April 26, 2018

Nobel-awarding Swedish Academy head steps down after criticism

14 April 2018, 03:02 | Israel Caldwell

Sara Danius has held the post of permanent secretary since 2015

Sara Danius has held the post of permanent secretary since 2015

Earlier, three other members of the Academy stepped down.

The sexual abuse scandal involved a man married to a member of the Academy.

The departures came after a week of turmoil that has shredded the reputation of one of Sweden's most famous cultural institutions and prompted both the Swedish king and the Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation to demand that the group get its act together before it tarnishes the reputation of the Nobel prizes.

In 1989, three members made a decision 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".

The crisis is threatening the very institution of the Academy, since members are appointed for life.

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.

"It was the wish of the Academy that I should leave my role as Permanent Secretary", Permanent Secretary Sara Danius, the first woman to head the Academy, told reporters. It seems Engdahl got his supporters - chiefly men - go against Danius and all those who supported her have now left the academy. While announcing her resignation, Danius said she had lost the confidence of the academy, but did not comment on whether the academy voted to remove her, according to The Guardian.

State prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into the sexual abuse accusations, but said in March that some parts of the probe had to be shelved because of a lack of evidence and the statute of limitations having expired for some of the incidents.

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

Shortly afterwards, the Academy announced that the man's wife had made a decision to quit her post on the board.

Neither Frostenson nor the academy would elaborate.

Following the meeting, the institution issued a statement acknowledging that "trust in the Swedish Academy has been seriously damaged" and questioning whether its Nobel board could carry out the 2018 selection for the prize "in a credible manner", according to The Associated Press.

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

Danius' leadership was undermined by her predecessor, who challenged her handling of a case of sexual abuse, conflict of interest, and the leaking of Literature Prize winners.

In 2016, the Swedish Academy came under heavy fire in some circles for awarding the Nobel Literature Prize to U.S. singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who went on to snub the formal prize ceremony in Stockholm.

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