We should always boycott apartheid

Ordinary people throughout the world must press harder and harder for a movement for Boycott, Divest and Sanctions against Israel
Snehal Shingavi , Saturday 26 Jul 2014

The most recent events in Gaza have shocked the conscience of the world so deeply that we have seen the largest pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the world that we have ever seen. From London, to Sydney, to South Africa, to Chicago, thousands have come out to demand a cessation to the bombing. Even fifteen years ago, during the Second Intifada, the global protest movement was not nearly as large. Something profound has occurred that has altered Israel’s ability to present its case to the world and have it be accepted as gospel.

First, the bombings of Gaza have produced a concentrated spectacle of what daily life in Gaza is like: bombing from Israeli Defense Forces, indiscriminate round-ups of Palestinians, collective punishment, inadequate access to food, water, and medicine, and the absolute disregard for civilian life. The bombing of hospitals, schools, UN refugee camps, apartment complexes, killing entire families, and even children playing on the beach are not “accidents” but the direct outcome of Israeli policies which have turned Gaza into one of the most densely populated places on the earth and then deprived that population of basic necessities, including the freedom to move. The fact that Israel does the same things it is doing now even when there are no Hamas rockets on which to deflect attention gives lie to the claim that this has anything to do with self-defense. As Noura Erekat, the legal scholar, has convincingly argued, Israel, like every other occupying power, has no right to self-defense. It has, rather, an obligation to preserve the lives of those it occupies, and it has flouted that obligation repeatedly.

Second, the rhetoric from inside Israel has shifted very decisively towards the far-right. The anecdotes reported in the media are chilling enough: the burning alive of an innocent Palestinian boy by an Israeli lynch mob; soccer fans shouting “death to Arabs!”; Israeli youth patrolling the streets with Kahanist t-shirts; the repeated accusations that one is not a citizen of Israel if one is not loyal to its military campaigns; and on and on. But even worse have been the reports of what has been said by the political establishment. Ayelet Shaked, member of Israel Beiteinu, called for the deaths of Palestinian mothers since they give birth to “more little snakes.” Despite knowing that the three teenage Israeli youth who had been feared to be kidnapped were actually dead, Prime Minister Netanyahu whipped up racist hysteria and did nothing to stop the mobs from attacking Palestinians in the streets. The once popular belief that Israel represented the leading force for democracy and social justice in the Middle East has been betrayed by the rampant racism, chauvinism, and xenophobia.

Finally, as these lines are being written, new protests have emerged in the West Bank. A march from Ramallah to Jerusalem, one of the largest in a decade, has unleashed the spirit of the third Intifada. Pictures of protesters tearing down the separation (also known as the “apartheid”) wall that Israel used to annex unlawfully more of the West Bank. The spirit of unity that was only formally represented in the alliance announced between Hamas and Fatah a few months ago has become transformed into a truly popular and nationally unity against the horrors that Israel is committing in Palestine. Two years after the revolutionary movements of the Arab Spring, it seems that the spirit of popular rebellion has come to Palestine as well.

These new processes have altered the narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict substantially, even as they have not yet fully been able to transform the political commitments of the most powerful nations in the world. The US Senate voted unanimously to support Israel. The French government declared a ban on protests in support of Israel. The European Union even balked at the opportunity to condemn Israel for killing citizens of the EU, Ibrahim al-Kilani, his wife, and five children. Despite the shift in global public opinion decisively towards support for the Palestinian cause, the leadership of the most powerful countries in the world remains decisively committed to Israeli apartheid and occupation.

This is the context in which the calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions have to be understood and the reasons why ordinary people throughout the world must press harder and harder for a movement for BDS. It was as a consequence of the struggles of black South Africans that global civil society was inspired to isolate apartheid South Africa through a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions in the 1980s. The parallels to today could not be clearer. The refusal of Israel to stop its criminal war on Gaza and the refusal of the world powers to act mean that the job falls to the only two actors capable of making social change: the Palestinians and global civil society. The former has already acted and sacrificed—lives, health, dignity, and freedom. It falls on the rest of us to heed their call.

*Snehal Shingavi is an Assistant Professor, English, University of Texas Austin


Open Letter in support of student protesters who were arrested at UT Austin on April 23

(to sign, please tweet me at @sshingavi)

To the University of Texas, Austin administration:

We, the undersigned, members of the UT community are troubled by the arrest of peaceful protesters at the Office of the President on April 23, 2014. Non-violent student protest ought to be met not with criminalization but with negotiations and dialogue.

Students were sitting-in to protest the University of Texas’s decision to proceed with the implementation of Shared Services, a proposal that would restructure the operations of the University of Texas by eliminating 500 departmental staff positions. Not only has such a proposal been subject to serious debate and misgivings on the part of members of the campus community, it has been met with opposition in all of the other universities where it has been implemented. The elimination of departmental staff positions not only means that the university will be able to provide fewer services to students and faculty at UT, it also means that the services that are provided will be offered by people doing the work of those who have been laid off. Such a restructuring of the university not only threatens the educational mission of the university but it also undermines some of the university’s best resources and talents.

The criminalization of non-violent student protest has a long history at UT Austin, including the arrests of the UT-10 in 1999, the arrests of anti-war protesters in 2003, and the arrest of anti-sweatshop activists in 2012. This pattern of criminalizing dissent unnecessarily creates a climate in which students are unable to raise their own concerns about changes taking place at the university and in the broader community.

We think that it is time for this pattern of responding to protest with police to stop in favor of a policy of active engagement with student concerns. We encourage the University of Texas and the Travis County Attorney to drop the charges against the students arrested yesterday. We encourage the University to revise its policies in dealing with student protesters. But most importantly, we encourage the University of Texas to rethink its commitment to the staff who work tirelessly to make UT Austin the flagship university of Texas and to reconsider its implementation of Shared Services.




