The false equivalence of academic freedom and free speech

Defending academic integrity in the age of white supremacy, colonial nostalgia, and anti-intellectualism

  • Farhana Sultana Syracuse University
Keywords: Academic freedom, Free speech, academic integrity, publishing ethics, colonial nostalgia

Abstract

While much attention has been paid to controversies over free speech and academic freedom related to university campus debates, events, and activities, I demonstrate that higher education is also under threat by the undermining of academic publishing ethics, integrity and standards, as well as what counts as scholarly rigor. The rise of problematic rhetoric and overtures as well as the circumvention of academic publishing standards pose threats to academia writ large, whereby academia is threatened from not just from outside but also from within the academy when some academics themselves participate in the erosion of academic integrity. These new threats have arisen because there are increasing attempts to provide a ‘scholarly’ veneer to what are otherwise hateful ideologies. At a time when there are concerted efforts to decolonize academia, there is concurrent rise of colonial nostalgia and white supremacy among some academics, who are supported by and end up lending support to the escalating far-right movements globally who misuse notions of free speech and academic freedom to further their agendas and attack higher education. Critical scholars thus need to hold accountable fellow academics, academic publishers, and universities in order to protect academic integrity and scholarship in an era when free speech is misused to silence the pursuit of scholarly rigor and ethical engagement. The stakes are high at the current conjuncture and require greater introspection and intervention within academia to counter the dangerous trends of anti-intellectualism, corporatized academia, and colonial violence.

References

AAUP 2017a. “A Concerted Attack on Academic Freedom” American Association of University Professors, January 17, 2017. https://www.aaup.org/news/concerted-attack-academic-freedom#.Wq_bZZPwYSJ
AAUP 2017b. “Targeted Online Harassment of Faculty” American Association of University Professors, January 31, 2017. https://www.aaup.org/news/targeted-online-harassment-faculty#.Wq_cBpPwYSJ
Ahmed, Sarah N. 2017. Living a Feminist Life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Butler, Judith. 2017. “Limits on Free Speech?” Academe Blog, December 7, 2017. https://academeblog.org/2017/12/07/free-expression-or-harassment/
Chakrabarty, Dipesh, 2007. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Clover, Joshua. 2017. “Free Speech Year” Blarb – Blog of the Los Angeles Review Of Books. September 20, 2017. https://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/essays/free-speech-year/
Cooper, Brittany. 2017. “How Free Speech Works for White Academics” The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 16, 2017.
Daniels, Jessie. 2009. Cyber Racism: White Supremacy Online and the New Attack on Civil Rights. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Davis, Mike. 2002. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Origin of the Third World. London: Verso.
Dols, Monique. 2017. “Free speech and fighting the right on campus” International Socialist Review, Issue #106: Features. https://isreview.org/issue/106/free-speech-and-fighting-right-campus
Fanon, Frantz, 1952 [2008]. Black Skin, White Masks, Richard Philcox (trans.), New York: Grove Press.
Fanon, Frantz, 1963. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press.
Figueroa, Meleiza and David Palumbo-Liu. 2017. “Why Berkeley’s Battle Against White Supremacy is Not About Free Speech” The Nation, September 8, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/why-berkeleys-battle-against-white-supremacy-is-not-about-free-speech/
Haraway, Donna. 1988. “Situated knowledges” Feminist Studies 14 (3): 575–99.
Hofmann-Kuroda, Lisa and Beezer de Martelly. 2017. “The Home of Free Speech™: A Critical Perspective on UC Berkeley's Coalition With the Far-Right” Truthout, May 17, 2017. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40608-the-home-of-free-speech-a-critical-perspective-on-uc-berkeley-s-coalition-with-the-far-right
Hochschild, Adam. 1998. King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Labouchère, Henry. 1899. "The Brown Man's Burden," Truth (London); reprinted in Literary Digest 18, 25 February 1899.
Mamdani, Mahmood. 1996. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Manne, Kate and Jason Stanley. 2015. “When Free Speech Becomes a Political Weapon” The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 13, 2015. https://www.chronicle.com/article/When-Free-Speech-Becomes-a/234207
Palumbo-Liu, David. 2015. “Steven Salaita, Professor Fired for ‘Uncivil’ Tweets, Vindicated in Federal Court” The Nation, August 11, 2015. https://www.thenation.com/article/steven-salaita-professor-fired-for-uncivil-tweets-vindicated-in-federal-court/
Picazo, Alheli. 2017. “How the alt-right weaponized free speech” Macleans, May 1, 2017. http://www.macleans.ca/opinion/how-the-alt-right-weaponized-free-speech/
Quintana, Chris and Brock Read. 2017. “Signal Boost: How Conservative Media Outlets Turn Faculty Viewpoints Into National News.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 22, 2017. https://www.chronicle.com/article/Signal-Boost-How-Conservative/240423?cid=rclink
Quintana, Chris. 2017. “If There’s an Organized Outrage Machine, We Need an Organized Response” The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 18, 2017. https://www.chronicle.com/article/If-There-s-an-Organized/240683
Rodney, Walter. 1972. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press.
Roelofs, Portia and Max Gallien. 2017. “Clickbait and impact: how academia has been hacked” LSE Impact Blog, London School of Economics and Political Science. September 19, 2017. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/09/19/clickbait-and-impact-how-academia-has-been-hacked/
Said, Edward, 1979. Orientalism, New York: Vintage
Scott, Joan W. 2018. “How the Right Weaponized Free Speech” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 7, 2018.
Siegel, Dan. 2017. “Why Fascist Speech is Not Free Speech” Counterpunch, September 6, 2017 https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/06/whyfascistspeechisnotfreespeech/
Smith, Linda. 2013. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. London: Zed Books.
Tharoor, Shashi. 2017. Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India. London: Hurst.
United Nations. 1960. Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. Adopted by General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960. http://www.un.org/en/decolonization/declaration.shtml
Wilson, Jason. 2018. “How to troll the left: understanding the rightwing outrage machine” The Guardian, March 18, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/18/how-the-right-trolls-the-left-college-campus-outrage
Wagner, Kim, and James McDougall. 2018. “Don’t mistake nostalgia about the British Empire for scholarship” Times Higher Education, April 20, 2018. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/dont-mistake-nostalgia-about-british-empire-scholarship
Published
2018-05-07
How to Cite
Sultana, Farhana. 2018. “The False Equivalence of Academic Freedom and Free Speech”. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 17 (2), 228-57. https://www.acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1715.
Section
Interventions