A Dangerous Attack on Academic Freedom

An Open Letter to the Trustees, Administrators, and Faculty of Ashoka University

We are distressed to learn of Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s resignation under political pressure from Ashoka University. A prominent critic of the current Indian government and defender of academic freedom, he had become a target for his writings. It seems that Ashoka’s Trustees, who should have treated defending him as their institutional duty, instead all but forced his resignation. As he put it in his eloquent resignation letter: “My public writing in support of a politics that tries to honour constitutional values of freedom and equal respect for all citizens is perceived to carry risks for the university.”

We write in solidarity with Pratap Bhanu Mehta, and to reaffirm the importance of the values that he has always practiced. In political life, these are free argument, tolerance, and a democratic spirit of equal citizenship. In the university, they are free inquiry, candor, and a rigorous distinction between the demands of intellectual honesty and the pressure of politicians, funders, or ideological animus. These values come under assault whenever a scholar is punished for the content of public speech. When that speech is in defense of precisely these values, the assault is especially shameful.

The university must be a home for fearless inquiry and criticism. We support Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his practice of the highest values of intellectual inquiry and public life.


Signatories (organized alphabetically by last name):

Arash Abizadeh

Professor of Political Science

McGill University

-

Bruce Ackerman

Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science

Yale University

-

Sana Aiyar

Associate Professor of History

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

-

Danielle Allen

James Bryant Conant University Professor

Director, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Harvard University

-

Sunil Amrith

Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History

Yale University

-

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Professor of Philosophy and Law

New York University

-

David Armitage

Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History

Harvard University

-

Timothy Garton Ash

Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford

Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

-

Lawrie Balfour

James Hart Professor of Politics

University of Virginia

-

Aslı Ü. Bâli

Professor of Law

UCLA School of Law

-

Etienne Balibar

Anniversary Chair in Modern European Philosophy

Kingston University

-

Mukulika Banerji

Associate Professor of Anthropology

London School of Economics and Political Science

-

Amrita Basu

Paino Professor of Political Science and Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Amherst College

-

Alyssa Battistoni

Environmental Fellow

Harvard University

-

Eric Beerbohm

Professor of Government

Chair, Committee on Degree in Social Studies

Harvard University

-

Charles Beitz

Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics

Princeton University

-

Teresa M. Bejan

Associate Professor of Political Theory

University of Oxford

-

Seyla Benhabib

Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Professor of Philosophy

Yale University

-

Homi K. Bhabha

Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Departments of English and American Literature and Comparative Literature

Harvard University

-

Akeel Bilgrami

Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy,

Professor, Committee on Global Thought,

Columbia University

-

Lee C. Bollinger

President

Columbia University

-

Richard Bourke

Professor of the History of Political Thought

University of Cambridge

-

Corey L Brettschneider

Professor of Political Science

Brown University

-

Jedediah Britton-Purdy

William S. Beinecke Professor of Law

Columbia University

-

David Bromwich

Sterling Professor of English

Yale University

-

Christopher Brooke

University Senior Lecturer in Political Theory

University of Cambridge

-

Wendy Brown

Class of 1936 First Chair

Department of Political Science

University of California, Berkeley

-

Susan Buck-Morss

Distinguished Professor of Political Philosophy, Gradudate Center

City University of New York

-

Jennifer Bussell

Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

University of California, Berkeley

-

Daniela Cammack

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University of California, Berkeley

-

Partha Chatterjee

Senior Research Scholar in Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Columbia University

-

Erwin Chemerinsky

Dean, School of Law

University of California, Berkeley

-

Joan Cocks

Emerita Professor of Politics

Mount Holyoke College

-

Jean Cohen

Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Contemporary Civilization in the Core Curriculum

Columbia University

-

Joshua Cohen

Distinguished Senior Fellow, University of California, Berkeley

Apple University

-

Greg Conti

Assistant Professor of Politics

Princeton University

-

Adi Dasgupta

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University of California, Merced

