism (including state terrorism), call them insurgency, call them wars of liberation, all raise the issue of theodicy. Yet, while in many other countries the wounds inflicted through such violence are acknowledged as attesting to the vulnerability of human life—in the case of American society there is an inability to acknowledge this vulnerability. Or rather the vulnerability to which we, as embodied beings are subject, the powerlessness, is recast in terms of strength. [31] And thereby the representations of the American nation manage to obscure from view, the experiences of those within its body politics who were never safe even before September 11th. While many have heard arrogance in these statements—to my ears they are signs of the inability to address pain. Consider the following passage in Nietzsche on the moment of the production of ressentiment ..."to deaden, by means of a more violent emotion of any kind, a tormenting secret pain that is becoming unendurable, and to drive it out of consciousness at least for the moment: for that one requires an affect, as savage an affect as possible, and, in order to excite that, any pretext at all." [32]

I was not suggesting any conspiracy theory, or that a pretext was needed for subsequent bombing of Afghanistan and the (then) threatened war on Iraq. What I was pointing to was the deep need to show the tattered body of the "enemy" as a rational response to the September 11th attacks. In the first instance, it seemed to me that this was the site of punishment as spectacle. Michel Foucault claimed, "...justice no longer takes public responsibilityPage  149 for that violence that is bound up with its practice." [33] On further reflection, though, it appears to me that theatrical display of sovereign power is only part of the story. There is equally the need to replace the nagging pain of the failure of America as a moral nation by a more savage affect. The "feel good about yourself" sense, so evident on the news media in the war reportage on channels such as Fox, seems a cover up for the fact that the "feel good" sense is disappearing from public life, as American citizens or others living in this country face up to the horrifying images of cluster bombs used by the alliance of the willing—while all the time condemning the regime of Saddam for its cruelties on its population. It is similar (or more lethal) to the pain of Hindus in today's India in witnessing the enormous pain inflicted on Indian Muslims on their (the Hindus') behalf. This is how many survivors of September 11th asked, what relation does their pain bear to the pain of the others—what kind of responsibility is theirs when successive regimes elected by them have supported military regimes, brutal dictatorships, and warlords mired in corruption with no space for the exercise of critical monitoring of politics in the Middle East? If violence has replaced politics in the present globalized spaces in these regions, then surely it is only by acknowledging that pain as "ours" that a global civil society could respond. Instead of replacing the pain with another more violent and savage affect, survivors and witnesses of violence would have to engage in a different way with the pain inflicted on them. [34]

It would appear to me that, after all, there is work to be done. I am reminded in my moments of despair (seeing how ordinary people can begin to take pleasure in such obscenities as the "mother of all bombs")—of the figure of Gandhi and his homespun technology of satyagraha or the insistence on truth. It was in the work of the everyday—spinning, cleaning, writing, fasting—that Gandhi found the resources for his struggle against the British rule. I suggest that we will have to invent our own forms of insistence on truth from within the everyday life of universities if the urge to fanaticism, superstition, delusion, and exorcism is to be overcome in the darkness of these times.

Page  150


1. It is my pleasure to thank David William Cohen and Michael Kennedy for their generous invitation to take part in the seminar on the university as sacred space held in Michigan in August 2002. I gratefully acknowledge the stimulating comments offered by participants and especially want to thank the graduate students at Michigan for their readiness to engage in discussions. Comments by Ali Khan, Talal Asad, Bhrigupati Singh, Sylvain Perdigon, Gyan Pandey and Pamela Reynolds were most helpful in revising the earlier draft. Ranen, Saumya, Jishnu, Carolina, and Sanmay directed me to various readings and engaged in heated discussions on what it was to do science in the university. I thank them for their love manifested in their readiness to offer constructive criticisms rather than paralyzing ones.

2. Immanuel Kant, The Conflict of the Faculties, trans. Mary J Gregory (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992); Jacques Derrida, Du droit a la philosophie (Paris: Galileée, 1990); Hent de Vries, Religion and Violence: Philosophical Perspectives from Kant to Derrida (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002).

3. I spent more than thirty years at the Delhi School of Economics; my experience of North American universities is much more limited.

4. de Vries points out that Kant's text deeply influenced the document Wilhelm von Humboldt drafted in 1809-10 as a model for the University of Berlin. It is not that there are on other models of the university, but they were more inclined towards one or the other function rather than to the imperative of combining both. In the United States, for instance, the Morrill Act of 1862, set the tone for the development of certain kinds of American universities and community colleges—especially important were the schools of agriculture, engineering, home economics and business administration. See also Clark Kerr, The Uses of University (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1995).

5. de Vries, Religion and Violence, 26-27.

6. Immanuel Kant, Religion Within the Limit of Religion Alone, trans. T. M. Greene and H. H. Hudson (New York: Harper and Row, 1960).

7. Stanley Cavell, The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).

8. On the way in which the crusade against terrorism strengthens the state's sovereign claim over a monopoly on secrecy and knowledge, see Deborah PoolePage  151 and Gerardo Rénique, "Terror and the Privatized State: A Peruvian Parable," Radical History Review 85 (2003): 150-163.

9. Veena Das, "Violence and Translation," Anthropological Quarterly 75, 1 (2002).

10. The moral absolutism in the statements about the evil character of the "terrorists" seems to induce a strange political amnesia. Prior to September 11th, the relationship between al Qaeda and the Taliban was well known to the U.S. and U.K. governments (indeed, the United States failed to act on detailed Russian intelligence provided to the UN in March 2001). While the British Foreign Secretary invoked the obligatory comparison to action against the Nazi regime and warned against appeasement right after September 11th, he had no hesitation (when Home Secretary a year earlier) in demanding the immediate removal from the United Kingdom of all the civilian hostages claiming asylum in Britain after their hijacked Afghani aircraft had landed at a London airport. See Jane's Intelligence Digest (2001) on how Russian intelligence on al Qaeda was ignored. On Jack Straw's pronouncements on the requests for asylums in the Afghan hijacking case, see <,2763,191495,00.html>. As for Iraq's use of chemical weapons, it is well to recall that in 1988 there was overwhelming evidence that Saddam's regime had used chemical weapons against the Kurds. In response to the gassing, sweeping sanctions were unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate that would have denied Iraq access to U.S. technology, but were killed by the White House. Prior to that, when chemical weapons were used against Iran in 1984, Donald Rumsfeld was the envoy who met the then foreign minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz. At that time, the defeat of Iraq was considered contrary to U.S. interests. My point is not that such complicity with Iraq on the part of the officials in the present Administration requires any kind of public apology: that would be a foolish hope. We need to know if any lessons were learned from this on the dangerous consequences of supporting dictators by the United States that would be applied in formation of foreign policy. Of that, there is little evidence.

11. Catherine Lutz, "The Wars Less Known," The South Atlantic Quarterly 101, 2 (Spring 2002): 285-297.

12. Let us think of the genealogy of "terrorism" as constructing a form of forgetting. Thus, if one reads accounts so lynching from the victim's pointPage  152 of view, the term terror appears frequently as a description of the affect—it is only by deleting the experienced terror of the African Americans that anyone can claim that the experience of terrorism was something new in the United States.

13. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, D.C.: Office of the President, September 2002). The full text is available at <>.

14. The scholars who have dared to question the air of obviousness with which dividing lines are drawn to consider some kinds of violence as legitimate and other as illegitimate, have been unhesitatingly castigated as supporters of terrorism. Thus, Ghassan Hage documents the difficulties he has faced in providing an analysis of the practices of suicide bombers in Palestine. As he says, "I wonder why it is that that suicide bombing cannot be talked about without being condemned first. After all, we can sit and analyze in a cool manner the formidably violence of colonial invasion without feeling that "absolute" moral condemnation should be precondition or even a substitute for uttering an opinion about it". Ghassan Hage, "'Comes a Time We are all Enthusiasm': Understanding Palestinian Suicide Bombers in Times of Exighophobia" Public Culture 15, 1 (2003): 65-90. With a different descriptive strategy, Sylvain Perdigon says that he has tried to find " words circulated in the margins of the symbolic funeral of the first Palestinian female suicide-bomber, and on the possibility of an anthropological language which, in relation to this event, would not bear the signature of the Israeli state or of symmetrical Palestinian claims upon the members of the Palestinian community, nor be entangled too quickly in the moral debate and the ascription of innocence or culpability. Sylvain Perdigon, "Words around an Infamous Woman," Graduate Student Paper awarded the Hughes Prize of the Society of Medical Anthropology, 2002.

15. I would like to note, though, that the unchecked proliferation of other weapons also has serious consequences for the spread of violence and human suffering as the new kinds of wars in parts of Asia and Africa attest.

16. For what it is worth, my suspicion is that such a strategy would inevitably reveal the links between despotic states and democratic ones in the name of geopolitical interests and hence constitute a political risk to the leaders of western democracies that they are unwilling to allow.

17. For masterly exposition of these processes, see Uday Singh Mehta,Page  153Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth Century British Liberal Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).

18. For a detailed analysis of these questions with regard to the development of sociology and social anthropology in India, see Veena Das, "Social Sciences and the Publics," in Oxford India Companion to Sociology and Social Anthropology, Vol.1 (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003), 1-32; Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001); Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1999). I note that the interaction between global imaginations of areas and the local mapping of these imaginaries has unintended consequences. In the case of India, there was a strong investment in the idea that the emotional unity of the country could be forged by appeals to an ancient but accommodating Hindu tradition. It is not my case that this view was uncontested but rather that the battles in the social sciences and humanities were fought over terrains that were concerned with questions of nation building—these battles cannot be understood through some kind of tunnel view of history.

19. Neta C. Crawford, "The Best Defense: The Problem with Bush's 'Preemptive' War Doctrine," Boston Review, 2003, 28, 1 (2003): 50-54.

20. I offer one example of this. I wrote some papers on the Sikh militant movement using literature in Gurmudkhi, and recorded cassettes of the speeches of Bhindranwale that were banned but freely available. Apart from some efforts at intimidation, my liberty was never seriously threatened—however, the possibility that my "illegal" use of this literature could constitute a legal offence was sometimes troubling to me.

21. See Charles M. Vest, Response and Responsibility: Balancing Security and Openness in Research and Education, Report of the President for the Academic Year 2001-2002 (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, October 2002).

22. Consider the way thought is sought to be limited when in the name of civilization there are condemnations of those who are critical of the present stance of the government as "anti-American." Thus in a report produced by American Council of Trustees and Alumni, there was reference to a number of critical scholars as the "weak link" in America's fight against terrorism. See Jerry L Martin and Anne D. Neal, "Defending Civilization: How Our UniversitiesPage  154 are Failing America and What Can Be Done about It," <>. The group that produced this report was reportedly funded by Lynne Cheney, wife of the U.S. Vice President and Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat.

23. Paul Rabinow, Essays on the Anthropology of Reason (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996).

24. Rabinow, Essays on the Anthropology of Reason, 68-69.

25. Veena Das and Abhijit Dasgupta, "The Cholera Vaccine in India: Scientific and Political Representations," Economic and Political Weekly,35, 8/9 (2000): 633-645.

26. For an account of the debates on the practice of ethics, including the ethics of doing science in the university, see Michael Davis, Ethics and the University (London: Routledge, 1999).

27. Masao Miyoshi, "Ivory Tower in Escrow," Boundary 2 (2000): 7-50.

28. See Marlys Strathern, "'Improving Ratings: Audit in the British University System," European Review 5, 3 (1997): 305-21. See also her recent edited book on audit cultures in which there are some fine-grained analyses of the institutional practices around auditing and producing a marketable professional self. The authors, however, fail to consider the question of material resources needed to produce certain kinds of research that is dependent upon laboratories, equipment, large-scale trials, or large samples. See Audit Cultures: Anthropological Studies in Accountability, Ethics, and the Academy, ed. Marlyn Strathern (London: Routledge, 2000).

29. It is not that university presidents do not mobilize their faculties for any protest. For instance, faculty and staff at Johns Hopkins were rightly mobilized to appeal to their elected representatives when there was a proposal to make further budgetary cuts to the Sellinger Program in Maryland that supports the state's educational opportunities for Maryland students.

30. Veena Das, "Violence and Translation".

31. I noted then and I emphasize again that to acknowledge one's vulnerability and that we are not omnipotent is not to cast ourselves as helpless victims.

32. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals (New York: Vintage Books, 1969) 127.

33. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books 1979), 9.

Page  155

34. It is surprising that although the role of the United States in bringing Saddam to power and sustaining his regime is easy to document, there is no address to this issue in discussions of why innocent Iraqis should pay the price for the adventurism of U.S. policy among those who support war against Iraq. For an accessible, clear account of the role of the United States in Iraq, see Roger Morris, "A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making," New York Times, March 14, 2003, A27.

Page  156Page  157
Transforming Globalization's University around the Challenge of Difference in an Age of Belligerence
Michael D. Kennedy

Transforming Globalization's University around the Challenge of Difference in an Age of Belligerence

During the 1990s, in the reflection of globalization's promise and problems, U.S. universities created new administrative positions. Vice and Associate Provosts, and less commonly, Vice Presidents for International Affairs, became the new senior international officers. Duke University's senior international officer, Gil Merkx, has said that this position reflects the "second stage" in the development of U.S. universities' engagement of the world. [2] No longer a decentralized enterprise primarily designed to "cure students 'of narrow provincialism and to comprehend in some measure the complex life into which (they are) soon to be ushered'," as my university's president from a century ago suggested, [3] globalization assumed an international cosmopolitanism at the core of higher education, and its business. But mobilizing university resources around globalization misses the critical edge that might be the principal responsibility of the U.S. university's "sacred space," especially in an era defined as much by belligerence as by connectivity.

In this essay, I build on our preceding essay [4] to sketch the contours around difference shaping globalization's university and its successor in an era of belligerence. While the challenge of difference is present in any international project, I elaborate how its significance grows and is complicated by times in which violence, rather than collaboration, shapes the U.S. imagination of thePage  158 world. While these generalities can be compelling, their gloss becomes more useful in the elaboration and interpretation of more specific international interventions. To illustrate the utility, and challenge, of the distinction between globalization's university and its successor in belligerence, especially around their various articulations of difference, I analyze one international intervention in detail—a performance of global loss conceived in the United States and played in Turkey in the summer of 2002. I conclude with a few reflections on the challenge of contemporary strategic direction in academic internationalism.

Globalization's University and the Challenge of Difference

Globalization's effect is hard to miss on the web, where universities' embrace of that compression of time and space can appropriately be found. University presidents celebrate the variety and cumulation of international academic engagements across the university. Universities experiment with international associations, like Universitas 21. [5] Books and conferences on the subject abound. [6] During the end of the last century, at least, they were generally organized around what Sir Graeme Davies, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, called concisely the "global imperative": the need to systematize internationalization in order to keep one's place in the increasingly intense competition for national and international resources. [7] In this sense, higher education's globalization looked very much like other parts of the globalization business, the globalization race.

Unlike the Cold War, which globalization's principal publicist Tom Friedman likens to a sumo match, globalization is like the100 meter dash run over and over again. [8] In order to be successful, Friedman writes, one must acquire many American qualities, including the wish to constantly reinvent oneself in order not to be left behind. [9] This race certainly functions in the academy, too, evident when the search for academic markets or position in rankings drives academic missions. Academic internationalism might also be found in such a race, in the drive to increase numbers of exchanges, students going abroad, and students and faculty enrolling from abroad as goals in themselves rather than as the means to extend capacities to learn. But even when we focus on the latter, we hardly address the tension between two principal types of learning about/with the world in U.S. higher education.

For some, the point of comprehensive internationalization is to recruit thePage  159 best students and to facilitate collaboration with the best scholarly colleagues, regardless of national origins. That assumes a more or less coherent global field of expertise, one that can be enhanced but not fundamentally challenged by diversifying the field of scholarship. For others, internationalization means extending American capacities to engage a world recognized to be consequentially different. It is likely to be connected to that enduring liberal mission of deparochialization embodied in every study abroad program. It may be associated with national security, as in the renewed quest to extend American learning about world regions poorly understood but newly associated with terrorism's threat. It might be associated with globalizing feminisms, in which the challenge of difference is recognized and incorporated into a project associated with the elaboration of standpoint and the challenge of recognition, with a goal of empowerment. [10]

With Merkx's stage theory implicit in the new mission to globalize universities, area studies is often portrayed as an anachronism. Its scholars, in turn, typically issue rebuttals organized around charges of superficiality and cultural ignorance. A great deal of work has gone into marking differences between these two generic forms associated with globalization and area studies, but that contest has much more to do with the organization of higher education than about finding new and more effective ways to engage the world. Thus, rather than rehearse the contest, replete with stereotypical renditions of the other more useful for reallocating resources than for improving scholarship, I find it more productive to consider the value of extending ridge-riding capacities between them. [11]

The general case is relatively simple. The contextual expertise associated with area studies can help us recognize the validity of any general ambition, for comparative and global studies become empirically more adequate when they engage historiographical contests and hermeneutic dilemmas. Comparative perspectives help us recognize the generality of any regional finding. Some questions require focus on global flows and circuits even to be imagined. To be explained and meaningfully engaged, however, requires location in both time and place. These arguments are familiar, but as this volume illustrates, one of the most powerful effects in combining these competencies emerges when the grounding, and presumption, of starting questions can be identified and discussed.

Page  160

Given (the perception of?) American centrality and power in the world, especially in knowledge production, marking the problem and consequence of American presumption may be the key underlying contribution of international studies in the constitution of (U.S.) universities of the world. But the function and method for this approach does not translate simply across knowledge systems. Too, its articulation with American and other publics and powers varies consequentially with the eventfulness of world history. [12] With that in mind, appeals to global awareness hardly suffice even while they are overwhelmingly common.

Most ambitions shaping U.S. universities of the world are associated with just that vision to extend some kind of "global awareness" for students, faculty and scholarship in general. Global awareness is typically about making connections—recognizing the relationship between problems in the United States and abroad, identifying patterns among cognitive and social processes in different places, or finding new ways to establish collaborative scholarship. This drive to recognize connections also can be viewed as a university-wide enterprise, especially when agreements require presidential signatures or centrally allocated resources. With global and interdisciplinary figuring as common adjectives, differences can appear transient and relatively trivial, especially in comparison to the allure of new connections and the power to be found in innovative intellectual fusions. Differences of course don't disappear, but emerge and function in new ways, in ways that remain typically overlooked and unelaborated in the discovery of new associations. In that light, I consider several forms of difference in the definition of academic internationalism.

Each discipline and profession within the U.S. university engages the world within frameworks reflecting their scholarly and organizational presumptions. Most professions claim an increasing concern for global awareness in their educational priorities, but whether that extends to biophysical environment, cultural diversity, or global standards and protocols varies widely. [13] Simply put, internationalism is itself not homogeneous, and varies consequentially across disciplinary knowledge cultures.

These different knowledge cultures are variably open to the challenge of grounding orienting questions. The Internet internationalism characteristic of schools of information, for example, is less likely to consider the historical and cultural specificities of place than are schools of architecture and urban planningPage  161 whose concern for contextual expertise more closely approximates area studies concerns on a thematic level. [14] Nevertheless, with sufficient collaboration across disciplinary cultures, the information revolution's focus on global connectivity can be grounded, for example, by considering the presumptions involved in defining that global information infrastructure, and how that reflects certain political and economic interests associated with different locations within America, and across the world. [15]

It is thus important to consider how different fields of scholarship are themselves organized around the value and challenge of difference in their scholarly work. Historians, anthropologists, literary scholars and others, attuned to recognizing hermeneutic dilemmas, are relatively at home in the development of an internationalism that favors grounding knowledge. Psychologists may be increasingly interested in cross-cultural questions, notably around the relationship between cognition and culture, but can remain distant from those focused more on the cultural constitution of knowledge claims. [16] For example, how does one interpret the arguments of Asian students in America who argue that there are consequential differences between Asian and American cognitive worlds? Does that reinforce the validity of experimental tests, or does it invite further questions about the historical formation of these beliefs among Asian students? [17]

Engineers, physicists, and others concerned with a scholarship that defies the significance of cultural or political boundaries in the development of scientific knowledge are less likely to validate this elevation of cultural difference to the heart of an internationalism defined much more by extending global networks of collaboration than by problematizing their associations. In these circumstances, the challenge of difference is more likely to be found in considering whose problems one addresses. One of the most productive questions for these audiences emerges when we focus on "the bottom of the pyramid": What happens to the production of knowledge if the concerns of the rural poor become the principal inspiration for engineering design rather than the interests of corporations focused on the upper middle class? [18]

Within the American academy, however, the more familiar reference around the challenge of difference is to race, class and gender within America. For example, when diversity's value is articulated in arguments about affirmative action, the question focuses on building diversity by extending the range ofPage  162 American citizens within the academy, and less, if at all, with reference to students from abroad. [19] Of course the argument can be extended, but rarely simply. What, for example, is the relationship between ethnic studies and area studies focused on particular world regions? That relationship is easier to recognize in some regions than others.

The relationship between African and African American studies varies widely across U.S. universities, with the two foci sometimes organizationally distinct and sometimes embedded in common institutional homes. European studies is not so explicitly associated with racial politics but some national foci are explicitly tied to the concerns of diasporas to assure the representation of their nation's culture in American higher education. Latin American studies developed in ways quite distant from Latino/Latina studies, but the prospects for hemispheric imaginations in the organization of this field are growing. In similar fashion, Asian studies may be the most dynamic and changing in this field, not only in light of the dynamics of Asian American politics, but also given the problem of recognizing borders between America and Asia itself, illustrated most powerfully by the question of Pacific Islanders in stories of the Pacific Rim. [20] In each of these cases, no simple generalization suffices apart from the challenge of recognizing United States multiculturalism in the story of globalization and internationalism. Multiculturalism's variety should not be limited to race and ethnicity because globalization and internationalism vary consequentially in terms of regional difference, too.

Regional articulations of scholarship influence the perspectives and problems that shape university priorities. Postcommunist, post-colonial, and European Union concerns vary, but what determines which regions realize prominence within any university's profile? University expertise matters; land grant universities, with schools of agriculture in particular, were regular partners with the U.S. Agency for International Development and were thereby more likely to develop extensive ties to the "third world" and studies of development.

One should understand variations in these regional foci historically, too. During the Vietnam War, Southeast Asian studies developed extensively across another range of universities. Over the longer course of the Cold War, Russia occupied a centrality befitting its principal enemy status in U.S. universities. To the extent Russian studies was organized around the communist threat, thePage  163 region's area studies suffered with the end of the Cold War even as the wider post-communist region itself became much more widely studied in terms of its status as a "natural laboratory" in making markets and democracy.

The 1990s' simultaneous focus on globalization drew other scholars to Asia, especially China but also India, given growth rate patterns and anticipated markets for all sorts of goods, including education. South Africa's end to apartheid drew another set of academic engagements, especially those organized around race, increasingly AIDS, but also others, notably those focused on memory and justice.

A university's own location within the United States also matters, of course. Southern and southwestern U.S. universities retained a particular distinction in Latin American studies, the Pacific Rim sought an edge in globalization's Asian side and the East Coast its traditional European focus. Region, both within the United States and abroad, thus matters profoundly in the constitution of any U.S. university of the world, shaping not only geographical but also thematic emphasis and perspective.

Although U.S. academic internationalism therefore varies consequentially over time and by knowledge culture, region and its articulation with traditional American notions of diversity, globalization's university overlooked most challenges of difference in its interest to connect and to follow globalization's currents to opportunity and the extension of existing knowledge cultures. September 11, 2001 rocked that easy assumption about the evolutionary nature of global transformations, and suggested the value of a new internationalism.

It is conceivable that this new academic internationalism could build on the experience of the Cold War and its end. Indeed, some make direct comparisons between the vision, and ignorance, surrounding presumptions about Russia in area studies, suggesting that Iraq's future could be as good, if not better, than what Russia has found. [21] One could constitute a similar area studies infrastructure in anticipation of terrorism's extension and grounding in a disproportionately Muslim set of countries, if immigration warnings are any indicator of American government assignments of danger in the world. One might expect a new and more extensive interest in Islam. One could also expect, in that assignment, a new series of debates about the "political responsibility" of faculty expert in the Middle East. That is, however, only the tip of a much larger intellectual iceberg: [22] to which publics, peoples or powers are universitiesPage  164 and their faculty responsible?

Given the delicacy of such a question in times of war, the length of which engagement with terrorism is hard to imagine in this moment, one might be better suited in these times to avoid such questions of accountability to whom, and rather focus on process. Indeed, instead of asking about allegiances, one might query the unacknowledged conditions of action and their unintended consequences. And what better way to realize that than to embrace the search for those contradictions and contentions to be found in dialogues across unfamiliar positions? I recognize the contributions of this volume to be examples of what might be found, and quite unlike many contributions that repress the uncomfortable or inconvenient in pursuit of politically safer if academically myopic prospects.

I don't find Peter Berger's critique of "faculty club cultures" [23] entirely satisfying, but I do find the security of academic niches one limitation in producing a university of the world that recognizes more clearly the value of, and limitations to, its American starting points. Under these conditions, one might seek new methods with which to explore the limits of national biographies and narratives for posing the politics of intellectual and institutional responsibility. Much as this volume suggests, one could work toward constructing conditions for intellectual engagement that oblige us to move beyond familiar scripts in representing not only ourselves, but in articulating others in our stories. To rearticulate intellectual accomplishment and public responsibility in terms where we must define publics anew, and frame collaborations without familiar national anchors, we must go well beyond familiar reference points.

In different performances from Ann Arbor to Istanbul of Glenda Dickerson's Page  165Kitchen Prayers: Dialogues on Global Loss, the challenges of recognizing, articulating and understanding not only one's own pain but also those with whom one seeks to realize dialogue are not to be underestimated. They must be pursued with a humility, sympathy and openness that almost defy human possibilities, even as they become ever more necessary for the human prospect to be realized. Indeed, it's sometimes important to move beyond the performance to recognize the challenge of dialogue backstage.

