by CARL ERNST [forthcoming in MIDDLE EAST STUDIES ASSOCIATION BULLETIN]
Everyone knows that the work of scholars in America is often considered to be irrelevant to the real issues of life. According to the mild anti-intellectualism that seems to be an endemic feature of American culture, anything that is “academic” is automatically impractical, complex, and impenetrable – in short, it is bad. This is a little hard for professors to live with; no one likes being called a pointy-headed intellectual or an egghead. The very skills and specializations that are the keys to academic success can be seen by the public as defects that remove scholars from the sphere of ordinary existence and disqualify their pronouncements. READ MORE
Carl Ernst, UNC Chapel Hill Professor of Religious Studies, is a specialist in Islamic studies, with a focus on West and South Asia. He is co-director with Professor of Sociology Charles Kurzman of UNC Chapel Hill’s Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.