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Academic freedom: "national security" threats in Turkey, India and the UK

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Summerhall

1 Summerhall Place

Edinburgh

EH9 1QE

United Kingdom

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In the past year, neo-populist governments in Turkey and India have taken a series of actions in the name of the “nation” and “national security” against particular universities, individual academics and students who have raised questions or conducted research about these governments’ handling of separatist and oppositional movements. These actions challenge the future of academic freedom more generally. In the UK, government policies and laws on counter terrorism agendas, such as Prevent, now require universities and teachers to monitor speech and even thinking on campus in new ways, while the Home Office is outsourcing monitoring of international students to academics, making them de facto border guards.

Against this background of general and specific threats to academic freedom from the national security state in these three countries, this one-day public event will allow us to jointly reflect on some key questions, such as:

• Do we need to rethink what academic freedom means to address the kinds of threats universities are facing today?

• How do national security logics intersect and magnify other threats to academic freedom?

• How can we in the university resist the invasion of national security logics into the space of the university?

• What strategies have proved effective in addressing the threats identified?

Speakers from the three countries will focus on case studies of specific manifestations of such threats and develop theoretical analyses of these developments, as well as generate ideas for taking action to address them. We have also invited active members from the Reclaiming our University initiative at the University of Aberdeen: they will outline the strategies they have used to bring about change in their home institution, as a case study that will generate ideas on how to address the threats identified during the day. We will also have photo displays of scenes from India and Turkey related to the events discussed.

Draft programme:

10:00-10:15am: Welcome

10:15-11:30am: Turkey panel: Who will be next? Academic labour and honour in times of war

11:45am-1:00pm: India panel: “Anti-national” charges deployed to suppress critical voices in universities

1:00-2:00pm: Lunch

2:00-3:15pm: UK panel: outsourcing surveillance to universities

3:15-4:15pm: General debate with panellists and all participants

4:30-6:00pm: Reclaiming our University—how to do it!

6:00-6:15pm: Wrap up

6:30-7:30pm: Reception and short films

Speakers include: Prof. Nandini Sundar (Delhi School of Economics), Dr. Papia Sengupta (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Dr. Cetin Gürer (formerly at Nişantaşı University, currently Bremen University), Dr. Tuna Kuyucu (Boğaziçi University), Dr. Martin Mills (University of Aberdeen), Dr. Andrew Neal (University of Edinburgh), Ulrike Flader (DEMOS Research Centre for Peace, Democracy and Alternative Politics, Turkey)

This event is funded by the School of Social and Political Science, the Global Justice Academy, the Citizens, Nations and Migration (CNaM) Network and the Centre for South Asian Studies, all at the University of Edinburgh.

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Summerhall

1 Summerhall Place

Edinburgh

EH9 1QE

United Kingdom

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