Kitchen Prayers in Istanbul

Glenda Dickerson conceived and directed three previous openings of Kitchen Prayers in Ann Arbor in December, March and May 2002. Between July 10 and July 19, 2002, she and her troupe—Walonda Lewis, Denise Lock, Kim Staunton Ramsey, and Lisa Richards, with the assistance of Kenneth Daugherty—performed in Istanbul. These were performance dialogues. They stimulated powerful discussions based not only on what was performed, and what was said in response, but also on what identities and experiences allow certain expressions and understandings to be realized. [24]

Kitchen Prayers began as an American reflection on September 11, 2001, and a consideration of the kinds of losses others throughout the world have experienced through violence. It brings classical tragedy, ethnography and contemporary headlines together. There is no adequate name for this kind of performance; it is not quite an oral history on stage, but it's also not simply a play, although some of Glenda's academic colleagues have called it Brechtian. It differs from Brecht's work because Glenda combines the performers' voices with the voices of real people recorded in various sources—newspapers, the director's own research, and the research of others.

This is an especially woman-centered reflection; it focuses on how war, disease and violence affect mothers and their children across the world. In America it began with the particular experiences of five women on stage as they recalled the losses and fears they experienced on September 11. Glenda in particular worried about her daughter; Anitra was at the time of the attacks traveling on the A Train beneath the Towers. Anitra survived, but of course many did not, including Yvette Adams, a Black service worker who worked in WTC that day.

These performances privilege African American perspective, experience and loss. For example, in the final performance in Istanbul, the troupe returned to an original presentation, drawing the headlines from the obituaries of the Black fathers, sons, brothers and husbands who also were firefighters lost on September 11. While applauded in Istanbul, this privilege was not obviously so comforting in an American context. I recall one reaction from an early performance—"why does Glenda conceive this in solely African American terms? Wasn't this a loss felt by everyone? Shouldn't we be together in this?"

In many ways, it was hard for Americans not to feel together after 9/11; the extent of loss overwhelmed every citizen. But sometimes I thought that the emphasis on the unity of suffering was overdone. Shortly after the attacks,Page  166 the U.S. Ad Council issued a commercial on television, with a variety of faces and a variety of accents all proclaiming "I am an American." One could feel the progressive charge in this effort—to do what was possible to remind bigots that Americans are of every faith and color, and that no American should be at risk of hate crimes based on an imagined association with terrorists. But it also had another effect—to say that we are all the same when it comes to American citizenship. While perhaps true in law, the rights and obligations of American citizenship certainly vary by race and gender. By uniting as we are standing, it is difficult for some to remember that such a unity is based on certain powers and privileges of race, religion, class and gender. Glenda's play has been a startling reminder that we could be united under a different umbrella, with African American women in charge, instead of those who lead the war against terrorism.

The leadership embodied in Glenda's performance has a different style. It is certainly powerful—but it is not based on the size of an arsenal or an investment fund or on one's position in a dynasty of political leadership. Its power is rooted in a deep spirituality, a faith of survival, of knowing sorrow as a part of life and of knowing joy regardless. It is based on Denise's operatic voice leading us into a wish that our "circle be unbroken"; it is found in Walonda's wail when she, as Tantalus's daughter Naomi, cries with unimaginable anguish as Apollo and Artemis strike down her children. It is rooted in the power of African American women sitting around the metaphorical kitchen table, sharing their interpretations of the world and sharing their wisdom with us.

But this is not only their personal testimony; in contrast to earlier critical expressions where performances were dedicated to one's own liberation to speak, Kitchen Prayers is based on the loan of words from real women, from the "ordinary women" whom Glenda describes as "those we don't remember." This play is designed to help us remember those ordinary women suffering extraordinary losses across the world, from Rwanda and Sudan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. But before July 2002, this play had not been performed outside the United States, even if it was a reflection on global loss.

To play outside the United States, several challenges had to be recognized. First, in non-English speaking environments, one has to find a suitably versed English language audience. That could be found in the higher education sector in Istanbul, at Boğaziçi and Sabanci Universities. This also meant that thePage  167 audience came from a very cosmopolitan audience. With an extraordinarily open environment for cultural productions from across the world, and an extensive repertoire of cultural productions, including that of political theater, the Istanbul audience is a sophisticated and critical one. And as it happens, it was a difficult time—the middle of summer, three weeks after the international theater festival.

Second, this audience should have sufficient American experience to recognize the distinction of the voices. This is harder to manage. For the greatest distinction to appear to a cosmopolitan but insufficiently American audience is that these are American women telling an American tale, one that recognizes its own losses and struggles to make connections to those of others. It's no news, one Turkish colleague told me, that women in other parts of the world suffer. Indeed, as Glenda herself emphasized in a presentation to an audience of Turkish undergraduate students learning about African American literature and film (taught by U-M Alumnus George Junne at Boğaziçi University), Americans are often "dumb" about the rest of the world's losses. They are ignorant about them, not as worldly as those of Istanbul. This is why, as Kim Staunton Ramsey recalled, one audience member in Ann Arbor called the play an "informance" rather than a "performance."

We might presume that Istanbul's residents, especially the highly educated, are a more "worldly people" (as Glenda called them), of necessity. Although the language of 68 million in Turkey alone, Turkish sits with English in adverts. The language of instruction in these two universities is English; Boğaziçi was itself originally Robert College, founded in 1863 by an American financier and philanthropist. It's hard to overlook the world's diversity when one's own language in one's own homeland is not the language of global advertising or scholarship in higher education. Simply put, the diversity of the world is clearer beyond the United States. It's easy, within the United States, to think that the diversity of the world comes to America, and can be known from within our borders, in English, or in Americanish enclaves abroad.

There are many other challenges to be sure, but it's more interesting to consider what can be learned in bringing a performance on global loss originally designed for American consumption to such a worldly place that has known more pain and violence than America might even imagine. The learning begins already with one exchange on being a woman across the world. Glenda repliedPage  168 that women have something in common, regardless of the differences about which one young man asked. She said, "We're fighting for the same kind of liberation that can't be won with a gun." But to recognize that similarity from without, and from across the kitchen table, requires extending and enduring conversation.

The first challenging conversation concerned a reading of what it means for women to cover. In the second and third American versions of the performance, Glenda introduced the pain and suffering of Afghan women oppressed by the Taliban, fearful to come from beneath the veil before, finding liberation after the American defeat of their oppressors, now finding the possibility of deciding for themselves whether or not to cover.

In Turkey, however, women are not allowed to cover on university campuses. Militantly(?) secular, Turkish authorities deny that right to choose. Indeed, one of the troupe's Turkish student assistants covers when she is beyond campus. While we were visiting another campus, she and her advisors wondered whether she could cover when she visited that other university. After all, the law says one cannot cover if one is a student or employee of the university, but doesn't specify when one isn't of the university. In the end, she wasn't able to come, and the law didn't have to be tested.

Here, then, the same symbol of oppression that might unite the women suffering after 9/11 in America with the women suffering under a common "enemy" in Afghanistan finds no simple resonance in Turkey. Does this mean women are different, as the young man asked during the workshop? Or could we say that women should have the right to choose whether to cover or not? That freedom should unite Americans and many others around the world, we should believe.

In their initial Istanbul performance, Glenda and her troupe did not have time to revise as they would wish for a Turkish audience. Arriving on Wednesday, performing on Friday, they replayed a version of the American play along with an extended section from the classical Trojan Women, a play Glenda knew well having directed its performance since 1972. In two acts, Glenda's troupe covered a lot of ground.

For some of their audience, it was too much ground. Each world situation received too brief attention, one viewer told me. It felt superficial, and when it came to Turkey, it felt wrong. Of course there were moments in the firstPage  169 play where political sensibilities could be offended, as when Kim read out a statement she found in one publication about Turkey, "It is allowed to say bad things about God in Turkey but not to say bad things about Ataturk." Whether one finds this to be a reasonable statement, as my informant did, or if one finds it audacious for a foreigner to say such a thing, as others said, of course comes with politics. But it is a politics that is made even more complicated by simple references gone wrong. In the course of the play, one of the actors referred to the Bosphorus as a river rather than as straits, which gave the critically disposed audience members assurance that the troupe did not know Turkey, and thus had no right to pick such a delicate phrase to represent their nation.

Nevertheless, Glenda and her colleagues prepared extensively for Turkey, reading a great deal about the place before coming and then meeting with various circles of women while there. In respect for the country of their hosts, they elaborated the play extensively beyond the slight references to women's suffering they earlier included. They retained a section originally produced in America that evoked women hunger strikers in Turkish prisons. They began with greetings in Turkish, asking how to say things like "I love Turkey"; with the shift enabled by the performance's trademark chant of "Down the Road Lord, way down the road...." they turn not to the Kitchen Table, but to the storytelling enabled by the Bazaar, its dependence on extensive trade and the lessons learned about the effects of war, disease and famine, especially on women and their children.

This time the performance did not begin with America. They began by discussing experiences across the world, drawing on the horrors of whole villages suffering in Rwanda under the assault of systematic rape by soldiers' regiments, and then of the power of a Esther Okloo, a woman entrepreneur in Ghana, who taught other women how to find their survival in economic power and independence. Concluding that lesson of empowerment, the women sing a few lines based on three words: "We are wonderful." The women radiate genuine warmth fueled by internal resolve and joy in self-respect and accomplishment, inspired by and inspiring women's survival across the world. But real women were also finding themselves, and not, on stage.

Clearly there are important cultural differences of which the performers and their American colleagues may not be aware. I subsequently learn that it's impossible, within a Turkish context, for women to sing, or even to say,Page  170 that they themselves are wonderful. Culturally appropriate humility prevents it. While I might also find difficulty in issuing such a phrase, I nevertheless can myself feel empowered by it, seeing in my friends and colleagues on stage an inner strength that can be acquired through proximity itself. Perhaps, as my sociology colleague Fatma Müge Göçek, herself an American and Turk both, from the University of Michigan and at home in Istanbul, wondered, Turks might also be able to celebrate more, and be less critical of themselves and one another, to be in such proximity.

Glenda and her colleagues, of course, recognized the distances before coming to Istanbul, and thought to extend the space on which common ground might be found. In an act of respect, Glenda and her performers developed an extensive session in the second performance to reflect voices of women in Turkey. They began with a Western clad expressive and beautiful woman encountering a "dark shape" only to see that it was a woman fully covered from the same place. Revealing the thoughts of each to the audience, distressed for the exposure/coverage of the other, they circled around each other, back to back, until they turned once more to discover the other anew. After offering one quote from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in which he says that one should "allow women to see the world as we do," they shift scenes once again. Drawing on the work of a Stanford University anthropologist, they present a young professional woman in Central Anatolia surrounded by her friends getting ready for her marriage, talking with her friends about whether to veil or not. They stand around her, braiding her hair in an intricate detail symbolizing the practice in that region. Don't religious men treat their women better, after all, the young bride asks in the end?

Breaking the performance for a moment, the actors then reflect on quotations that they found intriguing about Turkey. After two general and kind comments, they introduce the risky comment about the greater space for criticizing God than Ataturk, and then return to a "safe" subject, Lisa's reference to Mt. Ararat. Another invocation of Turkey, they say, but some Turks also wonder: Why do they invoke it? The answer from the performers' side is simple: Mt. Ararat is in Turkey, and it is central to the African American Christian imagination, for it was on that land that Noah's Ark could find salvation after the floods punished humankind for its immorality. Few Turks would know, of course, that Mt. Ararat is so significant for African Americans,Page  171 but they do know of its importance for Armenians. It is unlikely that either the collective conscience of Armenians or of African Americans is fully aware of Ararat's significance for the other, but in the course of the play, Turks could wonder what Armenian-African American connection there might be. And given the politics of Armenian-Turkish relations, that connection would, again, not be so simple.

The performance then shifts to August 17, 1999 when an earthquake rocked Istanbul. Initially the counts were 14,000 dead, later estimated to be over 40,000 people lost. Men and women jumped out of buildings choosing that death over one to be buried in the rubble of collapsed buildings. The performers compared these losses to 9/11, where men and women made similar choices, but out of very different origins, one natural, the other man-made. This was the final effort in this second performance to extend the link.

The troupe moved toward conclusion with a reflection on 9/11 through a metaphor based on the ancient Greek story of Naomi, whose arrogance ("insolent words are always heard in Heaven and are always punished") ultimately leads the Gods to turn her into a rock forever weeping. Naomi stood for America, her father, Tantalus, was "the nomadic peoples of the Middle East," while Apollo and Artemis, those who kill her children, are the planes that attack WTC. And a final reference to Yvette Anderson, an "ordinary woman" lost in 9/11.

The dialogue begins here at the end, rather than in the middle as they had in American performances. It is quiet at the start, beginning with a polite question about the American reaction. But the dialogue quickly moves into a fundamental challenge. In a command of English apparently strong but also subject to an occasionally misleading choice of phrase, one female student challenges the performance's representations: "You have a Western understanding of third world women...women all over the world are suffering.... The new pressures are not about you realize the policy of the U.S. or the policy of other first world governments....?" A male student reinforces the point: "There is a silence about suffering in the first world countries...images of the third world are frozen, too stabilized...and what about critique of the U.S.?"

The conversation is not easy. It was made more difficult by the woman's choice of words: "you must change the story about Turkey at least." Offending the artist's privilege, Glenda replies that she need not change anything. MorePage  172 than that, perhaps, is that the troupe is stunned; they worked intensively before the trip, and especially after arrival, to find a way to extend their performance to Turkey. But instead of seeing effort and work, some in the audience saw appropriation without knowledge, an act made worse by what they saw as "symptomatic" insensitivities—the rendering of an Armenian lullaby at the moment of the Turkish flag's unfolding, and the counterposition of arrogant America/Naomi with "nomadic peoples of the Middle East"/Tantalus. The former, wholly unintended, was an association made by poor timing; the lullaby was supposed to be linked to a reading of a fragment from V. S. Naipaul. It was, nonetheless, a horrible juxtaposition. The latter, all too unfortunately, fit perfectly into the postcolonial vision many of the students embrace, and provided an anchor around which to organize the whole problem with the performance. Metaphors are sometimes better left without explicit description, Glenda said later.

Subsequent conversations outside the hall were animated. Most in Turkish and beyond me, I could nonetheless talk to those I knew to ask them to explain. I could only capture some of what they said above, but the major point was startling. The performance was devastating to some, as was their reaction to Glenda and her colleagues. Why didn't they just represent themselves? Why not talk about American reactions to 9/11? Why not a critique of American policy? Glenda and her performers, in the eyes of the Turkish audience, lost the African prefix to their American identity. They were "Western," something the performers, and Glenda herself, could hardly appreciate. Gender's bond, anticipated by the elevation of women's suffering, was lost before nationality's trump card.

In the final performance, responding to the criticisms they heard and returning to the things they could feel in their souls, as Lisa later put it, they bring the African American parts of their performance back to the center. They leave out several parts of the Turkish performance—the meeting of differently dressed women, the Armenian lullaby and the earthquake among them. It was the best performance, even though it came at the end of an exhausting week. The company finally found their balance in this new environment, and in a smaller hall and audience of 40, instead of the 100 or so in each of the previous performances.

Nevertheless, they could not balance the cultural contradiction for whichPage  173 they were unprepared. They lost their prefix across all three performances. Even in this final performance, where race in America was brought to the front of the presentation, the audience continued to position them as Americans. One, an American herself doing fieldwork in Turkey, asked whether American privilege wasn't obvious in some ways, whether in the ease with which they could get a visa to Turkey and the difficult Turks have in visiting America. In response, Lisa recalled her surprise at being identified as "the American girl" when in London; she never thought of herself simply as American. Kim's response magnified the point, for she spoke not only as a Black woman but also a mother, whose fourteen-year-old son is already cast as the threat that has to be watched. What must her husband and she do to prepare her son for this life in America, where young Black men are presumed dangerous at first glance? This was a powerful reminder that W. E. B. DuBois's observation on the 20th century extends to the 21st; that within America, the color line remains the American hallmark, even if there are other colors that complicate the story in Black and White. But the intervention for which most Americans were most unprepared came from a Turkish young woman.

Can you really say that those people lost in the World Trade Center were "victims"? She abhors violence, nationalism, and is herself an advocate of human rights across borders, she says, but these are not the same kinds of victims as others. They are like those in the Gulf War. Indeed, while violence is wrong, sometimes social change is made through violence, and thus these victims are not quite victims. They are the casualties of war.

The cast was shocked. Denise told her that but for a change in her plans on September 10, when she decided to go downtown and take care of business rather than wait until September 11, she would not have been before her that evening. This was unconvincing; accidental locations happen, our Turkish inquirer said. After all, those killed at the wedding in Afghanistan just a couple weeks earlier are innocent, and the commentator suggested, may be even more innocent because they are not associated with the superpower setting the conditions for war.

I thought I must have misunderstood. I, too, advocate human rights across borders, but it seemed that I valued peaceful change more than this audience member. Perhaps it was simply that the circumstances didn't enable sufficiently clear expression, so I talked to her afterwards. It appears, however,Page  174 that I understood her properly.

She offered the most extreme statement of the problem. It is inconceivable to most, if not all, Americans that those who died on September 11 in any way deserved their fate, regardless of their association with the superpower. While there are also many Americans who will not accept the notion that innocent deaths like those at the Afghan wedding are ever justified, there are equally many if not more Americans who will accept "collateral damage" as the unintended consequences of war. Perhaps this young Turkish woman finds that this acceptance of American power's insufficiently discriminate violence justifies the victims of 9/11. My Turkish friends assure me that this is an extreme position, and that Turkey is America's best friend in the Muslim world. But they also say that many Turks find the American presumption to redefine the world in the wake of 9/11, especially as war loomed in Iraq, to be the underlying problem that makes the distinction of African Americans appear slight in the overall scheme of things, and gender, as a basis for common identification, hardly important at all.

Although each audience raised the question, Glenda never felt obliged to undertake the critique of America in Turkey. She does that plenty in the United States, she said, and for those who know African American cultural politics, they can assume that as starting point. But the Turkish expectation is not only that America should be critiqued, but that Black women in particular should focus less on America's suffering and more on America's responsibility for it.

For Glenda and her cast, nothing they say can be torn from the experiences of Black people in the West, in their origins as slaves, in their struggle to be free. Of course, they could critique the West, and America. They do it all the time, and as Glenda said, without any necessary prompting by Turks. But in the performance's failure to critique the West, and in the appropriation of Turkish materials without sufficient expertise or appropriate identities or identifications, many Turks found a familiar Orientalist disposition. To appropriate the Turkish story without sufficient expertise plays the Orientalist card, one observer told me, regardless of their position in America.

This frame could overwhelm the audience, especially when it is made explicit. The ensuing emotions flowing from the stage and from the audience also made subsequent conversations hard to carry out. Müge and I introduced the discussion following the final performance, channeling some of the emotionsPage  175 into a safer academic discourse. That technique might have enabled the second performance to find a different mode of dialogue, but not necessarily.

The safest strategy would have been for the troupe to stay within their experience, to represent only themselves, or the category they are perceived to embody, and to share those representations across the world while trusting that all are reading the same thing into self-representations. That is possible, and common, and ideally designed for creating epistemic communities with more or less common understandings of the world with varying languages at home. Indeed, several expressed disappointment to me about the first and second performances, that there was not more African American in it.

Müge observed this reaction, too, and suggested that it might itself be a kind of reverse Orientalism: where Turks expect that African Americans should know their own experience and that is their proper place in the world of representations. They are certainly not as worldly as the cosmopolitans of Istanbul, and thus may not have much to say to them about the third world. After all, these are Americans, from the superpower, perhaps oppressed within, but not of the third world as Turkey is. But what third world is this? While few ever embrace the term in full sincerity, the conflicts in this dialogue—over gender's cross-cultural sensibility and over the competing salience of race and of Orientalism in the construction of global loss—place the wretched of the earth in very different lights.

Each has the symbol of the other's misunderstanding at the ready. To call a strait a river stands for the appropriation of material without full understanding. To say that Kitchen Prayers displays a Western gaze denies the significance of race for understanding America. Both performers and audience, however, frequently told me that they wished that Kitchen Prayers could have stayed longer. Of course to extend the endurance of ties always makes it possible to represent oneself and others better, if never adequately. But maybe there is point in trying to represent others after all. For recognizing both the salience of America in the Orientalist problematic and the distinction of Blackness within and beyond America doesn't seem to belong to anyone, but might be found in the dialogue about it.

The performance's reactions surprised the troupe; I was surprised by the reactions, too, and by the troupe itself. Although I should have, I would not have expected Glenda and her company to put so much work into bringingPage  176 Turkishness into Kitchen Prayers. As many said in audience comment and in private, this was a brave act. It evoked passion, and the articulation of differences that might have remained hidden in more familiar cultural exchanges where we reflect only who we are, and leave to others the making of our place in their imagined communities. However, I become only more firmly convinced, after this play and its reception, that we must find ways that not only construct internationalism by representing ourselves elsewhere. We all should find ways to invite others to construct us as they see us, and give everyone the opportunity to say what's right and wrong with the representation. And in that, perhaps we won't rest so comfortably with collateral damage anywhere. We might even find a new strength in being able to say "we are wonderful" without arrogance, and without metaphorical or deadly assault.

What Might be Done?

Kitchen Prayers in Istanbul, and the larger debate over academic responsibility and global publics captured in this volume, suggest challenges beyond defending academic freedom. Perhaps one could characterize the third wave of academic internationalism in an era of belligerence by an additional search for core university values in the definition of global academic priorities. President Václav Havel suggested one way to conceive that core mission when he received an honorary degree at University of Michigan in 2000: how can universities identify truth in this information age? [25]

Of course this truth cannot be so simply approached as it was a century ago, when leading North American research universities defined their quest in alignment with a moral idealism that rested on a progressive American Protestantism and assumption that democracy's operation and the university's openness fit easily together. [26] The challenge today rests, at least, on three levels of difference with regard to internationalism.

First, with the increasing specialization of knowledge production, truth is found in increasingly narrow domains of disciplinary, and sub-disciplinary, scholarship. Although those boundaries shift over time, with new inter-disciplinary knowledge cultures formed to address particular sets of problems, their engagement with normative issues beyond their assumptions is hard for outsiders to realize, given the specialized knowledge required. Sometimes ethicists and science and technology studies make these bridges, but morePage  177 generally, knowledge cultures typically define the terms of their public responsibility in ways that reflect, implicitly, the larger normative consensus in which their organizations work. Interdisciplinarity needs a bigger bridge with more elaborate normative foundations.

Secondly, diversity's elaboration over the course of the last century has challenged the racial, class, and gender foundations of that consensus, but it has not done as much with its implicit religiosities and accompanying moral codes. Those concerned for diversity within the nation can recognize the problem readily when appearances apparently define the problem, as when an organization's secular dress codes prohibit women veiling. This challenge goes far beyond appearance, however, into a negotiation of differences regarding the validation of truth claims themselves. When this challenge is translated into more conventional discussions of identity politics and international relations, religion can readily become only a marker for difference rather than an idiom through which issues are themselves diagnosed. When this happens on an international scale, the capacity for misrecognition escalates, and capacity for real dialogues on global diversity diminishes. Internationalism needs a more sophisticated religious architecture.

Thirdly, the resonance between democracy and university becomes problematic when university agents do not take the nation's citizenry as the sole, or even principal, referent for, the university's public responsibility. By raising this question, the degree to which those century old assumptions reveal not only religious but also nationalist assumptions in their definition of responsibility become clear. Globalization's university was especially good at suggesting that national interests and globalization's elaboration were not at odds, or were at least an empirical question. That, however, was more clearly an academic debate before September 11, 2001 and its aftermath, for then belligerence, rather than connectivity, took over the terms of international affairs, and buried democracy's concern even further beneath national security's real concerns and pathological anxieties. In these circumstances, a search for truth without familiar accent or comforting divine reference could be identified as an agent threatening the nation and its higher principles, rather than evidence of success in melding globalization's potential with freedom's expression. That academic trinity organized around truth, democracy, and nation needs substantial revision in order to survive the extension of belligerence in the world's definition.

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I do not mark these three challenges of difference around discipline, religion, and nation in order to stake out some familiar position on a political or academic spectrum, although those who find conviction a synonym for truth would likely find my location obvious. If, instead, these three problems can be read alongside my recollection of Kitchen Prayers in Istanbul, my response to Havel's university's challenge after September 11, 2001, becomes clear.

In order for global issues and problems to be addressed with truth, rather than interests and power, as our guide, we must find ways to constitute spaces and motives through which the assurances of our discipline, religion, national and other identifications can not only be respected, but also deployed, to find a better way to demonstrate responsibility before global publics. That certainly resembles an older moral idealism apparently anachronistic, an affinity made even more apparent by an invocation of sacred space. But with sufficient reverence for productive heresies enabled by diversity's commitment in place, the passion for truth might find new relevance, and the U.S. university new purpose, in these times. At least I found that inspiration in the collaboration leading to this volume, and in our hopes for its meaningful replication, or better, extension, beyond these pages.

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1. In this paper itself, my debt to all my colleagues associated with this project—the students who worked on the seminar, my colleagues on the International Institute staff who enabled the project to be realized, and my faculty colleagues who worked on different stages of this project's development, especially my August seminar associates from beyond U-M—should be apparent. I'd especially like to thank a few people who made this particular paper possible—Müge Göçek, Glenda Dickerson and all the people associated with the production of Kitchen Prayers in Istanbul; Donna Parmelee and Melissa Beck, who kept me focused and directed; Monica Patterson for her stellar comments on this paper's draft; and David William Cohen whose collegiality and friendship and critical sensibilities provide both foundation, and inspiration, for much of my work in the sociology of globalizing knowledge.

2. Gil Merkx, "Waves of Internationalization and their Administration in the U.S. Research University: A Weberian Analysis," a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association of International Education Administrators, 2002. See "Waves of Change: Internationalization in U.S. Higher Education," International Educator 12, 1 (Winter 2003): 6-12.

