Some scholars are more equal than others: Visa barriers, passport privilege, and global academic mobility

15 February, 1-2.30pm GMT


Dr Arda Bilgen (London School of Economics)

Yafa El Masri (University of Padova)

Dr Mouzayian Khalil-Babatunde (University of Warwick)

Dr Aftab Nasir (Information Technology University of the Punjab)

We live in times promising, and oftentimes presuming, limitless mobility. Especially in the academic world researchers are asked to be hyper mobile in order to carry out and present their work, facilitate international projects and collaborations, and expand knowledges.

However, not everyone has the same preconditions to travelling and contributing to research in this simple manner. Some scholars are simply more equal than others (Bilgen and Uluğ 2022).

While researchers from Western Europe and North America do not have to worry about visa barriers and passport restrictions, scholars from the majority world are used to spend valuable time and resources on visa procurement and navigate administrative and organizational boundaries oftentimes faced with racist and discriminatory institutions. Rejected visa applications are on a daily agenda when it comes to planning an academic trip with a “Global South” passport.

As an academic network that not only seeks to decolonize ‘development’, but also fundamentally uproot the geopolitics of knowledge, the question of who is, and who can actually physically be, around the table is vital for the way we engage and collaborate.

Departing from Bilgen and Uluğ’s intervention, the panel will offer reflections on visa barriers, passport privilege and global academic mobility and discuss ways forward for breaking down the barriers.


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