In this section we share events, roundtables, conferences and workshops organised not only by our network but also by other organisations and experts working and researching on issues related to academic freedom and the situation of academics at risk in Latin America.
Public event on “The armed conflict in universities in Colombia: generations that do not surrender”.
Date: September 2021
The event, organised by the Colombian Truth Commission (CEV) on YouTube on 2 September, gave an account of the systematic aggressions and crimes that have been committed against Colombian universities, their professors, students and workers for decades in the context of the armed conflict.
In the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, hundreds of professors and students were victims of forced disappearance, torture and murder. Although the actual number of people affected remains underreported, according to reports from several Colombian universities, the magnitude of violence against university institutions, as critical actors and generators of knowledge, is alarming and characterised by high levels of impunity.
The CEV meeting sheds light on how researchers, teachers and students have been victims of various forms of political violence, whether at the hands of armed actors or state security forces, due to their links to academia and their status as university students. By way of example, according to a report by the University of Antioquia alone, 323 attacks of various kinds have been recorded in the past 50 years. Unfortunately, attacks on universities are not a thing of the past, but continue in many regions of the country today.
Virtual roundtable: “Academia in the spotlight: violence against researchers in Latin America”.
Date: December 2020
In recent years, academic work has increasingly become a risky activity. Experiencing situations of restrictions and harassment is no longer an exception in the performance of critical academic work in Latin America, but tends to become the rule. Attacks range from public defamation in the press, verbal and physical threats, office searches and confiscation of equipment to arrest, kidnapping or murder in extreme cases. However, there seems to be no clear awareness of the seriousness and magnitude of this situation. People working in academia are often not perceived as a group at risk. In this context, universities, research institutions and foundations can play a key role in supporting researchers at risk. The roundtable addressed this issue by analysing the dynamics of violence and its consequences for academia in Latin America.
Speakers: Francesca Lessa (University of Oxford, UK), Lerber Dimas (Universidad de la Guajira, Colombia), Celia del Palacio (Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico), Frank Albrecht (Philipp Schwartz Initiative, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany).
Moderator: Rosario Figari Layús (Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany).
Organisers: German-Colombian Peace Institute – CAPAZ, Justus Liebig University Giessen in cooperation with the Maria Sibylla Center for Advanced Latin American Studies (CALAS) and the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute Freiburg.
Virtual conference: “The conservative wave in Brazil and its impact on Education: barriers and resistances”.
Date: November 2020
This conference recounts the many difficulties faced in the past few years by those working in the field of teaching and research in Brazil under conservative governments. The persecution of teachers was highlighted as a major concern in the face of the attacks they have suffered in recent years, as well as the need to broaden the languages that can resonate in the struggle for a democratic education that promotes human rights. In this framework, the Instituto Federal do Rio de Janeiro presented its Comics productions published in Portuguese, Spanish and English whose aim is to internationalise some of the educational demands in Brazil today.
Referent: Pâmella Passos (Instituto Federal do Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ), Brazil)
Organisers: The Chair of Sustainability of the Institute of Sustainability Studies of the Universidad Autónoma de Occidente in Cali, Colombia.
Roundtable “Academics at risk in Latin America: diagnosis, progress and setbacks” (Latin American Studies Association – LASA Conference)
Date: May 2019
Place: Boston, USA
The roundtable continued the process of giving visibility to and debating the situation of risk and hostilities increasingly faced by HRDs and researchers working in Latin America.
Speakers: Francesca Lessa (Oxford University, UK), Tamsin Mitchell (York University, UK), Ivi Oliveira (Frontline Defenders), Nancy Tapias Torrado (Oxford University, UK), Jo-Marie Burt, (George Mason University and WOLA, USA), Viviana Krsticevic (CEJIL), Natalia De Marinis (CIESAS-Golfo, Mexico), Julia Zulver (Oxford University, UK) and Rosario Figari Layús (Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany).
Organisers: Nancy Tapias Torrado, Francesca Lessa, Rosario Figari Layús
De derecha a izquierda: Tamsin Mitchell, Francesca Lessa, Nancy Tapias Torrado, Ivi Oliveira, Rosario Figari Layús
Public Hearing on Academic Freedom
Date: February 2019
Within the framework of its 171st Session held in Sucre, Bolivia in February 2019, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) recognised and debated for the first time the seriousness of violations of academic freedom and university autonomy in the Americas. The importance of this regional hearing lies in the official recognition of a central and increasingly frequent problem of instances and patterns of violations of academic freedom in the continent.
Organisers: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Workshop “The persistence of impunity in the struggle for truth, justice, memory and reparation in Latin America: human rights trial defenders at risk” (Latin American Studies Association – LASA Conference)
Place: Barcelona, Spain
Researchers and human rights activists exchanged their experiences of harassment in different Latin American countries. As a result of the workshop, a network was formed with academics from different countries in Latin America, Europe and the United States. A report was also drafted that analysed the characteristics of such attacks and provided examples of concrete cases in different countries.