Colonial Apologism and the Politics of Academic Freedom
in David Landy, Ronit Lentin & Conor McCarthy (eds), Enforcing Silence: Academic Freedom, Palestine and the Criticism of Israel (Zed Books)
32 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2020
Date Written: 2020
Contestations over race and colonialism persist in academic discourse and institutions in the western Anglosphere. The stories of racialised scholars like Steven Salaita, Johnny Eric Williams and Tommy Curry show that when it comes to the expression of anti-colonial and anti-racist positions, academic freedom remains vulnerable and conditional. At the same time, we have seen in recent years a resurgence of academic freedom arguments being deployed in the service of colonialism. Such arguments are of course not new, but have metastasised in a wider context involving the proliferation of a certain type of free speech advocacy that exudes quite particular right-wing forms and agendas. In this chapter I reflect on how academic freedom has operated in specific instances to defend work that distorts the legacy of historical colonialism and to insulate the status quo in spaces of ongoing colonisation.
Keywords: academic freedom, colonialism, post colonialism, race, critical race theory
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