-

Sandipto Dasgupta

Assistant Professor of Politics

New School for Social Research

-

Rohit De

Associate Professor of History

Yale University

-

Faisal Devji

Professor of Indian History

University of Oxford

-

Joshua Foa Dienstag

Professor of Law

Shapiro Family Chair Professor of Modern Political Theory

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

-

Lisa Disch

Professor of Political Science

University of Michigan

-

Rosalind Dixon

Professor of Law

University of New South Wales

Co-President, International Society of Public Law

-

John Dunn

Professor of Political Theory, emeritus

University of Cambridge

-

Kevin Duong

Assistant Professor of Politics

University of Virginia

-

Cynthia Estlund

Catherine A. Rein Professor of Law

New York University

-

Kate Sullivan de Estrada

Associate Professor in the International Relations of South Asia

University of Oxford

-

Matthew Anthony Evangelista

President White Professor of History and Political Science

Cornell University

-

John A. Ferejohn

Samuel Tilden Professor of Law

New York University

-

Michaele Lynne Ferguson

Associate Professor of Political Science

University of Colorado Boulder

-

Rosemary Foot

Senior Research Fellow

Department of Politics and International Relations

University of Oxford

-

Katrina Forrester

Assistant Professor of Government and Social Studies

Harvard University

-

Jason Frank

Robert J. Katz Chair of Government

Cornell University

-

Jill Frank

Professor of Government

Cornell University

-

Elizabeth Frazer

Fellow in Politics and University Lecturer in Politics

New College

University of Oxford

-

Mark W. Frazier

Professor of Politics

New School for Social Research

-

Leela Gandhi

John Hawkes Professor of Humanities and English

Steering Committee, Center for Contemporary South Asia

Brown University

-

Sumit Ganguly

Distinguished Professor of Political Science

Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations

Indiana University, Bloomington

-

Stephen Gardbaum

Stephen Yeazell Endowed Chair in Law

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

-

Bryan Garsten

Professor of Political Science and Humanities

Yale University

-

David Gellner

Professor of Social Anthropology

Fellow of All Souls College

University of Oxford

-

Adom Getachew

Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and the College

University of Chicago

-

Arunabh Ghosh

Associate Professor of History

Harvard University

-

Tom Ginsburg

Leo Spitz Professor of International Law

Professor of Political Science

University of Chicago

-

Alex Gourevitch

Associate Professor of Political Science

Brown University

-

David Singh Grewal

Professor of Law

University of California, Berkeley

-

Bérénice Guyot-Réchard

Senior Lecturer in Twentieth-Century International History

King’s College London

-

Bernard E. Harcourt

Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science

Columbia University

-

Patrick Heller

Lyn Cross Professor of Social Sciences

Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs

Brown University

-

Bonnie H Honig

Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Modern Culture and Media (MCM) and Political Science

Brown University

-

Aziz Z. Huq

Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law

University of Chicago

-

Andrew Hurrell

Montague Burton Professor of International Relations, Balliol College

University of Oxford

-

Samuel Issacharoff

Bonnie and Richard Reiss Professor of Constitutional Law

New York University

-

Jameel Jaffer

Executive Director

Knight First Amendment Institute

Columbia University

-

Maya Jasanoff

Coolidge Professor of History

Harvard University

-

Sheila Jasanoff

Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies

John F. Kennedy School of Government

Harvard University

-

Rob Jenkins

Professor of Political Science, Hunter College and the Graduate Center

City University of New York

-

David C. Johnston

Professor of Political Science

Columbia University

-

Shruti Kapila

Fellow, Tutor and Director of Studies

Corpus Christi College

University of Cambridge

-

Mary Fainsod Katzenstein

Milman Professor of American Studies

Cornell University

-

Ira Katznelson

Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History

Interim Provost

Columbia University

-

Sudipta Kaviraj

Professor of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies

Columbia University

-

Duncan Kelly

Professor of Political Thought and Intellectual History

University of Cambridge

-

Tarun Khaitan

Vice Dean, Faculty of Law

Professor of Public Law and Legal Theory & Hackney Fellow in Law, Wadham College

University of Oxford

-

Sharon R. Krause

William R. Kenan, Jr. University Professor of Political Science

Department of Political Science

Brown University

-

Cécile Laborde FBA

Nuffield Chair in Political Theory, Nuffield College

University of Oxford

-

Hélène Landemore

Associate Professor of Political Science

Yale University

-

Melissa Lane

Class of 1943 Professor of Politics & Director, University Center for Human Values

