On 12 September, at a meeting of the IHC’s Scientific Committee, it was unanimously decided to send a letter to the publisher Routledge expressing its position on the withdrawal of the chapter “The Walls Spoke When No One Else Would. Autoethnographic notes on sexual-power gatekeeping within avant-garde academia”, from the book Sexual Misconduct in Academia, edited by Erin Pritchard and Delyth Edwards (2023).
Below is the letter.
Lisbon, 12 September 2023
Dear Routledge Editors,
The news that Routledge has decided to withdraw the chapter written by Lieselotte Viaene, Catarina Laranjeiro and Myie Nadia Tom “The Walls Spoke When No One Else Would. Autoethnographic notes on sexual-power gatekeeping within avant-garde academia”, from the book Sexual Misconduct in Academia, edited by Erin Pritchard and Delyth Edwards (2023), has shocked and surprised us.
The chapter analyzes the complexities of structural sexual harassment and power abuses in academia, suggesting that such misconducts are by no means isolated and constitute a widespread problem. Such publication enabled and encouraged extensive public debates on these issues within and outside academia. By removing the chapter, Routledge is hindering the discussion of sexual harassment and power abuses in academia and is effectively partaking in its silencing mechanisms.
The chapter was published in a book subjected to Taylor and Francis’ Book Publishing Process, which includes an internal editorial assessment by a Routledge Editor, a peer review, and, finally, a Routledge editorial board meeting, which results in a “final decision on approving the book for publication”, according to the Publishing Process statement. Routledge establishes the “basic steps to our publishing process for transforming an idea to an authoritative book for academic study or professional development.” It is deeply problematic that an independent academic publisher disregards the position and protests of the editors of the book and of the authors of the chapter as well as its own Publishing Process. Routledge’s retraction of the chapter, which was done without clarification of the proceedings and reasons behind it, lacks the necessary transparency and raises great concern regarding the future of academic and scientific freedom.
By censoring this chapter, Routledge is not only bypassing and disrespecting academic procedures, but also undermining the confidence of Routledge readers and authors, jeopardizing the independence of knowledge. We thus call for the reversal of this act of censorship and for the re-inclusion of the chapter in the original publication.
The Scientific Committee of the IHC
(Institute of Contemporary History, NOVA University Lisbon and University of Évora)
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