Saturday, 17 March 2007

Academic boycott: northern Cyprus

Searching for material on sites I'd inspected, I found something on the academic boycott of northern Cyprus. James O. Goldsborough's article, "San Diego State's Turkey Trouble", looked at the Greek Cypriot/Greek/Greek-American lobby's attempts to stop San Diego State University (SDSU)'s exchange programme with the Eastern mediterranean University (EMU) in Famagusta in northern Cyprus.
Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, son of one of the wealthiest men in California, is bringing the full force of family money and connections to the Democratic Party, the Greek-American lobby and the Greek government to bear on San Diego State University. The family doesn't like SDSU's exchange program in the Turkish part of Cyprus....
Unfortunately, it was one-sided and uncritical.
SDSU's exchange program in Cyprus is an academic matter. The California Education Code states: "The California State University shall be entirely independent of all political and sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its Trustees and in the administration of its affairs."...
Going on to call the lobby's activities 'blatant political blackmail', Goldsborough treated the matter as if it were as simple as '[t]hat campus was chosen as the best qualified', as if no other standard should be considered.

Dismissing those who 'called the SDSU exchange program "illegal and immoral"', Goldsborough branded attorney Stuart Eizenstat's letter to California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed, Eizenstat, which,
compared the situation on Cyprus to apartheid in South Africa, an outrageous charge in view of the State Department's support for Turkish Cypriots and in light of the Greek Cypriot vote rejecting the Annan reunification plan.
Then, he implored his readers to,
Imagine a trustee wanted evolution removed from biology class or brought personal bias to bear on the way Middle East history is taught.
Now, I think that's a lazy and inapplicable comparison, as the neither the curriculum nor the perspectives or interpretations of the education are under question.

The question is whether San Diego State University (SDSU) should cooperate with, condone and lend legitimacy to Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU), an institution established and run under the auspices of an Occupying Power. The analogy with Apartheid South Africa is far more relevant, even if ultimately judged inaccurate.

I don't yet know enough about the details of the academic boycott of Apartheid to use it in an analysis of the treatment of EMU, although from what I currently know of both situations I agree with the previous boycott of Apartheid institutions and disagree with the boycott of EMU.

For me, presently, I think the key lies in the boycott being insisted upon by the southern Greek Cypriot community, many of whom were made refugees from what became the occupied areas when Turkey invaded, but not the occupied Turkish Cypriot community, many of whom were made refugees from the South, either by the earlier Greek Cypriot nationalist violence pushing them, or by the later Turkish occupation pulling them into the North.

As far as I can see, punishing the occupied community's civilian institutions is neither productive nor moral. Hopefully, I'll get to discuss the academic boycott of northern Cyprus properly in my thesis.

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