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Can the US export the first amendment? Global complications of freedom of speech

February 20, 4:00-6:00pm, Library Lecture Room

Panelists will address the question of whether USA-style freedom of speech is a viable model for countries such as China, Iran, and Turkey. Related topics will include the challenges posed by the rise of (electoral) authoritarianism around the world. Do Western norms of free speech and academic freedom enable or slow down the dismantlement of the establishment of democratic regimes at a global scale? How can these norms be operationalized to promote rather than obstruct freedom as a universal value? This event is co-sponsored by the Provost's Office and the New University In Exile Consortium. To watch a livestream of the event, please follow this link: https://www.wellesley.edu/live.

Dr. Teng Biao
Dr. Teng Biao
Talk Entitled: "China's threat to global freedom of expression."

Dr. Teng Biao is an academic lawyer, currently Grove Human Rights Scholar at Hunter College. He had been a lecturer at the China University of Politics and Law (Beijing), a visiting scholar at Yale, Harvard, NYU and the Institute for Advanced Study. Teng’s research focuses on criminal justice, human rights, social movements, and political transition in China. Teng defended cases involving freedom of expression, religious freedom, the death penalty, Tibetans and Uyghurs. He co-founded two human rights NGOs in Beijing – the Open Constitution Initiative, and China Against the Death Penalty, in 2003 and 2010, respectively. He is one of the earliest promoters of the Rights Defense Movement in China and the manifesto Charter 08, for which Dr. Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Teng has received various international human rights awards including the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic (2007).

Dr. Aysen Candas
Dr. Aysen Candas
Talk entitled: "Civil rights uninstalled: Freedom of speech and academic freedom-Ceteris Paribus-No longer relevant to the New Regime in Turkey."

Aysen Candas holds a PhD in Political Science from Columbia University. She was a full-time faculty member in Boğaziçi University’s Political Science and International Relations department, was prosecuted as a Peace Academic and resigned from her tenured position in May 2019. Also affiliated with Bogaziçi University’s European School of Politics, Social Policy Forum and various civil society organizations in Turkey, she has conducted research and published various articles on the trajectory of basic rights and democracy in Turkey, the impact of new laws and policies on equality and the liberties of various groups, shifts in the aims of social policy in Turkey, constitutional politics in Turkey, and the rights of women, and sexual, ethnic, and religious minorities of Turkey. She was a Visiting Professor at Yale University’s Department of Political Science (2017-2019) and Henry Hart Rice Fellow at the MacMillan Center of Yale University between 2017-2019. She is currently a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Political Science at Yale University.

Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh
Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh
Talk entitled: "Academic freedom under electoral authoritarianism: The case of Iran."

Kian Tajbakhsh (Ph.D. Columbia 1993) is Senior Advisor to the Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University. In this role, Dr. Tajbakhsh works on university-wide initiatives focused on global migration. He is also a Fellow with Columbia’s Committee on Global Thought where since 2016 he has taught the core course in the Global Thought MA program “Globalization and the Problems of World Order.” From 2016-2019 he was Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia. His research interests fall into two areas the comparative study of global urbanization with a focus on local democracy; he also studies international relations focusing on competing paradigms of world order. He is currently completing a book on local democracy and state building in modern Iran. Tajbakhsh was among the pro-democracy activists arrested and detained by the Iranian government during the Green Movement protests in 2009. After several years under house arrest, he was one of the five Iranian-American dual citizens whose release was negotiated under the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2016 by the Obama Administration. His experience was profiled in The New York Review of Books where he also published an essay about his time in Evin Prison. In 2019, together with Dr. Arien Mack, The Director of the New University in Exile Consortium he was interviewed on PBS TV program The Open Mind about academic freedom in the Middle East. His foreign policy publications have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Wilson Quarterly and The New York Times. Other recent publications include “What Are Iranians Dreaming about Today? Reflections on the Islamic Revolution at 40” (2019); “Hind Swaraj: Reading Gandhi’s Critique of Modernity in Tehran” (2018). Earlier works include The Promise of the City (University of California Press).