On Scholarly Misconduct and Fraud, and What We Can Learn from It

in Ethnologia Europaea
Peter Jan Margry Meertens Instituut / University of Amsterdam p.j.j.margry@uva.nl

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This article deals with the scholarly misconduct committed by the former Amsterdam Free University (VU) cultural anthropologist, Professor Mart Bax, who received international acclaim during the last three decades of the twentieth century for his fieldwork and research in Ireland, the Netherlands, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and for applying his “theory” of competing religious regimes. Despite earlier suspicions, it was only a decade after his retirement in 2002 that a university commission reached the conclusion that more or less his whole oeuvre was built on quicksand: fraudulent, fake, or non-existent source material. The incredible and appalling Bax case is described and assessed here by a Dutch ethnologist who was confronted with Bax’s deception through his own work. This experience also raises questions about how to deal with what happened and what lessons can be learned from it.

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