Global Journal of Peace Research and Praxis

An Interview with University of San Francisco Professor, Dr. Stephen Zunes

Kylie Stephens


The decision by the American Academy of Religion (AAR) to cancel a panel at its November 2017 Annual Meeting spurred a conversation with Dr. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies and coordinator of the Middle Eastern Studies program at the University of San Francisco. The AAR’s Annual Meeting brings together the foremost scholars of religion to engage in a variety of events where ideas are shared and debated. Dr. Zunes had planned to attend as part of a panel discussion that was intended to explore the role of religion and religious actors in movements like the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Dr. Zunes expertise on the Israel-Palestine conflict and his background in studying political and social movements made him particularly well suited for covering this topic. AAR ultimately decided to cancel this BDS panel, which shows just how sensitive this topic is, even within the academic world.

The following special feature piece stems from a recent interview in which Dr. Zunes discussed his experience as one of the scheduled panelists at the annual AAR meeting. This interview, conducted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro graduate student Kylie Stephens, also delves into how BDS fits into the larger picture of academic freedom and the overall American discourse regarding the recently reignited debate over Jerusalem and the future of Israel-Palestine.

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