Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do I Censor Myself?

There was an interesting essay by Emily Parker in the New York Times a few days back. The basic premise is that researchers who study China are increasingly censoring themselves so as not to lose access to the country and its resources. Here are some quotations from the article...

"It's just become so taken for granted that it isn't even recognized as self-censorship. Three or four times a month I get questions from students: How can I avoid getting on a blacklist like you?" This quotation comes from Perry Link, a Princeton University professor who has not been able to get a Chinese visa since the mid-1990s.

"There are writers I respect who don't choose certain subjects because they will engage them in controversy with China. Visa denials seem to be based on the subject matter more than what the individual says about the subject" (Jerome Cohen, New York University).

The idea that scholars "collectively are compromising our academic ideals in order to gain access to China offends people intellectually, but we all do it" (anonymous professor at a prestigious American university).

~Steve

PS: The excellent illustration that accompanied the essay is by Yarek Waszul.

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