Monday, September 16, 2002

I complain a lot about the NYT Saturday Arts & Ideas page, for reasons largely similar to those offered by Lee Siegel in TNR some time ago, combined with some reasons common to most academics who read the page (an inability to distinguish marginal from innovative claims, political bias, etc). So, in fairness, I ought to praise two recent pieces on that page that impressed me. One, "A World War Among Professors," provides a basically fair and accurate assessment of political science's deficiencies in Middle Eastern and South Asian studies, and of its relationship to the ongoing tensions within political science between formal/quant types and adherents of other methodologies. The other, "To Keep the Peace, Study Peace" (which is too old to be accessed for free but can be purchased) analyzed the important work of political scientist Ashutosh Varshney on ethnic violence and its absence. (Varshney, it should be noted, bridges the aforementioned methodological divide, and is a fine example of the need to do so.) "Arts & Ideas" shows no sign as yet of filling the gap left by Lingua Franca; but it may be getting better.

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