3. Mary Morgan, "99 years later, it's still the same old story," Ann Arbor News, M-Edition, September 2, 1999, 3.

4. David William Cohen, Michael D. Kennedy and Kathleen Canning, "Sacred Spaces and Heretical Knowledge: National Universities and Global Publics," in Responsibility in Crisis: National Universities and Global Publics, ed. David William Cohen and Michael D. Kennedy.

5. See <>.

6. See, for example, The Globalization of Higher Education, ed. Peter Scott, and recent discussions in the journal Higher Education in Europe (see <>). Conferences include one organized by the League of World Universities in February 2001 on "Globalization and Higher Education" (see <>).

7. Sir Graeme Davies, remarks at the conference entitled, "The University Summit in Kyushu: 2000 International Symposium on Universities' Past and Present," May 13-14, 2000. See also Brian Denman, "Globalisation and the Emergence of International Consortia in Higher Education," Globalization 2, 1 (2002) at <> forPage  180 a more systematic view.

8. After all, that's what its principal publicist, Thomas L. Friedman, calls it in The Lexus and the Olive Tree (New York: Anchor, 1999/2000). Michael Mandelbaum provided Friedman the sports analogy (12).

9. Sometimes when I see the rush to borrow best practices in order to extend the percentage of students going abroad, I think of globalization's golden straightjacket. See Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, 105.

10. On its 2003 website, The Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan reported its undertaking of just such a project, with a goal "to map the relationship between women's activism and feminist scholarship, and to examine how 'Women's Studies' as an academic enterprise has been produced and institutionalized in relation to the histories of feminism in each site. Our goal is to use these histories to think comparatively about women's movements and gender studies curriculum in the broader context of globalization, and to re/think the genealogies of 'global' feminism". This project articulates variously with different regions, not only by selection but also by the articulation of feminism with different sets of cultural politics. For one important reflection on this, see Elaine Weiner, "Liberalization and Liberation: Gender, Class and the Market in the Czech Republic," University of Michigan unpublished doctoral dissertation, 2003.

11. Alvin Gouldner, The Two Marxisms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980) described his sociology in ridge-riding terms, using Marxism to highlight sociology's limitations, and using sociology to pose nightmare questions for Marxism. I find the same value in this tension between area and comparative/global studies, especially for those debates grounded in America.

12. See Michael D. Kennedy, "Evolution and Event in History and Social Change Gerhard Lenski's Critical Theory," Sociological Theory 22, 2 (2004): 315-27.

13. Michael D. Kennedy and Elaine Weiner, "The Articulation of International Expertise in the Professions," paper presented at a conference on "Global Challenges and U.S. Higher Education," Duke University, January 2003 (see <>).

14. Michael D. Kennedy and Elaine Weiner, "The Articulation of International Expertise in the Professions."

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15. Derrick Cogburn, "Partners or Pawns? Developing Countries and Regime Change in Global Information Policy Governance" in The Emergent Global Information Policy Regime, ed. Sandra Braman (Houndsmilts: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming). Cogburn is also the director of the Collaboratory on Technology Enhanced Learning Communities (Cotelco) linking South Africa and the University of Michigan. In the latter, Professor Cogburn links teaching about globalization with his central research question about how the global information infrastructure might be organized around the global commons rather than a notion of information as property.

16. Richard Nisbett, The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why (New York: The Free Press, 2003). For another approach to this geography of psychology, see Shinobu Kitiyama, "Toward Globalizing Psychology," Journal of the International Institute 11, 2-3 (2004), <>.

17. So characterized the discussion following a presentation of Nisbett's work in a seminar organized by the Globalization, Technology and Culture initiative at the University of Michigan International Institute on April 26, 2003.

18. This, for example, motivated the presentation by C. K. Prahalad at the Symposium, "For a University of the World," March 27, 2003 (webcast at <>) and in "Becoming a Global University," Journal of the International Institute 10, 3 (2003), <>.

19. For example, Patricia Gurin, Eric L. Dey, Sylvia Hurtado, and Gerald Gurin, "Diversity and Higher Education: Theory and Impact on Educational Outcomes," Harvard Educational Review 72, 3 (2002): 330-66.

20. See Amy Stillman's presentation in the Symposium, "For a University of the World," March 27, 2003 (webcast at <>) and in "Infinite Horizons: Engaging Global Diversity," Journal of the International Institute 10, 3 (2003), <>.

21. Adeed Dawisha and Karen Dawisha, "How to Build a Democratic Iraq," Foreign Affairs 82, 3 (2003): 36-50.

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22. For one reflection of this challenge, see Michael D. Kennedy, "Ideological Diversity and Intellectual Responsibility in Area Studies and International Affairs," Journal of the International Institute 11, 2-3 (2004), <>.

23. Peter L. Berger, "The Cultural Dynamics of Globalization," in Many Globalizations: Cultural Diversity in the Contemporary World, ed. Peter L. Berger and Samuel P. Huntington (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 1-16.

24. I see this contribution as an extension of that engagement, fully aware that my own location shapes what I can observe and articulate. I certainly have come a long way in watching these performances, and what I write below is a result of what I have learned. I take that to be the point of Kitchen Prayers; to extend the circle through dialogues and performances of all kinds. This is what I can manage in my own sociological repertoire, informed as an Irish-American specializing in the study of Poland, and as someone ultimately concerned with the sociology of globalizing knowledge.

25. Václav Havel, "Truth in the Information Age," Journal of the International Institute 8, 2 (2001) (see <>).

26. D. G. Hart, The University Gets Religion: Religious Studies in American Higher Education (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), 53.

Page  183
Forgetting Amalek
Konstanty Gebert


"You shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heaven—you shall not forget." [1] Thus the Torah (Deut. 25:19) enjoins the Jews. Amalek is the name of a nation which, during the exodus from Egypt, had attacked Israel from behind, murdering the stragglers and the weak, at a place called Rephidim (Deut. 25:17-19; Exod. 17:8-16). What concerns us here is the contradictory nature of that commandment: it is not possible to "wipe out the memory" of an event, and simultaneously "not forget." Traditionally, Jewish commentators (for example, Maimonides) have resolved this issue by pointing to different modes of memory: Amalek's memory is to be wiped out from the written record, while his treachery should be orally remembered. This, however, begs the issue, for even if this kind of split memory was possible, the enemy's name would still remain—in several separate passages—in the Torah. The Torah commands us to do that which it itself refuses to.

The case of Amalek is significant in that it is a relevant example of a community trying to deal with a traumatic experience. Remembering seems to grant immortality to the perpetrators, forgetting would be disloyal to victims and cruel to survivors, depriving them also of experience and knowledge, and thus making them vulnerable again. Beyond that, the story of Amalek addressesPage  184 the crucial question of radical evil in history, its specificity and the reactions it elicits. Both issues surface each time a community is confronted with a particularly violent and treacherous attack. How to remember the victims without immortalizing the perpetrators? How to have the understanding of their motives, which is necessary if they are to be resisted, without creating a semblance of an understanding for such, which would betray the memory of the victims?

The dilemma of memory/oblivion is not the Torah's alone. We all remember the perpetrators of evil, thus granting them a functional immortality, much better than we remember the providers of good. Our memory is populated by Amaleks; indeed, they may at times become the founding-stones of our identity. Emil Fackenheim's "614th Commandment" (to supplement the 613 contained in the Torah) states this with terrible clarity:

Jews are forbidden to grant Hitler posthumous victories. They are commanded to survive as Jews lest the Jewish people perish. They are commanded to remember the victims of Auschwitz lest their memory perish. They are forbidden to despair of man and his world, and to escape either into either cynicism or otherworldliness, lest they cooperate in delivering the world over to the forces of Auschwitz. Finally, they are forbidden to despair of the God of Israel, lest Judaism perish. [2]

Apart from the first sentence of the quote, there is nothing in it—if one substitutes "evil" for "Auschwitz"—which could not have been said by any earlier Jewish teacher, including Moses himself. What Fackenheim does is to introduce Hitler, and not God, as the prime reason for obeying God's commandments.

It is not difficult to understand why the Canadian theologian resorted to this extreme measure. The experience of the Shoah [3] had made many Jews turn away from their religion, any religion, or even any Jewish identity—in protest against the seeming indifference of the God of Israel to the murder of His people. By formulating his 614th Commandment, Fackenheim puts them in what anthropologist and psychiatrist Gregory Bateson tagged a "double bind" and Joseph Roth's Yossarian would call "catch-22." In brief, Fackenheim tellsPage  185 the Jews that if they reject their identity, they will not be punishing God, but rewarding Hitler. [4] Even if you no longer can believe in God, Fackenheim seems to be saying, you still have to keep believing in Him; even if you no longer want to be Jewish, you still have to retain your identity. Otherwise you will place yourselves on the side of those who were responsible for your suffering in the first place. For Fackenheim, then, "remembering Amalek" becomes the central commandment—and thus, of course, is Amalek immortalized.

The Torah's Narrative

It is important to note that Amalek alone is singled out for eternal memory/oblivion from among all of Israel's enemies, because of the singular evil of his acts. Amalek had, without provocation, attacked the Jews from behind, killing the stragglers and the weak. The victims were unable to defend themselves, and their deaths were therefore certain once the enemy's decision was made. Furthermore, the attackers' goal was to kill all, or as many as possible, of the victims, not to capture or enslave them, which would give some victims some chance of survival. Finally, the victims' fate was not a consequence of their prior actions, but only of result of being at a certain place at a certain time. [5]

It is only about this particular enemy that the Torah says: "[God] maintains a war against Amalek, from generation to generation" (Exod. 17:16). The special emphasis put on Amalek singles out his evil among the many other evils encountered in the Torah's narrative: there is no other commandment similar to the one concerning him, not against the Pharaoh, not against Jewish idolaters, not against the destroyers of the Temple. Amalek's evil is radically different, in the sense that it leaves its victims no chance of survival.

Let us take from the Torah's narrative elements that might prove to be useful in analyzing human reactions to evil. First, then, there is in the Amalek story the intimation of an evil so radical, that it assumes a character different from "ordinary" evil. The distinguishing trait is the impossibility of avoiding it, once the perpetrators had made up their mind. When Amalek's decision to attack the Jews from behind was made, the fate of the weak and stragglers was sealed. Second, this evil is indiscriminate, and affects all its victims regardless of their actions: they cannot choose to avoid it, either by having taken anticipatory action, or by giving in to their persecutors. Both characteristics are also typical of victims of huge natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes, but suchPage  186 calamities are not willed, while radical evil is always an act of intentional agency. What distinguishes human radical evil from natural disasters is of course the element of agency and responsibility.

It is important to note that this radical evil is, in the Torah's narrative, historicized. Amalek appears at a certain moment in history, and it is conceivable that he will disappear from it before history runs its course. In fact, he already has disappeared, in the more immediate sense: there is no contemporary or historical nation by that name, nor is there any archeological record of its existence. Amalek lives on only in the pages of the Torah. If not for the injunction to obliterate his memory, his memory would already have been obliterated. According to Jewish tradition, the obligation to wage "God's war" against Amalek is incumbent on Jewish rulers as well, and this is the more narrow meaning of the commandment not to forget. But how would they be able to know whom to fight against, if the memory of Amalek were to be wiped out?

One way of understanding this is by assuming that the memory of Amalek will in fact not be wiped out as long as the struggle continues. The final obliteration of the name of the adversary is thus relegated to a distant, possibly messianic future, while the struggle grants him a functional immortality. One passage in the Torah (Num. 20:1) mentions a Canaanite king, whom the commentators actually identify as the king of Amalek, thus saving from oblivion one mention of the accursed name, in apparent violation of the basic injunction. The aim is pedagogical: the king of Amalek had instructed his troops to pretend, even in battle, that they are Canaanites, not Amalekites; further proof of Amalek's treachery which needs to be put to light in order to expose the adversary's inherent evil. For this is in fact, according to tradition, whom Amalek really is—the force for evil in the world, just as Israel is supposed to be a force for good. God's and Israel's struggle against Amalek is therefore a stand-in for the fundamental struggle against evil (commentaries on Num. 20:24).

Traditional Torah commentators explain Amalek's supposedly intrinsic evil nature through genealogy. Amalek the man, king of Amalek the nation, is (cf. Gen. 36:12) the grandson of Esau, Jacob's elder brother who had been tricked out of his birthright for a bowl of lentils. Understandingly bitter against his triumphant younger brother and his descendants, Esau would havePage  187 transmitted these feelings to his grandson, who then acted upon then. On the day after the fatal encounter at Rephidim, Israel does battle against Amalek, with Moses lifting his arms to heaven in order to ensure Israel's victory, which in fact eventually comes (Exod. 17:8-16). But Israel's encounters with Amalek do not end at Rephidim: the spies sent into the Promised Land lose heart when they see, inter alia, the Amalekites' might (Num. 13:29). Soon after Amalek gives Israel "a pounding" in Hormah (Num. 14:45). Indeed, at this point it takes a non-Jewish prophet, Balaam, to declare the thought that "Amalek is the first among nations, its end will be eternal destruction" (Num. 24:20). But even after the Exodus is over, and Israel is settled in the Promised Land, Amalek gives them no rest: as Divine retribution it invades the land and occupies it for eighteen years (Judg. 3:12-14). In Judg. 6 and 8 we again learn of Amalekite raids.

The final reckoning takes under King Saul's reign, when God finally (I Sam. 15) commands him to destroy the Amalekites. The command is unequivocal: "Spare no one, but kill alike all men and children, infants and sucklings, oxen and sheep, camels and asses" (I Sam. 15:3). This is a command of genocide, like the one concerning the fate of those inhabitants of the Promised Land who would resist the Israelite invasion (Deut 20:12, 16). There is, however, one crucial difference: the Torah states that the inhabitants of Canaan did have a choice: they could submit to Israel and live in servitude (Deut. 20:10-12). Only to the Amalekites God offered no choice—as they had left no choice to their Jewish victims at Rephidim, generations earlier. [6]

King Saul is shocked and—according to the Talmud—questions God's orders: "If Amalekite men are sinful why must the children perish and their cattle die?" (T.B. Yoma 22B). Nonetheless, he then goes on to execute God's orders—and the Amalekites—but fails to be fully obedient. From the massacre he saves some prime Amalekite sheep and oxen, to be offered as sacrifice to God, and the Amalekite king Agag. Faced with God's wrath Saul finally complies, by slaughtering both the animals and Agag—but never is God's favor to return to him again.

Nor are the Amalekites to disappear. According to the Talmud (T.B. Megillah 13A), King Agag's stay in captivity was long enough for him to beget a son, and so the Amalekites escaped extermination. They will return to briefly kidnap two of king David's wives (I Sam. 30); an Amalekite will kill King SaulPage  188 and his son Jonathan after their defeat at David's hands (II Sam. 1). Psalms (89:8) mentions them among the nations which plot to "wipe [Israelites] out as a nation; Israel's name will be mentioned no more" (89:5). The circle closes: as Amalek had done to Israel, so Israel had done to Amalek. And as Israel attempts to erase Amalek's name, so does Amalek conspire to erase the name of Israel.

The symmetry is not complete, however: while Israel's goodness is conditional upon obeying God's commandments (cf. Lev. 11:44 etc.), Amalek's evil seems to be absolute. In other words, while it is amply evident from the Torah that Jews can also do evil, there is no indication that Amalekites might also be capable of doing good. This is, anyway, the way they are perceived in Jewish tradition: though the direct genealogical line stemming from Esau ends with King Agag, there is no shortage of Amaleks in later Jewish history, though the progeny of Agag's hypothetical son cannot be traced. And so, Haman, king Ahasverus's evil counselor in the Book of Ester is considered to "be" Amalek, as are later oppressors and persecutors in Jewish history, through Roman generals and Crusader leaders right down to Adolph Hitler and Yasser Arafat.

Just How Evil Is Amalek?

There are two problems with this irremediably evil view of Amalek, however. In Judaism man has free choice and, if Amalek is unable to choose good, they are not human, and therefore (like angels who are unable of choosing evil) beyond the sphere of moral discourse. Some authors do in fact treat "Amalek" as the generic name of evil, and read his putative descendant Haman's name, for instance, into the description of the First Sin. [7] The other problem is that we do not know of any evil acts committed by Amalek against anybody but the Jews. Since their evil is then, so to speak, "Israel-specific," then it must relate to what makes Israel specific, i.e., their chosenness. But since that chosenness is itself conditional, this implies that Amalek's evil is conditional as well. This in turn suggests that if Israel were to do evil, Amalek would no longer have reason to commit evil against them. Yet we know (Judg. 3:12-14) that Amalek did invade and occupy Israel precisely as punishment for Israel's transgressions. This therefore seems to indicate that either Amalek is a moral automaton, and therefore irrelevant to a discussion of human behavior, or it is capable of deciding his own conduct on the basis of his own criteria. For the sake of the discussion, let us then adopt the latter possibility—and see how itPage  189 can affect Israel's mandated remembering/oblivion.

We must remember, however, that all that we know of Amalek is what the Torah tells us—that is, for those who do not necessarily believe in the Divine origins of the text, what Israel remembers. Now all the mentions made of Amalek in the Torah are negative—but this could be the result of an active process of forgetting. All other nations that Israel encounters in its history are given a more variegated presentation: Egypt is not only the house of slavery but also a refuge from famine, the Hittites are not only a Canaanite nation to be pushed aside but also those who sold Abraham the cave of Machpelach, and so forth. Amalek alone is seen as an implacable enemy only. Is this because this was really the case—or because the perceptions of Amalek as such an enemy, from the disastrous first encounter onwards, made any other remembrance impossible?

Though we cannot know for sure, we certainly cannot discount this possibility. In other words, the image of Amalek in the Torah would be a construct, based on a first traumatic experience, and not necessarily on real knowledge of the Amalekite nation. The process of remembering would then be one of forgetting as well, and the memory/oblivion contradiction would thus paradoxically be solved. "Remember" all the evil Amalek has done to you, and "blot out the memory" of everything else.

By the heinousness of their first act, the Amalekites established themselves in the eyes of the Israelites as those who are heinous. Remembering that about the Amalekites had an obvious survival value; remembering anything else might not.

This memory, though obviously traumatic, was at the same time easy, in a way—all you had to remember about Amalek was this one thing. Nothing else—not the customs nor the trading patterns not the history nor, say, the interesting textiles they might have produced, was of any importance. And finally, it made unimportant the question of why Amalek was evil. He was evil because he was Amalek, and this made all radical evil Amalek. In other words, when the Talmud suggests that King Agag had the time to beget a son, it simply fills in the missing link in the chain between Esau and any later or contemporary radical evil. Since radical evil exists, so does Amalek. The memory of Amaleks past creates the Amaleks of the future.

Page  190

Remember what Amalek did to you, on the way when you were leaving Egypt, that he happened upon you on the way, and he struck those of you who were hindmost, all the weaklings at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted, and he did not fear God. It shall be that when YHVH your God gives you rest from all your enemies all around, in the land that YHVH your God gives you as an inheritance to possess it, you shall wipe out the memory from under the heaven—you shall not forget. (Deut. 25: 17-19).

This is, then, what we are to remember about Amalek. Not the fact that on the next day Israel had a victorious confrontation with the Amalekites. Not the fact that the only other encounter with them during the Exodus—the "pounding" at Hormah—barely merits a one-sentence mention in the book of Numbers. Not that the Amalekite invasions of the Promised land described in the book of Judges, or the two incidents during King David's reign seem trivial when compared with what not only the Assyrians or Philistines will do, but with the civil wars between Israel and Judea. And not that in the passage from Psalms the Amalekites are but one of many plotters, neither most prominent nor most dangerous. We remember the enemy through his first, indeed heinous act, and project that memory on all subsequent ones. Everything Amalek does is seen in the light of Rephidim, and only that which is illuminated by that light is remembered.

Does this mean that we have created a bogeyman, that the only danger there is is in our head? No. The attack at Rephidim was truly vicious. There is a special kind of evil in attacking those without defense, in the murder of the faint and weak. Israel did not invent Amalek—Amalek impressed itself indelibly on Israel's mind by that act. Only possibly Pharaoh's order to exterminate all Jewish male newborn could in Israel's experience at the time rival in atrocity with Rephidim, but that act had followed a long positive history of cohabitation with the Egyptians, especially when Joseph was prominent at court. Of Amalek, all that Israel had known was the radical evil committed at Rephidim—and Rephidim would henceforth define Amalek in Israel's eyes. And for this, as in the case of any other atrocity, it is the perpetrators who bear responsibility. This statement, obviously, has implications that go beyond the story of Amalek.

Page  191

The Amalek Image

On the basis of the story of Amalek, radical evil can be defined as an intentional group attack on a collectivity of individuals, selected necessarily to be defenseless, but possibly also on the basis of other characteristics, with the aim of exterminating them. It is important to note that this definition does not take into consideration the justifications that the perpetrators might give for their act. It is assumed that, on the basis of the natural right of humans to life, such justifications are to be considered irrelevant. [8] Wars of aggression, genocide and terrorism are examples of such radical evil.

Its impact on victims is such as the impact of Rephidim on the Israelites. The perpetrators are seen though that act and are defined by it. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the genocide of Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs, and 9/11 are but some recent examples of the above. In all cases, one net result of the perpetrators' actions is the development of an Amalek image of themselves in the eyes of the victims. The Kuwaitis now see their Iraqi neighbors mainly through the prism of the horrors of the occupation. After ages of more or less peaceful, but certainly once fondly remembered coexistence, the last thing Bosnian Muslims now want is to live next door to the Serbs again. And 9/11 has created a seemingly unredeemably hostile image of Arabs and, more widely, Muslims in the eyes of the American public.

Obviously, it is the perpetrators themselves who are responsible for the creation of this "Amalek" image. But on the other hand, it goes without saying that such an image, like any reductionist representation, necessarily distorts reality. This does great disservice to the community the perpetrators are part of, for, unless we assume they are all evil (and this is doubtful even in the case of Amalek), it stands to reason they are not. But by the same token, it is incumbent on that community to show the Amalek perception is mistaken: by dissociating itself from the perpetrators, condemning them and bringing them to justice, expressing sympathy for the victims, offering moral and material compensation—and foremost making sure this does not happen again.

But to do so, the community must enjoy a modicum of liberty. The Iraqis are in no position to dissociate themselves from the crime their regime has committed and, until a measure of freedom is restored to them, we will never know if in fact they want to, or are indeed aware of that demand. Bosnian Serbs (and Serbs in Serbia) do enjoy that freedom. However, it would appearPage  192 that many of them either deny the crimes themselves ("all lies"), their particular responsibility ("it was a war and all sides did nasty things"), or the need for a reckoning ("we cannot be held responsible for the criminal acts of psychopaths and fanatics"). [9] While the first two reactions are usually given in obvious ill faith, the third is often genuine and can in fact be mistaken for the postulated dissociation from the perpetrators. But in this case the dissociation is to avoid the burden of responsibility, not to endorse it. It is not a step forward toward changing the Amalek image; it is a step back.

In the case of radical evil, this is a crucial issue. Because of its particularly heinous nature, radical evil has to be addressed by the perpetrators' community first through acknowledging it, and then by rejecting its perpetrators. The discourse has to be: "Yes, we did it. Now we condemn it. We pay homage to the victims and pledge never to permit this to happen again." Perhaps had Amalek the next day at Rephidim done something similar, the Torah would not contain the commandment to remember/obliterate his memory? It can be argued that Willy Brandt's gesture at the Warsaw Ghetto monument, where he unexpectedly knelt during the first state visit by a German chancellor since the war, made Polish-German reconciliation possible. On the other hand, the fact that no Croat Willy Brandt appeared to apologize to the Serbs for the wartime crimes of the Ustasha, helped convince Serbs that the Croats are unrepentant and ready to do it again if given a chance. As Yugoslavia disintegrated, Belgrade decided to make a preventive strike against the "successors of the Ustasha," thus plunging the country into bloody war. It should be noted that a Croat Willy Brandt could not have appeared for, under Tito and his successors, no one could speak in the name of the Croat nation, for any reason—such was the fear of the recrudescence of nationalism. This perverse mechanism produced in the end the very disaster it was trying to avoid.

The Role of the University

It is interesting to note that, of the three examples given above, it is post 9/11 America which seems least inclined to succumb to the Amalek image. Acts of violence against Muslims or those thought to be Muslims were rare and immediately condemned, and the body politic went to great pains to explain that the war on terror is not a war on Islam. Though some actions of internal security agencies, especially at universities, seem to belie this statement, itPage  193 is a fact that mass hysteria has been successfully averted. To the contrary, it seems at times that some milieus in the United States, academe first of all, are willing to bend backward to try to understand the motives of America's new enemies. Though this is obviously the best way of avoiding the development of an Amalek image, it raises the thorny issue of the line separating understanding of from understanding for. And it also seems to point to a specific aspect of the American experience: its lack of exposure to radical evil, at least on American soil.

A certain Ukrainian professor of history, who had managed to flee to the West in the aftermath of World War II, eventually made his way to the United States. [10] After lecturing for barely a semester at an East Coast university, he decided to return to Europe, giving up American comfort and security for the harsh realities of exile in a war-torn continent. To his friends, flabbergasted by his decision, he explained: "I cannot teach history there. You see, they do not believe in the devil."

This particularly American trait is by no means contradicted by polls indicating that a surprising percentage of Americans actually believe in the existence of the Evil One. The devil Americans seem to believe in is a personal adversary, tempting them as individuals away from the straight and narrow. This is not what the Ukrainian professor had in mind. The devil he, and so many other Europeans, had encountered throughout the twentieth century, showed his face in the Great Famine and at Babi Yar, in the smoldering ruins of destroyed cities and the triumphant falsehoods of the Ministries of Truth. This devil—that in this text I call radical evil—had spared America, so Americans needed not believe in his existence. "It can't happen here," proclaimed in the 1930s the title of Sinclair Lewis' chilling novel describing his coming, for—as the book's last sentence memorably proclaimed—"a Doremus Jessup [the novel's simple but undefeated hero, a fighter for the truth] can never die." [11]

Shortly after 9/11, I received from the States an email containing a photo of the World Trade Center shrouded in smoke. In the billows someone had discerned—and computer-enhanced—the actual face of the Evil One, horns and all. I wondered what the reaction of the long-dead Ukrainian professor would have been, had he seen this photo. I imagined him throwing his arms up in despair and saying: "They still do not understand. They look at the smoke, not at Herostrates."

