How the Field of Middle Eastern Studies Made Itself Irrelevant

September 17, 2021 | Martin Kramer
About the author: Martin Kramer is a historian at Tel Aviv University and the Walter P. Stern fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He served as founding president at Shalem College in Jerusalem.

In his book Ivory Towers on the Sand—which, by coincidence, was published a few weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks—Martin Kramer pointed to the failures of academic experts on the Middle East, arguing that they routinely “disregarded or distorted . . . evidence” that ran contrary to their theories, and “poured scorn on anyone who dared to propose” alternatives. As a result, his name was booed at the plenary session of the Middle East Studies Association. In conversation with Winfield Myers, Kramer discusses the book at a twenty-year remove. To Kramer, little has gotten better within the academy, while the professors have rendered themselves far less relevant beyond its walls. (Video, 31 minutes.)

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