Politics and International Relations
Working conditions of scholars and critical research are increasingly being undermined or are outright under attack across the globe. On the one hand, neoliberal policies have created overall a suffocating academic scenario that buttresses steep hierarchies and dependencies and legitimizes dramatic financial cuts for institutions and a re-allocation of funding along individualized and re-nationalized priorities of competition, elite-generation, and excellence, leading to precarious employment perspectives for an increasing majority of scholars. Ideologically motivated interventions by governments or thematic limitations on research are sometimes difficult to identify as such because they are sheltered by, if not expressive of, regulations and frameworks legalized or normalized within this very scenario. On the other hand, direct action against whole institutions (such as CEU Budapest or JNU Delhi), physical violence against single scholars and academic events and open violations of academic procedures and legal rights have reached critical dimensions in a number of countries.
While we do see increasing complaints of working conditions and protests against political interference and attempts at suppression in many places and also at scholars’ conventions and conferences, the question of how these conditions and the different modes of precacity are impacting the actual research we pursue, the results that we produce and the academic contexts we move in is still seldom addressed.
This Roundtable wants to take the opportunity of the ICAS to reflect on how deteriorating academic conditions are complicating, if not endangering, the research entanglements between South Asia - and particularly India, where right-wing politics and violence are acutely profiting from governmental patronage - and European countries on various levels of intersection (including citizenship, residence/location, gender, colour, caste/class, research focus etc.). In concrete view of the conditionality (and relationality) of the research questions we formulate, the geographical areas and thematic fields we visit, the physical mobility we require, and the outcomes we publish, we want to encourage participating scholars and the audience to share and discuss a broad canvas of experiences and aspects, ranging from visa policies and legal protection via funding options and employment perspectives to fears for physical safety and psychological pressures (of scholars and/or those we work with).
Whereas the very composition of the Roundtable itself will inevitably be reflective of the respective working conditions of the participants, we hope to trigger a more sustainable debate on research practice in precarious times as well as foster support-networks and solidarity.