Writing the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Pragmatism and Historical Inquiry

Writing the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Pragmatism and Historical Inquiry

by Jonathan B. Isacoff
     
 

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Nearly all empirical work in political science is fundamentally historical, yet very little attention has been given to the problem of grounding claims to historical knowledge. In Writing the Arab-Israeli Conflict Jonathan B. Isacoff constructs the nature of historical knowledge by deftly examining the multiple histories of the Arab-Israeli conflict written by

Overview

Nearly all empirical work in political science is fundamentally historical, yet very little attention has been given to the problem of grounding claims to historical knowledge. In Writing the Arab-Israeli Conflict Jonathan B. Isacoff constructs the nature of historical knowledge by deftly examining the multiple histories of the Arab-Israeli conflict written by generations of Israeli scholars. He also undertakes briefer analysis of literature, drawn from both historians and political scientists of the Vietnam War, demonstrating that historical revisionism is not unique to the study of the Middle East. Focusing on different schools of historical interpretation Writing the Arab-Israeli Conflict argues for a pragmatist approach in the tradition of John Dewey. Most importantly, this exceptional work suggests a number of practical methodological measures that can be taken to produce more sophisticated and nuanced political science scholarship.

Editorial Reviews

Middle East Journal
In a work largely concerned with the treatment of history in political science, Isacoff argues that the resolution to the problem of hisotrical inquiry lives in John Dewey's pragmatism. Isacoff uses the orignal and critical historical accounts of the Arab-Israeli conflict to demonstrate this. He argues that political scientist should approach the historical record as necessarily problematic, with an eye toward solving contemporary political problems.
CHOICE
Emphasizing the importance of history in political science literature, whether qualitative or quantitative, Isacoff raises critical questions about how political scientists utilize historical inquiry in their reserach methodologies.
Journal of Palestine Studies
This is useful advice for all historians and political scientists, not only for analysts of contentious Middle Eastern issues.
Ian S. Lustick
Historians seldom agree on the past at a level of detail useful to political scientists and narratives of the past accepted by historians are constantly changing. These realities pose enormous challenges to political scientists using historical episodes as accurate repositories of facts and as laboratories for testing theories. Isacoff's book is an important addition to a burgeoning discussion focused on the responsible uses of the work of historians by political scientists. Isacoff dramatically illustrates his argument by judicious examination of the implications of new bodies of historical work on standard codings of the 1956 Suez War and the Vietnam War by students of international politics. He breaks new ground by bringing John Dewey's pragmatism to bear on the methodological problems at issue and by scrutinizing the highly problematic relationship between data bases used by hundreds of international relations scholars and the changing interpretations of the past that constitute our dynamic historical record.
Journal Of Palestine Studies
This is useful advice for all historians and political scientists, not only for analysts of contentious Middle Eastern issues.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739112731
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
03/22/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
6.22(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.64(d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan B. Isacoff is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Gonzaga University.

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