Academic Freedom at Risk: Turkey, the Middle East and Beyond

Academic Freedom at Risk: Turkey, the Middle East and Beyond

A one-day conference

Friday, January 27, 2017
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Room 1357
UCLA School of Law

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2016 was a terrible year for university professors and scholars working in Turkey and much of the Middle East. In Turkey, the one-year decline in academic freedom, university self-governance and security of tenure was precipitous and very far-reaching. Thousands of professors have been purged from their positions and subjected to travel bans, hundreds have been detained, all university deans and presidents were forced to resign (and only those approved through a government loyalty test were permitted to return), more than 15 private universities were closed, their assets seized, faculty dismissed and students forced to transfer. Turkish academics and scholars have been profoundly disoriented and traumatized by sudden and worsening government repression that began when the President of Turkey targeted hundreds of academics for signing a peace petition in January and escalated dramatically in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in July.
Beyond Turkey, academics face troubling forms of repression and risk across the MENA region whether as a consequence of the wars raging in Syria and Yemen, or the increasing authoritarian interventions against academics by governments like those of Egypt and Bahrain that arbitrarily impose travel bans and other forms of reprisal against scholars to quash the dissemination of their research. Scholars who study the Middle East at universities in North America have also been affected both by restrictions on their ability to conduct research or even travel to the region and by a climate of intimidation by outside advocacy groups targeting them for their research and teaching about the Middle East on campuses here in the U.S.
This one day symposium will address the threats to academic freedom in the region and beyond with a special focus on Turkey and a keynote lecture by Iranian-Canadian scholar, Professor Homa Hoodfar. The symposium also marks the launch of a campaign to host a scholar-at-risk from the region at UCLA. We invite the university community and the public at large to join us in this effort to support scholars at risk.


10 AM - Noon – Panel One: Eda Erdener (Pomona College), Can Aciksoz (UCLA), Zeynep Korkman (UCLA), moderated by Aslı Bali (UCLA)
Noon - 1 PM – Lunch Break

1 PM - 2 PM – Keynote: Homa Hoodfar (Concordia University, Montreal)
2 PM - 2:10 PM – Break

2:10 PM - 4 PM –  Panel Two: Laurie Brand (USC), Pardis Mahdavi (Pomona College), Sondra Hale (UCLA), moderated by Sherene Razack (UCLA)

Cost : free and open to the public

Johanna Romero

Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Anthropology, Department of Gender Studies, Penny Kanner Endowed Chair in Women's Studies