Jun 12

Two BISA webinars on internationalisation and fieldwork, 18/19 June 2020

Internationalisation and the challenge to academic freedom: between authoritarian control and the logic of the market

18 June 2020, 12pm BST, Zoom

Chair: John Heathershaw (University of Exeter)

Participants: Katarzyna Kaczmarska (University of Edinburgh), Catherine Owen (University of Exeter), Yeşim Yaprak Yıldız (Goldsmiths, University of London),  Bahar Baser (Coventry University), Stephen Wordsworth (Council for At-Risk Academics), Teng Biao (City University of New York

As the ‘internationalisation’ of higher education generates increased partnerships in both education and research between Western institutions and those in autocracies, academic freedom is put at risk. High-profile attention has focused on researchers detained or killed in fieldwork. However, there are many more academics at risk of detention or worse who are ordinarily employed in universities under an authoritarian state. Foreign campuses in the Middle East and China are not immune from restrictions. Chinese, Russian, Turkish and Central Asian governments have cracked down in various ways on their academics and students, especially those from minority groups. Moreover, the response of universities and their representative bodies in the UK has been silence, obfuscation or denial of the problem, implying that market for students and income from autocracies makes them unwilling to defend academic freedom. University ethics committees are rarely prepared to step into these debates, other than in prohibiting fieldwork.

In this roundtable, six UK-based academics with experience of universities in China, Russia, Turkey and Central Asia will address these questions. What do we mean by ‘academic freedom’ and how is it maintained? What can IR academics do to show solidarity with colleagues who are at risk from and in autocracies (both on our campuses and overseas)? What may we do to mitigate the risks generated by internationalisation? How do we include scholars from autocracies without increasing surveillance of our work, heightening risks to them, and reducing academic freedom? What is the value of a sector-wide code of conduct (such as that proposed by Human Rights Watch with respect to China in 2019) or targeted academic boycotts (such as proposed by Turkish Academics for Peace in 2017)?

Register here for “Internationalisation and Academic Freedom”

Discussing Doing Fieldwork In Areas of International Intervention: A guide to research in violent and closed contexts (Bristol University Press, 2020)

19 June, 12 noon, via Zoom

Chair: John Heathershaw (University of Exeter)

Participants: Katarzyna Kaczmarska (University of Edinburgh) , Catherine Owen (University of Exeter) , Daniela Lai (London South Bank) , Katarina Kusic (Aberystwyth University) , Morten Bøås (NUPI) , Casey McNeill (Fordham University)

Using detailed insights from those with first-hand experience of conducting research in areas of international intervention and conflict, this roundtable is based on a handbook that provides essential practical guidance for researchers and students embarking on fieldwork in violent, repressive and closed contexts (Bristol: Bristol University Press, forthcoming 2020), edited by Morten Bøås and Berit Bliesemann de Guevara). Contributors detail their own experiences from areas including the Congo, Sudan, Yemen, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Myanmar, inviting readers into their reflections on mistakes and hard-learned lessons.

Divided into sections on issues of control and confusion, security and risk, distance and closeness, and sex and sensitivity, this roundtable will look at how to negotiate complex grey areas and raise important questions that intervention researchers need to consider before, during and after their time on the ground. The roundtable involves editors and authors as well as specialists external to the book project. It will take the form of a frank and wide-ranging conversation about the practicalities, politics and ethics of fieldwork.

Register here for “Discussing Doing Fieldwork