“La France entend nettoyer les universités des ‘idées qui corrompent la société'”. The New York Times, 18 février 2021

President Emmanuel Macron and some of his top ministers have spoken out forcefully against what they see as a destabilizing influence from American campuses in recent months.Credit…Francois Mori/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The government announced an investigation into social science research, broadening attacks on what it sees as destabilizing American influences.

PARIS — Stepping up its attacks on social science theories that it says threaten France, the French government announced this week that it would launch an investigation into academic research that it says feeds “Islamo-leftist’’ tendencies that “corrupt society.’’

News of the investigation immediately caused a fierce backlash among university presidents and scholars, deepening fears of a crackdown on academic freedom — especially on studies of race, gender, post-colonial studies and other fields that the French government says have been imported from American universities and contribute to undermining French society.

While President Emmanuel Macron and some of his top ministers have spoken out forcefully against what they see as a destabilizing influence from American campuses in recent months, the announcement marked the first time that the government has moved to take action.

It came as France’s lower house of Parliament passed a draft law against Islamism, an ideology it views as encouraging terrorist attacks, and as Mr. Macron tilts further to the right, anticipating nationalist challenges ahead of elections next year.

Frédérique Vidal, the minister of higher education, said in Parliament on Tuesday that the state-run National Center for Scientific Research would oversee an investigation into the “totality of research underway in our country,’’ singling out post-colonialism.


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