Boycott Theory and the Struggle for Palestine: Universities, Intellectualism and Liberation by Nick Riemer
The academic boycott of Israel, a branch of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is one of the richest-and most divisive-topics in the politics of knowledge today. In Boycott Theory and the Struggle for Palestine, Nick Riemer addresses the most fundamental questions raised by the call to sever ties with Israeli universities, and offers fresh arguments for doing so. More than a narrow study of the boycott campaign, the book details how academic BDS relates to a range of live controversies in progressive politics on questions such as disruptive protest, silencing and free speech, the real-world consequences of intellectual work, the rise of the far right, and the nature of grassroots campaigning. Written for open-minded readers, the book presents the fullest justification for the academic boycott yet given, considering BDS efforts on campuses around the world. The opening chapters explore the fundamentals of the academic boycott campaign, detailing the conditions on the ground in Palestinian and Israeli higher education and analyzing debates over the boycott and its adoption or resistance in the west. The later chapters contextualize the boycott with respect to broader questions about the links between theory and practice in political change. Directly rebutting the arguments of BDS's opponents, Boycott Theory and the Struggle for Palestine demonstrates the political and intellectual soundness of a controversial and often misrepresented campaign. In defending an original view of the differences between reflecting on politics and doing it in the specific context of the liberation of Palestine, the book's arguments will have a resonance for many wider debates beyond the context of either universities or the Middle East.
Nick Riemer is senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Sydney. As a Palestine solidarity activist, Riemer has published widely in both academic and popular outlets and been criticized openly by conservative media. In addition to his Palestine solidarity work, his political activity includes long-term, close involvement both with the Australian National Tertiary Education Union and with the Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney, a grassroots refugee rights group. He has written for The Guardian, Jacobin, Al Jazeera English, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and many other publications.