Princeton University

-

Benjamin Lee

Professor of Anthropology and Philosophy

New School for Social Research

-

Lawrence Lessig  

Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership

Harvard Law School

-

Steve Levitsky

Professor of Government

Harvard University

-

Jacob T. Levy

Tomlisnon Professor of Political Theory

McGill University

-

Darryl Li

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Social Sciences in the College

University of Chicago

-

Stephen Macedo

Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values

Princeton University

-

Manjari Mahajan

Associate Professor of International Affairs & Starr Professor and Co-Director of the India China Institute

New School for Social Research

-

Charles S. Maier

Leverett Saltonstall Research Professor of History

Harvard University

-

Mahmood Mamdani

Herbert Lehman Professor of Government

Columbia University

-

Anandi Mani

Professor of Behavioural Economics and Public Policy

Blavatnik School of Government

University of Oxford

-

Harvey C. Mansfield

William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government

Harvard University

-

Karuna Mantena

Professor of Political Science

Columbia University

-

Patchen Markell

Associate Professor of Government

Cornell University

-

Daniel Markovits

Guido Calabresi Professor of Law

Yale University

-

John P. McCormick

Professor of Political Science

University of Chicago

-

Stephanie McCurry

R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of U.S. History

Columbia University

-

Uday Singh Mehta

Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Graduate Center

City University of New York

-

Bernadette Meyler

Carl and Sheila Spaeth Professor of Law

Associate Dean for Research and Intellectual Life

Stanford University

-

Rana Mitter

Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China

University of Oxford

Vice-President-elect (Communications), British Academy

-

Tariq Modood

Director, Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship

Bristol University

-

Glyn Morgan

Director, Moynihan Center of European Studies

Syracuse University

-

Yascha Mounk

Associate Professor of the Practice

School of Advanced International Studies

Johns Hopkins University

-

Samuel Moyn

Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence

Professor of History

Yale University

-

Jan-Werner Mueller

Professor of Politics

Princeton University

-

Russell Muirhead

Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics

Chair, Department of Government

Dartmouth College

-

Rahul Mukherji

Professor and Head, Department of Political Science

Heidelberg University

-

Rani D. Mullen

Associate Professor of Government

College of William and Mary

-

Kanta Murali

Associate Professor of Political Science

University of Toronto

-

Sankar Muthu

Associate Professor of Political Science

University of Chicago

-

Isaac Nakhimovsky

Associate Professor of History and Humanities

Yale University

-

Vipin Narang

Associate Professor of Political Science

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

-

Eric Nelson

Robert M. Beren Professor of Government

Harvard University

-

Anne Norton

Stacey and Henry Jackson President’s Distinguished Professor of Political Science

University of Pennsylvania

-

Martha C. Nussbaum

Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics

University of Chicago

-

Andrew Ollett

Neubauer Family Assistant Professor

South Asian Languages and Civilizations

University of Chicago

-

Kate O'Regan

Professor of Human Rights Law

Director, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights

University of Oxford

-

Giulia Oskian

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Yale University

-

Anthony Pagden

Distinguished Professor of Political Science

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

-

Davide Panagia

Professor of Political Science

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

-

Alan Patten

Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Politics

Chair, Department of Politics

Princeton University

-

Susan Pedersen

Morris Professor of British History

Columbia University

-

Elizabeth J. Perry

Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government

Director, Harvard-Yenching Institute

Harvard University

-

Jennifer Pitts

Professor of Political Science and Social Thought

University of Chicago

-

Gyan Prakash

Dayton-Stockton Professor of History

Princeton University

-

Lant Pritchett

RISE Research Director, Blavatnik School of Government

University of Oxford

-

Hari Ramesh

College Fellow in Social Studies

Harvard University

-

Aziz F. Rana

Richard and Lois Cole Professor of Law

Cornell University

-

Corey Robin

Associate Professor of Political Science, Graduate Center

City University of New York

-

Michael Rosen

Senator Joseph S. Clark Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government

Harvard University

-

Nancy L. Rosenblum

Senator Joseph Clark Research Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government, emerita

