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Withdrawal of the Albertus Magnus Professorship 2024


8 April 2024

Addendum to press statement

“When considering the matter, it is not about whether Ms Fraser is given a platform at the University of Cologne or not. It has more to do with the fact that the Albertus Magnus Professorship is a special honour bestowed by the entire university. [ … ]

Of course it is difficult to reconcile this with the call to boycott Israeli partner institutions contained in the statement ‘Philosophy for Palestine’, when we at the University of Cologne have so many ties to partner institutions in Israel. Hence it is a question of presenting an award, and if this award is appropriate. It is not generally about whether or not Fraser can be invited by a colleague to give a lecture and is given a platform at our University of Cologne where she can express her positions.”

Quote from the Interview: Haltung zu Nahost: Uni Köln lädt US-Philosophin aus, Rektor Joybrato Mukherjee im Interview mit Stephanie Gebert | 05. April 2024, 14:37 Uhr. Translation: University of Cologne


Statement of 5 April 2024

It is with great regret that the Albertus Magnus Professorship 2024 will not be awarded.

The reason for this is the public letter ‘Philosophy for Palestine’ of November 2023, signed by the philosopher Professor Nancy Fraser, who was invited to the Albertus Magnus Professorship. In this letter, Israel’s right to exist as an “ethno-supremacist state” since its foundation in 1948 is called into question. The terror attacks by Hamas on Israel of 7 October 2023 are elevated to an act of legitimate resistance. The signatories call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions.

The Albertus Magnus Professorship is an important matter to the Rector, with great symbolic significance both internally and externally for the university. It involves public events and seminars as well as an entry in the University’s Golden Book. It is perceived as a special honour of the University of Cologne and associated with the explicit approval of the Rectorate. However, the assertions in the philosophers’ letter cannot be reconciled with the statements of the University of Cologne dated 9 October and 22 October 2023 on the situation in Israel and the Middle East. Moreover, they are irreconcilable with our close ties to Israeli partner institutions.

Professor Fraser was already invited to the Albertus Magnus Professorship at the end of 2022. Unfortunately, it was only in March 2024 that we realized that Fraser was one of the signatories of the public letter of November 2023. She was then asked to explain and clarify her position. Fraser’s reply did not provide any new information on the facts of the case and her stance towards Israel.

After thorough discussions and consideration, the decision was made to withdraw the invitation. The Rector has offered to explain the reasons for this to Ms Fraser in a private meeting.

We very much regret that the withdrawal was made after the invitations to the event were sent out.

We are planning a public event in May at which we will explain and discuss our position. Further details will be available here.

Many thanks to Professor Andreas Speer, who is highly committed to the Albertus Magnus Professorship, one of the most important central events at the University of Cologne.

About the Albertus Magnus Professorship:

The Albertus Magnus Professorship at the University of Cologne was established in commemoration of the medieval universal scholar Albertus Magnus (1193 to 1280), who headed the studia generalia of the Dominican Order in Cologne from 1248 to 1254. He is considered one of the spiritual fathers of the medieval university, which was founded in 1388.


Selection of press reports (in German)

Boykott mit Folgen

Frankfurter Rundschau
Uni Köln lädt bedeutende Philosophin wegen ihrer Haltung zu Israel aus

Kölner Stadtanzeiger
Uni Köln lädt US-Philosophin aus: Wir sollten den Teufelskreis der Boykotte durchbrechen

Bedrohte Wissenschaftsfreiheit

Die Phrase von der Ausgrenzung (Paywall)

All die Stellungnahmen (Paywall)

Junge Welt
Protest gegen Ausladung von Nancy Fraser von Albertus-Magnus-Professur an Universität zu Köln

General-Anzeiger (Paywall)
Kommentar zur mangelnden Debattenkultur: Die ständigen Boykott-Forderungen sind keine Lösung

Unvereinbar (Paywall)