Statement from The EUSSET Steering Committee on the freedom of movement

President Trump’s Executive Order of 27 January, suspending visas to nationals of seven countries, has been met with apposite condemnation, in the US and internationally, as an act of overt discrimination on the basis of nationality alone.

As pointed out by our colleagues in ACM and SIGCHI and in the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), this measure is detrimental to the free exchange of ideas which is essential for scientific progress. In fact, it has already prevented scholars from presenting and discussing their work at international conferences located in the US as well as affecting the ability of US-based colleagues who are citizens of the countries included in the executive order to travel internationally. While the temporary restraining order granted 3 February by the federal district court in Seattle offers a welcome reprieve, the executive order will continue having adverse effects until it is revoked or overruled.

The European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET) supports the protests already voiced by our colleagues in the US and offers assistance to enable those scholars barred from presenting their work in the US the opportunity to do so at upcoming conferences in Europe, as well as striving to provide ways for colleagues who are unable to leave the USA to participate in our community activities.

It should be noted, however, that strong antidemocratic forces, similar to those in the US that have fostered this infringement of the right of free movement of people for peaceful purposes, also are at play in Europe and, given the chance, could result in the introduction of similar undemocratic measures here. We therefore, as organizers of international scholarly conferences such as ECSCW and C&T, will do our utmost to challenge the policies of countries that exclude members of our community from participating in the exchange of ideas merely on the basis of nationality, ethnicity, etc. — inter alia, and at the least, by not locating our conferences in such countries.

The EUSSET Steering Committee, 4 February 2017

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