"We refuse to inflict collective punishment on Iranian universities and scientists"

The Iranian authorities hold two French researchers, Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, since June. But while some voices are rising to demand the end of scientific cooperation with Iran, a group of academics, in a forum at the "World", opposes this idea.

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"We refuse to participate in the embargo of the universities of a country that is already suffering the collective punishment of the US administration. Photo: Iranian President Hassan Rohani, November 5. AP

Tribune. Arrest and imprisonment of Franco-Iranian anthropologist Fariba Adelkhah, accused of "espionage", and French political scientist Roland Marchal, accused of "undermining national security" last June in Iran deeply shocked and saddened us. In order not to interfere with the efforts undertaken by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in accordance with the instructions of the latter, we remained silent.

Roland Marchal
Roland Marchal CERI / Sciences Po

Four months have passed since there was no sign of their release. In this context, should we opt for the suspension, permanent or temporary, of scientific and academic cooperation with Iran? We believe that this would amount to collective punishment of our Iranian social scientists and their students, and that it would actually be a service to the very people responsible for the arrest of our two colleagues.

Fariba Adelkhah
Fariba Adelkhah Thomas Arrived / Sciences Po

We refuse to sanction social sciences that are very weakened by the animosity of Iran's power brokers and Iranian colleagues who work under very difficult conditions and who are already under heavy pressure or, for some of them, repeated arrests. They are accused of spreading the "Western" social sciences and described as a potential threat to the Iranian power.

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We refuse to tighten the grip around our colleagues, some of whom are French-speaking and make it possible to sustain Iran's scientific relations with the French-speaking world. Every French-speaking sociologist, anthropologist, political scientist, historian or philosopher translated into Persian contributes to the enrichment of the scientific production of an academic space whose enthusiasm for exchanges with Europe and North America is more to demonstrate.

A breath of fresh air

The participation in collective research projects, conferences and conferences in France of our Iranian colleagues in the social sciences is a breath of fresh air for them and they, but also a scientific enrichment for us at a time when the social sciences in France take more and more seriously the epistemologies of marginalized knowledge.

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Finally, we refuse to impose additional "scientific" sanctions on a company that is already strangled by unilateral sanctions by US President Donald Trump. We refuse to participate in the embargo of the universities of a country that is already suffering the collective punishment of the US administration.