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ERIC Number: EJ841416
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-1
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
In Minsk, an "Underground University" Goes Its Own Way, at Its Own Risk
Nemtsova, Anna
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n34 pA1 May 2009
For 10 years now, professors of the Belarusian Collegium have held classes in private apartments and rented offices. The institution, known as the "underground university," is not officially registered. Under the regime of Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the dictator who has been in power for 15 years, professors who teach at the collegium face three years in prison if convicted. They are the cream of the Belarussian intellectual elite: scholars, writers, critics, journalists. Some of them, including the head of university, Ales Antsipenka, lost the right to teach at state institutions after working in the 1990s for the George Soros Fund, which Mr. Antsipenka directed. "It meant only one thing to us: A frightening time of repression of academics and intellectuals had returned to Belarus," says Mr. Antsipenka. Those fears were borne out. In the decade following 1997, Belarusian State University expelled students and fired professors for participating in political opposition movements or for expressing views critical of the government. In 2004, after authorities terminated the lease on some rented classrooms, the university had to move out and re-establish its main campus in exile, in neighboring Lithuania. In 1997 a handful of such academics joined activists and journalists to form the Belarusian Collegium. "We realized we could not officially register, but if we kept a low profile we could still teach students in the underground," Mr. Antsipenka says. The stated aim of the collegium is "to revive the multicultural Belarussian tradition, to promote the democratic transition of Belarussian society within the European civilization and pan-European integration process." Its classrooms are the only places in Belarus where professors can teach freely in what they consider postcolonial studies of their country.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Belarus; Lithuania