Infringement of academic freedoms and counter-strategies | CAPS 22

When fragility also crosses us, when state violence knocks on our doors or when we academics are the people persecuted or exiled, everything takes on a different meaning in our lives and work. It is we who are part of the object of study, it is we who are activists, it is we who suffer discrimination, it is we who are exiled. It is us, and this closeness to suffering, to injustice, to exclusion and the violation of our rights often removes our blinders and opens up ways for us to look at the world again. We can now look again, and we can now take the floor from this other place.

Living in exile as an academic exposes us to difficult lives, to isolation, to loss of ties and affection. It forces one to start over one’s own life and professional work, to rethink one’s place in the world and to have one’s subjectivity split. From this place of transit and anchorage, of departure and arrival, of loss and reparation but also of reconstruction and hope, the protagonists of this panel of exiled academics who left their place of origin due to the effects of state authoritarianism speak to us.

In the face of this violence and lack of freedom, which forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their territories every year, they also tell us that hospitality and solidarity rises up as resistance.

Panelist key points:
Achim Rohde. The relevance of the public system in Germany to receive academics at risk. The university budget decreased significantly in order to allow for fast competition. Extreme precarity in the research system and for starting new careers.
Arshi Javid (India). Politics of funding and peer review limit academic freedom when university should be the place of freedom of expression and exchange. Kashmiri students, Muslim students and Dalit students face discrimination.
Tatiana Levina
(Rusia). Authoritarian strategies in Russia as ‚rules of the game‘ were in place in post Soviet times and neoliberal university. Strict hierarchy is maintained. Faculty contracts include a condition of no politics. Traditionalistic critique of feminism and LGBTQ+ is another authoritarian measure. Academics who are anti war are threatened with prison sentence and dismissed as the ’new rules of the game.‘
Tomas Kitlinsky (Poland). Academic freedom means hospitality to the other or to the extranger. Inter class solidarity is quite important. Academic’s involvement in activism is relevant.

*Edited by Aurel Eschmann

The panel „Infringement of academic freedoms and counter-strategies“ was part of the conference „Contesting Authoritarianism: Perspectives from the South“ that happened in Berlin from 16. to 21. May 2022. You can see all the videos here