Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) are welcoming Iranian Kurd scholar Rahim Qader Surkhi as part of the Scholars at Risk (SAR) network.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Surkhi and his family to Ottawa,” said Melanie Adrian, chair of the Joint SAR Committee. “We look forward to hearing about his research, as well as his thoughts on academic freedom.”
Surkhi will join Carleton’s School of Linguistics and Language Studies to teach courses on the Kurdish language, as well as conduct research on a Kurdish textbook and a critical discourse analysis of the language in Kurdish new media.
“I love teaching and I’m excited to engage with young energetic students,” said Surkhi. “I am looking forward to teaching Kurdish, a language that despite being official in Iraq, could be considered threatened in many parts of the world including Turkey and Iran. The Kurds, being the biggest stateless nation in the world, cannot learn and teach their language in the school system of those countries.”
“We are extremely pleased to be welcoming our second Scholar at Risk to Carleton and moving forward with the initiative strongly supported by our former provost and vice-president (Academic), Peter Ricketts,” said Interim Provost Jerry Tomberlin. “We are grateful for the generous donations of alumni, faculty, staff, students and CUASA. Their contributions will once again make a difference in a scholar’s life and we will all benefit.”
Surkhi is a scholar of applied linguistics and specializes in Kurdish linguistics. He has 14 years of experience as a university professor. His research focuses on applied linguistics, educational linguistics, language policy, discourse studies and Kurdish ethnicity and culture. Surkhi has also worked as a journalist, developing a literary and cultural journal on Kurdish issues.
“Dr. Surkhi’s expertise in linguistics, Kurdish ethnicity and culture will be of great interest to our community,” said Viviana Fernandez, assistant director, Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Steering Committee of the Canadian section of SAR. “His presence will help raise awareness of the discrimination and harassment that academics face in certain parts of the world. We hope that through outreach and events such as the ‘Science at Risk’ panel at the Canadian Science Policy Conference, we will be able to contribute to this conversation.”
Surkhi has faced threats on his life from the government of Iran due to the content of his academic work, social activism and journalism, as well as threats of violence and harassment in Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG) due to his nationality and the ongoing violence there. He relocated to KRG in 2003. However, Iranian officials have approached members of his family still in Iran and continue to threaten his life directly, both in person and via electronic messages.
Scholars at Risk
SAR is an international network of higher education institutions dedicated to protecting threatened scholars, preventing attacks on higher education communities and promoting academic freedom worldwide. SAR participants bring their scholarly knowledge and provide a different lens through which to understand and analyze their respective subject matter.
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