A. Naomi Paik, Asst. Professor, American Studies, UT Austin

Aaron Bady, Postdoctoral Fellow, English, UT Austin

Amanda Gray, Graduate Student, American Studies, UT Austin

Ana Minian, Harrington Faculty Fellow, Center for Mexican American Studies, UT Austin

Anam Bangash, undergraduate, UT Austin

Anindya Dey, Graduate Student, Physics, UT Austin

Anne Lewis, Sr. Lecture, Radio Television Film, UT Austin

Ashlyn Davis, graduate student, American Studies, UT Austin

Barbara Harlow, Professor, English, UT Austin

Ben Carrington, Associate Professor, Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies, UT Austin

Bernth Lindfors, Professor Emeritus of English, UT Austin

Brian Doherty, Senior Lecturer, English, UT Austin

Cary Cordova, Assistant Professor, Department of American Studies, UT Austin

Cole Wehrle, Graduate Student, English, UT Austin

Cynthia Talbot, Associate Professor, History & Asian Studies, UT Austin

Dana Cloud, Professor, Communication Studies, UT Austin

Deb Palmer, Associate Professor, Bilingual/Bicultural Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, UT Austin

Don Howard, Associate Professor, Radio/Television/Film, UT Austin

Elisa Underwood, Graduate Student, American Studies, UT Austin

Ellen Spiro, Professor, Radio Television Film, UT Austin

Emily Lederman, Graduate Student and AI, English, UT Austin

Eric Covey, Assistant Instructor, American Studies, UT Austin

Eric Schenk, Former Academic English Program Instructor, retired, ESL Services, International Office, UT Austin

Eric Tang, Assistant Professor, Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, UT Austin

Gretchen Murphy, Professor, English, UT Austin

Heather Hindman, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, UT Austin

Heather Houser, Asst. Professor, English, UT Austin

Helene Quanquin, visiting professor, Sorbonne-Nouvelle (Paris III)

Ian Woolford, PhD, Alumnus, UT Austin

Jaime Puente, Doctoral Student, American Studies, UT Austin

Jason Brownlee, Assoc. Professor, Department of Government, UT Austin

Jauzey Imam, undergraduate, class of 2015, UT Austin

Jennifer Kelly, PhD Candidate, Department of American Studies, UT Austin

Jennifer Wilks, Associate Professor, English, UT Austin

John Schaefer, UT alumnus

Josephine Lawson, UT Student, class of 2017

Jossianna Arroyo-Martínez, Professor, Spanish and Portuguese, African and African American Studies, UT Austin

Julie Kantor, Graduate Student in American Studies, AI in Rhetoric, UT Austin

Julie Minich, Asst. Professor, English, UT Austin

Juliet Hooker, Associate Professor of Government and African and African Diaspora Studies, UT Austin

Kamala Visweswaran, Associate Professor, Anthropology, UT Austin

Karen Gustafson, Research Associate, Radio Television Film, UT Austin

Katya Kolesova, graduate student, Communication Studies, UT Austin

Kristen Brustad, Associate professor, MES, UT Austin

Laura Davila, alumna, UT Austin

Laura Lyons, UT Alumna

Luis E. Cárcamo-Huechante, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, UT Austin

Luis Marentes, Associate Prof. Of Spanish (dept. Languages, Literatures & Cultures) U of Massachusetts Amherst, UT alumnus

Mahmoud Al-Batal, Professor, Middle Eastern Studies, UT Austin

Mariana Mora, UT Alumna

Mia Carter, Associate Professor, Department of English, UT Austin

Michelle Monk, Department Administrator, Radio-Television-Film, UT Austin

Mona Mehdy, Assoc. Professor, Molecular Biosciences, UT Austin

Monica Muñoz Martinez, Carlos E. Castañeda Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Mexican American Studies, UT Austin

Neville Hoad, Associate Professor, English, UT Austin

Noah De Lissovoy, Asst. Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, UT Austin

Pablo Gonzalez, alumnus, UT Austin

Purnima Bose, UT Alumna

R. Scott Garbacz, PhD Candidate, English, UT Austin

Rachel Jennings, PhD, English, UT Austin

Ramey Ko, Lecturer, Center for Asian American Studies, UT Austin

Rasha Diab, Asst. Professor, Rhetoric and Writing, UT Austin

Regina Mills, Graduate Student, English, UT Austin

Rhiannon Goad, Graduate Student and Assistant Instructor, Department of English, UT Austin

Robert Jensen, Professor, Communications, UT Austin

Robert Oppenheim, Associate Professor, Asian Studies, UT Austin

Robert Oxford, graduate student, American Studies, UT Austin

Rocio Villalobos, Coordinator, Multicultural Engagement Center, UT Austin

S. Shankar, UT Alumnus, Professor, Department of English, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Saif Kazim, UT Alumnus, class of 2013

Sarah Frank, graduate student, English, UT Austin

Sarah Tuttle, Research Associate, McDonald Observatory

Shannon Speed, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Director, Native American and Indigenous Studies, UT Austin

Sheela Jane Menon, graduate student, English, UT Austin

Shiyam Galyon, alumnus, UT Austin

Snehal Shingavi, Asst. Professor, English, UT Austin

Sona A. Shah, Assistant Director, Center for Asian American Studies, UT Austin

Syed Akbar Hyder, Assoc. Professor, Asian Studies, UT Austin

Tarek El-Ariss, Assoc. Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, UT Austin

Taryn Stoneking, undergraduate, UT Austin, class of 2015

Teri Adams, UT Alumna

Victoria Vlach, Administrative Associate, Dept. of Asian Studies, UT Austin



Faculty letter in support of divestment from Israel at University of Washington

April 14, 2014

To whom it may concern:

