CfP: Disinformation Meets Academic Freedom

Since spring 2021, Republican state legislators across the United States have introduced dozens of new laws targeting curricula related to race and racism. For its next volume, scheduled for publication in fall 2022, the Journal of Academic Freedom seeks original articles that critically examine attempts at thought control by the Right, the whitewashing of historical narratives, and specific assaults on academic freedom that cut across the K–12 and higher education sectors, both in the United States and abroad. We will consider submissions on any topic related to academic freedom, but we are especially interested in the following topics:

Book and idea bans, legislative efforts, and other forms of censorship. Examples could include interrogations of counterfeit representations of critical race theory and curricular restrictions based on those fabrications, historical instances that draw on similar strategies, or analyses of such efforts in other countries. More specifically, we seek an expanded discussion of the AAUP’s brief to the Texas attorney general on the banning of ideas about race.

The 1619 Project, the 1776 Project, and the sabotaged hiring of Nikole Hannah-Jones. Articles may address these salient controversies or others with implications for academic freedom and shared governance. What are the overarching ideological differences and impulses behind efforts to reframe US history and the history of the Americas at large? What ethical and scholarly frameworks should be addressed and developed to find common grounds as well as safe spaces across the disciplines and institutions caught up in memory battles?

Doublespeak, academic free speech, and education about racial inequalities. Contributors might examine rhetorical tactics by conservative activists or media that flip terminology and weaponize it against scholarly standards and academic freedom. This mechanism is evident in the various claims that CRT is reverse racism and therefore serves as a pretext to insist that educators yield to a “color-blind” logic that precludes teaching about racism. What are the consequences for higher education of claiming that educators are using “divisive concepts,” like racial inequality, while denying the impacts of exclusion of histories of racism and dispossession?

Strategies for truthful pedagogies and content on racism, racial inequality, and oppression. What is the continued valence of CRT throughout all educational stages? We welcome discussions about the use of digital archives, material artifacts, memory places, statues, and other forms of public memory in the educational system. What is the potential role of national standards and frameworks to tackle divisive memories such as those of the settlement of the West, slavery, Native American legacies, Puerto Rican statehood, the Civil War, and the Mexican-American War? What can we learn from curricular efforts in other countries?

Features of recent Republican “memory laws.” How might the introduction of such laws in the United States whitewash the teaching of history, literature, the social sciences, and other disciplines? What would happen if African American students in a state with a memory law spoke up in class to say that teaching the story of the founding fathers without reference to their slaveholding caused discomfort and anguish to them specifically as Black people? What have been the consequences of memory laws in other countries, and how have faculty and students resisted their impact in higher education?

Attacks on Black history and CRT and ethnic and gender studies. As we have seen with attacks on Chicano/a, Indigenous, Asian, women’s, and gender and sexuality studies, right-wing efforts to institutionalize forms of thought control typically arise in reaction to social movements demanding greater inclusion and equity. How do reactions to the Black Lives Matter and other racial justice movements correspond to broader counter-movement dynamics on the Right? How are epistemological and curricular struggles related to specific power dynamics in larger movement and countermovement mobilizations?

Comparative approaches to memory laws, history, and academic freedom. Countries with histories of colonial violence and state-sponsored terrorism, or that suffered other types of totalitarian regimes, have developed intellectually rich debates and robust legislations about the role of the state in memorializing the victims of oppressive forces. The most salient examples are to be found throughout Europe, where Holocaust denial is penalized in several legislations. These antidenial laws offer a good framework to compare and contrast how other countries have tackled their own legacies of oppression and the memory of freedom fighters and what recent Spanish legislation has termed “memoria democrática” (democratic memory). How might we contrast memory laws that prohibit denial of historical traumas and bring more equity and inclusion to historical narratives, such as Spain’s, with memory laws that explicitly minimize or deny historical events and exclude voices from historical narratives?

Submissions are due by March 10, 2022. Please visit to read our editorial policy and the complete call for papers.

Photo by Jorge Franganillo on Unsplash

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