Academic freedom and Cambridge Univ. Press (fwd)

Ben Rempel (brempel@CC.UMANITOBA.CA)
Mon, 19 Feb 1996 23:20:25 -0600

Since this posting of statements by both Cambridge and its critics is
already in orbit, I will keep it moving....

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 1996 11:12:54 -0800
From: Resat Kasaba <kasaba@U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
To: Multiple recipients of list TSA-L <TSA-L@MSU.EDU>
Subject: Academic freedom and Cambridge Univ. Press (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 14:28:11 -0500
From: Patrick Manning, Northeastern University <>
To: Multiple recipients of list H-WORLD <>
Subject: Academic freedom and Cambridge Univ. Press

From: Daniel Segal, Pitzer College

As some colleagues may have heard, Cambridge University Press
recently decided not to publish a manuscript by Dr. A.
Karakasidou as a result of controvery surrounding the
manuscript's representation of ethnic diversity in Greece. In
response, Michael Herzfeld (Professor at Harvard and editor of
*American Ethnologist*) and Stephen Gudeman (Professor at
Minnesota) have resigned from positions as academic editors for
the Press, alleging that Cambridge University Press acted in a
way that violated important principles of academic freedom.

Professors Gudeman and Herzfeld have asked other scholars to
honor a moratorium on refereeing manuscripts for the press. I
am appending a copy of (i) the official statement about this from
C.U.P., (ii) Professors Herzfeld and Gudeman's "call for action,"
and (iii) Professor Herzfeld's letter of resignation from his
editorial position with the Press and subsequent allegations that
Cambridge University Press has violated important principles of
academic freedom. In response to those requests, I am forwarding
three documents I received this morning [14 Feb. 1996]: (i) the
official statement from Cambridge University Press, (ii) a call
for action from Professors Herzfeld and Gudeman, and (iii)
Professor Herzfeld's letter of resignation from his position as
an acdemic editor for Cambridge.


Official Statement issued by Cambridge University Press:

The decision by Cambridge University Press not to offer Dr
Karakasidou a contract for her manuscript was a very complicated
and painful one. In particular, we deeply regret the difficult
position in which this has placed the author, who has written a
serious and valuable study. Following the decision, Michael
Herzfeld and Stephen Gudeman resigned from the editorial board of
our anthropology monograph series, on which both had been active
and much valued members. The Press acted correctly, though in a
situation where a good case could be made on both sides of the
argument. In the end, everyone has had to choose between powerful
but irreconcilable moral imperatives. No compromise was possible,
though we all did our best to find one.

We were aware that Dr Karakasidou had received death threats in
May 1993 from a right-wing Greek organisation in the United
States, and that an anonymous letter, postmarked Athens,
threatened her with rape, while the Greek newspaper Stohos
published her address in Salonika and her car registration
number. Her plight had been taken up by International Pen and
various human rights organisations. We included this background
information in our report to the Press Syndicate (the Committee
that governs Cambridge University Press), in early November 1995.
We naturally relied heavily on the assessment of Professor
Herzfeld. It is worth noting that in 1994-95, when Dr Karakasidou
took up a fellowship at Harvard, concerns for her safety had led
Professor Herzfeld to request special protection for her and for
himself from the Cambridge police (for he had spoken publicly in
her defence).

The senior officers of the Press were in no doubt that the
manuscript was of high quality. Understandably the Press officers
judged it necessary to make further enquiries on the security
question, for Greek nationalist feelings were running high on the
Macedonian question. They took advice from the Greek office of
Cambridge University Press, from Greek academics and from British
officials in Greece, who warned that publication might put at
risk the lives of Press staff in Athens, and of Cambridge
University personnel in Greece. The Foreign Office was also
consulted. Each drew attention to recent cases of terrorist
violence against other foreign cultural institutions in Greece
which were associated with what were perceived to be 'anti-Greek'

