The Constitution of the MLA states that its purpose is “to promote study, criticism, and research in the more and less commonly taught modern languages and their literatures and to further the common interests of teachers of these subjects.” We therefore have an obligation, as scholars, to pursue political goals that address “our common interests as teachers,” such as advocating against the casualization of the academic workforce. We should not however subordinate scholarly institutions, be it our classrooms or the MLA, to partisan political goals to which any of us, individually, may be devoted: we should pursue such goals as members of the civic community, not as scholars in a professional association. Those who would impose a sectarian political platform on the MLA will harm it and weaken its ability to act on behalf of the profession. Those who misuse the classroom for advocacy invite censorship or risk censoring their students. Those who insist on boycotts will exclude their opponents from the association. Those who seek to punish or silence colleagues for their political positions violate the principle of free speech and undermine the moral and intellectual power of the academy.
This MLA Commons group welcomes civil conversation about scholarship and politics, censorship of alternative viewpoints, and the aspiration by boycott advocates to purge the scholarly community of institutions and individuals they deem undesirable.
The discussion in the group is open to all readers, but only logged-in MLA members may contribute. Please see also the discussion taking place in the group MLA Members for Justice in Palestine.
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