We, the undersigned faculty from universities around the country, salute and commend the efforts of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights at the University of Washington, Seattle, to get the UW Student Senate to pass a measured and thoughtful motion to divest from corporations that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

We agree with the motion in its recognition that the Israeli occupation is both illegal under international law and involves extensive and ongoing violations of human rights and international law that are systemic in nature and thoroughly documented by a range of internationally respected organizations. Corporations that collaborate with and profit from the occupation are themselves therefore complicit in the perpetration of human rights violations. Furthermore, we endorse the statement that a decision to divest from corporations that profit from these fundamental violations is and should be in keeping with the commitment to respect for human rights, non-discrimination and ethical values that is a cornerstone of any university’s moral and intellectual mission. It is clearly in keeping with the University of Washington’s own stated commitment to “the active pursuit of global engagement and connectedness” and to fostering “engaged and responsible citizenship”.

We therefore urge the Student Senate at the University of Washington, Seattle, to live up to these ethical principles and to pass the divestment resolution.


Joel Beinin, Stanford University

Eduardo Cadava, Princeton University

Mary Yu Danico, California State University, Pomona

Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt University

Erica Edwards, University of California Riverside

Alessandro Fornazzari, University of California, Riverside

Cynthia Franklin, University of Hawai’i

Jess Ghannam, University of California, San Francisco

Terri Ginsberg, International Council for Middle East Studies

Macarena Gomez-Barrís, University of Southern California

Barbara Harlow, University of Texas, Austin

Linda Hess, Stanford University

Cheryl Higashida , University of Colorado, Boulder

Nasser Hussain, Amherst College

Robin D. Kelley, University of California Los Angeles

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Wesleyan University

Jodi Kim, University of California Riverside

David Klein, California State University, Northridge

Dennis Kortheuer, California State University, Long Beach

Mariam Lam, University of California Riverside

David Lloyd, University of California Riverside

Alex Lubin, University of New Mexico

Sunanina Maira, University of California, Davis

Frederick C. Moten, University of California, Riverside

Bill Mullen, Purdue University

Nadine Suleiman Naber, University of Illinois, Chicago

David Palumbo-Liu, Stanford University

Laura Pulido, University of Southern California

Dylan Rodriguez, University of California Riverside

Jeff Sacks, University of California Riverside

Steven Salaita, Virginia Tech

Sarita See, University of California Riverside

Freya Schiwy, University of California, Riverside

Malini Johar Schueller, University of Florida, Gainesville

Snehal Shingavi, University of Texas, Austin

Rajini Srikanth, University of Massachusetts Boston

Neferti Tadiar, Barnard College

Faculty Letter Against Shared Services at UT Austin

Dear President Powers,

We are deeply concerned about the Business Productivity Initiative and its impact on the university community and on our ability to teach and engage in meaningful research. We are dismayed that the Initiative has already invested more than $4 million paid to Accenture Corporation in order to “sell” the University on the Plan — money that could have been used to meet our core missions and enhance staff services and staff support. We question the Plan’s potential for cost saving; we have been given inaccurate statistics and graphs throughout the campus discussion period.

Implementation of the proposed shared services plan, whether touted as a series of “pilot” experiments or done wholesale, will inevitably endanger one of the foundations of this university’s greatness—the sense of community that joins together faculty, staff, and students. Our multitalented, abundantly generous, highly skilled, deeply committed and invested staff is an essential element of our community.

People choose to work at The University of Texas at Austin because they believe in its educational and social missions. Adoption of a shared services model will weaken departments’ commitment to those missions by devaluing bonds between faculty and staff that develop from working toward common goals. We oppose any plan that removes dedicated staff from departments and consolidates the specialized services offered both students and faculty at the departmental level. The stability and coherence of staff at the departmental level ensures effective and productive intradepartmental communications, and ideally facilitates relations between faculty, staff, and our students. We are already short staffed and should hire more departmental support, not less. We oppose the use of attrition and forced retirement as money saving ventures.

We who work at the university know our staff as generous and deeply committed professionals, as parents and caretakers, community volunteers, as fellow citizens of Austin, Travis County, and the state of Texas. These are people who help make our campus the compassionate, intelligent, diverse, vibrant, and enviable place that attracts visitors to the Forty Acres; their support of faculty and students forge the lifelong bonds of attachment to and affection for the university that are its very lifeblood. We should choose to invest in our campus community as a whole because that investment strengthens our city, its families, and our common spirit.

For many of us, it is very difficult not to see the university’s embrace of the Business Productivity Initiative as part of the overly zealous, profit-motivated corporatist mandate, which is likely to erode public institutions and public services across this country. The greatest tragedy of these privatization schemes is that they destroy the democratic spirit by calculatedly de-valuing our common wealth and the very notions of collective endeavor, mutual support, and the common good.

These are inestimable values; they matter to us, greatly. We implore you to withdraw your support of the Shared Services Plan.

Letter authored by,

Mia Carter, Associate Professor of English, University Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor; University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teacher; 2014 Alcalde “Texas Ten”; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Julius G. Getman, Earl E. Sheffield Regents Chair; Professor, School of Law; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Anne Lewis, Sr. Lecturer Radio-Television-Film; 2010 University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teacher; Executive Board Member TSEU-CWA 6186

Faculty Signatories:

Michael Adams, Interim Director, James A. Michener Center for Writers; Director, Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program; Associate Professor, Department of English

Kamran Asdar Ali, Fellow of Marlene and Morton Meyerson Centennial Chair; Associate Professor, Director, Academic Program, Department of Anthropology, Department of Asian Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, South Asia Institute

Lynn A. Baker, Frederick M. Baron Chair in Law

Samuel Baker, Associate Professor of English

Phillip Barrish, Associate Professor; Director, Lower-Division Literature Program, Department of English

Mary Beltrán, Associate Professor, Dept. of Radio-Television-Film; Affiliate, Women’s & Gender Studies, Center for Mexican American Studies

Daniela Bini, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature; recipient of President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award; Harry H. Ransom Teaching Award; Liberal Arts Council Teaching Award; Cavaliere (Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana) conferred by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano.

