Juan Cole: Up for job at Yale?

Historians in the News

When Yale formally hires a professor of Middle East Studies sometime in the next few years, students accustomed to comfortably liberal lecturers may be confronted with a notorious anti-Western firebrand. Faculty at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies (YCIAS) have confirmed that Juan Cole, an openly anti-George W. Bush, DC ’68, and anti-Israel history professor at the University of Michigan, is under consideration to fill a new slot as an interdisciplinary professor of contemporary Middle East studies. Whether or not the YCIAS search committee ultimately decides to offer the post to Cole, the possibility of such a controversial figure’s coming to Yale has reignited the ongoing campus debate about the role of politicized classes and opinionated professors in a college environment.

One of the main functions of YCIAS is to sponsor frequent talks by visiting professors, including a Mon., Jan. 30 discussion presented by Cole on Islamic political movements in post-Baath Iraq. The Center, directed by Sterling Professor of Political Science Ian Shapiro, also hosts 20 senior scholars and professors. These faculty members, some of whom are fully tenured, have been hired through the University’s standard search process and are jointly appointed to multiple academic departments. As YCIAS professors, they must teach in a YCIAS academic program, such as the Ethnicity, Race and Migration or International Studies majors. Such faculty members include star History professors John Gaddis and Ben Kiernan.

Last year, YCIAS created the position of contemporary Middle East Scholar, partly in response to curricular reviews suggesting a need for interdisciplinary studies relevant to current events, according to Search Committee Chair and Sociology Professor Julia Adams. In fall 2005, the search committee of five was formed to find a professor to occupy the new position. The committee has publicized its search worldwide to entice potential applicants, along with reviewing hundreds of academic papers.

According to Adams and Political Science professor Frances Rosenbluth, a member of the search committee, Juan Cole is being considered for the post. Cole’s online weblog, “Informed Comment,” has made him a minor celebrity and a controversial figure for his outspoken leftist opinions. According to the Middle East Forum, a right-leaning think tank that lists “fighting radical Islam (rather than terrorism)” as one of its aims, Cole has called Israel’s Likud political party fascist and claimed that Jewish neo-conservatives have manipulated the American government into waging war in Iraq....

Read entire article at Yotam Barkai in the Yale Herald

comments powered by Disqus