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Pensée 2: Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Middle East Studies in the Aftermath of 9/11

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 August 2007

Program on the Middle East and North Africa, Social Science Research Council, New York, N.Y.; e-mail:
Program on International Collaboration, Social Science Research Council, New York, N.Y.; e-mail:


Although it may be too early to determine whether the events of 9/11 will significantly transform key questions and analytic approaches driving research and teaching in the field of Middle East studies (MES), we can say with certainty that 9/11 has dramatically affected the political and institutional environments within which this research and teaching takes place in the United States. Thus, “impact” or “change” must be evaluated across three distinct yet interrelated arenas: (1) the quotidian environment in which scholars, teachers, and students conduct their activities; (2) the varied institutional architectures through which research and teaching on the Middle East are undertaken inside and outside the university; and (3) the long-term intellectual history of the field.

© 2007 Cambridge University Press

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This phrase is taken from Beshara Doumani and Osamah Khalil, “HR 3077: The International Studies in Higher Education Act,” in Academic Freedom after September 11, ed. Beshara Doumani (New York: Zone Books, 2006), 283–84. The full quotation reads, “The primary concern is that government intervention in education will replace professional standards by arbitrary political ones. A related issue is that area-studies centers that refuse to cooperate with such a board could lose their funding. Area studies, in other words, finds itself in the unenviable position of being between the hammer of intervention and the anvil of privatization.”