Responsibility in Crisis: Knowledge Politics and Global Publics

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.