Daniel Birkholz, Director, English Department Honors Program; Associate Professor of English; Recipient, President’s Associates Teaching Award

Lynn E. Blais, Leroy G. Denman, Jr. Regents Professor in Real Property Law

Hans C. Boas, Raymond Dickson, Alton C. Allen, and Dillon Anderson Centennial Professor; Director, Linguistics Research Center, Department of Linguistics; Department of Germanic Studies

 Brian A. Bremen, Associate Professor of English; Provost’s Teaching Fellow

 Barry Brummett, Charles Sapp Centennial Professor in Communication; Department of Communication Studies Chair

Erika Bsumek, Associate Professor of History

 Thomas Buckley, Specialist, Rhetoric and Writing; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Ben Carrington, Associate Professor of Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

 Evan Carton, Joan Negley Kelleher Centennial Professor in Rhetoric and Composition; Professor, Dept. of English

Oscar Cásares
, Fellow of Susan Taylor McDaniel Regents Associate Professorship in Creative Writing; Associate Professor of English

Dana Cloud, Associate Professor; Director of Graduate Studies; Fellow to Everett Collier Chair in Communication Studies

 Cary Cordova, Assistant Professor, Department of American Studies; Faculty Affiliate, Center for Mexican American Studies

Ann Cvetkovich, Ellen Clayton Garwood Centennial Professor of English; Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies

 Diane Davis, Director, Digital Writing and Research Lab; Professor of Rhetoric & Writing

Janet M. Davis, Associate Professor; American Studies, History, Women’s and Gender Studies

Lesley Dean-Jones, Associate Professor of Classics

 Noah De Lissovoy, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction

James Denbow, Professor of Anthropology

Rasha Diab, Assistant Professor, Department of Rhetoric and Writing. Affiliate: Departments of English and Middle Eastern Studies

 Brian Doherty, Senior Lecturer, English; Member TSEU-CWA 6186

Ariel Dulitzky, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Human Rights Clinic; Director, KBH Center for Latin American Law, University of Texas School of Law

 Tarek El-Ariss, Associate Professor of Arabic Studies and Comparative Literature, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Susan B. Empson, Professor, STEM Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Karen Engle, Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law, Co-Director and Founder Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice

 Lester Faigley, Robert Adger Law and Thos. H. Law Professor in Humanities, English/Rhetoric and Writing

Toyin Falola, Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities; Distinguished Teaching Professor; Professor, Department of History

Linda Ferreira-Buckley, Lillian and Tom B. Rhodes Centennial Teaching Fellow; Associate Professor of English, Rhetoric & Writing

William E. Forbath, Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Law

Steve Friesen, Professor, Department of Religious Studies; President¹s Associates Teaching Excellence Award (2011)

Karl Galinsky, Floyd A. Cailloux Centennial Professor of Classics; University Distinguished Teaching Professor; Max-Planck International Research Award 2009

Joshua Gunn, Associate Professor, Communication Studies

 Frank A. Guridy, Associate Professor of History

Barbara Harlow, Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor of English Literature with courtesy appointments in Comparative Literature, Middle Eastern Studies, and affiliations with Women’s and Gender Studies, South Asia Institute, and the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice (UT Law School); Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Jim Hankinson, Professor of Philosophy and Classics

John Hartigan, Director, Américo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies; Professor, Department of Anthropology

Edeltraud Harzer, Senior Lecturer, Asian Studies

Kurt Heinzelman, Professor of Poetry and Poetics, Department of English; Editor-in-Chief, TSLL; Editor-at-Large, Bat City Review

 Susan Heinzelman, Director, Center for Women and Gender Studies; Associate Professor of English

 Lars Hinrichs, Fellow of J. R. Millikan Centennial Associate Professorship in English Literature; Associate Professor of English Language and Linguistics

 John Hoberman, Professor of Germanic Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

 Neville Hoad, Associate Professor of English

 Juliet Hooker, Associate Director for Scholarly Programs, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies; Associate Professor of Government and African and African Diaspora Studies

Heather Houser, Katherine Ross Richards Centennial Teaching Fellow in English; Assistant Professor of English; Member TSEU-CWA 6186

 Don Howard, Associate Professor, Radio-Television-Film, UT3D Director

Madeline Hsu, Associate Professor, History

 Thomas K. Hubbard, Professor of Classics; Fellow of the Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professorship in the Humanities

John Huehnergard, Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Robert Jensen, Professor of Journalism

Martin Kevorkian, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, English

Terri LeClercq, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, retired and Norman Black Professorship in Ethical Communication in Law School of Law

 Richard M Lewis, Associate Professor and Area Head for Screenwriting, Radio Television and Film

 Tatjana Lichtenstein, Assistant Professor, Department of History

 Allen MacDuffie, Fellow of Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Assistant Professorship in English; Assistant Professor of English

Geoff Marslett, Senior Lecturer, Radio Television Film; Board of Regents’ Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Alberto A. Martínez, Associate Professor, Department of History

Anne M. Martinez, Assistant Professor, Department of History

Tracie Matysik, Associate Professor, Raymond S. Dickson Teaching Awardee, Department of History

 Mona Mehdy, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences

 Jeffrey L. Meikle, Stiles Professor in American Studies, Professor of Art and Art History

