On the use and abuse of networks in academia


Jon Schubert, Allegra
Allegralaboratory, 2022

Written as part of the Allegra lab editorial collective: Like most anthropologists, we have been watching events unfold at Harvard University’s anthropology department over the past weeks: accusations of abuse; letters in support of the man accused of abuse, followed by the oh-so-predictable retractions of signatures from that letter of support after the filing of the lawsuit was published; letters in support of the survivors; therapists handing over private patient notes to the university administration, and lots of hand-wringing. Like most, we are disappointed and outraged, but not surprised. It feels hard to remain optimistic about academia when faced with the sordid details of the case and the apparent institutional complicity in hushing it up. It is not like this did not happen before. Abuse of power in academia is both long-standing and deep-rooted, and pointing it out is still usually taken as ‘fouling the nest’, with all the usual negative consequences for one’s career. ...