Valentina is feminist anthropologist currently completing her PhD in Sociology at Goldsmiths, on reproductive labour among working class women. She is a member of ‘Academics for Peace Goldsmiths’, a group of PhD students, postdocs and staff at Goldsmiths concerned about academic freedom that attempts to give practical support to politically persecuted academics in Turkey. Back in her country, Chile, she is part of the feminist movement and during her undergraduate years she used to be a student organiser in Social Sciences faculty and member of the radio program of the University of Chile’s Student Union.
Soon after leaving power in 1989, the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet coined a phrase that synthetized his view of University in one sentence: “To the university you go to study, not to think. And, if there is any time left, there are sports”. For Pinochet, it seems, there was a clear difference between studying and thinking, being the former to remain in the confines of authorised knowledge of (some) books. To think, in his perspective, meant the practice of reflecting about social reality, to become a critical voice, entailing the risk of becoming politically active. In other words, for Pinochet, to think was framed as a dangerous practice, as going too far, as a threat to the status quo.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems to entertain a similar conceptual distinction in his ongoing attempts to model higher education as a place where no critical thinking is allowed. After the failed military coup attempt on July 15, Erdoğan’s government has initiated a massive ‘purge’, which has affected not only the military but all institutions of public service, including universities and