Sofian Merabet, Assistant Professor of Anthropology; Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Mark Metzler, Associate Professor of History

Karl Hagstrom Miller, Fellow of George W. Littlefield Associate Professorship in American History; Associate Professor, American Studies and History

Julie Avril Minich, Leslie Waggener, Sr. Centennial Teaching Fellow; Assistant Professor, Department of English

Michelle Monk, Department Administrator, Radio-Television-Film; Member of CWA-TSEU 6168

Lisa L. Moore, Interim Director, The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies; Professor of English

Steven A. Moore, PhD, RA, Bartlett Cocke Regents Professor of Architecture and Planning; Director, Graduate Program in Sustainable Design, School of Architecture

Monica Muñoz Martinez, PhD, Carlos E. Castañeda Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Mexican American Studies

 Patrick Olivelle, Professor, Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair Emeritus in the Humanities

Antonella D. Olson, Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Italian, 2012 University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teacher, 2009 Texas Exes Teaching Award, 2001 Harry H. Ransom Award

 Angela Naomi Paik, Fellow of Mary Helen Thompson Centennial; Assistant Professorship in the Humanities, Department of American Studies, Center for Asian American Studies, Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, Department of African and African American Studies, Rapoport Center for Law and Human Rights; Member TSEU-CWA

 Tom Palaima, Robert M. Armstrong Centennial Professor; Director PASP Classics; UT Alumni/ae Association’s Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching 2003-4; Plan II Chad Oliver Teaching Award 2004-5; MacArthur fellow 1985-90; Member of CWA-TSEU 6168

Deborah Palmer, Associate Professor, Bilingual/Bicultural Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction; faculty affiliate Center for Mexican American Studies; Member TSEU-CWA

 Deborah Paredez, Katherine Ross Richards Centennial Teaching Fellow in English, Associate Professor of English

Carla Petievich, Visiting Professor, South Asia Institute

Lucas A. Powe Jr., Anne Green Regents Chair in Law; Professor of Government

Megan Raby, Assistant Professor, Department of History

 Guy P. Raffa, Associate Professor of Italian; Member of CWA-TSEU 6186

PJ Raval, Assistant Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film

 Ann Reynolds, Associate Professor, Art History

 Matt Richardson, Fellow of Chair in African and African Diaspora Studies; Associate Professor African and African Diaspora Studies and English

Sharmila Rudrappa, Associate Professor, (Future) Director Academic Program, Department of Sociology

John Rumrich, Arthur J. Thaman and Wilhelmina Dore’ Thaman Endowed Professor in English

Elizabeth Scala, Associate Professor of English

Nancy Schiesari, Professor, Radio-Television-Film

 Megan Seaholm, Senior Lecturer, Department of History

Martha Ann Selby, Professor of South Asian Studies; Member of CWA-TSEU 6186

Dina Sherzer, Professor Emeritus, Department of French and Italian

Joel Sherzer, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology

 Snehal Shingavi, Fellow of Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Assistant Professorship in English; Assistant Professor, Department of English

Christen Smith, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology; Department of African and African Diaspora Studies

Shannon Speed, Associate Professor of Anthropology; Director, Native American and Indigenous Studies

 James Spindler, The Sylvan Lang Professor; Professor, UT McCombs School of Business

Ellen Spiro, Professor, Department of Radio Television Film

Janet Staiger, William P. Hobby Centennial Professor Emeritus in Communication and Professor Emeritus of Women’s and Gender Studies; Chair of Faculty Council, 2009-10

Kathleen Stewart, Professor, Anthropology

Pauline Strong, Professor of Anthropology; Director, Humanities Institute

Circe Sturm, Fellow of Dallas TACA Centennial Associate Professorship in the Liberal Arts; Associate Professor of Anthropology; Native American and Indigenous Studies Faculty

Cynthia Talbot, Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies; Member TSEU-CWA 6186

 Kim TallBear, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

Eric Tang, Assistant Professor, African & African Diaspora Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Rabun Taylor, Associate Professor of Classics

Shirley Thompson, Fellow of Stiles Associate Professorship in American Studies; Fellow of Chair in African and African Diaspora Studies; Associate Professor of American Studies and African and African Diaspora Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Luis Urrieta, Jr., Associate Professor; Curriculum & Instruction, Mexican American Studies;
Native American & Indigenous Studies; Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

Angela Valenzuela, Professor, Department of Educational Administration; Center for Mexican American Studies; Department of Curriculum and Instruction; Director of TCEP and Associate Vice President for School Partnerships

Kamala Visweswaran, Associate Professor of Anthropology, South Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Jennifer Wilks, Associate Professor of English & African and African Diaspora Studies; 2011 Alcalde “Texas Ten”

Hannah C. Wojciehowski, Professor of English

Helena Woodard, Associate Professor, Department of English; Faculty Affiliate, J. Warfield Center for African and African Diaspora Studies

Jo Worthy, Professor, Language and Literacy Studies, Curriculum and Instruction






A Response to the Renewal Faction on Events in Austin

Since so much has been made of Austin by the Renewal Faction, I would like to respond (especially since I’m singled out, again).

Here is the “crisis” to which the Renewal Faction refers in Austin.  I’ve redacted the names because they are unimportant, but if anyone would like to do the accounting, we will happily talk about them.

  • Comrade 1 and 2: political/personal differences
  • Comrade 3: Paternity
  • Comrade 4: long term health issue
  • Comrade 5: returned after custody battle
  • Comrade 6: on leave to finish a book
  • Comrade 7: undeclared personal reasons with a note to rejoin in a few months
  • Comrade 8: returned (irregularly to branch meetings)
  • Comrade 9: returned (reappeared at the Day School)
  • Comrade 10: long-term financial issues (reappeared at the Day School)
  • Comrade 11: difficult work schedule (reappeared at the Day School)
  • Comrade 12: time conflict (still doing fraction work)

There are two ways to interpret this data, but the Austin branch committee (while I was on it) was of the belief that we ought to take comrades at their word for their rationales for leaving rather than impute political debates on them.  We at least hold to the belief that our comrades are not lying to us.

