The Public Sociologist in Authoritarian Times: Negotiating Risk and Complicity

Lakshmi Sagarika Bose at the Wolfson Education Society
Wolfson College Chancellors Centre Syndicate room 2, 17:45-19:00 (refreshments from 17:30)

The confluence of rising authoritarianism and constricting levels of academic freedom highlight the necessity of contending with emerging questions on the political role of the academic in the face of widespread illiberal trends. Increasing arrests and criminal charges placed against academics and postgraduate students (Iran, Egypt, UAE, Sudan, Turkey) in part, correlate to the bureaucratization of the research process, seen through new mandates in risk assessments, travel authorisations, and research visas. Such stringent requirements, often focusing on the ‘sensitivity’ of the research topic, place the researcher in a novel position that demands constant negotiation between risk, complicity, acquiescence, and resistance. What does it mean to adhere to government procedures that aim to de-politicise and neutralise research whilst maintaining a critical stance? At times may it be unethical or imprudent to apply for research visas from authoritarian-leaning nations? This talk aims to stimulate discussion on the collective and individual responsibilities of the global public sociologist and the wider university as we find ourselves forced to contend with growing threats to academic and intellectual freedoms.