MAGAZINE
Summer magazine 2015: Is academic freedom being eroded?
09 Jun 2015
BY VICKY BAKER

What is the state of academic freedom in 2015? Index on Censorship magazine’s summer 2015 issue takes a global vantage point to explore all the current threats – governmental, economic and social – faced by students, teachers and academics.

In the UK and US, offence and extremism are being used to shut down debates, prompting the adoption of “no-platforming” and “trigger-warnings”.  In Turkey, an exam question relating to the Kurdish movement led to death threats for one historian. In Ireland, there are concerns over the restraints of corporate-sponsored research. In Mexico, students are being abducted and protests quashed.

Plus we have reports on Ukraine, China and Belarus, on how education is expected to toe an official line. Also in this issue: Sir Harold Evans, AC Grayling, Tom Holland and Xinran present their free-speech heroes. Ken Saro-Wiwa Junior introduces a previously unpublished letter from his activist father, 20 years after he was executed by the Nigerian state, and Raymond Joseph reports on the dangers faced by Africa’s environmental journalists today. Comedian Samm Farai Monro, aka Comrade Fatso, looks at the rise of Zimbabwean satire; Matthew Parris interviews former UK attorney general Dominic Grieve; Italian journalist Cristina Marconi speaks to Marina Litvinienko, wife of the murdered KGB agent Alexander; and Konstanty Gebert looks at why the Polish Catholic church is upset by Winnie the Pooh and his non-specific gender.

Our culture section presents exclusive new short stories by exiled writers Hamid Ismailov (Uzbekistan) and Ak Welaspar (Turkmenistan), and poetry by Musa Okwonga and Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais.  Plus there’s artwork from Martin Rowson, Bangladeshi cartoonist Tanmoy and Eva Bee, and a cover by Ben Jennings.

SPECIAL REPORT: FIRED, THREATENED AND IMPRISONED

Is academic freedom being eroded?

Silence on campus – Kaya Genç explores why a Turkish historian received death threats for writing an exam question

Universities under fire in Ukraine’s war – Tatyana Malyarenko unveils how Ukrainian scholars have to prove their patriotism in front of a special committee

Industrious academics – Michael Foley looks at how the commercial pressures on Ireland’s universities and students is narrowing research

Stifling freedom – Mark Frary’s take on 1oo years of attacks on US academic freedom

Ideas under review – Lawyer and journalist Suhrith Parthasarathy looks at how the Indian government interfering with universities’ autonomy. Also Meena Vari asks if India’s most creative artistic minds are being stifled

Girls standing up for education – Three young women from Pakistan, Uganda and Nigeria on why they are fighting for equality in classrooms

Open-door policy – Professor Thomas Docherty examines the threats to free speech in UK universities. Plus the student’s view, via the editor of Cambridge’s The Tab new site

Mexican stand-off – After the abduction of 43 students, Guadalajara-based journalist Duncan Tucker looks at the aftermath and the wider picture

Return of the red guards – Jemimah Steinfeld reports on the risks faced by students and teachers who criticise the government in China

IN FOCUS

Pride and principles – Matthew Parris in conversation with the former UK attorney general Dominic Grieve

A letter from Ken Saro-Wiwa – A moving tribute from the son of one of the Ogoni nine and a previously unpublished letter from his father who was killed in Nigeria 20 years ago

Hunt and trap – Raymond Joseph reports on the dangers currently being faced by Africa’s environmental journalists

Litvinienko’s legacy – Italian journalist Cristina Marconi speaks to Marina Litvinienko, wife of the murdered KGB agent Alexander

God complex – Konstanty Gebert looks at why the Polish Catholic church is so worried about Winnie the Pooh’s gender

Zuma calls media ‘unpatriotic’ – Professor Anton Harber speaks to Natasha Joseph about the increasing political pressure on South African journalism

Dangers of blogging in Bangladesh – Vicky Baker on the recent murders of Bangladeshi bloggers by fundamentalists, plus a cartoon by Dhaka Tribune’s Tanmoy

Comedy of terrors – Samm Farai Monro, aka Comrade Fatso, on the power of Zimbabwe’s comedians to take on longstanding political taboos

Print under pressure – Miriam Mannak reports on the difficulties facing the media in Botswana, as the president tightens his grip on power

On forgotten free speech heroes – Sir Harold Evans, AC Grayling, Tom Holland and Xinran each pick an individual who has made a telling contribution to free speech today

Head to head – Lawyer Emily Grannis debates with Michael Halpern on whether academic’s emails should be in the public domain

CULTURE

The pain of exile – Exclusive new fiction from Uzbek writer Hamid Ismailov, who has not only had all his books banned back in his homeland, but every mention of his name

Eye of the storm – A poem by Musa Okwonga on the importance of allowing offensive views to be heard and debated on university campuses

The butterfly effect – The lesser known poetry of Index award-winner Rafael Marques De Morais

Listening to a beating heart – A new short story from Ak Welsapar, an author forced to flee his native Turkmenistan after being declared an enemy of the people

COLUMNS

Global view – Index’s CEO Jodie Ginsberg on the difficulties of measuring silenced voices

Index around the world – An update on Index’s latest work

END NOTE

Battle of the bots – Vicky Baker reports on the fake social media accounts trying to silence online protest

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Index on Censorship magazine was started in 1972 and remains the only global magazine dedicated to free expression. Past contributors include Samuel Beckett, Gabriel García Marquéz, Nadine Gordimer, Arthur Miller, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, and many more.

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Vicky Baker

Vicky Baker is the former deputy editor of Index on Censorship magazine.

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