So when the Renewal Faction writes the following

Now comrades may take leave for entirely legitimate reasons involving health, family, employment, and so on. But if ten people go “on leave” more or less simultaneously–at the same time as two others formally resign–then it is foolish to pretend as if the reason is not fundamentally political and indicative of a political crisis.

I can only respond: Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

In a branch that was 35-8 comrades, this is high but not unusual, especially given three things which the Renewal Faction overlooks: 1) The way that neoliberalism actually affects our members in ways that are not only political (i.e. job loss, family crises, etc.) 2)      The sheer exhaustion the branch faced after the most exciting summer that we have ever participated in politically (The War on Texas Women), arguably as large a protest as anything in DC or Chicago, but without the number of nearby branches to help with the organizational challenges. 3)The complicated back and forth we have been trying to navigate around the question of the size of the branch, student/community, and the development of cadre which have created some organizational bumpiness that are not the same thing as political disagreements.

I think that it is a fair question to call this a crisis in the branch, or rather, one reading of the evidence could reasonably lead a comrade to that conclusion.  But such an interpretation is so out of synch with the local evidence, so quick to use data to support its own alarmist conclusions, that it fails to explain the specifics.  Did we in Austin also overestimate the period?  Here is our assessment from the summer work:

At the same time, this movement has a time limit on it.  As soon as the bills pass, the Democratic Party and its ancillary organizations will begin to channel all of that frustration into electoral politics.  It is also clear that the Democrats are not willing to defeat the Republicans.  In order to defeat the bills, we would need to do something on the order of what was done in Madison, WI, namely occupy the Capitol with so many people and for long enough that they cannot pass the bills.  The left does not have the forces or the credibility to do something like this on its own – it would need the mainstream organizations (unions, feminist groups) to be on board as well.  It would require, in other words, a much larger “people’s filibuster.”  Anything short of running out the special session means that the Republicans will be able to use their stacked deck to push through whatever they want.  (Austin District Notes, July 2013)

Later we were even sharper about the limits posed by this movement:

We should also understand that the fight around abortion rights was more or less derailed by the abstention of the Democratic Party (if not by outright orders by Party leaders to pull the plug on an issue that would hurt their chances in the polls).  We continue to build as much as we can around this fight, but it is substantially harder to do so without a clear target and without the kind of mobilizing capacity that the liberal organizations possess.  We take no pleasure in having been right about this: it can only be disorienting for a number of activists who were told that this was the fight of their lives and that “we won’t back down” only to see the Democrats licking their wounds and waiting until 2014.  Some of those people can be brought to socialist politics; most of them will be disoriented or confused or will begin to repeat the shibboleths of Democratic Party sound bites about realism and pragmatism. (Austin District Notes, August 2013)

We did take a slightly over-optimistic turn in September, where I clearly erred in thinking that there was a larger periphery than there was.  Here is what I wrote:

This month the notes will be making the argument for an outward push for ISO events and tablings.  We have already argued that the mood in Austin, while angry at the general nature of the economy and oppression in general, does not still constitute fertile ground for agitational work (i.e. it is possible to call for relatively small rallies, but these do not bring out substantial, organized forces), our most important work will be propagandistic (i.e. informational tablings, meetings, teach-ins, etc.) in order to seed the ground for a revival in struggle.  The raw numbers just in terms of our activity over the past three week bear this out:

·        8/22: 200 people at town hall against APD violence

·        8/24: 80 people out at rally for jobs and justice

·        8/27: 96 contacts at Freshman activities fair

·        8/28: 200 people at rally against bleach balloons

·        8/29: 2-300 people at fight for 15 rally

·        8/29: 400 people at Huston-Tillotson Trayvon event

·        8/31: 100 people at No War on Syria rally

·        8/31:  80-100 people at Planned Parenthood fundraiser

·        9/1: 50-60 people at the “march for civil rights”

·        9/4: 65 people at Why You Should Join the Socialists

·        9/5: 13 people at Graduate Student organizing meeting

·        9/6: 8 people at People’s Task Force meeting

·        9/10: 40-50 people at bleach balloon protest

·        9/12: 15 people at Graduate Student Employees Association meeting

·        9/12: 275 people at Islamophobia event

(If you subtract out our members, we have a periphery of something like 1000-1500 people in the last three weeks alone)

Clearly, not all of these people are socialists or even left of the democrats, but they together represent a sizable chunk of people with whom we can engage in politics and political discussion.  The thing that has been missing has not been political issues that are drawing people out and engaging them in some kind of activity. (Austin District Notes, September 2013)

This was overclaimed, but it seemed right at the time to focus on meeting new political activists and talking to them about politics.  Still, this excited perspective was corrected by October once it was clear that these numbers were aberrational.  What is left out of the Renewal Faction’s assessment are two things.  1) the local character of our perspectives (which were much more conservative than even the national perspectives in some places) which underwent a lot of revision and debate and 2) the fact that even by the logic of the Renewal Faction, the “crisis” happened before September (when it was clear that we didn’t have the membership numbers to respond to all of the interest in the ISO).

In the interest of proving there is a crisis in the organization, the Renewal Faction mischievously misreads what is happening in Austin.   There may very well be an organizational crisis in the ISO.  We do not know because we do not have a full accounting of what happened all over the country.  But I can say with full confidence that what is happening in Austin, while not ideal, does not match the crisis that Shaun J is describing.

