The North American Conference on British Studies, North America’s largest organization of scholars pursuing the study of Britain and the former British Empire, denounces President Trump’s executive order restricting travel of those from seven majority-Muslim countries and temporarily halting the admission of refugees.
With this statement, we join the large list of organizational members of the American Council of Learned Societies who have issued statements in recent days. We condemn this executive order for restricting freedom of movement, imperiling refugees, and furthering racism and religious bigotry.
We in British studies are keenly aware of the historical record of global infractions of rights that have often accompanied the aggrandizement of national and imperial interests. We also hold precious the historical precedents of safe freedom of passage, the sanctity of the rule of law and the conventions and protocols of a whole range of international agreements negotiated over the course of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The present limitations of rights and freedoms imposed upon students, faculty and researchers are impediments to all scholarly communities and to the free exchange of ideas upon which our work as scholars and educators depends. Attacks on persons or groups, based upon their religious affiliation, sexual orientation or racial, gender or ethnic identities, are abhorrent to all who advocate debate, dialogue and lives of ethical purpose.
As British studies scholars, we stand fast with our colleagues and students in this hemisphere and in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. We also pledge to uphold and sustain the pursuit and protection of the rights threatened by this executive order, both in our organizational life and in the institutions and communities in which we work.