Page  194

Doremus Jessup can die. The probable product of a liberal American university, and certainly the incarnation of its proclaimed values of truth, fairness and tolerance, he is mortal both as a man, and as a concept. The dead of 9/11 prove that beyond a shadow of doubt. But for European witnesses of the unlamented past century—and indeed Asian and African ones as well—this is hardly news. They have seen, and continue to see their Jessups, and their families, die in the millions. For after all, the death toll of 9/11 is but half a Srebrenica—and Srebrenica we do know about and remember mainly because the cameras happened to be rolling. That which made 9/11 special was that it occurred in America. It can happen here.

It would have been facile to build a doctrine of European negative exceptionalism, an inverted mirror image of the positive one that had fed much of American collective imagination in the past century. There is, however, no great knowledge, or moral qualities, to be necessarily gleaned from the experience of suffering—especially as there seem to be no limitations to the scale of suffering. Anyone claming special rights because of this experience can have that claim used against him (or her) by another sufferer. Indeed, there is moral fraudulence in claiming such superiority over alleged or real American ignorance and naivete, and there is real evil in asserting—as some have—that the Americans "had it coming to them." And yet one should not, for all the Schadenfreude, dismiss voices from, say, the Balkans or the Middle East, saying that now the Americans "know how it is." For it is true that 9/11 has brought America the experience of suffering, fear and anger, which had so often been the basic staple of much of the rest of the planet. Nothing, after all, resembles one mass killing as much as another mass killing.

The experience, then, was hardly unique—nor has America's reaction to it been. The rallying to the flag, the condemnation of those accused of showing undue understanding for the enemy, the threat to liberal values—hitherto taken for granted—in the public sphere, the justice system, and indeed in academe, are an only too familiar response of a nation under attack. And yet America's reaction to 9/11 was marked by a lesser degree of closing ranks than might have been otherwise expected. From critical comments in the media, through the solidarity with the predicament of America's Muslims to debates such as this one, the strength of the country's commitment to its declared values was rather impressively displayed. Still, it would be foolish to say that there is nothing toPage  195 be discussed.

For there are values, which are not relative, but absolute, such as the right to life, and in freedom and dignity at that. Criticism of these values does not just introduce another, equally worthy perspective into the debate. It contains the threat of liquidating the entire debate, concepts, discussants and all. This was very well phrased by a Nazi activist, on trial for political violence in the waning days of the Weimar republic. The defendant complained that his political rights were being trampled upon. When challenged by the judge that his reference to political rights was inconsistent with the policies he himself advocated, the Nazi replied: "I claim these rights in the name of the values you stand for and, once the tables are turned, I will deny you them in the name of the values I stand for." It would be irresponsible to ignore the historical record that followed.

In journalism, my chosen profession, giving up neutrality is warranted, I believe, when reporting radical evil. I would not trust a journalist who would proclaim himself neutral when covering World War II, for instance, or the Bosnian conflict. But giving up neutrality does not mean one is free to give up objectivity also. Investigating possible misdeeds of the side one empathizes with remains a professional obligation. I believe this model might be useful in considering the obligations of academe when its nation is in conflict.

But should academe at all recognize, let alone endorse, "its" nation? Is that not a breach of trust in the obligations of clerks who, as Julien Benda [12] would have put it, are duty-bound to remain loyal to the "invisible university," and not serve any other master? Benda had a point, amply supported by the obscene support given, say, by Martin Heidegger to the Nazis, or by the Soviet Academy of Sciences to the denunciation of Andrei Sakharov. More pertinent to our immediate area of concern is the endorsement of Islamic terrorism by many academic bodies in the Arab world.

And yet these examples are strongly offset by others, illustrating the consequences of not taking a stand, in the name of protecting science from politicization. In Poland in the 1930s, most academic institutions did not react to the rise of the extreme right on campuses. This led to their approval of "bench ghettoes" and numerus clauses for Jews. The reason mostly given for that was not support for the right wing agenda, but the desire to remain impartial in a conflict between the right and the left, which affirmed equal rights for Jews.Page  196 Finally, it is possible to both endorse Benda's ideal and at the same time support "one's own," as in the case of the guilty silence of the Israeli Academy of Sciences when the building of its Palestinian counterpart was recently vandalized by Israeli troops.

There are clearly then conflicts in which it is impossible for academe not to take sides. This obviously leaves open for discussion the question of what the criteria are, and whether the situation in which America finds itself after 9/11 is one of those conflicts. But this discussion, of course, reflects a much deeper controversy, one that is inherently rooted in the very nature of the university.

Young people go to study, and their parents and societies send them there, in order to fulfill two fundamentally contradictory goals. On the one hand, they need to be taught critical reflection, directed first of all at themselves and the society they live in. Without this criticism, they will not fulfill their basic social function as searchers for the truth—and criticism which fears to become heresy if need be is, by definition, emasculated and useless. The implication obviously is that the university should teach heresy as a matter of course—in both senses of the word. One that would refuse to do so, or allow itself to be intimidated into refraining, would fail the basic trust of the people it teaches and the society it serves.

In the same time, however, the university needs to ensure that the ideals and values it strains to achieve are still recognizably those of that selfsame society. Otherwise, it would not be legitimate to expect society to support it—both in terms of the material burden and, more importantly, of entrusting it with its young. A university essentially at odds with that society would have no rights over it and, more practically and more fundamentally, would lose its appeal to most of those it wishes to educate. And what worth would heresy have, if it were to remain locked in an ivory tower?

As long as the value of free debate is shared both by the university and by society at large, this contradiction is being lived through it, ever reformulated and modified to address the issues at hand. If free debate is dead, as in unfree societies, so obviously is the university, and the issue becomes one of resistance. But the real test comes when a free society is involved in a conflict, for this unavoidably leads to the reduction of the sphere of free debate. It is then necessary to decide just how much heresy still to endorse, in the name of serving its first goal, and how much of it to give up, in the name of the secondPage  197 one. The decision is for the university to make, and it will have to live with the consequences.

The Children of Amalek

Be it as may, it seems safe to conclude that it is the job of the university to resist the formation of the Amalek image. On the other hand, it was earlier postulated that Amalek himself should take the responsibility of doing things to prove that the Amalek image is wrong. It seems obvious that the university is uniquely suited to detect such activity, report on it and support it. This may prove the best answer to those who would criticize the university for being too accommodating to Amalek. But for this to happen, Amalek—or the children of Amalek—will have to develop their own remembrance of the event that caused the Amalek image to develop.

They will have to acknowledge the specific nature of radical evil, and that it was committed by their own. They will have to acknowledge that it was committed in order to benefit them, and to reject any such benefit. They will have to ensure that they will do the utmost to prevent this from happening again. Such a program is far from being Utopian. The example of post-war Germany proves it admirably, and Karl Jaspers' "The question of guilt" remains a fundamental reference point. [13] To an appropriately lesser extent, discussions about wartime guilt and responsibility in countries such as France, Poland and Italy—and the terrible lack of such in, say, Lithuania, Romania and, above all, Russia—point both to the hopes one can harbor, and dangers that still lurk.

But all the best efforts of the children of Amalek will come to naught if the children of the victims of Amalek will not do their part. Remembering can be constructed as a response to dis-membering, a collective attempt to symbolically make the destroyed whole again. A crucial element of that construction is the freezing the event in time, and making it thus resistant to change; in particular the perpetrators become a fixed concept, with the concomitant consequences in reality perception—the Amalek image. This is another, and no less paradoxical reading of the Torah's commandment of remembrance/oblivion. The memory of Amalek has to be blotted out—but the only way one can be sure this commandment has in fact been fulfilled is by remembering that the memory of Amalek has to be blotted out, and thus of course remembering Amalek.

In the psychological theory of paradoxical change, the same phenomenonPage  198 is described in respect to certain forms of neurosis. An event, an action, a feeling is repeated in memory time and time over, precisely because one wants to forget it. The only way to let go, to be free again, is to give up the effort of forgetting—and, by the same token, the pain of remembering. Amalek can be defeated only when he is collectively forgotten as Amalek, and becomes Amalekites—a collection of individuals. This is only possible when the event of radical evil can be rendered in memory on different planes. One is that of the event itself, which must live in memory out of solidarity with the victims (Milan Kundera had said that totalitarianism is the battle of memory and forgetting). [14] Another is that of the perpetrators, not generalized to include the community they wanted to identify with, but reduced to who they really were, and inclusive, if and when, of the efforts of the perpetrators' community to condemn and compensate the evil.

It is possible to forget Amalek—but only when his acts are remembered, in shared sorrow, by his children together with the children of the victims.

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1. Biblical quotations according to The Chumash: The Stone Edition (Brooklyn, NY: The Art Scroll Series, Mesorah Publications, 1993) for the Pentateuch, and Tanakh (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1985) for the other books of the Hebrew Bible.

2. Emil Fackenheim, "Jewish Faith and the Holocaust" in The Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim, ed. Michael Morgan (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1987), 176.

3. Though the dominant term for the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis in World War II is "Holocaust," this usage is problematic. "Holocaust," a Greek term, designates a burnt offering to the gods. Taken in this sense, it would imply that the murder of the six million was in fact a sacrifice, or that at least it could have religious meaning. But the victims, my family included, did not want to be sacrificed; therefore the sacrifice would have to be seen as a Nazi one, to Nazi gods—certainly not the appropriate way to remember. This is why the Hebrew word "Shoah," indicating destruction, is preferred.

4. The double bind can also be self-imposed. In a Hassidic story I once heard, a righteous man had journeyed to Sodom, climbed on a barrel in the city's market place, and started preaching, urging the inhabitants to repent. He went on like this for fifteen years, and no one paid attention. Finally one day a young boy stopped in front of him and said: "You must have been standing here even before I was born. Do you really think you will convince us?" The righteous man answered: "When I came into this city I did in fact hope this will happen. Now I know it will not—but I still have to go on preaching, because otherwise it will mean that you have convinced me."

5. Amalek might argue, however, that the Jews, by virtue of crossing foreign territory, have accepted the possibility they might be attacked. It is not clear if Rephidim, where the attack occurred, was in fact claimed by any nation. This argument would also imply that it is legitimate to kill foreigners just because they are there—hardly an acceptable position. Furthermore, Amalek is weakened by the treacherous nature of their attack: from behind, on the stragglers and the weak. On the other hand, criticism can be raised of the Jewish leaders, Moses and Aaron: had they arranged Israel in a different marching order, with the weak and stragglers in the center and armed menPage  200 bringing up the rear, the tragedy might have been averted. This, however, would imply a permanent militarization of the Exodus, and the Jews believed that, after the defeat of Pharaoh's army, they faced no more threats. The Exodus had but started and the escapees' level of organization was probably not yet sufficient.

6. Another difference would be that, while the conditional command of genocide in Canaan is contained in the book of Deuteronomy, part of the Pentateuch, or Torah in the narrow sense, the unconditional command of genocide of Amalek is contained in the book of Samuel (I), part of the Hebrew Bible but outside of the Torah in the narrow sense, and therefore, for non-Orthodox Jews at least, not Divinely revealed but only inspired.

7. This is possible by a Kabalistic reading of Gen. 3:11, in which God asks Adam: "Have you eaten of the tree (ha-min ha-etz) from which I commanded you not to eat?" The only difference between "ha-min" and "Haman" is vowel marks, which in Hebrew are usually not marked.

8. The recent Human Rights Watch report, which calls Palestinian suicide terror attacks a crime against humanity, explicitly rejecting any legitimization for them in previous, possibly unlawful acts by the Israeli military, is a case in point. See Joe Stork, Erased in a Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks against Israeli Civilians (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 2002). By the same token, of course, no Palestinian atrocity can justify possible crimes committed by the Israelis.

9. All the above are recurrent quotes from conversations with Serbs from Bosnia and from Serbia I had during and after the Bosnian war. It must be stressed that, although the sheer dimensions of Serb crimes make accounting in their case more urgent than in others, similar though less intensive denial can be encountered also among Croats, both from Bosnia and Croatia. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was among the Bosnian Muslims, who were mainly victims of both sides, that I found the greatest willingness to address the issue of crimes committed by their own side. These observations are supported by the attitudes adopted by the respective states towards extraditing their war crime suspects to the Hague: none, bar Slobodan Milosevic on the Serb side (Biljana Plavsic had turned herself in, other Serb suspects were forcibly arrested by international forces), some grudging extraditions, with stiffening resistance and finally refusal on the Croat side, and almost faultless cooperation on the Bosnian Muslim Page  201side.

10. The story has been told by the former Ukrainian ambassador to Poland, Dymytro Pavlychko, at a conference at the Pogranicze Center, Sejny, Poland, February 2002.

11. Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here (New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1961).

12. Julien Benda, Treason of the Intellectuals (New York: Norton, 1969).

13. Karl Jaspers, The Question of German Guilt (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978).

14. Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1981).

Page  202Page  203
Sacred Truth and Secular Agency: Separate Immunity or Double Jeopardy? Sharí'ah and National Politics in Nigeria: Lessons for the National University
Lamin Sanneh


In making provision for Sharí'ah personal law in the administration of justice in north Nigeria, the new British colonial authorities agreed to a policy of "open borders" of power sharing with the Muslim leaders. It prevented the secular monopoly of power and produced a hybrid legal tradition combining African customary law, English common law, and Sharí'ah law to set up a vibrant civil society that welcomed new ideas and influences. It resulted in a reduced, modified role for the state in Muslim religious and social life.

Following national independence in 1960, this colonial concordat came under increasing scrutiny, with mounting demands by fundamentalists for Sharí'ah criminal law as part of the federal constitution. A Sharí'ah state would provide immunity for the divine law and stem the onrush of the West's secular fundamentalism. Twelve of the thirty six states in the predominantly Muslim north eventually adopted Sharí'ah. Moderate Muslim opponents, however, protested the move, arguing that, far from granting immunity to God's truth, and against its Western foe, a Sharí'ah state amounts to double jeopardy in the sense of secular breach (or takeover) of sacred truth and a diminished role for civil society. Both secularism and theocracy show the flip-flop role of the state, now as friend and now as Page  204foe of religion, leaving the moderate position of pragmatic, unmeddlesome secularism as a plausible third way of dialogue and encounter. That, in brief, is the central thrust of this chapter.

The Background: Confrontation, Containment, or Dialogue?

The terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001 prompted a great deal of reflection on the deeper issues involved in the violent collision of East and West. Assuming confrontation to be inevitable in a world of irreconcilable hostility, many see military response and vigilant security measures to be sufficient in disposing of the radical fundamentalist challenge. It is, admittedly, not difficult to see how the military solution should be attractive to people who learnt to cut their teeth on the predigested rusk of Cold War moralizations, yet, at the same time, hard to see how that can substitute for long-term engagement on the scope and cogency of liberal democratic values confronted with a radical fundamentalist ideology. Military strikes alone are unlikely to take care of that ideology, because for the terrorists the two wrongs of infidel hegemony abroad, compounded by infidel affluence at home, do not make a right. It is, accordingly, the 'closed borders' of fundamentalist ideology, the charmed circle of its self-reinforcing logic that we should place under unflinching scrutiny.

Subject and Method

In this light, Islamic radicalism should be viewed as something deeper and wider than a merely visceral rejection of the West. [1] That complicates matters for us, for it sidesteps the U.S. administration's expedient call to take sides. The heavy weather view of the terrorists as the epitome of hatred and of intolerance of everything Western overlooks the other directions from which the wind of change is blowing in general mainstream religious life and practice. The Israeli/Palestinian crisis, for instance, is a cause célèbre in popular anti-Western diatribe, as also in the chemistry of fundamentalist grievances, yet, the merits of the cause duly acknowledged as with a road map to peace, it is not an attack on Islam's truth claims.

What today goes by the name of religious radicalism had in earlier times often taken the form of rigorous intellectual inquiry, unflinching spiritual discipline, and unsparing personal scrutiny, all of that assiduously expressed Page  205in the creation of alternative communities and congregations of practice and devotion. [2] Such were the demanding hijrah enclaves and zawáya retreat centers, both designed for optimum personal and collective purification, and the mosques that were also hostels and hospices (ribát, ribátát) devoted to cultivating hospitality and friendship for the footloose and earth-bound (lil-musáfirín wa-l-fuqará'i), as well as to fostering scholarship and study for the gifted poor and the diligent stranger, "per l'amore di Dio." [3] There were, in addition, the prayer cells that called people away from worldly cares and distractions.

These hinge communities constituted a moral repudiation of what John Locke calls "the pretense of religion," and of the parasitic, cutthroat values of a heedless generation. They were a radical call for a life of liminal transition, of hijrah-bound dedication, in a moral vocation of faith, humility, self-examination, and trust, rather than of animosity, violence, and destruction. It was tantamount to a rupturing of hard-set tradition and to an unsparing appraisal of the standard and the conventional. The personal risk and sacrifice involved in such undertakings were considered a small price to pay to uproot the moral turpitude of an indolent status quo. It was, for example, the poet-king of Seville, Mu'tamid (1069-1090), who, presiding over an age of stylish extravagance, signaled the approaching end of Umayyad Spain with a fin de siècle frivolous call to his people: "Fling yourself into life as onto a quarry; it lasts no more than a day." [4] The pillaging Almoravids became the King Stork he conjured up. [5]

As a contrast in study we may consider the career of Shaykh Shiháb al-Dín al-Suhrawardí (d. 1234), a famous Qádirí spiritual master and missionary pioneer (murshid, muqaddam), who adopted a radical but nonviolent path, appropriating the language of effort, striving, and personal uprooting to commend his demanding program of spiritual awakening and moral renewal. In a guide for his disciples, al-Suhrawardí instructs them to tear themselves from native land, from friends and familiar things, and to exercise patience in calamity, and to expunge from their hearts all that causes obstinacy, intolerance, and blindness. Dead skins, he says, like corrupt regimes, coarsen and turn inflexible with time, and can be restored to their potential of softness and of supple delicacy of texture by the rotation of fasting, prayer, devotion, and moral rectitude, and just so can hardened hearts, and their corrosive traits of natural corruption and innate coarseness, be smoothened by the "tanning of travel." [6] That metaphor describesPage  206 with laconic clarity the transformative power of movement with purpose, of work as a growing vocation. There can be no turning back, no retreat into shrunken boundaries.

The liminal image of travel as intellectual "tanning" might stand for the "threshold" mission of the University community as a frontier of liberal learning where teachers and students traverse and cross the departmental boundaries of knowledge in order to participate in the means and fruits of their work. Knowledge is not just about hoarding facts and objects, or about their yield and use, valuable as that is, but about engagement and commitment. People can thus critique prejudice, proprietary claims, and the disciplinary borders that frame them. Minds are broadened, sympathies deepened, and the spirit of open inquiry refined. The national University should not be the designated metronome, the public register, of adopted national mandates, but a dynamic environment for shaping humane, cosmopolitan ideas and values that bear directly on the national agenda in a critical way. Theprophylacticbelt of black-and-white moralizations with which a breached nation girds its loins in defense of its innocence conflicts with the open borders, with the "heretical" intrusions, that define the academic mission of the national University. We should in the concluding remarks return to that theme in light of al-Suhrawardí's teaching of the radical path of ceaseless quest offering release from the confinement of habit, with unimagined benefits for those who choose it, the obstacles and momentary setbacks notwithstanding. Truth is in the daring, not in retreat or inertia.

Sharí'ah and Colonial Advocacy

We may bring these insights of open and free inquiry to bear on the contemporary religious debate on the Muslim response to the secular West. In spite of the slogans and rhetoric, the debate has roots in a broad and venerable intellectual tradition, as the example of the Sharí'ah debate shows. The debate is concerned with an ongoing historical challenge about what Sir Muhammad Iqbal called the "reconstruction of religious thought." [7] Using Nigeria as a case study, we should pay close attention to the critical Islamic tradition as a subtle feature below and behind the turbulent polemics of the moment, a scrutiny that should resonate with the University's mandate of public scrutiny.

Sharí'ah penal code is being promoted as the constitutional right ofPage  207 Nigerian Muslims, including the right of establishing an Islamic state and abrogating the secular constitution regarded as incompatible with the Sharí'ah. Fundamentalists oppose secularization, or so they claim, and the Western powers that spread it. Instead, they back Sharí'ah, understood here as the divine law and its accompanying tradition of jurisprudence and legal scholarship, known as fiqh. Anti-secular fundamentalism tries to ground itself in orthodox religious sources, tracking the adopted course of political change with the help of rules of guidance and precedent available to Muslims. While it is true that such opposition feeds anti-Western radical sentiment, it is not always the case that it leads to violence, though sometimes it does, admittedly.

Sharí'ah civil law is in the main a routine and conventional quotidian code, concerned primarily with ritual laws, and with guidance, encouragement, reconciliation, and assurance, and widely observed as such in the Muslim world. Colonial rule, for instance, made the decision to engage Islam's intellectual tradition by concluding that nowhere is that intellectual tradition better represented than in Islamic legal science. One such colonial assessment described it as "a vast science [representing] the genius of the same people which gave arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, astronomy, optics, chemistry and medicine to the Western world, and generally stood at the cradle of modern science." It is in legal scholarship that the genius of Islam "has exhibited itself in all its power and exactitude." [8]

Sharí'ah was administered in Islamic Qádí courts headed by trained Muslim magistrates. In 1956, a Muslim Court of Appeal was set up in Kaduna, the then northern capital, later upgraded to have jurisdiction in Sharí'ah appelate cases. Law manuals were translated from Arabic and placed in the hands of justices; schools and institutes were founded by the government to train Muslim officials; students were recruited to enroll in these places of higher learning; tribunals were set up to handle Muslim issues; Islamic appellate procedures were instituted; and budgets created to underwrite the costs of implementing the Sharí'ah code. What emerged from the synthesis of classical Islamic law and the customs and exigencies of Muslim African societies under Western colonial rule represents an important venture in comparative law. With a possible few exceptions, there is little earlier evidence of such hybrid legal work being carried out anywhere in the modern Muslim world. [9]

The motivation for such legal work was the colonial government'sPage  208 interest in investing in the local legitimacy and stability of alien suzerainty over Muslim populations, looking to the ink-pot rather than to the gun for long-term acceptance. In the process, Muslims were trained and equipped to run a modern state, the sort of political apprenticeship administrators were unwilling to extend to Christian subjects except as trustees of the secular state. [10] This policy disparity would have an important bearing on the divergent attitudes of Muslims and Christians towards secularism.

The colonial authorities were, notwithstanding, opposed to Sharí'ah as penal law because of their desire to preserve the distinction between criminal and civil law, with the state as the sole repository of criminal justice. [11] Officials desired to maintain uniformity in the administration of justice throughout the colonial territories, and, accordingly, restricted Sharí'ah to the status of customary law, leaving the state free to design and enforce the criminal code. The state legislated and levied taxes; customary law, including Sharí'ah personal law, filled the permitted gaps. A principle of great importance was involved in this arrangement of the British willing to divide state authority between them and their Muslim subjects. Sharí'ah law intervened, in effect, to prevent state monopoly of power, while at the same time accommodating itself to an adjustment of the normative boundaries of Islamic jurisprudence. Colonial directives and African customary law combined with Sharí'ah stipulations to broaden the scope of Muslim civil society.

This modus vivendi created an identity of interest between administrators and Muslim officials, and allowed the Muslim objection to Western infidel power to be modified in favor of accommodation. In appreciation, colonial officials embraced their Muslim protégés as partners and future heirs, turning a Nelson's eye to peculiar domestic practices like slavery and polygamy.

The Roots of Controversy: The Politics of Sharí'ah Enforcement

Once colonial rule ended, a debate erupted about the north's political participation based on Sharí'ah prescriptions about the integration of religion and politics. Nationalist politics had no stomach for pragmatic conciliation lest that detract from the logic of sovereignty. [This writer remembers an interview in the 1970s with the Wazirin Junaidu, a scion of the ruling house of Sokoto, in which the Wazirin spoke of the duty not to surrender the north's Islamic legacy to secular influences emanating from Lagos in the south. Islam,Page  209 he felt, should not be gambled in the cause of national sovereignty.] Military rule under the repressive regime of Sani Abacha (1993-1998) kept the lid on Sharí'ah sentiments. The 1979 Constitution had recognized Sharí'ah courts by giving them jurisdiction over civil matters, a reversion to the colonial status quo. This provision was confirmed in the 1999 amendment to the Constitution which now contained an ambiguous reference to "other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon [Sharí'ah courts] by the law of the State."

Abacha's predecessor, General Babangida (ruled 1985-1993), [12] gave an international twist to the controversy when it changed Nigeria's observer status by enrolling it as a member of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) (Ar. Munazzamah al-Mu'tamar al-Islámí). It sparked local unrest, prompting a decision to form the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in 1986 as an ecumenical grouping of Protestants, Catholics and African Independent Churches. CAN issued a statement protesting the federal government's backing for Sharí'ah courts in north Nigeria and asking for an identical public status for Christianity.

Yet CAN's strategy of demanding privileges for Christians comparable to those being offered to Muslims placed it on the Muslim side of the fault line, with Christians wheeling and dealing on a stage Muslims constructed for their own purpose. The gauntlet Muslims have thrown down is theological in nature, namely, that the business of government is not unrelated to what it means to believe in a God who rules and presides over human affairs. That gauntlet Christians have been unwilling or unable to pick up, saddling them with a deus absconditus and a theology of subjective individual piety. For example, the Kaduna Branch of CAN published a statement asking the government to offset any concessions to the Sharí'ah with similar concessions to Christians by establishing a Christian constitution based on ecclesiastical courts. [13] Muslims called CAN's bluff by challenging them to say which they preferred, Ecclesiastical canon law, English Common Law, or secular law.