At a meeting on December 1, 1995, the Press Syndicate (the
governing body of the Press, comprised entirely of senior
academic staff of the University) had to decide, first, how
significant the risks might be, and, second, if there was a risk
to their personnel, whether publication should proceed. The
Syndicate came to the unanimous conclusion that publication might
well put local employees at risk, and a decision was taken not
to publish. Professor Herzfeld and Professor Gudeman have
suggested that other advice should have been sought, but even if
this had been more equivocal about the risk, Cambridge University
Press, as a reasonable employer, would have found it very
difficult to ignore advice from those in the front line. One
could not know for certain what the risks were without
publishing the book, but there was understandably enough evidence
to give a prudent management cause for serious concern. The
series editors argued their case forcefully, even passionately,
and their arguments were naturally given very careful
consideration by their fellow-scholars on the Press Syndicate.
The Press has as its statutory imperative the dissemination of
knowledge, and no decision that might in any way compromise the
integrity of that imperative would ever be countenanced lightly.

It should be emphasised as a fundamental point of principle that
there was no contract to publish, nor ever an implicit one. Every
academic press from time to time refuses to publish a book
recommended by an editor or series adviser. This was a very
difficult decision, taken in good faith by the Press Syndicate
following extensive consultation with academic advisers, senior
editorial officers and Press representatives around the world.
It is very unlikely that a similar concatenation of circumstances
would arise ever again.

Cambridge University Press


FROM: Stephen Gudeman and Michael Herzfeld
DATE: 11 February, 1996

On 1 December, 1995, The Syndicate of Cambridge University Press
voted not to publish a book manuscript by Dr. Anastasia
Karakasidou, entitled _Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood_. This
decision led to our resignations as academic editors in
anthropology on the grounds that the Press had seriously violated
the fundamental principles of academic freedom, and of freedom of
speech and research. We also felt that CUP's action, taken
because it claimed to fear a terroristic response to the book's
publication, displayed a lack of understanding and respect for
the Greek people and for the purpose of anthropology itself.

The matter has now moved beyond Dr. Karakasidou, the Balkans,
and anthropology. When the world's most prestigious university
press knowingly sacrifices legitimacy for expediency, its action
exposes others not so well positioned to increased pressure from
those who would undermine the foundations of an open society.
Since our resignations, CUP's decision has been discussed in the
international news media. The extensive coverage has included
articles in _The Guardian_, _The Washington Post_, _The Times
Higher Education Supplement_, _The Chronicle of Higher
Education_, as well as television and radio broadcasts.

In our month-long discussions with CUP, which began on 17
November, 1995, and were conducted by telephone, letters, fax,
and e-mail, we asked the Press to establish a more thorough and
legitimate procedure for reviewing manuscripts. Despite our best
efforts to establish a reasoned dialogue, CUP consistently
refused to reconsider the decision or to discuss either the
decision or the broader issues it raised. The Press's present
silence and lack of action (except for the reiteration of earlier
statements). in the face of public scrutiny, continue the same
pattern. Until the CUP management conducts a fair, thorough, and
genuinely independent assessment of its review procedures, CUP's
legitimacy as the globe's leading academic publisher will be

In consequence -- as Cambridge graduates, authors, and former
editors -- we call for a moratorium on all further manuscript
reviewing for, and submission to, Cambridge University Press.
The moratorium has two components. First, and foremost, because
CUP has damaged and made a sham of the academic review process,
we urge our colleagues to withhold their seal of professional
approval from future CUP publications by not participating in a
demonstrably problematic review procedure. Given that this
action will both underscore the way in which CUP has
delegtimated its standing and will sustain tbat delegitimation in
the absence of a satisfactory response, we suggest that our
colleagues not send any new manuscripts to CUP. We explicitly do
not encourage a boycott of books already published. That
alternative, by harming junior scholars, would merely reiterate
CUP's offense against Dr. Karakasidou. By hindering the
production and reviewing of new manuscripts, we hope to
demonstrate the academic world's collective dismay at the CUP
administration, and to bring about a healthy reassessment that
will benefit the entire academic profession.

