Open Letter: No to Racist Pseudoscience at Cambridge

Over 1400 signatories (586 academics and 874 students) have called for an investigation into the appointment of Noah Carl to a research fellowship at St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge

We write to express our dismay at the appointment of Noah Carl to the Toby Jackman Newton Trust Research Fellowship at St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge. A careful consideration of Carl’s published work and public stance on various issues, particularly on the claimed relationship between ‘race’, ‘criminality’ and ‘genetic intelligence’, leads us to conclude that his work is ethically suspect and methodologically flawed.

These publications, drawing on the discredited ‘race sciences’, seem nothing more than an expression of opinion on various social matters. As members of the academic community committed to defending the highest standards of ethical and methodological integrity in research and teaching, we are shocked that a body of work that includes vital errors in data analysis and interpretation appears to have been taken seriously for appointment to such a competitive research fellowship.

We are deeply concerned that racist pseudoscience is being legitimised through association with the University of Cambridge. This fellowship was awarded to Carl despite his attendance at, and public defence of, the discredited ‘London Conference on Intelligence’, where racist and pseudoscientific work has been regularly presented. Carl’s work has already been used by extremist and far-right media outlets with the aim of stoking xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric. In a context where the far-right is on the rise across the world, this kind of pseudoscientific racism runs the serious risk of being used to justify policies that directly harm vulnerable populations.

We are also concerned that the appointment process for this fellowship was not carried out with the degree of academic rigour, diligence and respect for principles of equality and diversity that we would expect from a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.

We call on St Edmund’s College, the University of Cambridge, and the Newton Trust to issue a public statement dissociating themselves from research that seeks to establish correlations between race, genes, intelligence and criminality in order to explain one by the other.

We also call on the University of Cambridge to immediately conduct an investigation into the appointment process that led to the award of this fellowship. Such an investigation, which should be independent of St Edmund’s college, must involve recognised experts across relevant disciplines, and include a thorough review of the appointee’s body of academic work.

Signed

Prof Dibyesh Anand, University of Westminster
Prof Arjun Appadurai, Media Studies, New York University
Prof Monica Azzolini, History of Science, University of Bologna
Prof Zaheer Baber, Sociology, University of Toronto
Prof Azril Bacal Roij, CIPAE-Puebla, Mexico
Prof Zygmunt Baranski, Modern and Medieval Languages, Univiversity of Cambridge
Prof Johannes Bartuschat, University of Zurich
Prof Joanne Begiato, History, Oxford Brookes University
Prof Sirma Bilge, Department of Sociology, Université de Montréal
Prof Bob Brecher, Brighton University
Prof Katherine Brickell, Royal Holloway, University of London
Prof Sabine Broeck, University of Bremen
Prof Susan Buckingham, Now independent
Prof Bill Burgwinkle, Faculty of Modern and Medival Languages, University of Cambridge
Prof Erica Burman, Institute of Education, University of Manchester
Prof Daniel Carey, National University of Ireland, Galway
Prof Seeta Chaganti, University of California, Davis
Prof Supriya Chaudhuri, Jadavpur University, India
Prof Martin Cloonan, TIAS, University of Turku
Prof Mike Cole, University of East London
Prof Andrea Cornwall, SOAS, University of London
Prof Rosie Cox, Geography, Birkbeck
Prof Clive D Fraser, Department of Economics, University of Leicester
Prof Wulf D. Hund, Sociology, University of Hamburg
Prof Patricia Daley, University of Oxford
Prof Chandler Davis, Mathematics, University of Toronto
Prof James Dickins, School of Languages, Cultures and Socieites
Prof Laura Downs, European University Institute
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Prof Sarah Elton, Anthropology, Durham University
Prof Mário Figueiredo, IST, University of Lisbon
Prof Des Freedman, Goldsmiths, University of London
Prof Jennifer Gabrys, Sociology, University of Cambridge
Prof David Gillborn, Professor of Critical Race Studies, School of Education
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Dr Michael Szpakowski, Writtle University College
Dr Preti Taneja, Faculty of English and Comparative Literary Studies, Warwick University
Dr Natasha Tanna, Modern and Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge
Dr Stuart Tannock, Institute of Education, University College London
Dr Hillary Taylor, University of Cambridge
Dr Kate Taylor-Jones, School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield
Dr Sharika Thiranagama, Anthropology, Stanford University
Dr Nicholas Thoburn, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester
Dr Kerrie Thornhill, Health and Public Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Dr Lisa Tilley, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Laura Tisdall, Department of History, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Saadia Toor, Faculty of Sociology, City University of New York
Dr Eric Tourigny, School of History, Classics and Archaeology
Dr James Trafford, University for the Creative Arts
Dr John Tresch, Warburg Institute, SAS
Dr Thalia Trigoni, University of Cyprus
Dr Waqas Tufail, School of Social Sciences, Leeds Beckett University
Dr Kate Tunstall, French, University of Oxford
Dr Rory Turner, Goucher College
Naina Kent, UCU Black Members Standing Committee
Dr James Underwood, Education and Humanities, University of Northampton
Dr Surya Vahni Priya Capildeo, Cultural Fellow, University of Leeds
Dr Luiz Valerio de Paula Trindade, Sociology, University of Southampton
Dr Collin VanBuren, Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology
Dr Rebecca Varley-Winter, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge
Dr Penny Vera-Sanso, Birkbeck, University of London
Drs Robbie Voss, Faculty of Social Science, Utrecht University
Dr Filip Vostal, Czech Academy of Sciences
Dr Khursheed Wadia, University of Warwick
Dr Kim Wagner, Queen Mary, University of London
Dr Erica Wald, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Scott Walter, Macquarie University
Dr Jo Walton, Digital Humanities Lab, University of Sussex
Dr Samantha Walton, Bath Spa University
Dr Lena Wånggren, University of Edinburgh
Dr Saskia Warren, Geography, University of Manchester
Dr Ruth Watson, History, University of Cambridge
Dr Steven Watson, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
Dr Daniel Weatherill, Department of Physics, University of Oxford
Dr Isabella Weber, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Tom Webster, History, University of Edinburgh
Dr Harry Weeks, History of Art, the University of Edinburgh
Dr Tom White, Faculty of English, Oxford University
Dr Joey Whitfield, Cardiff University
Dr Erica Wickerson, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge
Dr Lauren Wilcox, Centre for Gender Studies, University of Cambridge
Dr Claire Wilkinson, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge
Dr Kalpana Wilson, Geography, Birkbeck University of London
Dr Aaron Winter, University of East London
Dr Mike Witcombe, Bath Spa University
Dr David Woken, University of Oregon
Dr Johannes Wolf, Faculty of English, University of Oxford
Dr Nicole Wolf, Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths
Dr Alison Wood, Homerton College, University of Cambridge
Dr Rosie Worsdale, Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Dr John Yandell, Institute of Education, University College London
Dr Christine Yao, English, University College London
Dr Waseem Yaqoob, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge
Dr Zheng Yuan, Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge
Dr Andrew Zurcher, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge

In addition to these 586 academics, 874 student signatories will also be presented to the Vice Chancellor of University of Cambridge, the Director of Newton Trust, and the Master and Fellowship at St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge.

This letter was previously covered by The Guardian and Cambridge’s student newspaper Varsity. If you have any queries, or would like to add your name to the list of signatories, please email racescienceopenletter@gmail.com

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