The Council of 'Ulama in a press statement in May, 1990, pounced on CAN's charge that as a member of the OIC, Nigeria had become an Islamic country by pointing out that Nigeria's secular constitution prescribes a secular state, the OIC notwithstanding. The 'Ulama persisted: "Strictly speaking, the government [of Nigeria] has more to do with Christianity than [with] Islam[,] since secularism as practiced by the government is an extension of the churchPage  210 concept of government. In Islam, politics and religion are inseparable. For a government to be Islamic, Allah has to be the legislator through the Qur'án and the Sunna of the Prophet." [14] The idea of secularism as church doctrine leaves the field to the 'ulamá to make the religious case.

The first Secretary General of the OIC was Tunku Abdur Rahmán, who resigned as Prime Minister of Malaysia to assume that position. The OIC was registered with the United Nations in February 1974. A number of Islamic agencies were established within the OIC whose religious mandate was stated as the commitment "to propagate Islam and [to] acquaint the rest of the world with Islam, its issues and aspirations." [15]

Membership in the OIC was limited to independent nation states that are Muslim by definition, although several states with minority Muslim populations have joined, including Benin, Sierra Leone and Uganda. However, somewhat inconsistently, India and Lebanon, states with significant Muslim populations, have not been allowed to join. In other respects the OIC seems committed to pursue an Islamist cause by the manner in which it decides on the venue of its meetings, in granting economic assistance from its $2 billion development fund, and in awarding scholarships.

The Sharí'ah Debate: Round Two: National Unity and Religious Difference

A second uncompromising round of controversy erupted, coinciding with the election in May 1999, of Retired General Olusegun Obsanjo, a southerner, and a Christian to boot. The Sharí'ah issue assumed explosive force with the announcement on October 22, 1999, of the inauguration of Sharí'ah rule in Zamfara State by its youthful governor, Alhaj Ahmed Sani Yerima, to the alarm of Nigerian federal authorities and civil rights groups. Yerima had shelved his clean "corporate" image [16] and instead sprouted a shaggy beard that highlighted his handsome face as that of a medieval religious crusader. He declared that the Sharí'ah announcement was the culmination of the hopes, ideals and aspirations of Nigerian Muslims, the long-delayed awakening of the dormant ummah from its silence and inactivity. National independence in 1960, Yerima charged, had given the north's Muslim majority only a partial victory, leaving the way open for the full implementation of the Sharí'ah code some day. That day had now arrived with his announcement, he declared. As a corollary, a controversial dhimmí status was implied for non-Muslim fellow Nigerians.

Page  211

Yerima received the support and endorsement of the Arab world. [17] He obtained a grant equivalent at the time to N500 million from the Arab states to underwrite his program of de-laicization of state structures and institutions. The grant was more than the total state revenue. Yet even such substantial outside involvement failed to move the federal government to action. President Obasanjo temporized, hoping against hope for the problem to go away.

Yerima, meanwhile, moved swiftly to consolidate the gains of his religious revolution. He created a council of 'ulamá leaders, and, with their blessing, recruited Islamic preachers at a monthly salary of N10, 000 to teach Islam among the peasants and dispossessed. He set up mobile youth brigades as foot soldiers of Sharí'ah rule. He allocated N240 million of the state's estimated revenue of N400 million to the Ministry of Religious Affairs to buy food to feed the masses during the fast of Ramadan (November/December), and granted Islamic preachers, the regime's mouth pieces, N3million for their personal use during Ramadán. Some N23.3 million was set aside for the building of new mosques. He purchased vehicles for use as public taxis for women only, and distributed one hundred motorcycles to unemployed youths and hundreds of bicycles to messengers on state service. He imposed a N5,000 minimum wage in the state. He established a preacher's council, a zakát poor alms collection and distribution board, and the vigilante youth groups, the Zamfara Youth Council and the Zamfara State Vigilante Group. One report described these groups as "bands of vigilantes in frayed red uniforms, armed with homemade machetes, whips, and clubs," who roam the streets, "detaining anyone suspected of misconduct." [18] These vigilantes have become the terror of the civilian population, acting with state approval as enforcers of Sharí'ah law.

Basking in the glow of his success, Governor Yerima was greeted with cheers when he went on tour in Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia. [19] The governor has dismissed complaints against Sharí'ah law, saying popular support for Sharí'ah seals it against outside objections. The case for Sharí'ah law became now a matter of consumer confidence index, "a dividend of democracy," in the words of Hamza Y. Kurfi, the Solicitor General of Katsina State. [20]

Jolted by Yerima's excesses, and unassured by the federal government's foot-dragging, national human rights and civil liberties groups decided to undertake a detailed study of the fast developing events in the state, and soPage  212 from 11 to 13 February, 2000, a series of meetings took place in Gusau, the state capital. The list of the groups involved in the meetings shows the broad spread of concern in the country: the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Huri-Laws, Center for Criminal Justice Reform and Citizen Awareness, Women in Nigeria (WIN)-Kaduna Chapter, Women Empowerment Program, Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), and a team of journalists.

The state officials interviewed by the human rights delegation declared support for the introduction of Sharí'ah as public code. The justifications offered were based on a mixture of expedience, popular grassroots Muslim demand, electoral promises, proprietary religious rights, and Islamic exceptionalism. The objection of theocratic, or, to be accurate, nomocratic, rule in Zamfara being in open conflict with a laicized federal constitution has been met with the riposte that the same constitution guarantees freedom of religion, a freedom Nigerian Muslims are entitled, and obliged, to invoke to promote Islam. A similar objection that Sharí'ah legislation violates the rights of non-Muslims in the population is met with the insistence that non-Muslims are exempted or protected as ahl dhimma under the Sharí'ah, even if such exemption or protection takes matters out of their hands. [21]

In December 2000, acting under the powers of the recently adopted Sharí'ah penal law, the Kano authorities hauled in hundreds of people, most of them women, deemed guilty of the offense merely of 'speaking in public to members of the opposite sex.' A pregnant, unmarried and illiterate teenager, Ms. Bariya Ibrahim Magazu, claimed to have been raped by three men from her village, who denied the charge. Arraigned before the court for fornication, she was found guilty and sentenced to 100 lashes, instead of stoning by death for guilty married women. [22] The sentence was carried out before a crowd of some 500 onlookers, a few weeks after the birth of her baby. In March 2000, a cattle thief's hand was amputated. [23] A man in Sokoto state had his right hand amputated for stealing a goat. The attorney general of Sokoto applauded the judgment by rewarding the judge with a new Mercedes car. [24] Amputations have taken place in other states. Not surprisingly, Sharí'ah vigilantism has not distinguished between Muslims and non-Muslims, as numerous reports make clear. There were riots in June 2001, in Bauchi State after a bus driver asked his Christian passengers not to mix with the women passengers.

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Islamization of the State and of Society

Yerima is adamant that Sharí'ah law does not breach the boundary between the islamization of the state, which he opposes, and the islamization of society, which he favors. This crucial distinction has roots in a broader Islamic tradition, such as in Turkey, but its specific source in this context comes from other Nigerian Muslim leaders. One such was Alhaji Abubakar Gumi (d. 1992), Grand Kadi of Northern Nigeria and leader of the influential Wahabbi-inspired Izala reformist movement, [25] and another is the Iranian-inspired cleric, Shaykh Ibrahim Yaqoub El [Az-] Zakzaky, the Shí'ite head of the Islamic Brotherhood (sometimes Muslim Brothers) Movement based in Zaria, with a branch in Kafanchan, according to some reports. [26] According to El Zakzaky, who visited Teheran in 1990, the state superstructure must be islamized first on the pattern of the 1979 Iranian revolution before Sharí'ah could be introduced. In that argument the constitution creating the state, presumed to be infidel, must be replaced with an Islamic one based on majlis and shúra (religious counsel and consultation). Only then can the state be considered halál (licit) and acceptable. What exists now, instead, is a schedule of constitutionally mandated popular elections that has no foundation in Islamic law. El Zakzaky, an economics graduate of the University of Zaria, has acquired national prominence as an opponent of the constitution regarded as an instrument of secularization. He declared: "Islamic law is meant to be applied by an Islamic government in an Islamic environment. If you introduce Islamic laws under [sic] an un-Islamic environment, under a system of government which is not Islamic, then it is bound to be an instrument of oppression." [27]

Fed in part by the Sunní-Shí'ite rivalry, this aspect of El Zakzaky's disagreement with Yerima is also motivated in part by the tactical issue of popular elections having given Yerima the power that would likely revert to someone else under the majlis and shúra protocol. The controversy splinters on fine points, but concurs on the main issue of the need for a prescriptive religious state.

On its own terms, however, the distinction between the islamization of society and the islamization of the state offers a potentially productive way of re-framing the debate on the proper relationship between religion and statehood in Muslim thought in general and among Nigeria Muslim leaders in particular. ItsPage  214 great intellectual merit is to shift the focus from the role of the state exclusively to the role of civil society in dealing with issues of tolerance, diversity, and pluralism. The distinction does not deny the challenge of secularism, but instead mitigates it by restructuring it as a matter of the civil order. As a general matter, modernist Arab thought, for instance, has tended to oppose a public role for religion as something outside the purview of public reason, and instead to embrace secularization as the proper domain of democracy. [28] The reasoning is that religion is incompatible with freedom while secularization is conducive to freedom, a polarized dichotomy that sets a collision course for religion and secularism.

The Council of 'Ulamá in Nigeria allows for such a collision course by insisting that secularism advances democracy which is incompatible with true religion. That is why, the Council asserts, Christians have backed both secularism and democracy as part of the "church concept of government." Muslims should, accordingly, oppose secularism and democracy, as illegitimate. [29] In the particular case of its advocates, however, the islamization of society in Nigeria would not politicize religion or oppose democracy in the way that the islamization of the state would. Furthermore, the islamization of society, involving a code of strict personal standards of religious observance, such as prayer, pilgrimage, zakát, and devotion, could proceed with the dual affirmation of a laic state, on the one hand, and, on the other, of the role of Muslims in promoting Islam without denying a similar role for members of other religions. In other words, the effects of civil agency could moderate combative secularism.

Thus could Alhaji Aliyu, the Magaji Gari, a senior political councilor of the Sokoto Sultanate, dismiss the idea of political Islam as mere academic diversion, as "the view of radical academics" who ingratiate themselves with the government. [30] Aliyu's argument allows for the islamization of society by preventing the Sharí'ah from being turned into a bullyrag and instead enhancing the civil scope of society by promoting human community, and enjoining moral standards for conduct and behavior without state authorization. In that way Muslims may embrace a mild form of secularization by supporting the separation of 'church and state' and taking their rightful place in national affairs alongside others.

The proponents of the islamization of the state, on the other hand, favor a different course of action. Shaykh Gumi spoke for such proponents when hePage  215 said that politics was more important than prayer or pilgrimage for reasons of scale. [31] A delinquent Muslim at his or her prayer and devotion brings harm only to themselves, whereas a politically remiss Muslim implicates the larger Muslim community, both present and future. On this philosophical issue, El Zakzaky was proposing to assume the mantle of Gumi, a Sunni, unlike himself, and who, as such, has greater legitimacy in the north's political culture. Yet El Zakzaky's pro-Iranian rhetoric has echoes in unrest elsewhere in the north.

Thus, in May 1979 the Muslim Students Society at Ahmadu Bello University set upon members of a palm wine drinking social club, gutting the Senior Staff Club and attacking the office and residence of the Vice Chancellor before seeking refuge in the campus mosque. When in 1982 churches were attacked in Kano, the authorities, recalling the 1979 riots, blamed the incident on the Muslim Students Society, saying the Society's ideological links with the Iranian revolution were to blame. The smoking gun in the Kano disturbances was a stray pamphlet picked up by a journalist on the streets of Jos, and emanating from the Iranian Ministry of Islamic Guidance. [32] The general point of the authorities that the Iranian link was with factions committed to the islamization of the state connects only partially with the evidence in picking up on a cleavage that has northern roots. El Zakzaky stepped into that breach trailing Iranian colors, but the field was by no means his own. [33]

Gumi in that light advocated islamization of the state even though he had no known Iranian Shí'ite sympathies or links. It may be nothing more than fortuitous that there is a resemblance between the approach of Gumi and that of by El Zakzaky's Iranian-inspired, even if the cause of advancing northern Muslim rights is their common cause. That common cause may explain why Gumi, for instance, could make the pronouncement, without risk of repudiation or sanction, that politics (siyásah) is more important than prayer (salát) even though prayer, unlike politics, is one of the five pillars of faith. For all his reputation as a religious maverick, El Zakzaky has stirred a fiercer controversy without going that far.

The debate about secularism has deep roots in Muslim circles, and is not just the pet theme of Nigerian academic radicals, as has been claimed. [34] It is in that context that El Zakzaky's objections, in spite of their marginal Shi'ite significance, have deepened existing fault lines in a common attempt by all interested parties to shift power from the south to the north. For all intentsPage  216 and purposes, and declarations to the contrary notwithstanding, Yerima, with foreign aid and succor, has in fact turned Zamfara into an Islamic state. He admitted as much in giving evidence to the members of the human rights commission. He said he had been upfront on the matter when he campaigned in the elections. To quote him, "when I was campaigning for this office [of governor], wherever I go, I always start with Alláhu Akbar ('Allah is most great') to show my commitment to the Islamic faith. Therefore, as part of my programme for the state, I promised the introduction of Sharia." [35] The reference, however, to the takbír in the context of constitutional national elections that never administered or invoked the shahádah scarcely constitutes a safe religious foundation for government and public order in Islam: it might attest to nothing more than a self-help personal mandate. Other states pondered Zamfara's example, with Kano, Kaduna, and Niger States, for example, declaring their intention to adopt Sharí'ah law. [36]

Throughout Nigeria, the announcements led to heightened tension, and riots erupted in Kaduna where over 400 people, mostly Igbos, were killed. The killings provoked reprisals in the town of Aba in Abia State in the south where over 450 people, mostly Hausa, were massacred. A temporizing President Obasanjo, laboring under northern suspicions for his southern political ties, was finally dragged into the fray with an act of public hand-wringing over the killings. "I could not believe," he said, "that Nigerians were capable of such barbarism against one another." He then proceeded to a gloomy assessment: "This has been one of the worst instances of bloodletting that this country has witnessed since the civil war [1967-1970]." [37] He gave out a general assurance to Nigerians of "the firm determination of our government to resist any attempt from any quarter to pursue a line that can lead to the disintegration of our country." [38] As if to make penance for his southern connections, Obasanjo proceeded to crack down on the unrest in the south, mobilizing police and military units to rein in vigilante groups, such as the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in Lagos State, whom the federal government accused of acts of "ethnic cleansing." The crisis was threatening to assume an ethnic guise in the south. [39]

Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel Laureate, gave voice to this ethnic sentiment in a statement in which he was quoted as saying that, being neither a Christian nor a Muslim, [40] he wished to assert the virtues of what he called "traditional Orisa" as something authentically African and as such equallyPage  217 entitled to the primary loyalty of Nigerians like himself. He imputed political motives and moral duplicity to those advocating Sharí'ah penal law. In the final analysis, claims Soyinka, these advocates are wolves in sheep's clothing, hiding their political ambitions behind a smokescreen of pious pretense. As an argument, the statement is conspicuous more by what it opposes than by what it advocates. In any case, by the same logic traditional Orisa may be a cover for the south's own political ambition. Which all amounts to saying the statement is tantamount to an evasion of the deep challenge the country faces. Defending "traditional Orisa" in the name of indigenous rights soon runs out of steam against the heavy artillery of cumulative Islamic legal scholarship ranged against it, and may explain why Muslim Yoruba have not rushed to Orisa for refuge, or to Soyinka for solidarity. At any rate, here is Soyinka's statement:

I am neither a Christian nor a Moslem. Definitely, if I have any religion at all it is our traditional [Yoruba] Orisa. As far as I am concerned, both Islam and Christianity are interlopers in Africa spiritually. That is my position. Even though I say I am neither a Christian nor a Moslem, let me make it clear that I studied comparative religions and so I know quite a bit of the Qur'án. We are not totally ignorant even though we are "infidels" and "Kafirs." We are not totally ignorant about the provisions of the Qur'án. And we are saying that some of these people [Sharí'ah advocates] are lying, misusing and abusing the Qur'án. And we also know that we have studied the religious sociology of many countries even in contemporary times and we know very well that their own interpretation of the Sharia is at least different from the one which is being imposed on this country...So let them stop claiming some kind of very special knowledgibility [sic]. They are abusing knowledge. They are abusing faith. They are abusing piety and they are showing themselves to be nothing but real impious secularists who are merely manipulating religion for political ends. [41]

Religion has superseded ethnicity in the north as the driving force of the debate. [42] Exhibiting all the classic symptoms of religious privatization, press and media reports emanating from the south have tended to downplayPage  218 religion and to look instead for a similar ethnic interpretation of the unrest in the north. And so reports spoke of Obasanjo's slowness in taking similar action in areas of Muslim unrest in the north, though they also noted his failure to take on the Sharí'ah issue as a root cause. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), responding to the religious nature of the crisis, nevertheless looked for a solution short of the long-term challenge of Sharí'ah legislation. It issued a statement regretting the slowness of the federal government to respond to the troubles in Kaduna and elsewhere. Archbishop John Onaiyekan, the vice president of the Bishops Conference, said in a public statement that the government should have acted much sooner than the Kaduna riots and taken decisive military action in October 1999, when Yerima was in full tilt mobilizing his followers in Zamfara. [43] Like others in the debate, Onaiyekan was looking to government to overcome the handicaps of government.

The federal government in the end was propelled by events to act, faced as it was with the threat of widespread civil disorder and the break down of law and order. And so there was a concerted, and largely ineffectual, effort at the federal level to demand that the affected northern states renounce Sharí'ah rule. On March 2, 2000, the governor of Niger State, Abdalkadir Kure, announced in Abuja, the federal capital, that his state has renounced the Sharí'ah, though Zamfara remained defiant. At the time, Kure was moved to act by the threatened mass exodus of non-Muslims, mainly Igbo, from Minna, the state capital. Serious economic damage would have been inflicted on the state with the flight of Igbos who make up a significant portion of the middle class. The Emir of Minna, Alhaji Faruk Bahago, met with the leaders of the Igbo community to appeal to them to stay. In spite of such appeals and assurances, and of the amenability of Igbo leaders, Islamists refused to back down and vowed to press with their campaign for Sharí'ah. As late as August, 2000, the Sharí'ah agitation had not abated. The Agence France-Presse reported on August 2 that Katsina had become the fifth state to adopt Sharí'ah law. [44] That notwithstanding, a powerless federal government, handicapped with defending secularism, was reduced to looking to the Islamists for concessions. [45]

The State: Friend or Foe? Civil Society and the Bounds of Sovereignty

The northern strategy to advance its political ambition by deployingPage  219 theological arguments, namely, that religion is too important to abandon in private hands as personal choice, evades the other half of the argument, namely, that religion is too important to entrust to the state, whether religious or not. Gumi's defense of the northern theocratic strategy perpetuates the problem even if it resonates with the pious sentiment that sound religion requires collective state endorsement, for without public enforcement the ideals of religion are empty and pander to wrongdoers and the wicked. [46] The law of God, in that view, demands the law of the state for support and safeguard. Gumi, accordingly, conceded that Muslims and non-Muslims, including Christians, could not be equal under one government. Muslims would not, on principle, accept the authority of a non-Muslim ruler except under special circumstances, such as military rule. [47] Gumi saw partition as the radical answer for Nigeria, though it is not clear whether he meant by that secession by the Muslim north or a loose confederal system allowing for local autonomy. El Zakzaky, for his part, has come at the same issue from a purist angle. The secular state, according to El Zakzaky, is the illegitimate child of the secular constitution, and to overthrow the state it is necessary to overthrow the constitution that gave it birth. Only so can Muslims save themselves from what El Zakzaky calls the idolatrous worship of the secular state. [48] A sovereign secular constitution and a sovereign national state represent a double assault on revealed law and the chosen ummah. The constitution and the national state are an unholy combination, and must be opposed.

These arguments of the religious right, however, are laden with the flaws they wish to remedy. The argument against compromise with the secular state, for example, spirals into the requirement of a shahádah-based state that Sharí'ah government makes obligatory. The religious or secular anointing of the state does not solve the problem of the state; they merely exacerbate it. A religious state is another name for government as political expedience, as the ideological doublette of the secular state as sovereign national dogma. It is in that sense revealing that both Shaykh Gumi and Shaykh El Zakzaky have offered little theological critique of the history of military rule in Nigeria in spite of the doctrinaire secular state military rule fostered and in spite of the conspicuous absence of a religious warrant either for military rule or for an ideological state, both vanguards of secularism.

The Muslim opponents of Sharí'ah law, for their part, have insistedPage  220 that state sponsorship of religion is only political manipulation of religion, [49] and threatens Islam's position on faith as tasdíq, sincerity, and obedience as moral commitment (la ikráha fí-d-dín Q. ii: 256), and that, far from solving the secular challenge within, Sharí'ah rule would leave Muslims helpless before it. For these opponents, if religion is too important for the state to ignore, it is equally too important for the state to co-opt. Sharí'ah belongs with the end and purpose of our temporal and eternal felicity, not with the strategem and means of state control. Responding to the criticism, Governor Yerima has argued that popular support entitles him to the mantle of religious immunity.

Disagreeing with Yerima's claim is Dr. Suleman Kumo, a Muslim lawyer in private practice in Kano and a prominent Sharí'ah activist since 1978. He belongs to the loose circle of critics of the politicization of Sharí'ah. Although known for his pro-Iranian leanings, Dr. Kumo, nevertheless, has stated his objections to Sharí'ah law, saying incompetent and corrupt judges, many of whom would fail a simple character test, are meting out justice. Abuse has been prevalent in these courts. "They are the worst courts. Ninety percent of the area judges, if you were to apply the Sharia rules that witnesses must be upstanding citizens, would not even be competent to testify." [50] Called to serve on a state government appointed committee called the Kano Forum, Dr. Kumo opened a dialogue with members of the militant Ja'amutu Tajidmul Islami (Ar. Jamá'ah Tajdíd al-Islámí), a breakaway group from Zakzaky's Muslim Brothers. Kumo noted that the members were well educated: engineers, medical students, and university-age young men. These people wanted to be self-reliant, to be independent of the government, but felt nevertheless that Islam should have a public role, though they have not said what that role is.

In any case, Tajidmul is an example of the roots of secularization spreading among the fundamentalists, their assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. In the meantime, fundamentalists face formidable obstacles. Thus Maitama Sule, a Kano power broker and friend of the emir, wants to scotch any signs of militant Islam lest a political stampede ensue and religion becomes mere fodder. He was taunting of El Zakzaky's Muslim Brothers, calling them "a group of disgruntled elements who are out to vent their anger and who are joined by undesirable waste products of humanity." [51]

Another example of opposition to the political misuse of Sharí'ah is Mohammed Sani, a tailor and reportedly a devout Muslim. In August 2000,Page  221 Sani preached at an open air meeting to a crowd of fellow Muslims about the banners, bumper stickers, and posters featuring governor Yerima's photograph. He pointed out that such partisan displays were a mockery of the claim that all this was about Sharí'ah. "This is a political campaign, not sharia," he protested. Sharí'ah, he assured his audience, is from God, not from a governor. For his pains Sani was thrown in jail for four months, his enemies charging him with disloyalty to the government. Said Abdul Kadir Jelani, a leading Muslim scholar and an advisor to the government, "Islam does not permit someone to criticize the government." [52] The sentiment echoes the statement of the Council of 'Ulamá, to the effect that, "for a government to be Islamic, Allah has to be the legislator through the Qur'án and the Sunna of the Prophet." Public dissent is anathematized in such a government. Few should miss the irony that it was a secular constitution that sanctioned public dissent and allowed Sharí'ah advocates to mobilize in the first place.

This loose coalition of dissidents has in a city like Zaria a liberal environment, a hinge community of the disaffected that is most hospitable to their reform ideas. Zaria has been a stronghold of anti-establishment sentiments that challenge the government and those who set themselves up as champions of Islam, as if being champions of justice for the common person is less worthy or desirable. Exemplary of this attitude is Sabo Bako of the Ahmadu Bello University. He castigates those in power as feudalistic and corrupt. "The only way you can remain in power," he charges, "is by keeping people down. You must not allow people to know what you are doing and how much money you have. So don't give them education, don't give them fertilizer, don't establish industries for them." [53]

Classical Jurisprudence: Structural Impetus and Local Variation

Perhaps as a tacit attempt to avert such personal use of Islam as political expedience, Muslim jurists elsewhere have sought to give institutional support to the idea of Sharí'ah as civil code in order to deal with the vexing gap between local custom and universal doctrine, between anecdotes and principles. These jurists point out that the Sharí'ah code originated in local practice in which differences of doctrine and emphasis were regarded as natural and as something to be expected. It was the 'Abbásid policy of structural centralization, however, that called for deliberate harmonization between, say, the practices of Medina andPage  222 those of Kúfa in Iraq. The effect on local practice was its being sequestered and systematized so that it could be accorded the status of universal validity. Instead of the fragmentation, polemics, and controversy that hitherto accompanied the work of opposing systems of law bent on pressing general theories from the ad hoc and miscellaneous, the 'Abbásids yielded to their own form of polemics (they flogged and tortured Imám Málik (d. 796) for his scrupulous independence) and presided over an intellectual movement of standardization led by Muhammad ibn Idrís al-Sháfi'í (767-820), justly called the colossus of Islamic legal history. Al-Sháfi'í's simple but potent rule that the sunnah of the Prophet, protected by divine warrant, cannot be set aside by the Qur'án on the pretext of the Qur'án's revelatory primacy, as was prevalent in much local practice, reversed the drift of differences and polemics that threatened to cut Muslims off from a common authority. It is flawed procedure, al-Sháfi'í insisted, to put God and His Prophet at loggerheads. Instead, God's prophet is the key to God's Word.

