This communication discusses how (political) geographers have been confronted with political pressures by the state and other political actors (especially where the state fails to protect them) that undermine their academic freedom, restrict their political rights and sometimes even destroy their livelihood and harm their physical integrity.
In the first part, the paper examines such attacks on academics and their academic freedom. Individual scholars have been subjected to intimidation, detention, abduction, torture, murder, deportation and/or exile. Collectively, academics have been confronted to diverse constraints: fieldwork and fieldtrip areas being closed, conferences and collaborative efforts being outlawed or boycotted, professional bans, censorship in publishing and teaching. Sometimes topics, theoretical traditions, approaches and/or methods have been delegitimized. Political geography and geopolitics are examples of subdisciplines of geography that are framed as inappropriate in many contexts, because they refers to the political and are perceived as critical of the powers that be. The creation of a Commission on Political Geography was for long a contentious issue in the IGU.
In second part, the paper looks at the (modest) role of geographers in solidarity initiatives, both global ones such as the Scholars at Risk Network and recent attempts to monitor the Academic Freedom Index, and local ones such as CARA (in the UK since 1933) and the Asylum University in Nijmegen (The Netherlands in 2015). Last but not least, it analyses how (political) geographers have discussed these attacks and pressures and their impact on (political) geography in academic and professional journals.
Although it broadly reviews main sources of attacks on academic freedom (fascism, Nazism, communism, nationalism, managerialism) since 1922, the paper focuses mostly on the geography of the recent drawbacks after a period of global improvement in the 1990s (Kinzelbach et al 2021: 10).
Mots clés : academic freedom|Scholars at Risk|asylum|solidarity |political geography