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Session Overview
MD04: Academic Freedom Under Threat in Europe
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
12:45pm - 1:45pm

Session Chair: Laura Horn, Roskilde Universitet
Location: PC.2.14
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 2.

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Academic Freedom Under Threat in Europe

Latife Akyuz1, Reyda Ergun2, Csaba Szalo3

1Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany; 2Kadir Has University, Philosophy and Sociology of Law, Faculty of Law; 3Masaryk University

The commitments to academic freedom and freedom of expression are cornerstones of an open, democratic society. The recent assaults on these principles in Higher Education in countries such as Turkey, Russia and Hungary once again show that academic freedom is seen as threat by increasingly authoritarian regimes.

In Turkey, the government has reacted with repressive measures against academics for expressing their political views in the ‘Academics for Peace’ campaign. Following the failed coup in July 2016, state disciplining and persecution of academics has increased, with their freedom of expression, opinion, association and travel curtailed in many cases. In Hungary, the autonomy of universities is under threat – most prominently following the government’s bill of April 2017, which will render it difficult for the Central European University to continue operating in Hungary.

The struggle for academic freedom, it seems, is more crucial than ever in Europe. How could, and should, the academic community, including learned associations such as ESA, react to these developments? Which possibilities for solidarity, and which avenues for protest are there?

In this panel, speakers will offer presentations on the current state of affairs in Turkey and Hungary. Afterwards there will be an open plenary debate.


LAURA HORN is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Business at Roskilde University, Denmark. Her research interests are located within a critical political economy of European integration. She is chairing the ESA RN Council in the 2015-2017 term, and has been a member of RN06 Critical Political Economy since 2005.

REYDA ERGÜN UMUROGLU is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Sociology of Law at Kadir Has University, Turkey. Her areas of research are political philosophy, philosophy of law, sociology of law, theory of human rights, and gender studies. She is an academic freedom activist and member of the working group on law under Academics for Peace.

LATIFE AKYÜZ received her PhD from Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara in 2013. She has held positions as a visiting scholar at Indiana University (2010), Binghamton University (2011–12) and the Center for Ethnic and Migration Studies, Liege University (2014). Her research interests are border regions, ethnicity, and gender studies, with her most recent work focusing on migrant Alevi women living in Europe. She was one of the editors of the Toplum ve Bilim (Society and Science) Special Issue on Borders and Border Studies in Turkey. She held the position of Assistant Professor at Duzce University from March 2014 until her dismissal in 2016 due to her signing of the Academics for Peace petition. Now she is a Philipp Schwartz fellow in Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main.

CSABA SZALO is currently Chair at the Department of Sociology, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. He is involved in the Social Theory Research Network and in the Executive Committee of the ESA. In recent years he has been working on urban memory and European identity politics. He has an enduring interest in social theory and cultural sociology.

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