Two U.S. universities, Brandeis and Penn State Harrisburg, have withdrawn from the American Studies Association, following the group's decision earlier this week to boycott Israeli academia.
"It is with deep regret that we in the American Studies Program at Brandeis University have decided to discontinue our institutional affiliation with the American Studies Association," the Brandeis University American Studies Department said in a statement posted on its website. "We view the recent vote by the membership to affirm an academic boycott of Israel as a politicization of the discipline and a rebuke to the kind of open inquiry that a scholarly association should foster. We remain committed to the discipline of American Studies but we can no longer support an organization that has rejected two of the core principles of American culture -- freedom of association and expression."
Dr. Simon Bronner, the head of the American Studies department at Penn State Harrisburg, said in statements published on the Legal Insurrection website: "In the wake of the passage of the resolution by the ASA to boycott Israeli institutions, which programs and departments such as Penn State Harrisburg's program in American Studies consider to curtail academic freedom and undermine the reputation of American Studies as a scholarly enterprise, the chair of the American Studies program at Penn State Harrisburg plans to drop its institutional membership and will encourage others to do so.
"As a prominent program in American Studies concerned for the welfare of its students and faculty, Penn State Harrisburg is worried that the recent actions by the National Council of the American Studies Association (ASA) do not reflect the long-standing scholarly enterprise American Studies stands for. The withdrawal of institutional membership by our program and others allows us to be independent of the political and ideological resolutions issued by the ASA and concentrate on building American Studies scholarship with our faculty, students, and staff. There might be alternative organizations forming in the future that better represent the field of American Studies. When and if that occurs, we will re-examine our independent position. In the meantime, we view this move as one intended to protect students and faculty from opprobrium as a result of the ASA's claim to represent scholars of American studies."