Culture war: Leicester University stands by professor

Conservative MPs and columnists for leading newspapers have attacked the work of Leicester University’s Professor Corinne Fowler, for contributing to a ‘woke culture war’. They believe the Professor is trying to rewrite history for the ‘liberal left’.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor Prof. Nishan Canagarajah told LSM that PVC Research and Enterprise is supporting Prof. Fowler:

“The University places utmost importance on upholding and protecting academic freedom and will stand with our staff against any abuse or misrepresentation in public discourse. […] [Prof. Fowler] has also received support throughout from her School and College. We will continue to support her in her research pursuits and will do all we can do ensure there is respectful and evidence-based dialogue on her findings.”

Prof. Fowler is an editor of the National Trust’s recent interim report on its properties, which has investigated the links between Britain’s countryside and its colonial history. Her research project, entitled Colonial Countryside, which invites students to explore these connections and add their voice to the narrative, is also under fire.

Simon Heffer (The Telegraph) said the report is “full of woke prejudices”, whilst Dominic Sandbrook (The Daily Mail) considers it to be “intellectually fraudulent.” The ‘Common Sense group’ (made up of Conservative MPs and peers) has argued that the National Trust has been “coloured by cultural Marxist dogma” and is overstepping its responsibility as a charity.

In the House of Commons on November 12th, Jacob Rees-Mogg declared that “we should never bow to the activists who want to scrub our history bare and start from year zero.”

Some Twitter users have questioned Prof. Fowler’s academic credentials, and attacked her for perpetuating a “Stalinist” and “liberal-left” agenda . Prof. Fowler’s credentials include a doctorate, four research grants totalling over £150,000, and her role as Director of the Centre for New Writing.

The Head of the School of Arts, Professor Martin Halliwell, defended his colleague:

“The School of Arts greatly values Corinne Fowler’s Colonial Countryside project […]. It is a vital project for the present time, prompting a reappraisal of national heritage and inspiring primary schoolchildren and their teachers to engage with National Trust properties and collections as a means to more fully understand the country’s colonial past.”

In an interview with LSM, Prof. Fowler emphasised the importance of academic research rigour when responding to such attacks, and focused on the positive influence of her project.

Rhiannon Jenkins is a final year English student passionate about activism, film & literature and travel. She also acts as Arts & Culture Chief Editor. You can find her on Instagram here: @rrhiannonj.

Feature image taken from Colonial Countryside site.

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