U.S. involvement in the Middle East has brought the region into the media spotlight and made it a hot topic in American college classrooms. At the same time, anthropology—a discipline committed to on-the-ground research about everyday lives and social worlds—has increasingly been criticized as "useless" or "biased" by right-wing forces. What happens when the two concerns meet, when such accusations target the researchers and research of a region so central to U.S. military interests?
This book is the first academic study to shed critical light on the political and economic pressures that shape how U.S. scholars research and teach about the Middle East. Lara Deeb and Jessica Winegar show how Middle East politics and U.S. gender and race hierarchies affect scholars across their careers—from the first decisions to conduct research in the tumultuous region, to ongoing politicized pressures from colleagues, students, and outside groups, to hurdles in sharing expertise with the public. They detail how academia, even within anthropology, an assumed "liberal" discipline, is infused with sexism, racism, Islamophobia, and Zionist obstruction of any criticism of the Israeli state. Anthropology's Politics offers a complex portrait of how academic politics ultimately hinders the education of U.S. students and potentially limits the public's access to critical knowledge about the Middle East.
About the authors
Lara Deeb is Professor of Anthropology at Scripps College.
Jessica Winegar is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University.
"Anthropology's Politics provides an invaluable and stunning wake-up call about the most urgent challenges facing academia today. Provocative and incisive, this book is a must-read for anyone concerned with U.S. empire, neoliberal corporatization, and the political dynamics that shape higher education in the United States."
—Nadine Suleiman Naber, University of Illinois at Chicago
"Anthropology's Politics breaks a profound silence by examining how overbearing political forces shape the work of American anthropologists working on the Middle East and North Africa. Lara Deeb and Jessica Winegar show how work in certain regions is discouraged, how research on important political topics is devalued, and how scholars are dissuaded from using their professional knowledge to contribute to policy discussions and advocate for political action. This is an invaluable book that shatters a large and imposing disciplinary wall."
—David Price, Saint Martin's University
"Incisive, forthright, and necessary. This unflinching account of the challenges that confront anthropologists, and anthropology's institutions, when engaging the politics of the Middle East is a must read for scholars in any field who are concerned with our professional responsibilities and our human obligations."
—Ilana Feldman, George Washington University
"Anthropology's Politics is a bold book. Lara Deeb and Jessica Winegar paint a disturbing picture of the pressures that shape how anthropologists research and teach about the Middle East and North AfricaDeeb and Winegar have written an important and well-researched book that can serve as a touchstone for the debates and backlash that are sure to come."
—Lesley Gill, American ethnologist
"Going against the grain, Anthropology's Politics: Disciplining the Middle East is a daring scholarly work about the complicity of the discipline of anthropology and its practitioners with the US/western hegemonic mind-set against the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region....[It] is an eye-opener for students, academicians, and readers at large about the hegemonic silencing of Middle East and North African voices in the production of knowledge."
—Arab Studies Quarterly