An increasingly polarized global political landscape is currently threatening the humanities and social sciences around the world. Questioning core democratic values, the university's working methods and international collaborations impact on academic freedom and our democratic society as a whole.
On 16 September 2020 Linnaeus University organized a major international digital conference on the theme: Humanities and Social Sciences in the World: Threats against Academic Freedom
What is our role as researchers, teachers, leaders and administrators when disciplines like gender studies are closed down or when academics lose their jobs or are imprisoned because of their research? Where does the boundary go between legitimate scientific criticism on the one hand and a threat to academic freedom on the other, involving the right to choose subjects, research methods and modes of publication?
These topics were discussed from a number of different angles during the conference, which attracted participants from all around the world.
From Linnaeus University we had two very thought-provoking contributions; Professor Majid Mgamis gave a presentation titled The taboo of religious criticism in Jordan and senior lecturer Sofie Tornhill gave the presentation “The Trojan gender horse”: Gender equality critique in the name of academic freedom in Sweden.
Other speakers were; Andrea Petö, Professor of Gender Studies at Central European University, Leila Papoli-Yazdi, Archaeologist and Scholars at Risk Researcher at the University of Gothenburg and Arun Kumar, Assistant Professor of Modern British Imperial, Colonial, and Post-Colonial History, University of Nottingham – all scholars at risk.
Orla Duke from InSPIREurope also had a short presentation about this Europe-wide initiative to support researchers who are at risk due to discrimination, persecution, suffering or violence.
Moderators for the conference were Sofie Tornhill and Amrita Ghosh, both from Linnaeus University, and together with the organizers of the conference Nafiseh Sadat Mousavi and Dagmar Brunow, they made a brilliant contribution!
Vice-chancellor Peter Aronsson and Gunlög Fur, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities both welcomed the participants at the opening of the conference and they both talked about the urgency of highlighting this topic.
We hope to share more of the conference content via the conference website shortly.