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<nettime> Regulation on Postcolonial Studies
eduardo on Fri, 7 Nov 2003 07:44:52 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Regulation on Postcolonial Studies

I thought this would be of great importance to some people on the list.
 Being forwarded for the sake of awareness.

If a thread gets going (which is always a good thing), I must apologize
beforehand for having a very limited amount of time to become involved in


Eduardo Navas

>From Michael Bednar
>Department of History
>The University of Texas at Austin
>Congress Moves to Regulate Postcolonial Studies (fwd)
>Oct. 20, 2003
>As many of you who know me well will soon realize, I have become a
>political activist for the first time in my life. I am not here to rant,
>but to inform you on current legislation that is being debated in the
>House of Representatives. The legislation in question, H.R. 3077, will
>rewrite the Title VI legislation that has provided FLAS money to many of
>us and that also funds the various area-studies centers in our
>universities. In particular, the legislation proposes the creation of an
>"advisory board" that may severely impact universities by dictating the
>curricula taught, course materials assigned in class, and the faculty who
>are hired in institutions that accept Title VI funding. It gets worse.
>U.S. House of Representative's Subcommittee on Select Education Hearing
>"International Programs in Higher Education and Questions about Bias" on
>June 19, 2003
>begins with an opening statement by Representative Phil Gringrey that
>includes the following passage: "we are here today to learn more about
>number of programs that are authorized and funded under Title VI, which
>are some of the oldest programs of support to higher education. These
>programs reflect the priority placed by the federal government on
>diplomacy, national security, and trade competitiveness. International
>studies and education have become an increasingly important and relevant
>topic of conversation and consideration in higher education...
>However, with mounting global tensions, some programs under the Higher
>Education Act that support foreign language and area studies centers have
>recently attracted national attention and concern due to the perception
>their teachings and policies." Testimony provided by Dr. Stanley Kurtz
>(available from the link above) portrays areas studies centers as hotbeds
>of unpatriotic anti-Americanism. Dr. Kurtz focuses, in particular, on
>post-colonial theory and the work of Edward Said's Orientalism in which
>"Said equated professors who support American foreign policy with the 19th
>century European intellectuals who propped up racist colonial empires.
>core premise of post-colonial theory is that it is immoral for a scholar
>to put his knowledge of foreign languages and cultures at the service of
>American power." (quoted from Kurtz's statement found at
>Kurtz asserts that the rampant presence of post-colonial theory in
>academic circles, with its bias against America and the West, has produced
>a corps of professors who refuse to instruct or support (with FLAS grants)
>students interested in pursuing careers in the foreign service and/or
>intelligence agencies. Kurtz comments that: "We know that transmissions
>from the September 11 highjackers [sic] went untranslated for want of
>Arabic speakers in our intelligence agencies. Given that, and given the
>ongoing lack of foreign language expertise in our defense and intelligence
>agencies, the directors of the Title VI African studies centers who voted
>unanimously, just after September 11, to reaffirm their boycott of the
>NSEP [National Security Education Program], have all acted to undermine
>America's national security, and its foreign policy. And so has every
>other Title VI-funded scholar in Latin American-, African-, and Middle
>Eastern Studies who has upheld the long-standing boycott of the NSEP."
>answer, Kurtz proposes, is to create an oversight board that will link
>Title VI funding to students training for careers in national security,
>defense and intelligence agencies, and the Foreign Service. How effective
>was Dr. Kurtz's presentation? The committee not only believed everything
>Dr.Kurtz claimed, they even implemented most of his suggestions, including
>the "advisory board." An amended House Resolution, H.R. 3077, proposes
>create an International Education Advisory Board, with appointed members
>from homeland security, the Department of Defense, and the National
>Security Agency, "to increase accountability by providing advice, counsel,
>and recommendations to Congress on international education issues for
>higher education." (Quoted from the Sept. 19, 2003 press release of
>Congressman John Boehner, committee
>The full resolution of H.R. 3077 can be found at
>http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:H.R.3077: H.R. 3077 was amended
>in subcommittee and this amended resolution elaborates on the composition
>and role of the International Education Advisory Board (see especially
>pages 16-24). The amended H.R. 3077 can be found at:
>http://edworkforce.house.gov/markups/108th/sed/hr3077/917main.htm . Click
>on the link that says "Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute" which will
>download an Adobe Acrobat pdf file. This amended H.R. 3077 has been sent
>to the full committee, which met on Thursday, September 25 at 11:00 AM
>discuss the resolution before sending it to the House of Representatives.
>Just in case you think that I have lost my marbles or that I am
>over-reacting, the Higher Education and National Affairs newsletter,
>published by the American Council on Education, and available
>athttp://www.acenet.edu/hena/ includes the following comments on H.R. 3077
>(page 1, continued on page 4): "House Republicans intend for H.R. 3077
>build on existing international and foreign language studies Title VI
>programs, adding what many in the higher education community believe is
>unnecessary federal oversight through a new International Education
>Advisory Board." Federal international education programs were the focus
>of a House subcommittee hearing in June, during which one witness
>testified to a strong "anti-American" bias in many college and university
>international departments which he claimed could possibly undermine
>American foreign policy. ACE presented opposing testimony (see
>http://www.acenet.edu/washington/international/Hartle.Testimony.pdf . As
>subcommittee press release asserted, this advisory body would be created
>in consultation with homeland security agencies in order to "increase
>accountability by providing advice, counsel, and recommendations to
>Congress on international education issues for higher education." Higher
>education leaders oppose this board on the grounds that the powers it is
>granted are so broad that they put institutions in danger of losing
>control over their own curricula, hiring practices, and other aspects of
>their international programs." In short, it seems that the House of
>Representatives is about to regulate the courses and content that we, as
>future professors, will teach in colleges and universities. The
>possibility that someone in homeland security will instruct college
>professors (with Ph.D.s) on the proper, patriotic, "American-friendly"
>textbooks that may be used in class scares and outrages me. This morning,
>this was news to me. If this is new to you and if you feel as equally
>scared and angered that the government may censure your future academic
>career, then I urge you to: 1) distribute this message to other professors
>and students in area studies; and 2) write a handwritten letter (in ink)
>to your local congressmen and to John A. Boehner, Chairman of the Full
>Committee on Education and the Workforce at the following address: John
>Boehner 1011 Longworth H.O.B. Washington, DC 20515 Please refrain from
>emails and typewritten or computer printouts as these are often ignored
>Congress as being mass-produced by special-interest groups. Write in ink,
>in legible penmanship, and let your voice be heard.
>Michael Bednar
>Department of History
>The University of Texas at Austin

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