Last Anniversary of the Institute for Advanced Social Research, IASR: Meyda Yeğenoğlu Mutman on Academic Freedom in the IASR

I am a Senior Researcher, affiliated with the IASR since January 2016. With the support of Kone Foundation and Tampere University, my affiliation was sustained under the Scholars at Risk Program. I regard myself extremely fortunate to be harbored at Tampere University’s IASR. This provided me the much-needed sanctuary as far academic freedom and productive intellectual atmosphere for my work is concerned.

I was particularly privileged to be housed in an umbrella institution like IASR, which provided an exceptionally rich and fertile interdisciplinary academic context, which in turn enabled me to conduct my research and complete the writing of my manuscript. In all these years, my research has benefited tremendously from participating in the activities of the IASR and receiving feedback on my work from the senior and junior members who come from a prolific background. Conducting my research, which is located at the intersection of social sciences and humanities, free from many other academic and administrative obligations, has been enormously beneficial for my academic life as it enabled me to produce high quality research, which I hope, when published (at the moment I am in the process of negotiating with high quality international publishers) will have an international impact. I believe, this will contribute to strengthen not only Tampere University’s but the IASR’s already existing visibility on the international map. By this way I will have the chance to pay my tribute to the support I received in the last five years. With populism and anti-intellectualism on the rise, social sciences and humanities are under intensified threat globally. Consequently, the intellectual community who work in these fields and in institutions such as IASR, which provide safe haven for the enhancement of advanced social sciences and humanities, are facing the serious risk of disappearance. Hence for the institutionalization of academic freedom, critical thinking and research that promote analytical skills in fields like arts, social sciences and humanities, which use a whole range of methods in advanced research contexts, is of great value.

Protection of venues that contribute to advanced knowledge has of great importance not only for the recognition of the role of critical thinking in higher education, but also for developing strategies that foster knowledge and enhance policies that contribute to democratic processes in an open society. I believe it was to such processes that IASR has contributed greatly. I am honored to have been part of this contribution. I strongly hope that this function of IASR will be maintained in the future.