ABSTRACT

The Second World War dramatically shifted the political, economic, and cultural landscape for much of the world. Europe and Great Britain were greatly weakened economically, making possible the spread of decolonization movements throughout Asia and Africa – decolonization movements that played a role in the development of the American civil rights movement.1 The United States and Russia emerged as world powers that towered over the traditional European

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one of the few participants to emerge from the great war strengthened economically and militarily. Primed for world leadership, locked in ideological conflict with the Soviet Union, eager to reward its white combatants with a college education and middle-class housing, and desperate for academic contributions to the growing defense industry, the United States pumped enormous resources into its universities and colleges (see Said 1994: 47, 340 n. 48). American universities were further nurtured by intellectuals emigrating from Hitler’s Europe (e.g. Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, Paul Tillich) and, a little later, by distinguished scholars who were invited to split their time between European and American institutions (e.g. Derrida, Foucault, Paul Ricoeur). By the 1960s, American universities had begun to stake a claim on the world stage. Gone were the days when elite American universities lacked the stature of their European counterparts. American universities, no less than the American State Department, had taken up the burden of empire.