Harvard University

-

Poulami Roychowdhury

Assistant Professor of Sociology

McGill University

-

Lucia Rubinelli

Junior Research Fellow in the History of Political Thought, Robinson College

University of Cambridge

-

Alan Ryan FBA

Emeritus Professor of Political Theory

University of Oxford

-

Michael J. Sandel

Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government

Harvard University

-

Shalini Satkunanandan

Associate Professor of Political Science

University of California, Davis

-

Cheryl Saunders

Laureate Professor Emerita of Law

University of Melbourne

-

Thomas M. Scanlon

Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity, Emeritus

Harvard University

-

Melissa Schwartzberg

Professor of Politics

New York University

-

Joan Wallach Scott

Professor Emerita

Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

-

Will Selinger

Lecturer in European History, 1700-1850

University College London

-

Akhil Sharma

Department of English

Duke University

-

Tommie Shelby

Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy

Harvard University

-

Prerna Singh

Mahatma Gandhi Associate Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs

Brown University

-

Rogers Smith

Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science

University of Pennsylvania

-

Sophie Smith

Associate Professor of Political Theory and Tutorial Fellow, University College

University of Oxford

-

Carole Spary

Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations

Deputy Director, Asia Research Institute

University of Nottingham

-

Amia Srinivasan

Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory

All Souls College

University of Oxford

-

Paul Staniland

Associate Professor of Political Science

Faculty Chair, Committee on International Relations

University of Chicago

-

Hillel Steiner FBA

Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy

University of Manchester

-

Anna Stilz

Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and Human Values

Princeton University

-

Geoffrey R. Stone

Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law

University of Chicago

-

John Tasioulas

Director, Institute for Ethics in AI

Faculty of Philosophy

University of Oxford

-

Charles Taylor

Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy

McGill University

-

Tariq Thachil

Director, Center for Advanced Study of India

Madan Lal Sobti Associate Professor for the Study of Contemporary India

University of Pennsylvania

-

Louise Tillin

Reader in Politics

King’s College London

-

Richard Tuck

Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government

Harvard University

-

Maya Tudor

Associate Professor of Government and Public Policy

Blavatnik School of Government

University of Oxford

-

James Tully

Professor Emeritus of Political Science

University of Victoria

-

Mark Tushnet

William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Emeritus

Harvard University

-

Nadia Urbinati

Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory

Columbia University

-

Milan Vaishnav

Senior Fellow and Director, South Asia Program

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

-

Ashutosh Varshney

Director of the Center for Contemporary South Asia

Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences

Brown University

-

Rajesh Veeraraghavan

Assistant Professor of Science, Technology and International Affairs

Georgetown University

-

Jeremy Waldron

University Professor

New York University

-

Patrick Weil

Research Professor

University of Paris1-Sorbonne

-

Stephen K. White

Professor of Political Science, Emeritus

University of Virginia

-

Steven Wilkinson

Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

Yale University

-

Melissa Williams

Professor of Political Science

Founding Director, Centre for Ethics

University of Toronto

-

Elizabeth Wingrove

Professor of Political Science

University of Michigan

-

Jianying Zha

India China Institute

New School for Social Research


After publication of the original letter, the following signatories added their names:

The following signatories were added subsequently (organized alphabetically by last name):

Katharine Adeney

Professor and Director of the University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute

Faculty of Social Sciences

University of Nottingham

-

Loubna El Amine

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Northwestern University

-

Sam Asher

Assistant Professor of International Economics

Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

-

Geremie Barme

Director, Australian Centre on China in the World and Professor of Chinese History

Australian National University

-

Srinjoy Bose

Senior Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

University of New South Wales

-

Joseph Carens

Professor of Political Science, emeritus

University of Toronto

Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

-

Joshua L. Cherniss

Assistant Professor of Government

Georgetown University

-

Christopher Clary

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University at Albany, SUNY

-

Elizabeth F. Cohen

Professor of Political Science

Syracuse University

-

Dennis Dalton

Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science, emeritus

Barnard College, Columbia University

-

Stefan Eich

Assistant Professor of Government

Georgetown University

-

Elisabeth Ellis

Professor of Philosophy and Director, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Programme

