Thomas Swann is a Research Associate at Loughborough University working on an ESRC-funded project examining rule-making and constitutionalising in anarchist politics. He has a PhD in management and a background in social and political philosophy. His research explores the connections between anarchism and organisational cybernetics, aiming to develop ‘anarchist cybernetics’ as a framework for understanding radical left social movement organisation. His is the final post in the series:
Ethics in Academic Events
As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.
Do safer spaces stiffle or enable debate?
In September of this year, the Anarchist Studies Network (ASN) conference agreed upon a draft safer spaces policy for future events. Among other things, the safer spaces policy, called for participants to avoiding making assumptions about people’s gender, be aware of being part of a privileged group, make sure discussions of traumatic subjects are entered into with care and reject racist or sexist language.
Documents like this that are designed to govern behaviour in academic spaces have become controversial over the last year or so. Claims are often made that safer spaces policies (‘safer’ rather than ‘safe’ because insecurity can never be eliminated entirely) are akin to censorship and that they wrap people in protective cotton wool.