HWS Professors Contribute to Symposium About September 11 – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Professors Contribute to Symposium About September 11

Paul Passavant and Jodi Dean co-wrote an essay criticizing the depoliticization of interpreting the events of Sept. 11.

February 5, 2002 GENEVA, N.Y.- Jodi Dean, associate professor of political science, and Paul Passavant, assistant professor of political science, were both contributors to a special issue of the journal Theory & Event, featuring a symposium regarding the events of September 11 and their aftermath. This symposium topics range from probing the meaning of jihad and contextualizing the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks within bids for hegemony in the Arab world, to analyzing American state discourses of war and evil, and assessing the kind of citizenship that is being configured by current American foreign policy. Passavant and Dean's essay, “Representation and the Event,” criticizes the foreclosure of debate on the meaning of Sept. 11, which has prevented consideration of an adequate response to the event.

“We saw the dominant interpretation of the event as harboring the potential for violating human rights, demonizing the different, and unleashing a will to violence via a rhetoric of the civilized versus the barbarian that we felt ethically bound to resist,” said Dean.

Passavant and Dean felt compelled to try to shape the way Sept. 11 was interpreted because they experienced the event from outside the U.S. On September 11 Passavant was in London, beginning his tenure as a Visiting Fellow at Birkbeck College's School of Law, University of London. Dean was a Fellow at the Institute for the Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria.

“The line in the sand between good and evil overly simplifies and occludes from view the pressures on the nation state today,” said Dean. “We see global capitalism and Islamic fundamentalism both as symptoms of a situation of significant political and economic change.”

Passavant holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan, and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined the Colleges' faculty in 1997. Dean holds a bachelor's degree from Princeton University, and master's and doctoral degrees from Columbia University. She joined the Colleges' faculty in 1993.