Scholars say criticism of fields such as gender studies and race theory is leading to self-censorship
Academic freedom is eroding in Denmark, according to scholars who described how humanities researchers have been withdrawing from public debate in response to attacks from politicians and the public.
The culture wars being waged by extremist populist politicians across the political spectrum and trolls is having a tangible impact on the degree to which academics are willing to make public comment on the big issues facing society. This is not an issue only in Denmark. We have included links to a large set of related reads.
The onslaught has been led by two politicians – Morten Messerschmidt, deputy chair of the far-right Danish People’s Party, and Henrik Dahl, a Liberal Alliance MP – who have described these disciplines as “pseudoscience” and “identity-political activism” and have said they are “displacing ordinary, worthwhile, academic fields of research”.
However, scholars suggested that this view was becoming more common among figures across the political spectrum and were particularly concerned that the minister for higher education and science, Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen, a Social Democrat, had not been more robust in her defence of the sector.
After being questioned by Mr Messerschmidt in parliament, Ms Halsboe-Jørgensen wrote that politicians should not be “the judge of scientific method in individual research fields”. But it worried her, she continued, that certain fields “apparently have one single-track theoretical and activist approach to research”, adding that she would discuss the issue with university leaders.