As an open online forum with over seventeen hundred subscribers, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) “Faculty Issues and Concerns” listserv at the University of Washington (UW) allows faculty to communicate across departments and campuses on a variety of topics. With the stated purpose of “advancing the principles of the AAUP and encouraging active discussion of higher education issues and faculty rights,” the listserv provides a unique site for faculty exchange and debate. In this essay, I highlight several exchanges that occurred between 2013 and 2015 concerning the topic of Palestine-Israel that relate directly to debates over the meaning and purpose of academic norms and freedom. I argue that the exchanges demonstrate what we might call a discursive pattern in which certain faculty members seek to constrain the meaning of free speech so as to effectively prevent critical discussions and actions on the topic of Israel. As I show, whether on the question of divestment or the academic critique of Israel, these faculty members invoke undefined norms to exclude certain critiques and limit public debate.
Michael Vincente Pérez; “Free Speech” against Critique. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2018; 117 (1): 202–210. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-4282118
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