Stephen Gudeman
Professor of Anthropology, Univerity of Minnesota, and Fellow at
the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford

Michael Herzfeld
Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University, and Editor of
"American Ethnologist"


Resignation letter -- Herzfeld

26 December, 1995

Dear Mr. Wilson:

Thank you for your letter of 15 December. I appreciate your
prompt response, but I do not feel that you have -- or had
earlier -- left any space for a serious reconsideration of the
Press's decision concerning Professor Anastasia Karakasidou's
book manuscript. I am therefore afraid that we have now, to my
genuine and deep regret, reached a point where my continuing
service on the Editorial Board of the Cambridge Studies in Social
and Cultural Anthropology has become incompatible with the
principles governing my academic life. Your gracious
recognition of my services notwithstanding, your refusal to
address any of the substantive issues I have raised leaves me no
further choice, and I therefore hereby submit my resignation.

I have given much thought to this decision. In fairness, I have
wanted to give full consideration to the several points that you
and Dr. Mynott have made. In the end, however, I have come to a
conclusion that gives me no occasion for pleasure but at least
does not betray my principles or my academic colleagues.

While I agree that a scholarly publisher has the right to reject
manuscripts for any academic or commercial reason, and while I
also agree that you do have obligations to your Athens staff, I
nonetheless cannot accept your view that in this case there is no
issue of academic freedom. I base this view on the fact that
Professor Karakasidou was informed of the final decision after
she had revised her manuscript, which she did specifically in
accordance with the instructions of the Press's readers; their
evaluations were passed on to her with strong encouragement to
proceed, even though the Athens office had already expressed
concern about possible risks, and although one of the initial
readers' reports as well as my own signaled the intensely
controversial nature of the study. The fact that no legally
binding contract was involved is ethically immaterial under these
circumstances. At the very least you owe a struggling and
courageous young scholar an abject written apology for the
humiliation that your unconsionably clumsy procedures have added
to her already enormous burden.

You have also chosen to disregard my request that you share with
me the sources and details of your allegedly extensive
consultations in Athens, and thus have given me no serious reason
to doubt my own, much more optimistic assessment. I regard this
uncooperative stance as incompatible with my continuing to serve
on the CSSCA Editorial Board. In effect you have asked me to
value some anonymous and vaguely reported assessments of the
Greek situation over my own expertise, and you have also failed
to consult the two individuals -- one of them a senior Greek
state employee -- whose names I gave the Press because I
considered them particularly well qualified to assess the
situation. As I already noted in my previous letter to you, this
does not inspire confidence in the reasons given for your

Nor do I regard as genuinely independent the advice of the
British officials whom I now understand you to have consulted.
Indeed, the attitude that emerges from such correspondence as I
have belatedly been able to see is not one in which, as a British
citizen, I can take any pride. On the contrary, such preemptive
appeasement contrasts strongly with the stance of Professor
Karakasidou, who, by continuing her research in Greece despite
the threats made against her, has shown these threats up for what
they were. My own public disagreements with official and media
misrepresentations of Professor Karakasidou's credentials and
ideas are, I suggest, more in keeping with the moral example she
has set us all. Moreover, they have demonstrably not provoked any
reprisals (other than verbal ones) against either my person or
the organizations with which my name has been associated
(including, to date, the Press). Inasmuch as some of the verbal
responses to my stand have exhibited an anti-Semitic character,
moreover, I am particularly determined not to yield to -- and
thereby become complicit in -- such distasteful intimidation.
My decision will, I suppose, at least relieve you of the
necessity of continuing to place my own "controversial" name on
books in the series. Moreover, I would not wish you to feel
compromised by our continuing association; nor do I wish my name
to appear in connection with the series, lest it be taken as an
endorsement of the policy that your action represents.

I do in fact appreciate the importance of considering security
questions carefully, but my interpretation differs in important
respects from yours. As you no doubt know, I took my own
precautions at Harvard during the 1994-95 academic year and my
positive evaluation of the security situation during that year is
based on the verbal report I subsequently obtained from the
Harvard police. This should be viewed as evidence for the
absence of serious risk, rather than, as has bizarrely been
suggested, for the reverse.

