Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Academic boycotts and the Society of Biblical Literature

I just noticed that the SBL recently posted a statement opposing academic boycotts. It doesn't mention any particular boycott, but I suspect it has something to do with the BDS movement.
Statement on Academic Boycotts 

SBL’s mission statement enumerates the core values of the Society, including respect for diversity, openness to change, and critical inquiry that reflects SBL’s full international context. In order to fulfill this mission, SBL considers academic boycotts an obstacle to the free exchange of ideas, a bedrock principle for scholarly discourse. SBL’s statement on academic freedom elaborates the principles supporting critical inquiry and participation. Both the statement on academic freedom and this statement on academic boycotts are in accordance with the positions of AAUP.

Rather than engaging in academic boycotts, the Society provides opportunities for organizing academic sessions, including those that address controversial issues. Such sessions, as with all sessions and panels at SBL conferences, relate to the scholarly mission of the Society, are open to all of its members, and provide analysis of complex and sometimes competing points of view. The Society recognizes that members, individually and in groups, exercise their right to participate according to their conscience and interest. 
The Society furthermore provides procedures for making public statements that are directly related to its mission or to the professional interests of its members.


  1. OK, I must be really be out in the furthest parts of our universe; but, what is the"BDS" movement? I certainly wish it is not some kind of fundamentalist nonsense.

  2. BDS = Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions - a political campaign against Israel. The boycott part is about boycotting Israeli academia by doing things like discouraging students from study abroad in Israel, refusing to publish articles by Israeli academics, protesting any collaboration between Israeli universities and those in other countries, etc.