STATEMENT from the CES Board of Directors and Presidency of the Scientific Board

A chapter by Lieselotte Viaene, Catarina Laranjeiro and Miye Nadya Tom, entitled "The walls spoke when no one else would. Autoethnographic notes on sexual-power gatekeeping within avant-garde academia" was recently published in the collective volume edited by Routledge, Sexual Misconduct in Academia. Without mentioning any names, the chapter makes allegations about unethical conducts that, according to the authors, have occurred within CES.

In view of the generated situation, and in the context of the permanent collective reflection that the issues in question require, it becomes necessary to clarify the following:

Although traditionally presented as neutral and safe environments, academic and research institutions are not alien to the social and cultural system that produces and reproduces unequal power relations.

As the various forms of inequality, violence and abuse (moral and sexual) are cross-cutting problems in organisations, the Centre for Social Studies (CES) does not place itself outside of this important discussion, nor does it evade from the responsibility it has in the effective promotion of a more egalitarian scientific working environment free from all forms of harassment.

Although these are not new phenomena, it is only very recently that these problems have come to the forefront of institutional policy and action agendas in Portugal. Like most Portuguese academic and scientific institutions, CES has in recent years promoted institutional responses to address them. Since 2019, the institution has been adopting a set of instruments aimed at enabling its capacity to provide adequate responses in this area: the CES Code of Conduct was approved, the role and scope of action of the Ethics Committee was clarified, the CES Ombudsperson was instituted and a channel for complaints, including anonymous complaints, was set up, and a Plan for Gender Equality was approved as well as a Policy for Child Protection. CES regrets that these instruments, providing formal mechanisms for reporting and combating any possibility of harassment and consistent with the principles of defence of human rights and gender equality that it has always adopted, have only recently been created.

As CES is committed to dealing diligently with this type of occurrences, it has decided to investigate the grounds for the allegations made in the above-mentioned chapter. To this end, CES will shortly be setting up an independent commission to identify possible institutional failings and to ascertain whether the unethical conducts referred to in that chapter have occurred. The Commission will be made up of two external members, one of whom will chair it, and the CES’ Ombudsperson. The external members to be invited shall have recognised competence in dealing with similar cases.

The CES governing bodies have various processes of internal reflection underway with a view to deepen institutional responses and make them more effective, namely by improving internal communication and reinforcing practises aimed at fully informing all members of the CES community of their rights and duties.

The Board and the Presidency of the Scientific Board reiterate their commitment to promoting the institutional policy necessary for CES to be a space effectively free from any form of abuse or harassment and for the unequivocal pursuit of the guiding principles of the Centre's action.

The CES Board and the Presidency of the Scientific Board