University of Otago

-

Leonard Feldman

Associate Professor of Political Science, Graduate Center

City University of New York

-

Fonna Forman

Associate Professor of Political Science

Founding Director of the Center on Global Justice 

University of California, San Diego

-

Michael Forman

Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies

University of Washington

-

Rainer Forst

Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy

Goethe University

-

Vinay Gidwani

Professor of Geography, Environment, and Society

University of Minnesota

-

Lisa Gilson

Assistant Professor of Politics

Bates College

-

Jeffrey Goldfarb

Michael E. Gellert Professor of Sociology

New School for Social Research

-

Michael Goodhart

Professor of Political Science and Director of the Global Studies Center

University of Pittsburgh

-

Cheryl Hall

Associate Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies

University of South Florida

-

Timothy Hellwig

Professor of Political Science and Academic Director of the Europe Gateway

Indiana University

-

Kinch Hoekstra

Chancellor's Professor of Political Science and Law

University of California, Berkeley

-

Jeffrey C. Isaac

James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science

Indiana University

-

Anil Kalhan

Professor of Law

Drexel University

-

Demetra Kasimis

Assistant Professor

Department of Political Science

University of Chicago

-

George Kateb

William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, emeritus

Princeton University

-

Arang Keshavarzian

Associate Professor and Department Chair

Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

New York University

-

Amalia D. Kessler

Lewis Talbot and Nadine Hearn Shelton Professor of International Legal Studies

Associate Dean for Advanced Degree Programs, Stanford Law School

Professor, by courtesy, History

Director, Stanford Center for Law and History

Stanford University

-

Daniel N. Lipson

Associate Professor, Political Science & International Relations Department

SUNY New Paltz

-

Alexander Livingston

Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Government

Cornell University

-

Catherine Lu

Professor of Political Science

McGill University

-

Lauren M. MacLean

Arthur F. Bentley Chair and Professor of Political Science

Indiana University

-

James Manor

Emeritus Professor of Commonwealth Studies

School of Advanced Study, University of London

-

Jamie Mayerfeld

Professor of Political Science

University of Washington

-

Benjamin McKean

Associate Professor of Political Science

Ohio State University

-

Rahul Mehrotra

Chair, Department of Urban Planning and Design

John T. Dunlop Professor in Housing and Urbanization

Graduate School of Design

Harvard University

-

Roberto Merrill

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

University of Minho

-

Barbara D. Metcalf 

Professor Emeritus of History

University of California, Davis

-

Jennifer L. Mnookin

Dean, School of Law

University of California, Los Angeles

-

Michael Mosher

Professor of Political Science

University of Tulsa

-

Dipali Mukhopadhyay

Adjunct Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs

Columbia University

-

Nicholas Mulder

Assistant Professor of History

Cornell University

-

Julie Novkov

Professor of Political Science and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Studies

University at Albany, SUNY

-

Paul Novosad

Associate Professor of Economics

Dartmouth College

-

Soledad Artiz Prillaman

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Stanford University

-

Camille Robcis

Associate Professor of French & History

Columbia University

-

Kim Lane Scheppele

Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs

Princeton University

-

William E. Scheuerman

James H. Rudy Professor and Director of Graduate Studies

Department of Political Science

Indiana University

-

Sanford Schram

Professor of Political Science, Hunter College

City University of New York

-

Anurag Sinha

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University of Minnesota

-

Ajay Skaria

Professor of History

University of Minnesota

-

Sarah Song

Professor of Law and Political Science

University of California, Berkeley

-

Arzan Tarapore

Research Scholar on South Asia, Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center

Stanford University

Senior Nonresident Fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research

-

Brandon Terry

Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies and Social Studies

Harvard University

-

Jeffrey Tulis

Professor of Government

University of Texas at Austin

-

Jack Turner

Associate Professor of Political Science

University of Washington

-

David Watkins

Associate Professor of Political Science

University of Dayton

-

Stuart White

Associate Professor of Politics

University of Oxford

-

William Kindred Winecoff

Associate Professor of Political Science

Indiana University

-

Dali L. Yang

William C. Reavis Professor of Political Science

University of Chicago