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July 03, 2007

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Nathan

Except, if APSA took it over, I'd fear that it would simply become another outgrowth of the journals, and we'd lose the focus on finding and highlighting ''accessible'' poli sci.

Gregory Gause

My God!! Keep APSA out of it at all costs! Already Perspectives is turning into a mini-version of the APSR. And keep MESA out of the Middle East one as well. Given the divisions in MESA on both substantive and methodological issues, and the politics of MESA regarding American policy in general, it is highly doubtful that anything that passed through an official MESA filter would be of much interest to the policy community.

aardvark

I agree with both of you, and yet... both associations should have a strong interest in promoting the best disciplinary work for a general audience; both have at least some resources; and both offer professional incentives which could help overcome the reluctance of many academics to 'waste their time' on such public outreach. An individual doing this on his own - whether it's Henry or me with Qahwa Sada - just runs into all kinds of time and resource constraints. I wish that the professional associations wouldn't mess these things up, though both of you are probably right that they would...

Moloch-Agonistes

I find Greg's comment dispiriting. MESA is certainly affected by deep divisions in the Middle Eastern chapter of the ivory tower, but one side of that chasm, at least, has been of intense interest to "the policy community" (category error?) lately. In view of subsequent events its partisans have not exactly covered themselves over in glory. But you can hardly say they're uninteresting.

Effectively he seems to be arguing that the factions which deign to remain in MESA, by contrast to those who've left in a huff, produce uninteresting scholarship. Why--because they are (unlike expatriates) dogmatic? Because (unlike expatriates) they aren't methodologically thoughtful? I'm unconvinced, and the endless wrangling is as exhausting to me as anybody. But, I figure, if I didn't want wrangling, I probably should have stayed away from Middle Eastern scholarship. Unlike, say, Evans-Pritchard's work on the Azande (joke) there was to my knowledge no guarantee of sterile laboratory conditions when I entered this field. Anyway, since when did ideological divisions make for lack of general interest?

If economics associations can do it, and sociology associations can do it, there is no reason why MESA can't. And if someone doesn't like the articles that are highlighted, they're free to set up their counter-site. I'm sure Daniel Pipes would do so forthwith, and I doubt he would be hurting for funding for such an endeavor. Information is good. Who loses?

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