Indeed, that conclusion belongs to a series of misconceptions
that I feel obliged to correct. The occasional acts of serious
violence committed against foreign personnel in Greece have
never, to the best of my knowledge, been linked to the issues
raised in Professor Karakasidou's manuscript. I see no evidence
that the earlier decision by another press not to consider the
manuscript was motivated by anything other than a perception that
the project was not appropriate for their list; on the other
hand, the same press has published a potentially no less
controversial work on Macedonia (which has, to date, brought
them no trouble). What is more, their decision in regard to
Professor Karakasidou's manuscript was immediate, in marked
contrast to yours. As for the absurd contention that I gather
has been put forward to the effect that I failed to alert the
Press to the possible risks involved, allow me to direct your
attention to the details I have given in the third full paragraph
of this letter concerning the sequence of events surrounding the
evaluation of the manuscript. I think I may safely leave it to
you to draw the correct conclusions about the responsibility for
any failure of communication.

In light of the racist elements in the attacks against Professor
Karakasidou and me, the entire case would seem to warrant
particular sensitivity and, above all, a principled rejection of
any kind of intimidation. Indeed, it strikes me that the Press's
stance suggests a tacit appeasement of two quite distinct forms
of racism. I have just mentioned the first. Your action helps
to direct the second at the Greeks themselves. Specifically,
your British informants' selective treatment of the case implies
a troubling willingness to tolerate, perpetuate, and even exploit
the irresponsible caricature of Greece as a volatile and
undisciplined country. That attitude, and the decision that you
are now predicating upon it, gratuitously insult both the Greek
people and the Greek authorities, in a manner that repeats past
injuries against them -- a sorry tale that I have treated at
length in the book I have published under your label. Let me
remind you that successive Greek governments have generously
supported symposia at which Professor Karakasidou and others
whose views conceivably conflicted with official policy have
presented their scholarly work; and let me also remind you that
Professor Karakasidou, who has been given unrestricted access to
state-supported archives in Greece, has been able to function
over long periods of time there without violence or hindrance.
Any Greek citizen must therefore find the implications of your
action deeply offensive, as do I, and your endorsement of an
unflattering stereotype -- one already deeply resented by most
Greeks -- may well direct far more comprehensive and justified
anger at the Press than publication of Professor Karakasidou's
book would have done.

The experience of this affair would certainly seem to suggest
the desirability of dissociating the functions of the Press from
other commercial activities, especially from those that require a
politically sensitive presence abroad. The Press must have full
freedom to publish timely, first-rate scholarship. This is not a
uniquely Greek issue, but must indeed pose global problems of
credibility for the Press. Nor is it a peculiarly
anthropological issue: all disciplines with potential political
implications outside the United Kingdom must necessarily view
these developments with profound misgiving.

In the course of the various exchanges, we have heard a great
deal about the global significance of the Cambridge name. So be
it; but, precisely by that token, the Press has an exemplary
responsibility to the cause of free scholarly expression. Any
compromise diminishes both the cause and the name, and lends
encouragement to political blackmail. I presume that you would
not wish to see Cambridge University Press regarded as a model of
self-censorship? Yet that, it seems to me, is one aspect of the
very long wedge of which you have just inserted the thin end into
the practice of academic publishing.

As a Press author and a graduate of Cambridge University, I
especially regret the necessity of withdrawing from an activity
in which I have taken great pleasure. Until now I have felt able
to play a reasonably productive role. Unfortunately, however,
your action now deprives that role of any meaning. Under the
circumstances, for example, I could not in good conscience
solicit manuscripts or suggest the names of potential reviewers;
nor do I have any assurance that my own reviewing would be taken
any more seriously than my recommendations in the present matter
have been. It would also be inconceivable for me to publish my
own further work on the region in a list that I considered both
ethically compromised and intellectually incomplete. Your
refusal to discuss alternative courses of action -- courses that
would have honored the indisputable moral imperative of
safeguarding your personnel while protecting the freedom of
scholarly expression that it is a university press's primary duty
to serve -- thus leaves me with no acceptable choice but to

Yours sincerely,

Michael Herzfeld