1-4 June, 2010
Dialogue Under Occupation IV
American University, Washington DC
You are invited to participate in an open conversation about the involvement of academics in political activity, specifically the academic boycott of Israeli universities. The facilitator takes no stance pro or con. The question of the roundtable regards the possibility of re-calibration in the Bakhtinian sense of orienting to a chronotope, of co-constructing through language use a timespace (in this instance) beyond the boycott. For the purposes of this roundtable, to dialogue is theorized as collectively changing the meanings of the past in order to collaboratively invoke new meanings for the future. An assumption is that the discourses that emerge during the roundtable will represent a reasonable microcosm of the overall cultural, macrosocial, and institutional dynamics. The roundtable is not intended to critique the fact of the boycott: the presence of the boycott is accepted as social reality. Instead, the intent will be to investigate conference participant wisdom about the aims of this instance of political activity, explore potential conditions for the emergence of dialogue, and imagine how involved parties can move ahead. The methodology of the roundtable will be to facilitate a conversation among participants with varying knowledge, diverse interests, and some degree of curiosity about the situation. With informed consent of those present, the conversation will be video-recorded in order for a transcription to be made and utilized in further analysis. Anonymity is guaranteed. Additionally, if a special case of communicative social interaction theorized as a Problematic Moment occurs, participants may be invited to participate in a follow-up activity to investigate the range of awareness and attention to this rare and powerful group-level event. A second level of informed consent will be sought if warranted. No special knowledge or criteria is required for participation.