Friday, July 20, 2018

ASEEES Statement concerning the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Gender Studies

Published July 20, 2018

The Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) expresses its support for the members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and protests the recent proposals to subject the majority of that organization’s funding to political oversight. On June 13, 2018, it was announced that 70% of the Academy’s budget would be shifted to the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, which would then be responsible for allocating funds based on its politically established priorities, instead of the independently set objectives of the Academy itself. Scholarly freedom is essential to the pursuit of knowledge, and political interference in professional research constitutes a profound threat to democracy. In a letter of June 17, 2018, the Presidium of the Academy unanimously voted to denounce this threat to its autonomy, and ASEEES fully endorses the arguments contained in that protest. Contrary to the many attacks on the professoriate in state-affiliated Hungarian media, the members of the Academy have a long history of making pathbreaking contributions to the scientific and cultural foundations of Hungary, Europe, and the world. Political manipulation of research agendas can only lead to a loss of prestige for Hungarian scholarship and a further weakening of the country’s reputation. Our many respected colleagues in Hungary, and the Hungarian people more broadly, deserve better.

Amendment of August 22, 2018: Under a fiscal pretext similar to that limiting the freedom of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (see above), the government of president Viktor Orbán has ordered the elimination of the country’s two Masters programs in gender studies, claiming that they are not “economically rational.” ASEEES considers this decision, which affects Central European University and Eötvös Loránd University, to be a blatant violation of academic freedom and a distressing sign of the degradation of science in a part of the world that once celebrated it. ASEEES expresses unqualified support for the institutions and individuals under attack. 

August 30, 2018, Joint letter concerning gender studies in Hungary to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Minister of Human Capacities Dr. Miklós Kásler from ASEEES, Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS), and Society for the Promotion of LGBTQ Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies (Q*ASEEES).

ASEEES Executive Committee & ASEEES Committee on Academic Freedom and Advocacy

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