26 Apr 2010 5:00pm - 7:00pm Room LG18, Faculty of Law, Sidgwick Site, Cambridge


An event organised by CG+HR in co-ordination with CARA and CRASSH.
A programme
for the event can be found by following the link at the top right hand side of this web page.

Event summary


“An effective system of education and a creative sense of heredity from one generation to another is only possible in an atmosphere of intellectual freedom. And conversely: intellectual bondage, the power and conformism of a pitiful bureaucracy which from the very start acts as a blight on humanist fields of knowledge, literature, and art, results eventually in a general intellectual decline, bureaucratization and formalization of the entire system of education, a decline of scientific research, and the thwarting of all incentive to creative work, to stagnation, and to dissolution.”

Andrei Sakharov, Nobel Lecture, 1975

Curbs on academic freedom concern all scholars. Funding slashes may wreak havoc on our work, yet elsewhere colleagues at the sharp end of violations of academic freedom suffer persecution, intimidation, mental and even physical abuse and death. Too often, their families suffer directly with them.

For over 75 years, the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) has assisted refugee academics in the UK to adjust to life in the UK and pursue their work in a supportive academic environment. The University of Cambridge has been involved with CARA from its very first days. The Academic Assistance Council, forerunner to CARA, was set up with the help of Lord Rutherford, John Maynard Keynes, Professor AV Hill (later University MP for Cambridge) and the physicist Sir William Bragg.

Many refugees, helped by CARA, settled in Cambridge and their work has helped change the world around us. The scientists Max Born, Hans Krebs and Max Perutz were some of the early academics to arrive at Cambridge and all were awarded Nobel Prizes for their research. Others to find a home in Cambridge include Sir Geoffrey Elton (Ehrenberg), who came to dominate the field of medieval history, and Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the first Slade Professor of Fine Art.

Cambridge also helped generations of scholars, for example from South Africa or Chile, who were displaced by persecution but were to be the mainspring of the rebuilding of their countries once return was possible.

More recently, the Cambridge Colleges Hospitality Scheme has welcomed Iraqi Visiting Scholars each year – highlighting their bravery in the face of death threats and their determination to go back and rebuild their country.

Cambridge’s notable tradition of assisting refugee academics and scholars at risk is a matter of pride but must serve as a foundation for continued and expanded efforts.

This seminar, hosted by the Centre of Governance and Human Rights (POLIS), in coordination with CARA and CRASSH, seeks to renew and redouble efforts within the University to support refugee academics and scholars at risk today and in the future.


Sharath Srinivasan (Director, Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CG+HR), Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Cambridge)
Anne Lonsdale CBE (Honorary Secretary, Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA))
Andrew Webber (Director, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge)



Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk