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Boycott and Censorship: Comparative Contexts

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Organizer: S. Shankar

Co-Organizer: Cynthia Franklin

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What is the relationship between boycott and censorship? Are the two opposed, or different sides of the same coin? As papers take up these questions, they might focus on such topics as the following: campus free speech debates in Trump’s America; the Palestinian call for resistance through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement or the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (ACBI); the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, including the Academic Boycott campaign; censorship under the Marcos and/or Duterte regime in the Philippines; the attacks on secular writers and intellectuals by Hindu fundamentalists in India; Internet censorship in China, North Korea, Israel, and/or the United States. Of course, these topics are meant purely to be illustrative. This seminar aims to bring together scholars working on boycott/censorship issues in a variety of social, historical, cultural and political contexts. 
We are interested in papers grounded in real-world situations as well as in more theoretical explorations; in papers that engage in comparative work as well as presentations focused on a particular illustrative case that would benefit from and add to the seminar as a whole.  This seminar focuses on topics of especial interest to ACLA participants, such as literature, academic institutions, and varied cultural phenomena and knowledge processes, but invites abstracts with broader concerns, including the ways in which these issues are related to persecution, incarceration, extrajudicial killings, the growth of fascism, and genocide. An objective of the seminar is to contribute to our understanding of the interrelations of freedom of expression, academic freedom, human rights, and liberation struggles in ways that draw on as well as critique a variety of intellectual and cultural traditions. Is a legal framework an asset or an impediment in the pursuit of freedom of expression? Are freedom of expression and academic freedom undiluted goods? How does the state figure into understanding the relationship between boycott and censorship? How can we understand the interrelations between boycott and academic freedom? Between censorship and academic freedom? Is freedom of expression a human right? Questions such as these frame the seminar’s focus on boycott/censorship.
Interested panelists should submit a 300-word paper proposal and 200-word speaker bio via the ACLA submission portal.

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