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Lecture | LUCIS Keynotes

What Do We Mean When We Say “Academic Freedom”?

Wednesday 28 September 2022
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden
Telders Auditorium

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“Praesidium Libertatis” is widely understood to mean the freedom of scholars from censorship on research, teaching, and free speech.  But what if our conceptual vocabulary, questions, and methodologies are themselves products of a history of settler colonialism and imperial domination? Would “Praesidium Libertatis” then also mean freedom from colonial epistemologies and a serious engagement with indigenous ways of knowing? Does it demand a special responsibility to those we study, such as the Palestinians, who are still living under the brutal conditions of settler colonialism? If so, what are the politics and ethics of knowledge production as a subversive practice in institutions of higher education, especially when it comes to fields such as Middle East and Islamic Studies? 


3.30-3.40 pm Opening and introduction Nathal M. Dessing (Leiden University)
3.40-4.30 pm LUCIS Keynote: What Do We Mean When We Say “Academic Freedom”? Beshara Doumani
4.30-4.45 pm Coffee and tea break  
4.45–4.55 pm Commentary 1 Gerrie ter Haar (International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague)
4.55–5.05 pm Commentary 2 Tsolin Nalbantian (Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University)
5.05–5.30 pm Discussion with audience Moderator: Kutsal Yesilkagit (Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University)

The lecture will be followed by a reception at the same location.

All welcome, but registration required.

About the speakers

Beshara Doumani is professor of history and the inaugural holder of the Mahmoud Darwish Professorship of Palestinian Studies at Brown University. His research focuses on peoples, places, and time periods marginalized by mainstream scholarship on the early modern and modern Middle East. He also writes on academic freedom and the Palestinian condition. His books include Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700–1900, and Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean: A Social History. He is currently working on a history of the Palestinians through the social life of stone.

Doumani was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. He is the founding director of the Palestinian Museum, of the New Directions in Palestinian Studies network, and of the Center for Middle East Studies at Brown University. He is currently serving as President of Birzeit University in Palestine. 

Gerrie ter Haar is emeritus professor of Religion and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague. She is a scholar of religion specialising in the religious traditions of Africa and the African diaspora. She is author, with Stephen Ellis, of Worlds of Power: Religious Thought and Political Practice in Africa (London: Hurst/New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Tsolin Nalbantian, associate professor of modern Middle East history at Leiden University, is the author of Armenians Beyond Diaspora: Making Lebanon Their Own (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) and co-editor, with Lara Deeb and Nadya Sbaiti, of Practicing Sectarianism: Archival and Ethnographic Interventions on Lebanon (Stanford University Press 2022) and Diaspora and “Stateless Power:” The Armenian Experience through the Transnational 20th Century (I.B. Tauris/Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2023), with Talar Chahinian and Sossie Kasbarian. She is also the series co-editor, with Nira Wickramasinghe, of Critical, Connected Histories (Leiden University Press).

Kutsal Yesilkagit is a Professor of Public Administration at Leiden University. He has published widely on the relationship between politics and bureaucracy.  He is currently working on the rise of populism and authoritarianism in liberal democracies and how this affects power relations within the state and between state and society.”

Due to the capacity of the location and the overwhelming interest in the lecture, it is no longer possible to register for this event.

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