From my limited perspective, I have found that academic activism can be a source of delight offering a sense of connectedness that is rare in academic work. It is also daunting. Activism can be as frustrating as it is satisfying. Making peace with this ambivalence early on is probably a good idea.
With the recent arrest of Julian Assange – on charges related to a computer hacking conspiracy, and not the charges of sexual assault and rape that fuelled the original Swedish international arrest warrant – the insights of Women, whistleblowing, Wikileaks are more relevant now than ever.
Imagine this: A laboratory technician working on an oilrig contacts the national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), claiming that the oil company she works for is encouraging her colleagues and herself to manipulate with measurements of oil seeping into the sea around the rigs. Before that, she has done everything in her power to make her bosses within the organization listen, but with no luck. What happens? The EPA passes her full name on to the oil company, warning them that a bad press story may be under way.
Who is allowed to speak up? Our interview with John Kiriakou, a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower, illustrates the battle for legitimacy that often characterises a whistleblowing struggle. Despite what we might imagine and indeed wish it to be: a simple tale of an ethical hero telling the truth; whistleblowing can involve complex battles over how this truth is told and by whom. Different versions can be used to variously celebrate or denigrate the teller.
Citizen duty or Stasi society? Whistleblowing and disclosure regimes in organizations and communities
Organizations channel resources to achieve goals. In doing so, they must organize knowledge. This organizational knowledge is distributed within strict hierarchies, specialized sections, flexible teams or informal cliques. Whistleblowing disrupts this knowledge distribution.
Introduction: Supposing that truth is a woman…
‘Supposing that Truth is a woman – what then?’ So begins Nietzsche’s (2009) preface to Beyond good and evil, where the philosopher equates the elusiveness of truth with that of women. While Nietzsche’s disdain for (and awe at) both truth and women has been consistently noted (see for instance Oliver, 1984), contemporary practices of truth-telling surprisingly suggest that he might have been on to something.
As addressed in previous issues of ephemera, in contemporary political economy, the conjunction of openness and closure, visibility and invisibility, and transparency and secrecy of information is precarious (e.g. Bachmann et al., 2017; Curtis and Weir, 2016). Information and ‘truth’ have been turned into objects of contention, and it is increasingly contested what is considered sound information and truth, who has access to which type of information, and who is in the position to shape and control information and promote truth(s) (Munro, 2017).
What matters about whistleblowers [is] not that we should respond to them in a particular way but that they compel such serious attention, forcing us, as we respond, to confront some of our most fundamental ethical assumptions. (Brown, 1987: 10, cited in Contu, 2014: 403)
Naming and shaming or ‘speaking truth to power’? On the ambivalences of the Indian ‘list of sexual harassers in academia’ (LoSHA)
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein takedown and the following popularity of the #metoo campaign, numerous women* have spoken up, sharing their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace (Davis and Zarkov, 2018; Khomami, 2017). Increasingly, this has also taken on the form of popular listicles – lists that point out certain items or names to be circulated within the digital.