‘As time went by the military government became increasingly obsessed with our reading lists,’ Gabi Baramki writes in Peaceful Resistance (2010), his account of the founding of Birzeit University in the early 1970s. ‘Books we ordered from abroad were often permanently confiscated without us even setting our eyes on them.’ Texts on archaeology, history and Arabic literature were all banned.
Earlier this year I was teaching an evening class for part-time degree students in Bristol. A woman in her late twenties approached me, to check that I knew she would be breastfeeding. She introduced her classmates to her son, a few weeks old. The university does not have a policy for student parents, although it has one for staff. One of the slides I had prepared for our discussion showed a page from a 1972 essay by Adrienne Rich, 'Towards a Woman-Centred University'. Rich argued that childcare should be central in a higher education system remade for the demands of women's lives.