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By Dr. Alexander Goulden

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Indeed, critical analysis is actually about unveiling the pretense of ‘objectivity,’ about discovering how emotional, personal, spiritual, or community-based agendas matter for how we think about the world. IR as a discipline needs to shatter some of the methodological and episte­mological demands of objectivity in order to reflect much more actively upon the possibilities and pitfalls of ethnographic, self-reflexive, and participatory research. Furthermore, we’ve got to acknowledge overtly how power relationships in the world translate into pedagogical styles in the classroom or political choices professors make as public intellectuals (Shaw, 2003).

The battle lines are often raw and clear, particularly considering recent controversies in universities over attempts to censor the academic freedom of professors who are perceived to be pro-Palestinian or do research that critiques Israel’s occupation or strategy and tactics, or the campaign to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions until Israel recognizes Palestinians’ right to self-determination. So, while we could certainly address ‘centered’ IR scholarship and policies regarding Israel and Palestine, we’d like to emphasize the conversations that surround us in our capacities as professors and US citizens; in that role, we need to repeatedly ask the questions that many have been asking, even if we end up with more questions than answers.

If we can problematize this concept and show how intensely knotty it has become, we believe we can see how these other more familiar matters of human rights, globalization (and associated topics such as development, economics, and the environment), and peace and security are equally susceptible. These three topics make up the core of almost any introduction to an IR course and are, by and large, the stock in trade of various graduate-level courses. Yet, undergirding them all to some degree is indigeneity.

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Behind The Veil by Dr. Alexander Goulden

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