EISA Governing Board Statement on the cancellation of Dr Walaa Alqaisiya’s talk at the Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies, Vienna

30. 5. 2022

The European International Studies Association (EISA) expresses urgent concern for another egregious violation of Academic Freedom against a Palestinian academic in Europe.  Dr Walaa Alqaisiya was scheduled to speak at the Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies on 30 May as part of its Spring Curatorial Program 2022, Art Geographies. This event is jointly organised by Verein K, the Academy of Fine Arts, and Mumok (Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation). Her intervention was cancelled after some groups including the Council of Jewish Students and KESHET Austria pressured the organisers to withdraw the invitation by accusing Dr Alqaisiya of antisemitism.  Dr Alqaisiya has neither been informed about the exact nature of these accusations, nor given a chance to respond.

This follows a dangerous pattern of attacks on the academic freedom of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian scholars in Europe (see, our previous statements on Sen and Abusalama). The EISA is committed to anti-racism and to protecting the academic freedom of the diverse members of our scholarly community, and we are deeply concerned by the racialised and anti-Palestinian nature of these attacks on academic freedom. We are concerned that without any substantive justification of the decision and channels of redressal available to Dr Alqaisiya, this is yet another instance of racial discrimination against a Palestinian scholar and an attack on their academic freedom. We call upon the organisers to issue a public apology to Dr Alqaisiya, to identify the regulations and processes that led to the cancellation of the lecture and to communicate the grounds available to appeal and redress the decision.  In this regard, we fully support the statement released by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES).