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Taking a Stand for Academic Freedom in India
The American Anthropological Association, an organization of scholars, students, and practitioners based in the U.S. and beyond, stands in solidarity with faculty and students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in protesting the Indian state’s actions against the freedom to debate and dissent on campus.
The Indian state’s decision to arrest the president of the JNU Students Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, on sedition charges and to bring the full force of the Delhi police on campus runs counter to a democratic commitment to academic freedom. Debate and dissent are hallmarks of life on the JNU campus in and out of the classroom. Indeed, all institutions of higher learning uphold and cherish the goal of education to question and expand the frontiers of knowledge.
We support the JNU students and faculty for protesting the application of colonial-era law with dignity, speeches and peaceful discussions. In solidarity with their students, the JNU faculty have suspended regular classes and are holding public lectures on the place of the university in society. This spirit of engagement, the JNU students and faculty have shown us, is the heart and soul of academic institutions.
The AAA joins the voices from India and beyond, and respectfully requests that the Indian state withdraw its sedition charges, release all arrested students and faculty, retreat from its hasty sweep of force, and restore normalcy to the self-governing campus.
We urge that on February 18, World Anthropology Day, anthropologists #standwithJNU and publicly engage on democracy and education.
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Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with more than 10,000 members, is the world’s largest professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and tackling the world’s most pressing problems.