Éric Fassin: Why Academic Freedom Matters
Academic freedom is under attack, in overtly illiberal regimes as well as in ostensibly liberal ones – not only from Hungary to Turkey, but also from France to the United States. The usual targets range from the (so-called) “ideology of gender” to Critical Race Studies – that is, critical thought. Paradoxically, these attacks are often launched in the name of freedom of expression, echoing the polemic against so-called “cancel culture.” This battle is about the status of truth in democratic societies. Truth is not just a matter of opinion, since opinion is about values. But the search for truth is the intellectual value that defines academic work.
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Éric Fassin is a professor of sociology at Paris 8 University with a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and the Department of Gender Studies affiliated with the first research center in gender studies in France, created in 2015. He is also a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France. His research focuses on contemporary sexual and racial politics with a comparative, transnational perspective.
The French House and the Suzy Newhouse Center for the Humanities