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FORCE11 Executive Board Statement on Restrictions to Immigration

2 February 2017 3 Comments

My normal practice is that nothing posted here has been seen or vetted by others. This post is a departure from that because I think it is important enough to justify whatever extra reach I can give it. This text, which has just been sent out to FORCE11 Members by email, was seen by the FORCE11 Board of Directors and the linked statement was approved by a board vote.

Dear Colleagues

Re: FORCE11 Board of Directors Statement on Restrictions to Immigration

FORCE11 works towards the goal of being a global platform that brings communities together to discuss challenging issues. These communities focus on the methods that underpin how scholars work, how we define and validate what we consider to be true, and how the credit and attribution for insight is assigned. Our business is seeking consensus across diverse communities with differing agendas and interests. At this time I believe this work to be more important than ever.

Like any organisation with its roots in the traditional North Atlantic centres of western scholarship our claim to global reach is an aspiration. I recognise this and seek to continually improve our work on the historical inequities of access to and inclusion in scholarship including exclusion on the basis of factors including, but not limited to, geography, social conditions, professional status, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship and national origin.

It is still the case the most productive conversations happen face to face. This is especially true of efforts pursued within FORCE11. The history of the organisation is one of bringing together diverse groups to examine and solve problems. Exclusionary limitations on travel of groups of people specified on any basis is totally inimical to our goals and purpose.

It is for this reason that the Executive Board of FORCE11 has today released a statement that rejects policies that exclude immigrants on the basis of belonging to a group defined by race, religion, national origin or other criteria. This includes the recent White House Executive Order.

Objecting to policy is not enough however. I will be working with the Board and with our Working Groups and contributors to find ways in which we can limit the effect of exclusionary policies. Amongst other things I want to work across the full set of our activities to select venues and platforms that are, as a whole, inclusive of as wide as a group of global participants as possible. This will include considering restrictions to entry, cost of travel, financial risks, physical access and safety of participants. It is important to note that current policies both limit entry to some countries by some participants but also have the effect of making it impossible for some participants to leave their country of residence.

At the core of our work at FORCE11 is also exploring technology and social practice for scholarly communications. We will explore technology and design options for practical and effective multi-site meetings and workshops in the future. In all of this we welcome collaboration with like-minded organisations to work together, to reflect on our own practices, and to develop shared practice to support inclusive scholarly meetings and communications more generally.

Good scholarship has at its core, recognising and listening to valid criticism. I know that inclusion is something we need to continue to work on as an organisation, that any organization needs to continue to work on. I welcome comments, criticisms, and advice on how FORCE11 can work more effectively, and how we can work together, to pursue these goals.

Yours sincerely



  • Ravi Murugesan said:

    Really good to see this post, Cameron. I recall we had someone from Sudan at the FORCE11 Scholarly Commons workshop in San Diego a few months back. He wouldn’t have been able to attend the workshop had it taken place today. Not only that, he and FORCE11 might have lost money if travel bookings had been made. And this was just a small workshop for 40 people. It’s staggering to think about how many people and organisations must be feeling the jolt of the travel ban and the feelings of discrimination and injustice rippling through the directly affected countries – the United States included – and beyond.

    The iron hand of European and American visa regulations has always been a reality for people in developing countries. Even visit visas for the Schengen territory, UK and US involve a huge amount of paperwork – after a point it gets tiring to fill out your 10-year travel history. And now there’s the US travel ban for people from some of the countries with the weakest passports. Yet Europeans and Americans have the world’s strongest passports allowing visa-free travel to most of the world: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/lists/The-worlds-most-powerful-passports

    So isn’t it time we start meeting up in the developing world if we really
    care about having discussions with global stakeholders?

    You may remember that during the Scholarly Commons workshop we had a ‘Global South unworkshop’ session where some of us broached the idea of holding a future workshop in a place like Nairobi. I can say from experience that there are excellent hotels and conference venues in Nairobi, the weather is pleasant year-round, and it’s surprisingly easy to get to – just a few hours away from the major airport hubs in the Middle East. Entry into Kenya is quite the opposite of the US travel ban: visa is given on arrival to people from most countries. Often the immigration officers don’t ask a single question and might even greet you with a smile.

  • Cameron Neylon said:

    If anyone is interested in contributing to discussion on this I’d also recommend joining the FORCE11 Discussion Group (if you’re already a FORCE11 member you still need to join as we don’t like to spam people). You can find the discussion at:

  • Cameron Neylon said:

    Hi Ravi

    Yes, some good points here. We do need to work on getting good information to those of us who fail to think of these options about places that work, what challenges (if any) there are. I’m hoping we will be able to set up some projects to provide a guide to conference/workshop locations and also to work on technology aspects for multi-site meetings and telepresence as well. This is something FORCE11 is well placed to lead on.

    On a personal note, I had to apply for a visa for the first time in years a few months back, and it was a pain. I can only imagine how much of a pain it is when you need to do that for every trip…