This rule galvanized the ummah around the recovery and reinstatement of the Prophet's sunnah, and gave legal scholars a standard, variable as it was, of proven consensus and reasoned inference (ijma' and qiyás) against whimsical fragmentation and divergent local practices. Although that was not al-Sháfi'í's stated intention, his new jurisprudence, on account of its sheer intellectual power, nevertheless downgraded historical practice in favor of canonical unity and observance. By subordinating context to normative primacy, al-Sháfi'í successfully gave Islam an essential systematic apparatus, in nominalist terminology. [54] His has been an enduring legacy. [55]

Yet such were the historical roots of Muslim legal theory and practice, of the acts and transactions that have shaped and were in turn shaped by religious life and understanding, that later jurists returned to the issue by building a theoretical framework of the law to connect persuasively with the open and advancing borders of the ummah and its dynamic historical character. [56] These jurists stressed the view that Sharí'ah law, developing in three stages, is a dynamic construction based on the principle of human welfare, defined as five basic interests: religion, life, reproduction, property, and reason. These basic interests form the core of Sharí'ah jurisdiction. A second stage concerns those laws and practices not directly related to the core but assimilated into Sharí'ah on the basis of public convenience (maslaha). One example is silent partnershipPage  223 in trade with its origins in pre-Islamic Arabia. It was a practice in which the Meccans deposited ('invested') cash and goods with traders who set out on commercial ventures. The profits from such ventures were shared with the investors. Though strictly against the Sharí'ah, the practice was eventually so successfully assimilated into the Sharí'ah that many modern Sharí'ah advocates assume it had always been so and offer it as an alternative to capitalist and socialist modes of operation.

The third stage concerns the more pervasive and finer elements of social and cultural practices such as modesty, truthfulness, cleanliness, hospitality, and respect. These have been assimilated into Sharí'ah on the basis of reasonableness and cultural convenience. Under that understanding, the veiling of women in contemporary society, for instance, could be considered dispensable. Cultural adaptation falls under the rubric of 'adát, not 'ibádát, duties owed only to God. A social good, such as the ethic of pluralist co-existence, can be promoted under 'adát, in which case 'adát would determine what is good and desirable, with Sharí'ah endorsing the result. Muslim jurists have tried by such means to avoid the extremes of religion as cast iron code and religion as shifting whim. [57]

As suggested in the title of this paper, general warrants cannot alone uphold sacred truth, nor can specific political enforcement avoid the risk of jeopardizing the moral intent of the religious code. The jurists have recognized in their methodology, for example, that theocracy and ideological secularism pose a common threat to religious truth claims as well as to political legitimacy. The dynamic nature of human existence, the open borders that frame our 'sacred spaces,' defies utopian oversimplification, religious or secular. The hardships and discomforts of life, according to these jurists, are not an argument for jettisoning the religious code, but for its flexible and imaginative adaptation to life. That was how many laws, even though they seem to originate in the Qur'án, had their genesis in local practice. Qur'ánic law on inheritance as pointed out by Noel Coulson, for example, reflects norms and practices familiar to the ancient Arabs once considered heretical and outlandish (jáhilí), and warrants the view that historical practices have given concrete shape and identity to the tradition people held dear and sacred. Precisely on the basis of their open-ended character, such practices became a source of valorization. [58] That notwithstanding, the uses of law should not be confused with the sources of law, just as expedience of enforcement must be distinguished from demandsPage  224 of conscience. Justice is not just a problem of implementation; it is an issue of the moral conscience. [59] An important high point of this stream of Muslim jurisprudence was in the fourteenth century, and it brought to a culmination a development well underway by the ninth century with the evolution of the madháhib, the schools of law, as the work of al-Shaybání (d. 805) shows.

Immunity or Double Jeopardy?

Given the prominence of the religious voice in the debate, it is tempting to assume that all of it revolves around the case for individual tasdíq against that for public enforcement of Sharí'ah penal law. Yet the heart of the issue seems to be the role assigned to the state by each side. One side feels that the islamization of the state, with religion and government united in a single source, will assure immunity for God's truth, while the other side feels that such a step represents double jeopardy for political stability and religious integrity.

This intellectual cleavage has driven much of the momentum of the debate. The demand by Nigerian secularists, mostly from the south, for a constitutional separation of religion and government provokes in the Muslim north criticism on two fronts, first, that separation is a ruse to hand government a carte blanche to embark on innovation, and, second, that religion would be reduced to a personal and private option, having no standing in the public square. It is the major reason why the Council of 'Ulamá allege that secularism is a Christian Trojan horse deployed to attack Islam from within. The allegation, however, befuddles Christian Nigerians and others who have not the slightest notion of 'Christendom' as a political system. Typically, Christian Africans, such as Archbishop Onaiyekan of Kaduna, defend political secularism on pragmatic grounds of equality under the law, national stability, and participation in public life, not for religious reasons. The prominence, in contrast, of such religious reasons in the Muslim case creates a serious imbalance in the national debate, and polarizes attitudes. That secular pragmatism has been the Christian failure, though Muslims misunderstand it by attributing it to theological self-interest. Pragmatism as a relative ethic is its own reward.

Political innovation is the handmaid of secularism, and, for that reason, remains deeply suspect among Muslims. In Islamic terminology, 'innovation' is a code for heretical adding, subtracting, or alteration. Muslim activists recall that the Prophet Muhammad discharged his mission by claiming only that itPage  225 was a confirmation and continuation of earlier messages rather than a break with them. His successors felt they had, and should have, no different mandate with respect to his legacy.

In the secular scheme, by contrast, political innovation is the prerogative of the sovereign national state, with the elected legislature the inviolable shrine of the people's will. The argument by the secularists for constitutional separation belongs with that of popular sovereignty, and, as such, provokes among the Islamists a counterproposal of state-sponsored piety. Given the reality of weakened and ineffective government institutions and structures at both the federal and state levels in Nigeria and elsewhere, and of the accompanying widespread popular disenchantment with failed reforms, it is easy to see why Sharí'ah law has grass-roots appeal among the rank and file. The question, though, is whether even a Sharí'ah-mandated state can do better by offering a solution to the existing failures of mismanagement, public incompetence, judicial corruption, social injustice, the absence of safety and security, falling standards of living, and widespread loss of morale, or whether, instead, Sharí'ah would add just another twist to the discontent, and become thereby compromised. In the end, whatever the moral merit of a cargo, it cannot save a ship out of trim.

Government, by common consent, is necessary, and especially as necessary evil, for otherwise anarchy and mutual hostility would menace life and property. In the pragmatic view, say, in that of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) or of Roscoe Pound (1870-1964), government is normative to the degree that it is publicly effective, or perceived to be effective, and not the other way round lest, as Holmes put it, puritan prudes muscle in to prevent pigs from putting their feet in the trough. (With that statement Holmes Junior disavowed all remaining traces of filial obedience to the humorous but also devout Holmes Senior (1808-1894), composer of the hymn, "O Love divine, that stooped to share.") Yet effectiveness does not insure against tyranny, and so theocratic power, as a reaction against secular monopoly of power, risks making effectiveness a sacrament of prescribed obedience, with prayer and politics commodities of widest common appeal. For sound religious as well as secular reasons, it is essential to separate obedience to God from submission to the instruments the state employs to enforce such obedience, [60] so that claims about God do not get reduced to matters of public enforcement, of impositionPage  226 of belief, and so that doctrine and political expedience do not become fused as constituency leverage. A predictable outcome of that gallery view of truth claims is the demagogic state, with or without religion. Those obfuscate the issue who fault religion for the despotic and intolerable consequences of its interchangeability with politics, and of politics with religion.

The plight of the much revered and pre-eminent jurist, Imám Málik ibn Anas, under the theocratic rule of the 'Abbásids, is instructive on this point. For his refusal to be sycophantic and for his scrupulous adherence to principle Málik brought on his head the wrath and fury of the rulers of the day. He received a severe flogging and was tortured by having his arm drawn out till his shoulder became dislocated, his moral stature being of no avail to him. [61] Such theocratic excesses against the keepers of the flame suggest that imposition of belief wrought under a theocracy is merely the flip side of the suppression of belief obligatory under an ideological national state, theocracy's secular nemesis, and represents little advantage, moral or political. Religion doing the bidding of the secular state as private disposition is little different from the state as public agent doing the bidding of religion. It should make Sharí'ah advocates pause; for it is Málik's legal tradition they now wish to make the rule of government in Nigeria. The current bitter anti-secular campaign is unlikely to spare the religion that inspires it.

The legal and normative tradition that has helped shape and define Islam's historical identity has depended crucially on the open borders the religious community has shared with its neighbors whose achievements and insights were reformulated and transcribed into the code. Customs and ideas that were once regarded as alien and remote, or as confusing and irrelevant, became by virtue of their proximity and familiarity no longer heretical and strange, and no longer feared and ignored, and so the canon expanded from cumulative experience and observance. Sharí'ah evolved in the crucible of life and experience.

New Eggs and Old Nests

Earning its spurs in the rough and tumble of competitive peer pressure and emerging as a national asset, the University is now confronted with the suspicions of political mobilization in the aftermath of 9/11. To maintain its integrity, it must cut against the grain by refusing to take sides and by beingPage  227 daring and probing. The national University's overlap with the political community leaves it as an easy target for the patriotic enterprise, but the open borders that frame its academic enterprise have brought it into larger horizons, vindicating its intellectual mandate against a pressing narrow national agenda. It is from embracing the virtues of complexity, diversity, tolerance, from unflinching resolve in the face of new challenge and difficulty, and from cultivating a 'borderless' suppleness of mind, that the national University can continue to discharge its time-honored responsibility of changing minds and refining the spirit of open inquiry.

In its successful apotheosis as the unassailable bearer of the torch of learning the University has long moved beyond the dim utility view of it as purveyor of the genre of adult education through the media and the press, and blazed the trail of unstifled search for knowledge and truth. The present achievements in education did not come about from chasing newspaper headlines and offering enrichment courses, but from an unswerving commitment to the pursuit of truth and to an environment, "a sacred space," so to speak, commensurate with it. The vocation of the University may be likened to the process of inculcating the insight that old nests can still incubate new eggs, as Cervantes affirms in his Don Quixote, in the sense of old ideas and habits being pressed to the service of new ends and purposes, of neglected premises revitalized by fresh perspectives. As we may learn from the Sharí'ah, it is when it has come under pressure and challenge and has been shaken by the gusts of public controversy, not when it has been ignored or taken for granted, that the University has incentive enough to take in both hands the mandate of its ancient critical heritage, to the benefit of its wider liberal mission. Unchallenged, old values tend to mold away and new insights get thwarted. Uncertain times can bring unexpected opportunities.

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This paper was commissioned by the International Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as part of its international faculty and graduate student workshop entitled "Sacred Spaces and Heretical Knowledge: National Universities and Global Politics," August 2002. I am grateful to Owen Fiss of the Yale Law School for his comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

1. In an uncannily prescient statement, A. J. Arberry, an eminent life-long student of things Muslim and Islamic, reflected on the challenge of Islam to the West, saying it is an old one. "Present-day Oriental contempt for Europe, to my way of thinking the most terrible and menacing aspect of contemporary politics, is not to be dismissed simply as a triumphant reaction against a defeated or a penitent imperialism. Doubtless there is much of that in it; but the roots go deeper. Underneath all of it persists the challenge flung down more than thirteen centuries ago, and taken up again and again by" leading Muslim thinkers. "Islam claims specifically to be the final revelation of God to mankind, and an overthrow of all other religions...The tables have been turned. Christian Europe, adventuring into the East upon its self-appointed civilizing mission, is now informed that it is itself in need of civilizing anew from the East....If the threatening and so unnecessary conflict is to be avoided, it is imperative that we should make a renewed and unremitting effort to understand each other's viewpoint, and to study what possibilities exist for, first, a diminishing of tension, next, a rational compromise, and, ultimately, an agreement to work together towards common ideals." Arberry's Preface to his edition and translation of Muhammad Iqbal, The Mysteries of Selflessness: A Philosophical Poem (London: John Murray Publishers, 1953), xivff.

2. Jalál al-Dín al-Suyútí, the great medieval Egyptian scholar, noted for his robust views, did not flinch from controversy, for, he wrote, "people will excuse us for opposing our contemporaries, and will know that it is not our intention to be aggressive or bigoted, on the contrary, our intention is to pursue truth and avoid bias in (matters of) religion" Jalál al-Dín al-Suyútí, vol. I: Biography and Background, ed. and trans. E. M. Sartain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 61. In his Kashf al-Mahjúb, al-Hujwirí (d. c. 1072 c.e.) writes that it would be dishonest to allow what we would today call 'political correctness' to prevent him from recognizing the due merits of the controversial Súfí, al-Halláj, executed for his heresy. Al-Hujwirí says he would Page  229"honour him according to the token of the Truth which we have found him to possess." Kashf al-Mahjúb, 150.

3. The system of education pursued in much of the Muslim world comes close to the evocative picture Jacob Burckhardt draws of the situation in Renaissance Italy. He writes: "To form an accurate picture of the method of instruction pursued at that time, we must turn our eyes as far as possible from our present academic system. Personal intercourse between teacher and pupils, public disputations, the constant use [of language tools], the frequent changes of lecturers and the scarcity of books, gave the studies of that time a color that we cannot visualize without effect. [Some teachers are said to have educated] the gifted poor 'per l'amore de Dio.'" The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (New York, 1961), 168.

4. G. E. von Grunebaum, Classical Islam: A History: 600-1258 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1970), 175.

5. The allusion is to the ancient fable in which the frogs, dissatisfied with their effete King Log, appealed to Jupiter. Jupiter sent them King Stork who devoured them all.

6. Shiháb al-Dín al-Suhrawardí, Al-'Awárif al-Ma'árif (The Bounties of Divine Knowledge), ed. and trans. H. Wilberforce Clarke (Calcutta: Government of India Central Printing Office, 1891); reprinted as A Dervish Textbook (London: 1980), 26.

7. That was the title of Iqbal's influential book published in 1934. It became a national charter for the posthumous state of Pakistan, created in 1948. In the book, Iqbal wrote that the Muslim community, now scattered perforce in a multiplicity of free independent units must strive to have their "racial rivalries adjusted and harmonized by the unifying bond of a common spiritual aspiration. It seems to me that God is slowly bringing home to us the truth that Islam is neither Nationalism nor Imperialism but a League of Nations which recognizes artificial boundaries and racial distinctions for facility of reference only, and not for restricting the social horizon of its members." His was a voice for open borders of intellectual exchange. More than half a century later the Egyptian scholar, Mona Abu-Fadl, returns to the theme of reconstruction when she writes: "The changed historical context, together with trends and directions inherent in contemporary civilization, demand and allow for a radical restructuring of the historical encounter away from its conventionalPage  230 rigid polarities to a more accommodating and dynamic complementarity...The politics of technology is steadily engendering a demand for a new ethics [sic] of responsibility." Mona Abu-Fadl, Where East Meets West: The West on the Agenda of the Islamic Revival (Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1992), 81.

8. Alexander David Russell and Abdullah al-Ma'mún Suhrawardy, First Steps in Muslim Jurisprudence, 1906, reprinted (London: Luzac & Co. Ltd., 1963), viii.

9. At about the same time similar efforts were going on in Egypt. Sir Norman Anderson's book, Law Reform in the Muslim World (1976) offers a comprehensive overview and summary of developments in the field. See also his Islamic Law in Africa (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1954); reprinted (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 1970). Anderson, it should be pointed out, was not, however, concerned with issues of normative or prescriptive coherence in the administration of law.

10. Some Muslim spokesmen have contended that secularism has divested the Muslims of their right to Sharí'ah law while imposing no similar disability on Christians, a contention that does not accurately reflect the fate that, according to R. H. Tawney, had befallen Christianity when it was subjected to privatization in early modern Europe, with the church removed from having any public role in society. R. H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism: A Historical Study (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin Books, 1998), 272. Under much of colonial rule, accordingly, the churches were severely restricted by being privatized, Nigeria not excepted.

11. Hadd (pl. hudúd) is the sphere of Sharí'ah criminal law, and comprises i) sariqa (cutting off the hand for theft), ii) zinà (caning or execution for fornication and adultery), iii) qadhf (slander or false accusation for fornication and adultery punishable by caning), iv) haraba (highway robbery or rebellion, for which the punishment is amputation of the right hand and left foot, exile, imprisonment, or sometimes execution by crucifxion, v) shurb al-khamr (alcohol consumption, punishable by caning), and, sometimes vi) al-ridda (apostasy, which is punishable by death).

12. For a study of contemporary Nigerian politics, including the regime of Babangida see Eghosa E. Osaghae, Crippled Giant: Nigeria Since Independence (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998).

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13. Report in Nigerian Tribune, October 21, 1988.

14. Birai, "Islamic Tajdid," 1993, 190. The implication here is that there is no ground for dialogue with Christians. They are responsible for secularism.

15. Cited in The Guardian, January 27, 1986.

16. Yerima was appointed as an official participant at the August, 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, California, a measure of his range and appeal.

17. There is a long history to the involvement of the Arab world in the sponsorship of islamization projects in north Nigeria, going back to the 1960s immediately after Nigeria's independence. John Paden, Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto: Values and Leadership in Nigeria (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986), 543ff.

18. Rena Singer, "The Double-edged Sword of Nigeria's Sharia," The Christian Science Monitor, February 22, 2001.

19. Christian Science Monitor, February 22, 2001.

20. "As Stoning Case Proceeds, Nigeria Stands Trial," New York Times, January 26, 2003, A3.

21. For a treatment of this subject in classical Islamic sources, see A. S. Tritton, "Islam and the Protected Religions," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1928, and R. Marston Speight, "The Place of Christians in Ninth Century North Africa according to Muslim Sources," Islamochristiana, 4, Rome (1978): 47-65. In Kano State, a Christian trader claimed in January 2001, to have been flogged by a Muslim vigilante group called Hisbah, whose members monitor compliance with strict Sharí'ah.

22. Amina Lawal of Katsina received the death sentence for a similar offence. She was previously married, though not at the time of the offence. New York Times, January 26, 2003. Examining the use of Sharí'ah in Sudan, 'Abdel Salám Sidahmed argues that enforcement has discriminated overwhelmingly against women. 'Abdel Salám Sidahmed, "Problems in Contemporary Applications of Islamic Criminal Sanctions: The Penalty for Adultery in Relation to Women," British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 28, 2 (2001): 187-204.

23. "The double-edged sword of Nigeria's sharia," Christian Science Monitor, February 22, 2001. Caning as punishment is quite widespread. The subject leapt into the headlines when in May 1994, an American youth, Michael Fay, was caned in Singapore as punishment for vandalism. Caning or paddling is widelyPage  232 used in the United States. Twenty-seven states permit corporal punishment in schools, with Texas and Arkansas the states with the most incidents. Congress has repeatedly thwarted attempts to ban corporal punishment, saying it is a local issue. In the Caribbean flogging with the cat-o'-nine tails, consisting of nine knitted cords or hide thongs attached to a handle, is legal punishment for a variety of offences, including rape and other sex crimes, as well as drug infractions. "Beyond Singapore: Corporal Punishment, A to Z," New York Times, June 26, 1994. It is hard to distinguish between caning in schools or by secular courts as retribution and caning under Sharí'ah as moral exculpation.

24. "Woman who was raped faces death by stoning," report in the Independent newspaper, London, January 7, 2002.

25. The name, Izala is Arabic for "eradication" and occurs in the name of the movement, the Society for the Eradication of Heresy and the Establishment of the Prophet's Sunnah, founded in 1978.

26. For a report on El Zakzaky and the 1996 religious riots in Kafanchan and Kaduna he inspired, see "Bloody Riots in the North," Tell magazine, September 30, 1996. According to the magazine's report, the government crackdown commenced on September 12, 1996 in Zaria, when El Zakzaky gave himself up to the authorities. The following day after the Friday Jum'ah prayer, his followers mounted public demonstrations in various parts of the country, including Katsina and Kaduna, and Zaria, demanding his release. There was bloodshed from these demonstrations. On the background to El Zakzaky, see also Ousmane Kane, "Mouvements religieux et champ politique au Nigeria septentrionale: le cas de réformisme musulman au Kano," Islam et Sociétés au Sud du Sahara, 4 (1990): 7-24.

27. Muyiwa Akintunde, "This Isn't the Sharia We Know," Africa Today, December 1999.

28. Some Egyptian modernists follow Leo Strauss and Karl Popper in making this distinction. Among them was Faraj Fúda, assassinated in 1992. He accused Sharí'ah advocates of offering a false panacea for present ills. Like Mamadou Dia, one time Prime Minister of Senegal, Fúda called for a dynamic understanding of Sharí'ah and Islamic history. See Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi', Intellectual Origins of Islamic Resurgence in the Modern Arab World (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), 255ff. In this respect, a report on Iran says that the clerical leaders of the revolution there have climbed down from their high theocraticPage  233 positions and opted for "a minimalist" approach in order to reduce the risk of popular backlash and to connect with the youth. But this is not surrender to secularists who also admit that Islam has a role in society. Thomas L. Friedman, "Iran and The War of Ideas," Op-Ed article, New York Times, June 19, 2002. This sentiment is in line with the distinction being made in Nigeria in the contrasting roles of state and society which promises a more fruitful avenue of thinking, if only because it accepts the coexistence of islamization and secularization. The issue of democracy and Sharí'ah rule was taken up also by the influential Pakistani scholar, Maududi, but with unsatisfactory results. S. Abul A'la Maududi, Political Theory of Islam (Lahore: Islamic Publications Ltd., 1980), 21-25, 34-42. See, too, James Piscatori, Islam, Islamists, and the Electoral Principle in the Middle East (Leiden: International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, 2000).

29. Maududi's influential opinions include guarded support for "theo-democracy," i.e., democracy qualified by Islamic restrictions. See Piscatori, Islam, Islamists, and the Electoral Principle in the Middle East, 20-21. Several Islamic bodies take a restricted view of freedom of religion and human rights. See Mohamed Eltayeb, "Legal protection of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief in muslim countries," in Freedom of Religion: A Precious Human Right: A Survey of Advantages and Drawbacks, ed. Jonneke M. M. Naber (Assen, The Netherlands: Van Gorcum & Co., 2000), 100-118.

30. Interview, This Week, April 6, 1987. This condemnation of those 'ulamá who are under the thumb of temporal rulers is a well-rehearsed subject in the literature. As far back as Jalál al-Dín al-Suyútí (d. 1505) we hear of attacks on religious scholars who ingratiate themselves with rulers.

31. Report in Quality, Lagos, October 1987, and cited in S. Ilesanmi, Religious Pluralism and the Nigerian State (Athens, Ohio: Center for International Studies, 1997), 186.

32. Elizabeth Isichei, "The Maitatsine Risings in Nigeria, 1980-85: A Revolt of the Disinherited," Journal of Religion in Africa, 17, 3 (1987): 202-203.

33. Kano was the site of major disturbances in 1991 following the abortive evangelistic campaign there of Rev. Reinhard Bonnke, the German head of Christ For All Nations evangelistic organization. The experience strengthened Zakzaky's resolve "to create a paramilitary force to confront the police." KanoPage  234 again erupted into violence in 1994 following rumors that the wife of an Igbo trader, Gideon Akaluka, had desecrated the Qur'án by using its sacred pages to clean her baby. Gideon was mobbed and killed, his severed head paraded on a pole. Karl Maier, This House Has Fallen: Nigeria in Crisis (London: Penguin Books, 2000), 167, 169.

34. The example of Dr. Mohammed Tawfiq Landan, senior lecturer in law and Head of the Department of Public Law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, is a case in point. In a major dissenting article, he attacked the method of Sharí'ah implementation as flawed and "violative of the rights of life and security" of the poor. The Guardian, January 8, 2002.

35. Report of the commission: "Sharia and the Future of Nigeria: Report of the Trip by the Civil Liberties Organization, CLO, Hurilaws and other NGOs to Zamfara State," 9.

36. BBC reports of December 23, 2000, spoke of continuing public campaigns demanding Sharí'ah law in other parts of the north.

37. Obasanjo wrote on the civil war in his book, My Command: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War 1967-70 (London: Heinemann Publishers, 1981).

38. AFP Report, March 2, 2000.

39. Ethnicity has been a factor in unrest in parts of the petroleum-producing areas of the south. The Ogoni Crisis: A Case-Study of Military Repression in Southeastern Nigeria (New York: Human Rights Watch, July 1995), and The Price of Oil: Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in Nigeria's Oil Producing Communities (New York: Human Rights Watch, February 1999).

40. Mr. Soyinka's own justifiable protestations notwithstanding, the northern Muslim leaders prefer to consider him a Christian for the purposes of legal classification. Thus, when he received the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature, Shaykh Gumi was awarded by Saudi Arabia an Islamic equivalent created for the occasion.

41. "This is Prelude to War," Soyinka interview, The News, Lagos, March 6, 2000. One must allow for some editorial shoddiness in this copy. See also the same author's The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). Only academic essentialism, understandable in trying to answer one absolutism with another, would make us persist with equating sharí'ah with Orisa: the two have Nigeria fortuitously in common; otherwise in historical range, scale, and claim, they move in veryPage  235 different spheres altogether.

42. See Mathew Hassan Kuka, Religion, Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria (Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 1993). For all practical purposes, the ethnic distinction, for example, between Fulani and Hausa has been submerged under Islam, though Christian Hausa have hewed close to their Hausa identity. The Fulani or Fula language for this reason has been virtually obliterated in areas of Fulani settlement in north Nigeria, though surviving pockets remain in Adamawa. In Niger and Camroun, however, the Fula language remains in wide use, and is given a special role in local Islamic scholarship.

