'Campus Speaks on Academic Freedom' winning submissions
The ICAS 12 Academic Freedom Space in cooperation with the Humanities Across Borders programme have invited the submission of media representations that capture student and teachers voices on the issue of academic freedom from university campuses across the globe.
We are happy to present the winning submissions here.
We only show one photo and a short text for each entry here. Please click on the text to go to the submission's accession card', where you can see all photos and complete information.
The ICAS 12 Academic Freedom Space is an open and safe platform created by IIAS alumni that seeks to create spaces in response to infringements on intellectual and academic expression.
The Humanities Across Borders programme is a new humanist model of situated learning promoted by the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden, The Netherlands.
I Am the Grass, Let Me Work
- From Carl Sandburg’s and Pash’s poem Grass (Ghah)
Public higher educational institutes provide a space to challenge the normative, discuss the unimaginable, and unionize for the accomplishment of welfare goals. Panjab University campus has lush green lawns, it is where the safe space is generated and discourses related to social and political issues discussed. Famous revolutionary Punjabi poet, Pash wrote a poem “Ghah” which is similar to Carl Sandburg’s poem “Grass”. It is the grass that imagines the future and works continuously and contagiously. The same goes with people when they discuss and work together to bring the change!
Only a few days before the union elections, students gather to watch a nukkad-natak street-play) on the political scenario of the student politics on campus.
1 September 2017
Student Center Panjab University, Chandigarh, India
From the Room of Our Own to the Sky of Our Own, We Fight It All!
Panjab University has a 550 acre residential campus. Being a public funded institute, it gives a chance to many first learners in their families to join higher education. For many women, higher educational institutes are the ramp to take their flight to independence. Curfew rules, limited housing and institutional sexism inhibit the potential which a public infrastructure should otherwise nourish and produce. This further hardens the glass ceiling. These pictures are from a protest which started on 29th of October 2018 outside the main gate of the girls hostel and went on for 48 days. The struggle challenged the patriarchal setup inside the academic spaces. The victory was celebrated with happy tears and slogans.
“Who’s stopping you, the whole sky is yours A new morning is ahead, the whole sky is yours”
In the photograph is a research scholar studying on her laptop while her room sings of freedom fighters and struggle for liberation.
1 September 2017, Room no. 20, Kasturba Hall (Girls Hostel no.4) Panjab University, Chandigarh, India
Ideas Are Bullet Proof: A Hong Kong Campus Democracy Wall
This is a photograph taken from one of the university campus’s democracy wall. These are walls on most campuses in Hong Kong where students (or anyone) can post stickers and messages to support freedom of speech, academia and so on. During the past years Freedom of speech and academia has become increasingly restricted and walls like these have been dissapearing. If we return now to many of these walls they will be empty and even if they are available certain messages are no longer allowed to be written. There are two messages that stand out immediately: Stand with Thailand and IDEAS ARE BULLETPROOF. The first highlights the importance of solidarity. The second, an oft repeated slogan seen in walls all over Hong Kong and shows that academic freedom is not an isolated concept but stands together with liberties that are all too often take for granted.
24 December 2020 Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Suspension and Warning for Views Expressed in Online Class
This is regarding the suspension and the warning letter issued to Gilbert Sebastian, Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations and Politics, Central University of Kerala for views expressed during the class on ‘fascism and nazism’ on 19 April 2021. In the class, he expressed the view that the RSS and the BJP might be considered ‘proto-fascist’ and a question was raised whether India under Narendra Modi since 2014 could be counted in among other fascist/proto-fascist states.
The political right wing in the university got the class leaked out to the Hindutva/Sangh Parivar-affiliated media outlets and began a deadly vilification campaign against him. Sangh Parivar alleged that he had called for militant struggles although he had mentioned broad alliances and militant struggles. The vilification campaign, in turn, generated immediate solidarity with him from the religious minority organisations, especially of Muslims, the Congress-affiliated organisations, the CPI(M) and CPI-affiliated organisations, some legislators including Shashi Tharoor, some teachers’ associations including the Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Associations (FEDCUTA), students and academicians. The solidarity and support was pleasantly surprising and inspiringly showed that India does have the vibrancy to resist illiberal tendencies.
19 April 2021, Central University of Kerala, Kasaragod, India
No Writing On the Wall: A Dream Come Undone
I initiated this project as an attempt to document what I saw as a thriving culture of dissent and student politics through the graffitied walls of the campus. I chose to do this on 35mm film as I thought the juxtaposition of this almost permanent analog format with an artistic medium that is so ephemeral was very compelling - indeed, some of this graffiti disappeared the day after I took the photograph, while the rest was taken down in the subsequent months after political appointments in the top level administration (including the Vice Chancellor) from the far right (aligned with the RSS and ruling BJP) created an atmosphere of hostility and fear. This is an administration that has suspended and taken disciplinary action against students for making graffiti and for protest, while fostering the rise of the RSS-affiliated student organization ABVP that only knows violence.
August 2018 - October 2019, Kashmere Gate Campus, Ambedkar University Delhi, India