To speak about "Islamo-gauchisme/ Islamo-leftism" is to join a debate initiated by and framed in the terms of the extreme right, taken up this past year in an abusive and instrumentalized manner by members of the French government (including the Minister for Higher education, Mrs Vidal, herself). It is a discourse that weaponizes a tense political climate marked by extremist violence, debates about the republican value of "laicité" and place of religion (specifically Islam) in public life, hotly contested reforms of universities and research, and the ongoing reevaluation of France’s colonial and postcolonial legacy. All within the context of long-running social and economic grievances that cut across traditional left-right divides - think, for example, of the "Yellow Vests" protests of 2018-19 and those of the “banlieues” from 2005 onwards - exacerbated by the Covid-crisis. The term makes an opportunistic amalgam between, on the one hand, the scientific analysis of the inequalities and discriminations at work in society and, on the other hand, this research as an apology for (Islamic) terrorism.
The label is by no means a scientific concept. It aims to stigmatize, by presenting them as extremist ideologues, all academics who are committed to revealing, measuring and analyzing the inequalities at work in society. Discriminations (social, geographic, racial, class or gender inequalities, etc.) exist, the COVID19 crisis is exacerbating them. Not studying them is ethically and scientifically inexcusable. The approaches developed in postcolonial, decolonial and gender studies are methods for analyzing relations between social groups and power relations. They are scientific tools, constructed and recognized internationally, disseminated in peer-reviewed, highly-ranked journals of the concerned scientific communities. The knowledge produced in this context is objectively and rigorously internationally evaluated.
Discourses that use the expression "Islamo-gauchisme/ Islamo-leftism" are pernicious in that they claim that any research engaged against inequalities is necessarily ideological, partisan and non-scientific, which is largely false. The commitment of certain academics to combat the inequalities and discriminations they uncover can be done in scrupulous respect for the canons of scientific rigor and the integrity of collectively established methods.
These methods require all researchers to make their commitments explicit, as well as any other factors that may influence their research, including conflicts of interest. Gender studies, intersectional analyses, decolonial or postcolonial approaches are no exception. Such research is just as scientific and legitimate as any other.
To denounce the militancy of certain researchers in order to disqualify their research is an act of deliberate ignorance of contemporary scientific production and of the robustness of its methods. It is not up to the political authorities to say what is scientific or not, nor to judge the scientific quality of an academic work, nor to label and stigmatise research disciplines that displease them.
Science is part of our common heritage. Scientific knowledge is there to help in decision-making with a view towards a fair and just society. Science can play a transformative role in addressing the crises we currently face.
Attacking the "scientificity" of the social sciences means undermining the power of truth of science in general in a world where "fake news" contributes to growing misinformation. It means undermining the entire university and the essential role it plays in society, in return for mere partisan electoral gain.
Grenoble, March 1s, 2021,
The Pacte board and its representative council