43. The Guardian, February 29, 2000.

44. Reported in the New York Times, August 2, 2000. In an extended report the Times listed twelve of the thirty-six states as having adopted Sharí'ah law: Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Yobe, Gombe, and Borno, all northern states. "Rising Muslim Power in Africa Causes Unrest in Nigeria and Elsewhere," New York Times, November 1, 2001, A14.

45. Under Sharí'ah law civic agitation could grow, fed by the religious status quo. Thus in Kano State a militant Muslim group, called Yandada, threatened to disrupt the National Sports Festival planned to take place in Kano in November, 2000. The group objected to the participation of women, and required also that men conform to the Muslim dress code. The chairman of the local organizing committee, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, under a death threat from the militants, resigned, leaving the future of the festival in doubt. Vanguard Daily, Lagos, September 5, 2000. The signs may have been ignored, for two years later in November 2002, the staging of the Miss World pageant in Lagos was abruptly halted amidst bloody riots ignited by a casual remark by Isioma Daniel, a twenty-one-year-old female Nigerian journalist that the Prophet of Islam would have been glad to take a wife from among the contestants. Some 300 people died in the ensuing civil unrest. Miss Daniel was placed under a fatwa of death by Zamfara state. To show what little cultural background knowledge went into the planning, Julia Morley, the English pageant organizer, confessed, "To tell you the truth, before I left [England] I thought Sharia was a girl's name." The pageant was moved to London where Miss Turkey won the crown. Judy Backrach, "Bikinis, Bosoms, and Blood at the Miss World Pageant—It's a Mad, Mad Miss World," Vanity Fair, March 2003.

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46. The Qur'án declares the public responsibility of Muslims to be the "duty of commanding the good and restraining from evil" (amal bi-ma'rúf wa nahy 'an al-munkar) (Qur'án iii: 104). See also Michael Cook, Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

47. Umar M. Birai, "Islamic Tajdid and the Political Process in Nigeria," in Martin E. Marty & R. Scott Appleby, editors, Fundamentalism and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1993), 184-203, 196.

48. Birai, "Islamic Tajdid and the Political Process in Nigeria," 197.

49. See Yusufu Bala Usman, The Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria 1977-87 (Kaduna: Vanguard Printers and Publishers, April 1987).

50. Maier, This House Has Fallen, 178.

51. Maier, This House Has Fallen, 170-171, 172. The leader of Tajidmul, Shaykh Abubakar Mujahid, is a self-declared uncompromising admirer of the Iranian Revolution and of the Talibans. He expressed disquiet about Iran's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, saying Khatami was slipping from the old moorings, was "getting loose," as he put it. He wishes to use Western education, including its technology, to inculcate Islamic values. Tajidmul ran a small school in Kano, a pharmacy, and a wholesale food store for its members, showing secular inroads in fundamentalist ideology.

52. Christian Science Monitor, February 22, 2001.

53. Maier, This House Has Fallen, 172-173.

54. For a seminal study of al-Sháfi'í's jurisprudence see Joseph Schacht, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1950). See also Wael Hallaq, who offers a revisionist argument for al-Sháfi'í's role, "Was Sháfi'í the Master Architect of Islamic Jurisprudence?," International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 25 (1993), 587-605.

55. Some six hundred years later, the Egyptian scholar and judge, Jalál Page  237al-Dín al-Suyútí (1445-1505), an axial authority in his own right who defended ijtihád against its taqliíd critics, counseled his peers to follow al-Sháfi'í. He wrote: "People of our century have erred because they think that mutlaq, unrestricted, and mustaqill, independent, are synonymous, whereas this is not so...we follow the Imám al-Sháfi'í, may God be pleased with him, and adopt his method in ijtihád, in obedience to his command, and we are counted among his adherents." Jalál al-Dín al-Suyútí, vol. I: Biography and Background, ed. and trans. E. M. Sartain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 65. Al-Suyútí had reason to keep his distance from rulers, for one such ordered his arrest and threatened his life, forcing him into hiding (Sartain, 98, 102, 103-106). Al-Suyútí consulted closely with Muslim West Africans on details of social and political reform. The king of Songhay, Askia Muhammad, returning from the pilgrimage, visited him in Cairo in 1497/98, and received political advice from him. Al-Suyútí received deep homage from Muslim West Africans "in the way they trust, venerate, and love him, and readily accept his learning," in the words of al-Shádhilí, his biographer (Sartain, 51, 52). See also John Hunwick, "Notes on a late fifteenth century document concerning 'al-Takrúr'," in African Perspectives: Papers in the History, Politics, and Economics of Africa Presented to Thomas Hodgkin, ed. Christopher Allen and R.W. Johnson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970).

56. Ibn Khaldún (1405/06), pioneering historian and sociologist of Islam, affirms the importance of variety and difference in Muslim jurisprudence as follows: "It should be known that the jurisprudence described, which is based upon religious evidence, involves many differences of opinion among scholars of independent judgment. Differences of opinion result from the different sources they use and their different outlooks [methodologies], and are unavoidable....(These differences) occupied a very large space in Islam." Ibn Khaldún, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, ed. and trans. Franz Rosenthal (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958) 3 volumes, vol. iii, 30-31.

57. For a summary see Muhammad Khalid Masud, Muslim Jurists' Quest for the Normative Basis of Sharí'a, inaugural lecture, University of Leiden, 2001.

58. Noel Coulson, A History of Islamic Law (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1964), 9-20.

59. Thus has Suleman Kumo, a private lawyer in Kano and a former law professor at Amadu Bellow University in Zaria and since 1978 a campaigner in the Sharí'ah cause, pointed out in a Voice of America statement that, in the rush to enforce Sharí'ah, miscarriage of justice has resulted. The rights of the accused, he charges, have been imperiled by the decision beforehand to exact punishment. Maier, This House Has Fallen, 169-171.

60. For a discussion of some of these issues, see Wael Hallaq, "From Fatwas to Furú': Growth and Change in Islamic Substantive Law," Islamic Law Page  238and Society i, i (1994): 29-65; and the same author's Authority, Continuity and Change in Islamic Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

61. It is important to remember that Muslim clerics had long been ambivalent about government involvement in religion. The sixteenth-century author of the Songhay chronicle, Ta'ríkh al-Fattásh, Mahmúd al-Ka'tí, for example, described the grim fate the 'ulamá suffered under the capricious policies of the king, Sonni 'Alí. The number that survived the ruler's sanguinary repression could be gathered under the shade of an acacia tree, he stated laconically. The lesson was not lost on the 'ulamá of Timbuktu who adopted a policy of religious separation from politics to avoid state enforcement. The city was placed out of bounds to the ruler, except during the annual Ramadan lent when the ruler came for penance.

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The Uncertainty of Africa in an Age of Certainty
David William Cohen


In the United States, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11/2001, it was not only the Mayor of New York who advanced a strong attack on relativism. The state's answers to 9/11 terrorism were conceived and promoted as an anti-relativist triad: an ascendance of Western or American values, a clear and universal definition of terrorism, and an unquestionable approach to eliminating terrorism from the global stage. Only certainty mattered. Today, what are the fates of epistemologies of certainty and uncertainty based in "Western" or "universal" reason and science amidst, first, these post-9/11 attacks on relativism and, second, the failures in defining and addressing terrorism?

Africa—the broader discourses on Africa—are of special interest here, as the brief for certainty, while given heightened privilege in the 9/11 aftermath, has long held Africa subject to relatively basic and direct understanding, explanation, and remediation, and has long underwritten a failure to comprehend the complexities of Africa in its past and present. A brief for uncertainty opens the way to more pluriversal repertoires, to other histories, and to different narratives as well as to new frames of critique and debate, and to a more complex and more appropriately complex understanding of the course of Africa's past, and of its present situation in the world. [1]

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At the beginning of this century and of this millennium, Africa occupies an awkward position in the world. This awkwardness is not merely the accumulation of crisis and misfortune or the outcome of the inherent contradictions of decolonization. It is hardly the consequence of the many false starts and unfulfilled promises and fantasies associated with projects of African development. [2] And it is neither the effect of proclaimed, yet hardly realized, shifts in Africa's global location toward "the South" nor the product of the incompleteness and failures of global integration. [3]

Africa's awkward position builds from one very significant force: the will to comprehend and to explain Africa from a distance within an economy of knowledge grounded elsewhere. [4] While finding its motors and directions outside Africa, this will to explain Africa from a distance has at times been reinforced through engagements with programs of knowledge production on the African continent. [5] Indeed, these programs of knowledge production on the African continent have themselves become deeply implicated in the protocols and powers of knowledge production at a distance such that today it would be quite idiotic to posit distinctive exterior and interior frames of knowledge production.

The will to explain Africa from a distance is not simply a present condition but builds upon the constantly reproduced and hardly ever challenged inventions of "Africa" as an entity within a larger system of global fates and identities over the past 1000 years. [6] It is as old as travelers viewing and imagining Africa from the deck of a ship or from a well-worn path. It is a will reflected in an American President's hours-long July 2003 Africa journey organized around a restricted set of issues: questions of trade, AIDS, democratization, and terrorism, four key measures of the globe's present imagination and representation of the continent. It is a will that presents scholars with challenges every day, as experts on Africa in the United States and other countries form interpretations and representations, whether in the classroom, or in articles and monographs, or in constructing interventions regarding public policy.

"What was the impact of Europe on Africa?" "Who underdeveloped Africa?" "What is the cause of the 'African crisis'?" Such questions and their force, persistence, recurrence, indeed their naturalization as the core questions for scholars and teachers, also and especially bring attention to the epistemological location of Africa amidst the circuits of learning, advocacy, representation, andPage  241 pedagogy of our present and recent times. Knowledge production within and about Africa has long been subject to extreme economies: the productions of handbooks and ethnographic guides and surveys providing ready knowledge to outsiders; foreshortened inquiries and so-called "rapid assessments"; commissions of inquiry; urgent research protocols relating to dying and disappeared informants (and the very concept of the informant), or dying cultures, or disappeared civilizations; satellite mapping; broad surveys of geomorphology, agrarian structures, and economic histories; popular treatments of varying political stripes [7]; utilitarian and relevant research producing generalizable findings; the composition of cultural and environmental explanations for Africa's past, present, and future; the notion of giving Africa a history, and, yes, the introductory survey course and the textbook in the North American university. Whatever the cause, the program, the difficulty, or the issue at hand, the mandate for the production of knowledge has pressed for direct, simple, and whole answers and accounts. In a consistent way, yet without formal orchestration, this mandate has been constructed by textbook publishers and curriculum committees (from the Afrocentric initiatives in the United States and South Africa to UNESCO and Cambridge and Oxford University Press editorial committees), by research groups seeking cases or analogies from "an African context" (for example, in respect to reproductive behavior, or paleo-ethnography, or mental illness, or development theory), by international agencies and missionary organizations, by business and investment houses, promoters and advertisers, by investigative and legislative bodies such as Senator Frank Church's committee in the United States of the 1970s and the anti-slave trade advocates in the British parliament at the end of the eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries, and by the information gathering bodies on the African continent both during and after colonialism. One could also add in here the centrality, and perhaps growing centrality, of forecasting instruments and institutions, predictions of African population change, development, political reform, and health (especially predictions of AIDS occurrences). Students in African history courses in North American colleges and universities insist on knowing not only where Africa has been (and insist on a neat and comprehensible narrative) but even more so on where it is going. Greater value is accorded the firmness and credibility of projections of futures than is associated with the quest to sort through the very murky and rather indecipherable complexities of the present and recent past. Page  242Projections of futures—for example, that 30% of Africans alive today will die of AIDS—seem to claim the ground of certainty ... in comparison to fraught efforts to reconstruct, for example, African fertility rates in the first decade of the twentieth century, which appears to be a project expressing the very uncertainty of the African past.

Diagnostic of an enduring and constrained economy of knowledge production within and about Africa are the relentless or resilient workings, effects, of a limited set of recurrent interpretative frameworks within the academic literatures—the continuity-change paradigm, the strong state-weak state nexus, the internal versus external frames of explanation—which appear to restrict the range and possibilities of analysis and interpretation. [8] The first—continuity versus change—focuses on such questions as whether Africa is prone to the retention, as tradition, of dysfunctional elements or whether Africa has not been able to keep up with the process of, or need for, change, or whether Africa is throwing off its past too quickly, as if its institutions are on the one hand unchangeable or on the other too open to change. The second—strong/weak—refers to long-running questions regarding the formation and reproduction of states in Africa, whether they are for example oriented toward very strong leadership (divine kings, charismatic leaders, one party states, strongly centralized democracies) or on the other hand toward institutions that inhibit strong centralized structures: power dispersing institutions including strong kin ties (extended kinship, clans, lineages), age-based cadres, clientelism, ethnicity, communalism, and patriarchy. The third—internal/external—refers to whether Africa's processes of change, as well as its crises, are the products of internal or external forces or conditions, for example the slave trade, the expansion of European capitalism and imperialism, or African environmental, political, and cultural conditions in the present. One the eve of the June, 2004, G8 Summit at Sea Island, Georgia, President Thabo Mbeki published an op-ed piece taking to task Henry Kissinger for his view that Africa's fate rests with the "moral commitment of the American people and the international community." Mbeki offered that "The premise is that Africans lack the capacity to save themselves and must rely upon the kindness of strangers. Conscious or unconscious, this assumption pervades discourse on Africa." [9]

These interpretative frameworks thoroughly define the terms of engagement of such discussions as the Rwanda genocide, or whether Africa hasPage  243 now to solve its internal problems—civil war, poverty—on its own, or whether external intervention and subsidy is in fact deleterious ... whether globalization and deeper African relations with the world through trade and consumption are unavoidable answers to the so-called "African crisis". Seeking to evolve an internally animated conceptual framework, and one that transforms the course of history, the recently emergent concept of "the African Renaissance" beautifully condenses these three problematics into a unified idea and program. [10]

We may ask how a limited set of interpretative frameworks have continued to maintain presence discursively and theoretically in the interpretation and representation of complex processes and events on the continent, a presence that traces back to the era of the slave trade? And how have these recurrent interpretative frameworks shaped knowledge and knowledge processes within Africa and on the African past? How might observers and scholars of Africa be able to free their (our) writing from these powerful frameworks? The engagement of some historians of Africa with research and writing in the general field of cultural studies, more broadly than Africa, and the experimentation with what have been called, or denounced as, "post-modern approaches" to the study of the past, may yet provide refreshed and differentiated frameworks of interpretation and analysis through attention to the position of subject, observer, and audience in discourses about the past and through recognition of the multiplicity of sites, moments, and conditions in which the history of the African past (or any past for that matter) is produced beyond the formal academy. [11] The attentions of historians of Africa to the histories of public debates, to court cases, to programs of cultural revival and "inventions of history", and to the histories of cultural and social movements, hold promise of a much refreshed paradigmatic repertoire. Recent interest in rethinking "the modern" and the play of ideas of "modernity" on the comprehension of Africa's fate suggests the values of more complex understandings of the early work of literacy, the rough and unsettled underside of nationalism, and the deeper tensions and struggles engaging and shaping gender. [12] The extraordinary densities of experience regarding science, public policy, implementation, and personal loss and meaning in the HIV/AIDS struggles in Africa, overwhelming North-South and scientific vocabularies, cannot but result in closer attention to difference or variation in the representations of Africa. [13] In all these areas, the opening to understanding, to revision, to moving beyond the restricted setPage  244 of long-dominant interpretative frameworks, has been located in the recovery of alternative and different histories and in the recognition of the pluriversal: other, multiple, and contending productions of values, interests, and meanings in intellectual communities beyond those most directly engaged with the Western academy. [14]

A not insubstantial element of the constrained economy of research on and representation of Africa—the means of reproduction of the restricted set of interpretative frameworks—has been the force of "presentism": the formulation of historical subjectivities in terms of present concerns and interests—from the incubation of nationalist paradigms within African historiography in the 1960s, to the dependency critiques of the late 1960s and 1970s, to the partial constitution of Africa as pathology from the mid-1980s, to the focus on privatization, and more recently AIDS, terrorism, and failed states. These presentisms, emerging as popular social science and popular ecologies, drive shallow depth analyses of epidemics, refugee crises, civil wars, environmental degradation, and urban decay. They are hardly informed by close readings of the literature since the 1920s on African epidemiology, African sexuality, African demography, African nutrition, and African urbanization. Nor are they informed by the long debates on soil erosion and the carrying capacity of the land, African land tenure and animal husbandry, language, literacy, religion, and race. In a word, they are not informed by the eight decades of academic debate of social change that have engaged four generations of African scholars from Dr. D. D. T. Jabavu in the 1930s to Prof. Tabitha Kanogo in 2001. [15] The debates developing within or around these issues have hardly begun to be subjected to close inspection as to the sociologies and politics of their production. [16] An economy of knowledge giving privilege to presentism may lie in the pressures for relevance ... a large and populous continent in crisis, relatively sparse institutions and personnel to monitor and evaluate its condition and direction ... and for certainty ... establishing claims to focused, simple, direct, and affordable solutions to major challenges. The events of and following 9/11/2001 have given greater presence to the challenge of relevance and the demand for certainty, and the struggles for more complex and appropriately complex understandings of Africa are made all the more difficult, if not also more dangerous.

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To date, the will to explain Africa from a distance has been most powerfully drawn in terms of race, négritude, africanité as a reference to blackness, as if the challenge to comprehending Africa's past and future—the means to explanation—is the full disclosure of the essence of 550 million people on a continent. [17] Race continues to matter in referencing Africa from outside. [18] Indeed, in global discourse from at least the fifteenth century, it is the continent of Africa that gives the fraught concept of race a social biography. Those who teach Africa in the North American university find the confrontation with layers and layers of race-thinking the first occupation of their pedagogy. Among ranges of shifting variables, race seems a constant, conjuring certainty, against more tendentious, uncertain, forces and conditions in the world.

While race would seem to hold overwhelming power in constituting the place of Africa in the world, race has offered and continues to offer but restricted and confounded epistemic grounds for rendering the complexities of Africa into knowledge and into the world. Race suggests restricted economies of interpretation, explanation, and representation—the reduction of complex realities into apparently simple formulations. But, explanations through race are inadequate because they fail by reference to empirical and objective criteria and they are inadequate because they fail to achieve philosophical conviction. As a heavily worked generalizing meta-narrative, race is itself difficult to deconstruct and historicize in an era of liberal thought in which race is so strongly associated with violence, hatred, genocide, and oppression.

Albeit tactically treacherous, race is inevitably productive of fresh narratives and alternative generalizations. The turn to race, the embedded nature of race-thinking, complicates. Explanations through race and race narratives always produce next and alternative accounts, deferring settlement of not only understanding but justice. Substantially, the search for essential explanations through race works orthogonally to universal values and discourses emphasizing transcendent human qualities and emergent global agreements. It is a paradox of the moment that race is supremely present and active and divisive as nations, organizations, and experts search for universal grounding across those experiences, practices, and ideas that divide. [19]

Race may be a pre-eminently accessible and heavily worked system of referents, shaping and deforming knowledge of Africa, but race hardly worksPage  246 autonomously. Here, I want to shift attention from the search for essence, and essential understandings through reference to race as explanation, toward a different frame of production of knowledge. The argument here is that the will to explain African from a distance—including sustaining race as a key referentis substantially underwritten by economies of knowledge that speak closure, recognizable answers, simple conclusions, certainties. Uncertainties hold no interest; only certainties are recognized to have value. The paradox of race is that it has carried with it the attributes of certainty: that peoples of complex origins and histories can be assigned definitive categorical identity; that difference can be read through race; that race can be taken to trump all other distinctions; and that race (or by extension ethnicity) can be assigned explanatory status. Race trumps because race and race-thinking conjoin easily with the privileging of certainty. And, arguably, the very substantial status of certainty, the heightened values of confidence, may lie in part in the long and influential work of race. Uncertainties confound the race referent, shattering confidence in categorical identities, complicating representations of difference, and destabilizing explanations via the referent of race.


In the autumn of 1996 I was traveling in Europe, studying, writing, and giving talks. Over dinners, drinks, and coffee, I enjoyed conversation with a range of people inside and outside the academy. Whatever the frame or content of the conversation, whatever the degree of learning of my companion or companions, one question came up again and again as it was learned that my research was located on Africa. In varying language, the question was "why have Africans been killing Africans in Rwanda?" It was a time of still extensive reporting of the 1994 genocide and its aftermath. What I first heard in this question was a request for an explanation. While over the ten weeks I tried consistently to disabuse my companions of the idea that I was an expert on this particular topic, the questions continued. Over time, my responses evolved and were reframed. At first I confronted the notion that "tribalism" explained genocide. I sought to work up a critique of "tribalism" which seemed to control the references to Tutsi and Hutu, to reset difference in Rwanda in a more complex understanding of history, class, and caste. In this, I moved into, but suppressed, my own observations that while North American andPage  247 European scholars of Africa were rejecting both the rhetorical and explanatory frames of tribe and tribalism, Africans in everyday life were finding these frames functional and powerful, and deadly.

I also sought to draw my interlocutors into at least an elementary understanding of the histories of colonialism and the off-times constructedness of colonial categories such as "ethnic groups". I tried to include in my responses some attention to the issues of regional and rural impoverization, hunger (in the sense of diet shift and caloric deficits occurring over five or six decades), the economic devastation brought on this part of the African continent with the substantial jumps in petroleum—and thus transport and thus connection to the world market—costs in the 1970s, and land hunger in that region of Africa since the 1950s. I thought about including—but hardly had the moment to move into—other issues, including arm sales to Africa and the changing shapes of international attentions to local, national, and regional issues on the continent, which would have invited attention to the history of the Cold War in Africa.

As these disquisitions unfolded as a series of conversations over the ten or so weeks in 1996, I began to observe these conversations as if I were a surveillant third party. One of the consistent aspects of these conversations was that the Rwanda discussion tended to last no more than about five minutes. There seemed to be dissatisfaction with the answers of the "expert", who was certainly avoiding direct answers to the questions focused on "why are Africans killing Africans in Rwanda?" In several of the conversations, the questioner moved the ground toward non-African settings in which individuals, or groups, of color, of African descent, were held responsible for killings, suggesting to the "expert" that the questioner's Rwanda interest was essentially a racialist inquiry on race and violence.

As I became more practiced in handling these conversations, I became more confrontational as the exchange moved along from Rwanda to other fields. [20] I called the question of racism in one conversation. And then in two conversations in Germany with individuals whom I have respected as progressive intellectuals, I asked why they assumed that in a couple of minutes I or anyone could explain genocide in Rwanda when genocide in Europe, the Holocaust, Shoah, had been opened to continuing research, reconstruction, analysis, interpretation, explanation for over fifty years without closure. WhatPage  248 is or was there about genocide in Africa that is susceptible to simple and direct explanations, the gist of which can be conveyed in conversation in five minutes? Is race the explanation for conversations so constructed or, beyond race, is there a determining economy of knowledge that restricts reflection, insight, further investigation?

A Smoldering Corpse

But my purpose in Europe in 1996 was not to travel the cities of the European continent to explain, or resist explanation, of the Rwanda horror. I had been granted leave from the University of Michigan to give some motion to a project of writing that I had begun some five years earlier. This was (and is) a manuscript on the multiple investigations into the disappearance and death of Robert Ouko, the distinguished Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in February 1990. There have been several significant inquiries into Ouko's death that have been at least in part open to public inspection; others seem to have developed behind closed doors and their respective realities, findings, and conclusions remain obscure. In March, 2003, the Kenya Parliament authorized a new official investigation of Ouko's death, and in February 2004, almost on the fourteenth anniversary of the murder, this new commission began its public hearings.

The more accessible investigations of Ouko's disappearance and death have included a New Scotland Yard inquiry in 1990, a Commission of Inquiry which ran for thirteen months in 1990-1991, and a nearly four year long unsuccessful prosecution of one Kenyan official indicted for the murder. The two trials of this individual began in 1992. The death of Ouko was taken up not only in a book-length treatment by the individual prosecuted but also in a chapter of a former U.S. Ambassador's account of his time in Kenya and in a section of Andrew Morton's evidently authorized biography of former Kenya President Daniel arap Moi. Morton's treatment in effect places Robert Ouko alongside Bill Clinton and Prince Charles as dark and complex figures ventilating the sales of Morton's treatments of Monica Lewinsky and Princess Di. In a way, John le Carre's 2001 Kenya-centered thriller The Constant Gardener is also deeply engaged in the issues of globalization and state violence that swarmed around Ouko's demise and continued to reverberate through the 1990s.

An international dynamic within the investigations of Ouko'sPage  249 disappearance and death was first revealed amidst the unfolding accounts of Robert Ouko's journey to Washington, D.C., in late January, 1990, as part of a President Moi-led unofficial delegation to a prayer breakfast in the American capital. Ouko was said to have severely damaged his station within the Kenyan leadership by upstaging his President in D.C. and running the gauntlet of severe criticism from Moi's closest government colleagues. Many observers of Ouko's end have considered the prayer breakfast in Washington as his knell, opening a breach with President Moi that was not to be overcome.

A few days after his disappearance, and a little over two weeks after the Washington journey, Ouko's smoldering and mutilated corpse was found at a site only 2-3 kilometers from the western Kenyan farm where Dr. and Mrs. Ouko had been building a second life away from the Kenyan capital and away from the lands of their birth in western Kenya. At the time Ouko was last seen alive, Mrs. Ouko was herself in Nairobi, sent away from the farm by the Minister just a day before his disappearance. Both Mrs. Ouko and the Minister's Foreign Office staff were awaiting his return to Nairobi by air from Kisumu, the nearest airport to the Ouko farm and Kenya's second largest city. The Foreign Office was preparing for Ouko's upcoming mission to the Gambia; they were expecting that, from Kisumu, Ouko would board a flight in Nairobi for West Africa.

