Political Activism, Academic Freedom and the Cold War: an American Experience

Deery, Phillip (2010) Political Activism, Academic Freedom and the Cold War: an American Experience. Labour history (98). ISSN 0023-6942


Professor Lyman Bradley was chairman of the German Department at New York University and an executive member of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, listed by the Attorney General as a subversive organization. In 1951 he was fired and his long academic career ended. His dismissal, the first by the New York University on political grounds, raises broader concerns about the character of university governance and the fragility of academic freedom in the modern age. In most accounts of academic McCarthyism there have been two historiographical tendencies. One emphasises the overwhelming power of institutions that were allied with McCarthyism; such political power rendered impotent any academic resistance. The other argues that academic McCarthyism was only effective because professors were too timid or frightened to act publicly or collectively in defence of academic freedom. This study will demonstrate that neither can solely explain Bradley’s political persecution. The denial of civil liberties and the violation of academic freedom required three interlocking factors: a powerful Congressional Committee, a determined University administration and a complicit academic staff.

Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/15463
Subjects Historical > SEO Classification > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
Historical > FOR Classification > 2103 Historical Studies
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Historical > RFCD Classification > 430000 History and Archaeology
Keywords McCarthyism, Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, academic freedom, civil liberties
Citations in Scopus 2 - View on Scopus
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