Snehal S

An Open Letter About the Events in Texas


An Open Letter About the Events in Texas:

The nation stands at the edge of a historic reversal. Hard won gains of the women’s rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s are about to be turned back with devastating results for women across the country. Abortion, already a barely accessible right for most women, is now being made extinct as conservative politicians attempt to press their advantage in certain states in opportunistic fashion.

But the problem we face is deeper. In Texas, the legislature has used every legal (and some illegal) trick in the book to make sure that the pro-choice majority is not heard. The current legislation under consideration represents some of the most draconian limits on abortion rights ever. And instead of allowing normal democratic procedures to resolve the issue, the legislature has relied on a rigged process to force the bill through. A few examples are worth mention: every procedural objection that was made to Wendy Davis’s historic filibuster; the refusal to hold state-wide hearings to allow affected communities to testify about the consequences of the legislation; the intentional misreporting of how many people testified in opposition to the legislation; the years of gerrymandering which make it nearly impossible for the legislature to reflect the real wishes of the population; the organizing of “special sessions” to push through legislation.

The current legislation is too important to allow these deficits in the democratic process to go unchallenged. The bills in Texas would close down the overwhelming majority of clinics which provide abortions and thereby eliminate all of the ancillary services those clinics also provide – STD testing, family planning, health care. That some of these clinics are also the only places where low-income, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals are able to get health services means that this legislation will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable members of society.

We believe that the legislative process is stacked against those of us who believe that abortion rights are a necessary part of a woman’s ability to control her own body and make decisions about her own health. As a result, it now becomes necessary to take action outside of the legislative process. We firmly believe that if we were to stand up and be counted, the pro-choice forces in this country will outnumber the forces of reaction. It is in this vein that we call on all people who believe in a woman’s right to choose to stand up and be counted.

We propose that marches and rallies be organized in every city in Texas on July 15th in order to show just how deep the pro-choice sentiment actually runs. In Austin, we will be rallying at 8 pm at the Texas Capitol. But as these attacks against choice are not limited to Texas, we invite all those who stand for choice to join us in a national day of solidarity on July 15th. We believe it is possible to win back our rights, but only if we take a stand in the way that people have been standing for their rights in Brazil, Egypt, and Greece: by understanding that popular protest has the ability to change what a narrow minority of people impose under the fiction of legality.


Linda Martín Alcoff, Department of Philosophy, Hunter College/CUNY

Dr. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor, Department of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

Wendy Ashmore, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside

Michelle Belden, Bates College Archivist

C. Marshall Bennett, LMSW, President, ACC/AFT Local #6249

Tithi Bhattachrya, Associate Professor of History, Purdue University

Tiffani Bishop, GetEqual TX Central Texas Lead

Eileen Boris, Hull Professor and Chair, Department of Feminist Studies, University of California Santa Barbara

Brian A. Bremen, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin

Professor Timothy Brennan, Department of Cultural Studies&  Comparative Literature, and English, University of Minnesota

Susan Briante, MFA, PhD, Associate Professor, Creative Writing Program, University of Arizona

Rachel Brickner, Associate Professor of Politics, Acadia University

Karen Brodkin, Professor Emerita, Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles

Carole H. Browner, Distinguished Research Professor, Departments of Anthropology,  Gender Studies & Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior University of California, Los Angeles

Heather Busby, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas

Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

Allison Carruth, Assistant Professor, UCLA

Mia Carter, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas, Austin

Margaret Cerullo, Professor, Sociology and Feminist Studies, Hampshire College

Indrani Chatterjee, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas, Austin

Chris Chiappari, Associate Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, St. Olaf College

Dana Cloud, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Texas, Austin

Huma Dar, Asian American & Asian Diaspora Studies Program, UC Berkeley

Bug Davidson, Director of Homoscope Film Festival

Janet M. Davis, Associate Professor of American Studies, History, and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Anthony DeStefanis, Assistant Professor of History, Department of History and Political Science, Otterbein University

Mia M. Dia, PE, founder of Women’s Alliance for Leadership (WAL) in Dallas Texas

Laurie Donovan, LMFT, LCSW

Jim Downs, Associate Professor of History, Connecticut College

David L. Eng, Richard L. Fisher Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania

Eve Ensler, Author of The Vagina Monologues

Anton Ford, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Chicago

Sonia Pressman Fuentes, Speaker, Author, “Eat First–You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter”

Lauren J. Gantz, PhD Candidate, Department of English, University of Texas at Austin

Montserrat Garibay, National Board Certified Teacher, Vice President for LULAC Council 4859, Austin, Texas

Terri E. Givens, Associate Professor, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin

Shari Goldberg, Assistant Professor of Literary Studies, University of Texas at Dallas

Gilbert G. Gonzalez, Professor Emeritus, Chicano Latino Studies, UC Irvine

Linda Gordon, University Professor of the Humanities, Florence Kelley Professor of History, New York University

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Coordinator of FOR Interfaith Peacewalks, Cofounder of Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence

Elizabeth Gregory, Director, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, University of Houston

Sondra Hale, Research Professor/Professor Emerita, Anthropology and Gender Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

Lynne Hanley, professor emerita of literature and writing, Hampshire College

Leslie Harris, Dallas Coordinator, CODEPINK Women for Peace

Susan Sage Heinzelman, Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies, University of Texas, Austin

Rosemary Hennessy, Director, Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Rice University

Jim Hightower, editor of The Hightower Lowdown, former TX Agriculture Commissioner

Kristen Hogan, English Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies Librarian, University of Texas, Austin

Nancy Hogshead-Makar , two-time Olympic champion

Jim Holstun, English, SUNY Buffalo

Michael Honey, Author and professor, University of Washington Tacoma

Heather Houser, Assistant Professor of English, University of Texas, Austin

Madeline Hsu, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas, Austin

Alison Jaggar, Professor of Distinction, Philosophy and Women and Gender Studies Research Coordinator, University of Colorado at Boulder College