At the farm, located an easy driving distance from Kisumu, sixteen of seventeen of the Oukos' employees were purportedly asleep or away from the farm at the estimated time of Ouko's departure from the farm in the darkness of February 12-13, 1990. How Ouko disappeared from his farm was and continues to be a matter of debate and speculation. Even the facts of discovery of Ouko's corpse on a hill near the farm have been a matter of dispute ... what day was his found corpse actually reported to the local authorities? ... Did he die where his body was found or was he killed elsewhere? ... Were his remains substantially disturbed after his death? ... Was the scene of discovery reconstituted between one and another "discoveries" of his body?

The time of Robert Ouko's departure and the means of his departure have been reckoned from but one employee, the Oukos' housemaid Selina, who has claimed in scores of settings that she was awakened by a sharp sound at around 2 a.m. on February 13, 1990, and in the night saw a white car of unknown make, with an unknown number of occupants, move away down thePage  250 Oukos' farm drive. Her uncorroborated sighting gathered authority and conviction the more that some investigators heard it, and as it was juxtaposed to virtually incredible police theories that a very despondent Ouko had wandered off from his farm-house and taken his own life. The white car on a moon-lit drive provided almost unlimited scope for Kenyans to imagine who was in the car, whose car it was, and with what purpose, producing extraordinary narrative frames for Robert Ouko's demise, as well as important critiques of Kenya's government.

Indeed, since the first word on February 15, 1990, from Kenya Radio on the Minister's disappearance, Kenyan publics have followed the course of the Ouko investigations with intense, detailed interest and they have in fact pushed them forward. An accounting of Ouko's demise has stood in for a more general accounting of justice in Kenya, but it has been pushed further into a program of critique of corruption, leadership, governance, and the one-party state. The search for answers to Ouko's disappearance and death has been multiply animated.

The Ouko Project

This project (I have a co-author, the historian of Kenya E. S. Atieno Odhiambo of Rice University) has sought to use the quite vast, though incomplete, public record developing through the inquiries and investigations as a means to understand Kenya in the closing decades of the twentieth century, as if this public record were a found inquisitional text from France, Italy, Spain, or Mexico from the 16th century. Beyond this interpretative and representational opportunity—which draws on my own long-standing interests in the epistemologies of historical anthropology—the public record of the Ouko saga has also permitted us to study the protocols of investigation by different bodies, how inquiry proceeds between method and practice, and how inquiries are remade in their unfolding. Additionally, we have taken up the examination of the ways in which interest, contention, performance, location, and temporality weigh in the production and deconstruction of authority and truth. But everywhere we have taken presentations of our work—whether these are venues of African or Kenya interest or venues interested more generally in historical methodology—audiences are interested primarily in but one question: "Who killed the Minister?"

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This has been an uncomfortable question, both because we—the two authors—have been trained as historians, with some sense of the value of answering questions and reconstructing events, and because we are deeply concerned about the violence and injustice that removed this brilliant individual from our midst. And it has also been an uncomfortable question because it reminds us that this now decade-long project of collaboration is attending to the experience of one death in Africa. In our Ouko project, we do acknowledge that we have almost obsessively, certainly relentlessly, pursued a single event. But we have done so with an intent that reaches beyond the immediate circumstances of the Ouko saga. Amidst an Africa reflected through images of mass death and genocide, the manuscript seeks to draw meaning and understanding from the tensions regarding the facts of but one death. [21] Our project has pushed to the side these questions of "Who killed Ouko?" and "How did Ouko die?" to situate the work of historians within a broader range of discovery and narration of truth and to understand the powers and poetics of uncertainty and indeterminacy in the productions of knowledge. Here, the want of certainty, the demand for a final answer, seeks to claim a privileged political position against other interpretative usages, against other political projects, against the immeasurable possibilities of uncertainty.

Those in Kenya and beyond, including ourselves, who have used the corpse and life of Ouko to tell powerful stories about Kenya and the world are doing something readily comprehended within Africa at the end of the twentieth century; that is, the search for ways to speak more powerfully to larger issues within the liberties allowable in speaking about specific cases, single events, life histories, and about the dead especially. Our position is that the power in events and in histories is constructed within, and often sustained, not so much through the constitution of answers or solutions, but rather in these interstitial and unfinished moments and contexts in which people and interests raise questions, demand answers, and struggle over meaning. We find intriguing that those who would want to shut down these inquiries somehow do inevitably keep them alive, while those who have sought to complete them have found that their essential interests are most fully worked by the absence of closure. To refuse to answer the question "Who killed Ouko?" is to sustain attention to a broader array of critical concerns.

Most importantly, we are hopeful that readers will travel with us pastPage  252 the death of a single African towards more complex and subtle readings of Africa, whether within the academy or beyond. The search for a comprehension of Ouko has unfolded in an age when doubt is everyday super-imposed on confidence, when questions face off against impunity, when answers and certainty appear conjoined with political limits and control, and uncertainty seems the fragile formative ground of debate and critique.

Last Hours

The last persons who observed the living Ouko on the evening of February 12, 1990, saw him sitting on the edge of his bed in his residence at his Koru farm in the new Luo homeland of western Kenya. One was his sister Dorothy Randiak who, with several friends, was visiting Ouko at Koru that evening. They found him so preoccupied in his papers and files laid out on his bed that they noted that he hardly attended to the momentous evening news on the Oukos' television, news of Nelson Mandela's release from prison. The other was the Oukos' housemaid at Koru, Selena Ndalo Were, who had observed the Minister at work on his papers over several days. She was present throughout the evening, providing food for the visitors; she also saw the files on the bed.

Around 10:30 p.m., Dorothy Randiak came to Ouko's bedroom to tell him she and the others were leaving. Ouko was sitting on the left side of his bed, facing the bedroom door. He had two briefcases on the floor and several files on the bed in front of him. One was an orange file, marked "Confidential," with an orange ribbon tied around it. The Minister joined his guests to show them out and gave Kasuku some money for gas. Dorothy tarried behind a bit longer with her brother, while the rest of the party moved to the car. She and Ouko talked about some problems with their brother Barrack Mbajah, and Ouko promised to talk to him when back in Nairobi. On leaving she noticed that the outside door to the minister's study was open, and she instructed Selina [Ndalo Were] to lock it up, which the maid did with Ouko's help. Finally, the visitors drove off together. [22]

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Evidence advanced in the New Scotland Yard investigation and in the Judicial Commission of Inquiry indicated that from late 1989 Robert Ouko had been collecting documentation [23] regarding the much conflicted effort to restart the Kisumu Molasses project, the largest capital investment in twentieth century western Kenya, a long developing project that never achieved its promise. It was terminated by the Government of Kenya in 1982. Then, Ouko, with the encouragement of overseas consultants, pressed for a resuscitation program as part of the run-up to the 1988 parliamentary elections. At a large rally in Kisumu not far from the defunct works, President Moi announced his support for the molasses project. But as planning for the resuscitation, including substantial new capital investment, moved "forward" Ouko faced strong opposition from some of Moi's closest allies in the Kenya Cabinet and senior administration.

As Kenyans learned about the observations of the documents on the Oukos' bed at Koru, different lines of interpretation emerged: one held that Ouko was preparing the documentation for the U.S. Government, the IMF, and the World Bank as part of a misconceived and politically dangerous strategy to save Ouko's and perhaps Kenya's credit in Washington and other capitals [24]; another held that Ouko was assembling the documentation to take to his President, Daniel arap Moi, to reestablish his credit with Moi and thereby to best, and to undermine the position of, Ouko's adversaries in Moi's inner circle. In either instance, Ouko was recognized as aware of a political and/or literal death sentence hanging over him. These interpretative gambols variously fit prominent narratives of Ouko's last hours: one, that Ouko was preparing to flee Kenya and to carry these documents with him; or, that Ouko was grasping for a last meeting with the President so as to save his skin, revealing to his President "the truth" via the compiled documentation [25]; or that Ouko had reached a state of hopeless despondency and chose to take his own life. [26]

Justice in Africa

During the searches for Ouko in the days following his disappearance, the Minister's brother Barrack Mbajah observed police or Special Branch investigators removing papers, files, and briefcases from Ouko's bedroom and study. Ouko's purported dossier has not been seen since. To all intents and purposes the Ouko dossier defies reconstruction, but in all its ambiguity andPage  254 uncertainty—and, of course, it is the imagination of the dossier as opposed to its definitive contents that accords it a certain power—the dossier sits at what might be thought of as the center of the question of justice in Africa. Ouko sought reversal of the state of things, whether that be his own rehabilitation into Moi's inner circle; or the reestablishment of Kenya's "credit" with the international financial institutions and development lenders; or a reform of the thickly corrupted regime of development, international capital markets, and overseas investment; or the turn of his western Kenya toward being a central player in the Kenya economy; or the retrieval of the best of an ambitious important substitution program in the Kenya.

Whatever complement of motives that he may have had in those last weeks, Ouko was evidently seeking to construct a documentary record of the events surrounding the molasses project and related development initiatives in Kenya. He would have been doing so with a conviction that a truthful account was a thoroughly documented one that would reveal the motives, interests, errors, and misconduct of various players. As well, Ouko would have been clearly aware of multiple and differentiated audiences for his documentation, including not only the international consulting firm which assumed that they had their prominent Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs doing their bidding but also the President and those around him as well as his World Bank friends and U.S. Secretary of State James Baker (with whom he had a private audience in D.C. at the time of the prayer breakfast, annoying Moi no end because Moi was refused private audiences with Bush and Baker). [27] Here, we see the complexity of Ouko's task ... getting it right, closure, certainty, was not the only contingency of his "narrative" ... there were a host of other interests and audiences in play.

Knowing Africa

There is a problem with knowing Africa, and it is not only one of stylistics, and it is not only one of risks, such as Robert Ouko seems to have taken on in trying to unveil corruption in high places in Kenya. Authorities, experts, and audiences have trained themselves, or been trained, to expect and to produce simple, general, and useable narratives about Africa, expositions that conform to already imagined and established scripts, narratives that may seek to privilege a certainty but hardly ever achieve that objective. There arePage  255 economies in these productions of knowledge of Africa, in the search for a privileging certainty, whether in the hands of Ouko as he sought information on corruption possibly to take to his President, or in the hands of international experts such as members of the New Scotland Yard team, or in the hands of a public Commission of Inquiry which met for thirteen months. In our Ouko project, the sustenance of a tension between the quest for Ouko's murderer/s and the quest for knowledge of Africa is an explicit act to force attention onto the naturalized or pre-scripted understandings or renderings of Africa's past or present. The quest for Ouko's murderers and the quest for a useable knowledge of Africa are projects of a similar cast, though of a very different scale. Our struggle to sustain attention to a wider array of processes surrounding the death of Robert Ouko is also a struggle for a more complex, and more appropriately complex, rendering of Africa's past/s and present/s. Africa must be understood in its specificity, not only in its generality. And, as hinted above, this program of complexity must involve an engagement with the contingencies of interest and risk that saturate such efforts as Ouko's to make a case and ours to produce a narrative on the Ouko saga. It will not, importantly, assume the frame of reference of the state or other relevant and investigative bodies in defining the protocol and scope of inquiry. As with the problem of audience that Ouko faced in constructing his account, it will not assume that there is one reader, with a restricted set of assumptions, but rather it will acknowledge the multiple, differently positioned, and pluriversal nature of the audiences attending to the question of Ouko's and Africa's fates.

The unfinished story of Ouko's demise, as the unfinished account of the Rwanda genocide, are in part the consequence of the still unfinished investigations, of evidence and knowledge still to be unearthed, still to be brought into public view and expert analysis. But it is inevitably also a consequence of a will to keep open important stories, to sustain the powers and poetics imparted by uncertainty, by narratives that will not or cannot be completed, narratives that work their powers in the absence of closure, in the unsettlements of knowing. [28] Here, uncertainty stands as an accessible and alternative political frame against the confidence underlying various development protocols, structural adjustment programs, population control campaigns, democratization and civil society initiatives, health interventions, and global campaigns against terrorism.

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A Polemic of Uncertainty

9/11/2001 produced a new politics and a new economy of knowledge in North America and beyond. A demand for certainty trumped attendance to the pluriversal repertoires and multiple voices and alternative narratives that reflected new approaches to the wider world within the North American academy. In an age of the privileged position of epistemologies of certainty, now challenged by a much voiced anguish about uncertainty—that our present uncertainty is disabling, that we somehow must get rid of uncertainty, whether via politics, therapy, or war—extraordinary interpretative possibilities arise from the uncertainty of the subject position. For analogy, I am drawn away from the post-9/11 anguish to the voyages of discovery and mapping before the production of accurate marine time-pieces in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. These time-pieces made possible exact measurements of longitude. Prior to these marine chronographs, the fates of mariners and the fates of knowledge lay in modes of observation and record-keeping—say, of the shapes of coastal estuaries and the nature of landscapes and also the local nomenclatures and toponyms—that became unnecessary with the establishment of confidence in the mariner's or explorer's precise position of observation. With the accurate clock aboard, the observations of mariners and explorers could express and pursue other interests and determine other realities beyond the subtle modes of seeing and recording which previously assured their own success and those of others who would follow them. What capacities of seeing and recording were lost in this modernity of instruments and time-space standardization? We can go back to W. G. Hoskins, The Making of the English Landscape, and read Hoskins suggesting that we have lost the means of reading our landscape and yet have the opportunity to learn it anew.

In a broader sense—beyond the specific work that Hoskins had in mind, and beyond the metaphor of the longitude problem—we can note the extraordinary interpretative possibilities that are made available through animating the uncertainty of the subject position, of gaining a fuller sense of the formative powers and poetics of the uncertainty of Africa in an age of certainty. I seek here to draw uncertainty out of what I take to be "the hermeneutical shadows." I do not mistake uncertainty as a subordinate element of the objectivity question. Objectivity privileges itself as the defining scientific protocol of thePage  257 social sciences. For the historical profession, objectivity is reckoned the essential condition that makes possible the construction of elaborate narratives and complex historical explanation, as well as democratic institutions. Uncertainty operates along a different axis. Uncertainty draws attention to the unfinished status of knowledge. Uncertainty bears both powers and poetics. Uncertainty signals a distance from closure in the construction of the historical record. And, not inconsequentially, yet often without notice, uncertainty is itself constitutive of social and political life and, also, historical knowledge, historical understanding. Uncertainty underlines the importance of justice as process, and not simply as closure. While there has been much attention to the question of objectivity in the historical sciences, uncertainty does not seem to claim any hermeneutical status within the important conversations regarding the making of the historical record, though I stand to be corrected on this point. Yet all narratives are ultimately contingent upon and conditioned by the workings of uncertainty as these narratives are constructed ... in the same vein, justice is itself contingent on the recognition of the powers of uncertainty, of alternative possibilities, of the values of hesitancy in seeking closure.

Kenyan publics have resisted the state's efforts to tell the Ouko story in one way; they have nurtured relativism and milked uncertainty, and they have not necessarily trusted certainty. [29] In doing so, since February 1990, they have not only opened to view other accounts but also pressed their democratization agendas, ended the one-party system, assured a freer press, a livelier civil society, and a new popularly elected government, which, in its own time, has opened a new inquiry into the murder of Robert Ouko.

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1. I am grateful not only to those who participated in the Ann Arbor meetings in August 2002 but also to members of the "Constitution of Public Intellectual Life" program at the University of Witswatersrand and the History Workshop at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, as well as faculty and students at the University of Michigan (most particularly Michael Kennedy and Monica Patterson) who generously and eloquently brought valuable critique to portions of this paper at various stages of its development.

2. For an important collection of writings on development, Fred Cooper and Randall Packard, eds., International Development and the Social Sciences: Essays on the History and Politics of Knowledge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

3. See Fred Cooper, "What is the concept of globalization good for? An African historian's perspective," African Affairs 100, 399 (April 2001), 189-213.

4. Of course, see Edward Said, Orientalism (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978) for a more elaborated and more original framing of this argument. For especially valuable and still pertinent views of the academic disciplines and the state of African studies, see Angelique Haugerud, ed., "The Future of Regional Studies," Africa Today (special number), 44, 2 (April-June 1997); also, Steven Feierman, "Colonizers, Scholars, and the Creation of Invisible Histories," in Beyond the Cultural Turn, ed. Victoria E. Bonnell and Lynn Hunt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 182-217.

5. An especially important intervention here is Gaurav Desai, Subject to Colonialism: African Self-Fashioning and the Colonial Library (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001); see also Simon Gikandi, Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).

6. See V. Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988); Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992); Christopher Miller, Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985); and Kwasi Wiredu, Cultural Universal and Particulars: An African Perspective (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996).

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7. Marking a range, René Dumont, False Start in Africa (New York: Praeger, 1966) and Keith B. Richburg, Out of Africa: A Black Man Confronts Africa (New York: Basic Books, 1997); Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1982).

8. For a somewhat elaborated discussion of this point, see David William Cohen, "Doing Social History from Pim's Doorway," in Reliving the Past: The Worlds of Social History, ed. Olivier Zunz (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1985), 225-27.

9. "Building a Better Africa," Washington Post, June 10, 2004 <>. Mbeki's reference to "discourse on Africa" implicates not only the substantive elements of the "discourse" in respect to knowledge of Africa but also the power and perdurance of Western or, more specifically, North American logocentrism. In a seminar in which a draft of this paper was discussed, Windsor Leroke productively asked how or why Americans accept and support and rely upon a logocentric economy of knowledge when alternative economies of knowledge might be more efficacious.

10. The recent unfolding of the "African Renaissance" framework is especially associated with the initiatives and speeches of Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa. See, for example, Thabo Mbeki, "The African Renaissance, South Africa and the World," Tokyo, April 9, 1998 (<>); "Statement by Deputy President Mbeki at the African Renaissance Conference," Johannesburg, September 28, 1998 (<>); and "Speech at the Launch of the African Renaissance Institute," Pretoria, October 11, 1999; (<>). But also see reflections on the challenges and complexities of realizing a vision of an "African Renaissance," Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane, "Where there's no Vision the People Perish—Reflections on the African Renaissance," (<>). For an extensive archive of writings on "the African Renaissance," see AfricAvenir (<>).

11. For an extraordinarily rich collection of reflections on archives, history, and culture, see Carolyn Hamilton, Verne Harris, Jane Taylor, Michele Pickover, Graeme Reid, and Razia Saleh, eds., Refiguring the Archive (Cape Town: DavidPage  260 Philip, 2002).

12. A benchmark collection in the field of gender is Mark Gevisser and Edwin Cameron, eds., Defiant Desire: Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa (New York: Routledge, 1995); for an important new intervention into the fields of race and gender, see Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 2002). For an highly original engagement with the concept of modernity, see James Ferguson, Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1999).

13. I am especially grateful to Mandisa Mbali of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, for locating the significance of HIV/AIDS in the transformation of dominant paradigms. Addresses to HIV/AIDS, in respect to HIV/AIDS in southern Africa, has unmade the internal-external reference, reframed the critique of the state, and claims a new analytical position in respect to the question of the capacity of society to manage critical change.

14. See, for an especially promising opening, Thomas C. McCaskie, Asante Identities: History and Modernity in an African Village, 1850-1950 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000).

15. E. S. Atieno Odhiambo, "The Mind is for Education, the Heart is for Thinking," in Reflections on Systems of Education in Africa, ed.Lawford Imunde(Rehburg-Loccum, Germany: Locummer Protocolle, 2002) 5/2, 125.

16. Within the "moments" of debate, specific work has been critiqued in terms of "correctness" of position, in the process inoculating work against close critical inspection of methodological or empirical soundness. Most recently, attentions to gender—though more accurately to the history of women in Africa—have defined new frames of study, and to a certain extent reproduced criteria of "correctness" of perspective or interpretative position as the medium of critique.

17. Christopher L. Miller, Theories of Africans: Francophone Literature and Anthropology in Africa (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990).

18. For example, Richburg, Out of Africa ... , and Robert D. Kaplan's writings on Africa more generally. More substantially, on race and Africa, see Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (New York: Norton, 1999), especially 376-401.

19. Attention is obviously drawn to the World Conference Against RacismPage  261 held in Durban, South Africa, which finished its meetings on September 7, 2001. See <>.

20. Of course, this was before the publication of Philip Gourevitch, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda (New York: Picador, 1998), but soon after Gourevitch's first writings on and from Rwanda were appearing in The New Yorker. I could have done no better than refer my European conversationalists of 1996 to the 1998 Gourevitch volume.

21. It should also be said that in each of our presentations, and in the book-length manuscript, we have ourselves asked and attempted to address the question of "Why should we spend ten years studying, and writing on, the death of one African amidst mass death from genocide, civil war, hunger and AIDS?" I use the word "address" here rather than the word "answer"—I cannot assume that a reader would accept our reasoning, as laid out in the longer manuscript, as an "answer".

22. From David William Cohen and E. S. Atieno Odhiambo, The Risks of Knowledge: Investigations into the Death of the Hon. Minister John Robert Ouko in Kenya, 1990 (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2004), 88. Kasuku was one of Ouko's old friends, among the visiting party. Eston Barrack Mbajah was one of Ouko's younger brothers who arrived from Nairobi after hearing of his brother's disappearance. So strong were the reports of dissension between Ouko and Mbajah that Mbajah, with his wife, were the first individuals detained by New Scotland Yard in their investigations. They were released after a few days; upon their release, the New Scotland Yard leader dispatched any notion of them being serious suspects in the disappearance and murder.

23. Ouko's evident efforts at documenting corruption in Kenya overlapped with work in the Italian parliament to document Mafia influence over the course of Italian development programs in Africa, particularly Kenya. According to some witnesses before the Commission, in the last months before his death Ouko had in his hands the Italian parliamentary reports.

24. This interpretative path encompasses two different lines of reasoning: on the one side, Ouko was a "golden boy" in the Bush and Thatcher circles and was being groomed by Kenya's western allies as the next President of Kenya. Ouko was clearly being pressed by the U.S. Government and the international financial institutions to clean up Kenya's act and thus an Ouko project toPage  262 provide a definitive account of the course and locations of corruption in Kenya would serve that purpose. On the other side, Ouko, like other African foreign ministers of the 1970s and 1980s, was considered too much an internationalist, moving the foreign relations and development agendas outside the register of immediate national political interests. To those in Moi's inner circle, this smacked of disloyalty to the nation and the government. Documents placed into public view through the Judicial Commission of Inquiry suggest that Ouko's dossier at Koru was also being constructed under intense pressure from the chief officer of an international consulting firm that wished to recover its position in the development business in Kenya, a business that basically collapsed when the tide turned against the molasses resuscitation project.

25. One could also venture that Ouko's game might have been still more dangerous, that a dossier being developed by Ouko could have been read as an effort to blackmail Moi's inner circle, that once developed such a dossier could be used in a variety of ways and moments to destroy Ouko's enemies and build support with external institutions and foreign governments.

26. Despite the extraordinary physical evidence pointing to a brutal murder and subsequent attempts to cover-up some of the traces of the murder, police officials and the Chief Pathologist of Kenya continued to push the suicide theory for more than a year. While the suicide theory was eventually dispatched as simply ludicrous, the Government of Kenya released statements and reports throughout the 1990s which pressed interpretations that Ouko's murder was a result of family conflict, cuckoldry, or dissension among local political figures in western Kenya, all playing on reports of Ouko's despondency in his last weeks of life.

27. If we have any glimpse at all of the frame of reference of Ouko's dossier, it comes from the various recollections of his sister and closest intimates as they were presented to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, regarding the unfolding conflicts over the molasses resuscitation scheme.

28. Of course, there is an ethics and there is a politics here. Revisionists and denialists of different stripes and evil motives also seek to keep stories open, unsettled.

29. One astute observer of the Ouko saga, Joyce Nyairo, has suggested that, in paradoxical ways, Ouko himself may have been a victim of this thing "certainty". In returning to his western Kenya farm at Koru and in his relyingPage  263 on his Luo networks at a moment of critical need—two settings of a certain security—Robert Ouko may have set an opportune stage for those who would draw him out of his farm compound and to his death.

About the Editors

David William Cohen is professor of anthropology and history at the University of Michigan. He served as the founding director of the University of Michigan's International Institute, 1993-1999. Previously, he was on the faculty of The Johns Hopkins University, 1969-1989, and Northwestern University, 1989-1993, where he was director of the Program of African Studies and the International Studies Program, as well as founder of the Institute for Advanced Study in the African Humanities. Drawing on research on pre-colonial Uganda and Kenya, he is author of The Historical Tradition of Busoga: Mukama and Kintu (Oxford, Clarendon, 1972); Womunafu's Bunafu: A Study of Authority in a Nineteenth Century African Community (Princeton, 1977); and (with E. S. Atieno Odhiambo), Siaya: The Historical Anthropology of an African Landscape (James Currey, 1989); and editor of Towards a Reconstructed Past: Historical Texts from Busoga, Uganda (Oxford, 1986). More recently, he has authored The Combing of History (Chicago, 1994); and (with E. S. Atieno Odhiambo), Burying SM: The Politics of Knowledge and the Sociology of Power in Africa (Heinemann, 1992) as well as The Risks of Knowledge: Investigations into the Death of the Hon. Minister John Robert Ouko in Kenya, 1990 (Ohio, 2004). He maintains broad scholarly interest in the fates of expertise.

Michael D. Kennedy is professor of sociology at the University of Michigan. He served as the University's vice provost for international affairs and director of its International Institute from 1999-2004. His early scholarship focused on the political sociology of Poland, as represented in the book Professionals, Power and Solidarity in Poland (Cambridge, 1991). He is author of Cultural Formations of Postcommunism (Minnesota, 2002) and editor or co-editor of three volumes addressing East European and international affairs published by University of Michigan Press: Envisioning Eastern Europe (1994), Intellectuals and the Articulation of the Nation (1999), and Globalizations and Social Movements (2000). His current scholarship focuses on the sociology of globalizing knowledge. In 1999, Poland's President Aleksander Kwaśniewski presented Professor Kennedy with the Gold Cross of Merit to recognize the contributions he has made to scholarship and education about Poland.

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