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Workshop « Perilous knowledge, Gender & sexuality scholars at risk in Europe »

Gender & sexuality scholars across Europe are facing mounting challenges to academic freedom and personal safety. The voices of Hungarian-based scholars are silenced by national legislators through the so-called Lex CEU, and other attacks against national universities. Turkish researchers witness to the programmatic backlash against those critical towards the regime, and public meetings involving discussions on LGBT-issues are already forbidden in major cities. Nordic and German scholars are intimidated by right-wing extremists, including through hate mail.
These attacks take diverse forms: pressuring scholars to avoid research onto sensitive issues; defunding research institutions or even diverging funding from entire research fields; actively persecuting and incarcerating scholars engaging in critical research; or threatening the integrity of critical scholars. Such attacks raise numerous issues concerning the practice of scientific inquiry, but academic institutions are not always aware of these risks, and researchers are poorly equipped to face them.

The main objectives of this one-day workshop are:

  • To signal our commitment for protecting academic freedom, and urging university authorities, organizations representing the rights of workers in the higher education sector, academic professional organizations, Institutes for Advanced Studies, European and national research funding bodies, to join in our efforts.
  • To diagnose the threats that critical scholars are faced with, acknowledging their increasingly complex nature (both in real life and online).
  • Identify the repertoire of responses afforded to institutional entities and individual researchers at risk.
  • To propose the foundation of a special committee with the purpose of drafting a policy report pertaining to issues of institutional and personal management of risk.

As gender & sexuality scholars active in Belgian universities still enjoy academic autonomy and institutional support, Belgium can offer a safe space to address these challenges. This workshop also fits into the efforts of ULB and VUB to defend academic freedom worldwide.


09:00 – 09:30 Registration

09:30 – 09:45 Welcoming coffee + introduction

09:45 – 12:00 Organizing resistance – Gender & sexuality scholars constructing networks of solidarity
Suvi KESKINEN (University of Helsinki)
Andrea KRIZSAN (Central European University)
Esra UMMAK (Turkish scholar welcomed at ULB)
Agnieszka GRAFF (University of Warsaw)
Moderator: Sébastien CHAUVIN (Université de Lausanne)

12:00 – 13:15 Lunch

13:15 – 13:30 Welcoming speeches by Yvon Englert and Caroline Pauwels, Chancellors of the ULB and the VUB

13:30 – 15:45 Defending perilous knowledge – Solidary responses professional organizations and political institutions
Sara de JONG
(Co-Chair, AtGender/Open University/)
Jan Willem DUYVENDAK (Chair, Council for European Studies/ Director, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences)
Eric FASSIN (Université Paris VIII/”Gender International”)
Heidi HAUTALA (Vice-Chair of the European Parliament, Co-Chair of the European Parliamentary Working Group on Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS and Development)
Viviane MAZZICHI (Former administrator of the European Commission, DG Research & Innovation)
Kathleen VAN BREMPT (Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Industry, Research and Energy)
Joanna STERZYNSKA-LINDBERG (Policy Coordinator, European Commission)
DG Justice (TBC)
Moderator: Gily COENE (VUB)

15:45 – 16:15 Conclusions
(University of Warwick)
José Ignacio PICHARDO GALAN (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
Mieke VERLOO (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)

16:15 – 17:00 Drinks and launch of the book Varieties of Opposition to Gender Equality in Europe (Routledge, 2018)
(Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)

This workshop is part of a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement number 750076.

Monday 4th June 2018, 9am – 4 pm

Salle Somville
Building S – 2nd level
Avenue Jeanne 44
1050 Bruxelles

Mandatory registration: here