Forbidden Words: Academic Freedom, Censorship, and University Presses

By Marc Dollinger


A decision by Brandeis University Press to censor an invited new preface to my book, Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s, brought to the surface a number of questions central to the protection of academic freedom. Anonymous peer reviewers should not enjoy the power to overturn decision-making by press officials. Discussion of race, racism, and racial privilege must be included and protected in scholarly debate. Sometimes, academic gatekeepers confuse what is scholarly from what is political in an abusive effort to block academic discourse. Concerns over monetizing the academic book market should not predetermine a book’s content. When otherwise-hidden violations of academic freedom become part of a broad public discourse, retaliatory measures intimidate untenured faculty, scholars of color, and women academics who fear damage to their own careers should they speak out.

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