Friday, 20 July, 2018

Head of Nobel-awarding Swedish Academy steps down after criticism

Sara Danius has held the post of permanent secretary since 2015 Sara Danius has held the post of permanent secretary since 2015
Freda Brock | 14 April, 2018, 15:02

Public support has however surged for her: Swedish celebrities, politicians and members of the public on Friday posted pictures of themselves online wearing pussy-bow blouses - Danius, often praised for her sartorial choices, was wearing one when she announced her resignation Thursday - with the hashtag #knytblus ("pussy-bow blouse") trending.

In 1989, three members chose to leave their seats empty when the Academy refused to condemn a fatwa against Salman Rushdie following the publication of his novel, "The Satanic Verses".

Anders Olsson, a 69-year-old writer and literature professor known for his calm demeanour and diplomatic skills, has been appointed the Academy's "temporary" permanent secretary in a bid to unite the 11 remaining Academy members amid the toxic controversy that has divided it into two camps.

Frostenson is Arnault's wife, prompting some in Sweden to note that it is sexist to punish a wife for her husband's alleged abuses.

Three academics resigned last week in protest after the institution had expressed renewed confidence in Frostenson, who finally announced her resignation on Thursday. Unlike Swedish Radio, Reuters published the identity of the man and the Academy member as Mr. Jean-Claude Arnault and Mrs. Katarina Fronstenson.

"It was the wish of the Academy that I should leave my role as permanent secretary ... and I have made the decision with immediate effect", Danius, who has held the position since 2015, told reporters.

State prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into the incidents, but said last month some parts of the probe had been shelved due to a lack of evidence and the statute of limitations having passed for some of the incidents.

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The Local, a Swedish news website, says Arnault "has also been accused of leaking the names of several Nobel Prize winners before the official announcements".

The academy cut all ties with Arnault, who ran a cultural club in Stockholm and was responsible for an apartment the institute owns in Paris, in November after the allegations.

Before the departures of Danius and Frostenson, seven of the academy's 18 members were women.

Neither Frostenson nor the academy would elaborate.

The public row and defections from the Academy have raised concerns that the image of the Nobel Prizes and Sweden's reputation overseas could suffer.

To her defense, the Minister of Education Anna Ekström said Engdahl is using the language of the playground.

The Academy has also come under fire for the way it handled the allegations of sexual misconduct. "Now it is enough, we refuse to go back", Bah Kuhnke said.

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