Monthly Archives: February 2017

MESA: No Longer Non-Political?

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is North America’s leading venue for academic discussions related to the modern Middle East across a range of disciplines, from history to sociology, anthropology to literature.  Since the Middle East obviously matters to the world today, the forum where the experts discuss everything related to the Middle East is important, not just to academics, but to the broader public.  And since, as academics have increasingly pointed out, the rules of the forum shape what can or cannot be discussed in that forum, then a proposed change in the bylaws of MESA’s constitution are of public interest.  MESA members are debating and voting upon whether to strike the word “non-political” from the organization’s self-characterization, adding to the end of the academic society’s objectives the phrase “in accordance with its status as a 501(c)(3) scientific, educational, literary, and charitable organization.”  This post presents my understanding of the issues and evaluation of the options; of course, I welcome discussion or correction. Continue reading