Academic Freedom Space at ICAS 11

16-19 July 2019
Sijthoff, Doezastraat 1b, Leiden

The ICAS 11 Academic Freedom Space is a platform that seeks to enhance knowledge exchange and discussion about infringements on intellectual and academic freedom. As a publicly accessible space, centrally located at the Hof van Sijthoff (https://www. sijthoff-leiden.nl) and nested within the largest Asia conference in the world, it is made available for exhibiting and discussing recent examples of academic freedom suppression, and for sharing experiences of fear, discrimination, isolation and lack of perspective. The aim is to foster connections and discuss ways to respond, individually and collectively. The Academic Freedom Space brings different institutional and national contexts ranging from South Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Europe and the Americas together. We want to learn about and from multiple experiences of scholars from these diverse regions to understand their scope, reflect on their implications and explore possible ways of responding. We are organising panel discussions, short film screenings and exhibitions in the Academic Freedom Space on all four days during ICAS.

Panel Discussions

16 July 2019, 12.00 – 13.30
Academic freedom(-fighters): Limitations and struggles in South Asia and Africa

Carola Lorea - ARI, Singapore

Bindu Menon - University of Delhi
Nasrin Siraj - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Anjana Singh - University of Groningen
Kojo Opoku Aidoo - University of Ghana
Mathew Senga - University of Dar Es Salam

In this session, scholars from South Asia and Africa will contribute with their opinions and personal stories to the debate on what academic freedom means and how we can improve practices and fights that aim to achieve a more equal, sustainable, slow, and uncensored academia. The presenters will reflect on governmental repression and restrictions of academic freedom ‘from above’, but also on less visible, normalized acts of repression that involve cultural and/or structural problems. This session will also discuss perspectives on privatization, affirmative action, the affordability of education and the precariousness of the academic job market as major factors to articulate the possibility of a fair and free academic environment.

17 July 2019, 11.15 – 13.00
Southeast and East Asia: Room for Free Discussion?

Naomi Standen - University of Birmingham/IIAS
Theara Thun - IIAS, Leiden

Rebecca Karl - New York University
Wolfram Schaffar - IIAS, Leiden
Hyun Bang Shin - London School of Economics

Various threats to academic freedom resulting from government pressure have been a concern in Southeast and East Asia. State repression such as anti-fake news laws, tighter government control of universities, banning of specific theories, complaints against individual scholars, and career repercussions, as well as arrests, arbitrary detention, trials and prison sentences, are among the instances that threaten academic freedom in these regimes. In this session, besides highlighting issues concerning freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts, panellists will discuss their experience of working and conducting research in regimes in these regions, particularly in China, Singapore, and Thailand.

17 July 2019, 13:00 – 14.00
Screening of film 'Academic Freedom in Singapore'

followed by a discussion led by Agnes Khoo - Webster University

18 July 2019, 14.45 – 16.15
The Academy in Europe: Vulnerabilities and Challenges

Faizah Zakaria - IIAS, Leiden

Naomi Standen - Birmingham University
Remco Breuker - University of Leiden
Britta Ohm - University of Bern
Dimas Dwi Laksmana - Central European University

While discussion on the infringement of academic freedom has often centered on repression enacted by authoritarian states, the academy in democratic countries is also vulnerable to tacit restrictions of freedom. This panel discusses the systemic issues that constrain the intellectual freedom of researchers in Europe, such as: political polarization, gendered imbalances, ideologies of excellence that marginalizes the powerless and the rise of precariousness and unpaid labor. The panel aims to spark conversation on these issues and question the structural features that challenge the spirit of academic freedom in the region.

19 July 2019, 11.15 – 13.00
The Boundaries of Thought: Academia and Racial Capitalism across the Americas

Carmel Christy - IIAS, Leiden

Claudio Pinheiro - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tao Leigh Goffe - IIAS, Leiden
Simanique Moody - University of Leiden
Lia de Rodriguez de la Vega - Universidad Palermo and Universidad Nacional Lomos de Zamora

Each region faces challenges to academic freedom in various forms. In some parts of the globe, direct state repression confines the horizons of intellectual thought and academic scholarship in explicit forms. In other countries, state control of academic freedom and teaching is more implied. In this session, panellists who have worked in North American and Latin American academic contexts will discuss these pertinent issues across the hemisphere. The legacy of racial capitalism has impacted dominant norms that constrain the complex formation of racial and cultural identities that also negotiate class, religion, gender and sexuality.