Publication Date

November 1, 2018

Perspectives Section


The American Historical Association frequently responds to threats against historians’ academic freedom around the globe. In September, the Association called for the release of detained scholars imprisoned for their scholarly work in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and expressed concern about the investigation of a historian for remarks made outside of his university employment.

Letter Regarding Detention of Hatoon al-Fassi

AHA president Mary Beth Norton notified Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in September of the Association’s concern about the detention of Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi, associate professor of history at King Saud University in Riyadh. Dr. al-Fassi has been detained for her activism on behalf of women’s rights. With limited information about her arrest and detention, the AHA concludes that Dr. al-Fassi is being held as a result of her nonviolent exercise of rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Letter Calling for the Immediate Release of Xiyue Wang

In September, the AHA contacted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to call for the immediate release of Xiyue Wang, a history PhD student attending Princeton University. Wang has been detained and imprisoned since August 2016 in Iran on groundless charges of espionage. Wang was in the country to conduct archival research on the diplomacy of the Qajar Dynasty and had secured the proper research permit and visa.

Letter Expressing Concern about Rutgers University’s Investigation of a Faculty Member

The AHA expressed concern over the investigation of Rutgers history professor James Livingston in a letter to the university’s president, Robert Barchi. The Association emphasized the right of historians to express their opinions as private citizens outside of the context of university employment without the fear of institutional discipline.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Attribution must provide author name, article title, Perspectives on History, date of publication, and a link to this page. This license applies only to the article, not to text or images used here by permission.