Tsitsi Jaji, Assistant Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania

Pranav Jani, Associate Professor, English, The Ohio State University

Ann Rosalind Jones, Esther Cloudman Dunn Professor of Comparative Literature, Smith College

Alison Kafer, Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX

Chris Kaiser, Staff Attorney, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault

Deena Kalai, PLLC

Katie Kane, Associate Professor of English, The University of Montana

Suvir Kaul, A. M. Rosenthal Professor, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania

Michael Kazin, Professor of History, Georgetown University, Editor, Dissent

William Keach, Professor of English, Brown University

Marie Kennedy, Professor Emerita of Community Planning, University of Massachusetts Boston

Linda K. Kerber, Brodbeck Professor of History Emerita, University of Iowa

Alice Kessler-Harris, R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of History, Columbia University

Katherine C. King, Professor Comparative Literature, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

David Klein, Professor of Mathematics, California State University, Northridge

Karen Kocher, Lecturer, Department of Radio-TV-Film, University of Texas at Austin

Deepa Kumar, Associate Professor of Communication, Rutgers University

Christine Labuski, Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Faculty Affiliate, Department of Science, Technology, and Society, Virginia Tech University

Beryl Landau, Artist, San Francisco, CA

Edward Lee MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Anne Lewis, Lecturer, Radio Television and Film, University of Texas, Austin, independent film-maker

Holly Lewis, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Texas State University

Bernth Lindfors, Professor Emeritus of English, University of Texas at Austin

Arthur MacEwan, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts Boston

Elaine Tyler May, Regents Professor, Departments of American Studies and History, University of Minnesota

Bryan McCann, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Louisiana State University

Edward J. McCaughan, Professor of Sociology, San Francisco State University

Mona Mehdy, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Texas, Austin

Carlos Muñoz, Jr., Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Scholar and Professor Emeritus, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Ruth Needleman, professor emeritus, Indiana University

Mary Nolan, Professor, Department of History, New York University

Vivian Norris, PhD Honorary Chair Muhamad Yunus Social Business MBA Huffington Post blogger, filmmaker

Charlotte Nunes, PhD candidate, Department of English, UT-Austin

Richard Oestreicher, Associate Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh

Sarah R. Orem, Doctoral Candidate, Department of English, Managing Editor, Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, The University of Texas at Austin

A. Naomi Paik, Assistant Professor of American Studies, University of Texas, Austin

Thomas C. Patterson, Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside

Leslie Peirce, Silver Professor of History, New York University

Ann Pellegrini, Director, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Associate Professor of Performance Studies & Religious Studies, New York University

Ruth Perry, Ann Fetter Friedlaender Professor of Humanities at M.I.T.

Russell Pinkston, Professor of Composition, University of Texas, Austin

Jaime Puente, MA CMAS, PhD Student Dept of American Studies, UT Austin.

Peter Rachleff, Professor of History, Macalester College

Natalie J. Ring, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas at Dallas

Rochelle G. Ruthchild, Professor Emerita of Graduate Studies, The Union Institute & University

Sharmila Rudrappa, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Texas, Austin

Roshni Rustomji-Kerns,  Professor Emerita,  Sonoma State University. CA

Cynthia Valadez-Mata, Jr. , League of United Latin American Citizens – District 7 Director

Simone Sessolo, Lecturer, the University of Michigan

Jon Shelton, Assistant Professor, Democracy and Justice Studies, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Falguni A. Sheth, Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Political Theory, School of Critical Social Inquiry, Hampshire College

Shu-mei Shih, Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Asian Languages and Cultures, Asian American Studies

Snehal Shingavi, Assistant Professor of English, University of Texas, Austin

Professor Kaja Silverman, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania

Joseph Slaughter, Associate Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Lindsay Smith, Houston Feminist Movement

Ellen Spiro, Professor, University of Texas, Austin

Clay Steinman, Professor, Media and Cultural Studies,Macalester College

Kathleen Stewart, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, University of Texas

Landon Storrs, Associate Professor of History, University of Iowa

Susan Stryker, Director, Institute for LGBT Studies and Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies University of Arizona

Merritt Tierce, Executive Director of Texas Equal Access Fund

Sarah Tuttle, Board Member, The Lilith Fund

Angela Valenzuela, Professor, Education Policy & Planning, University of Texas at Austin

Alice Walker, Pulitzer PrizeChris Chiappari, Associate Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, St. Olaf College

winner, author of The Color Purple

Jennifer Jensen Wallach, Associate professor of history, University of North Texas

Devra Weber, Associate Professor, History Department, UC Riverside

Dan Welcher, Lee Hage Jamail Regents Professor of Composition, Butler School of Music, Director, UT New Music Ensemble

Amanda Williams, Board of Directors, the Lilith Fund

Dr. Carol Williams, Associate Professor, Chair of Women and Gender Studies, University of Lethbridge

Jennifer Williams, Visiting Scholar at Rice University

Courtney Williams Barron, doctoral candidate in American Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Jennifer Wilks, Associate Professor of English and African and African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas, Austin

Sherry Wolf, author, Sexuality and Socialism; editorial board, International Socialist Review.

Keeanga Yahmatta-Taylor, author of Rats, Riots and Revolution: Black Housing in the 1960s, Texas native

Lijun Yuan, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Texas State University, San Marcos

Lee Zimmerman, Professor of English, Hofstra University; Editor Twentieth-Century Literture

Dave Zirin, Sports Editor, The Nation Magazine

Faith Action for Women in Need (FAWN)

GetEqual TX

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas

To sign on, please email snehal100@hotmail.com