Mi / 10:00 – 11:30

Two cheers for snowflakes: Free speech in fractured societies

Internal colloquium, open to members of the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr)

Volker Heins, KWI

Virtual Meeting

As Indian writer Pankaj Mishra recently emphasized, “free speech has never been freer for most people on this planet.” At the same time, we are witnessing intense struggles over freedom of speech across the nominally democratic world. People continue to disagree, in particular, about how to deal with speech that is considered offensive. Universities play a key role in these struggles. From 2000 to 2020, and for the U.S. alone, the conservative Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) lists 462 organized “disinvitation attempts” targeting problematic speakers who had been invited to give commencement addresses at universities, to contribute to campus debates, or to teach a course.

My presentation will try to probe and contextualize such “deplatforming” (or “no-platforming”) campaigns which are symptomatic for a growing uncertainty about the meaning of free speech on campus and in the wider public sphere, but also about the place of universities in democratic societies. (Text: Volker Heins)

The KWI Colloquium provides a platform to present and discuss ongoing as well as emerging research projects. It does not solely address research projects from within the KWI, but is also open to guest lectures which tie in with the KWI’s research agenda.

Internal colloquium, open to members of the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr).