|Name Mart Bax|
|Books Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia, Harpstrings and confessions|
Marten Meile Gerrit "Mart" Bax (born 13 April 1937, Zutphen) is a Dutch emeritus (retired in 2002) endowed professor in political anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit (VU University), Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After his retirement he came into prominence to a wider public in the Netherlands in 2012 because of serious suspicions of scientific misconduct. In September 2013 these suspicions were confirmed in an official report.
He wrote his dissertation (cum laude) for the University of Amsterdam in 1973 about the anonymized Irish town "Patricksville".
He further wrote about an anonymized pilgrimage center, called "Neerdonk" in the Dutch province of North Brabant.
He also wrote extensively about the pilgrimage center Medjugorje in the former Yugoslavia.
The presentation by Bax of the town of "Patricksville" as having extensive corruption, bribery, and clientelism is considered controversial among experts.
He claimed in his scientific publications there had been an estimated 140 killings, 60 people missing and 600 refugees from the pilgrimage village Medjugorje, in Bosnia during the Bosnian War (1992–1995). Bax wrote that he had based his observations on extensive local field research. He called these killing the "small war". The reason for the killings in 1991/1992 were according to Bax not ethnic conflict but a vendetta between clans. Apart from very local writings near Medjugorje these claims were first criticized in journalistic writings in 2008. In April 2013 at latest both the existence of the mass killing, missing people, and refugees turned to out to be false beyond reasonable doubt.
In October 2012 the Dutch book Ontspoorde Wetenschap (Engl.: "Derailed science") by the science journalist Frank van Kolfschooten was published. In the book Van Kolfschooten pointed to the lack of confirmation for the vendetta. Bax had published anonymized results about field research that he stated to have done in a monastery in the province of North Brabant, the Netherlands. Van Kolfschooten had doubts about the existence of the monastery, because the existence of the monastery could not be confirmed by experts and because Bax refused to tell anyone in confidence the name and the location of the monastery.The writings by Van Kolfschooten were largely based on the unpublished work of Dr. Peter Jan Margry of the Meertens institute. The Free University, Amsterdam, reacted by announcing an investigation to Bax's works.
The Dutch Volkskrant newspaper wrote in April 2013 that Bax's scientific writings about Medjugorje contained many important incorrect citations to local writings or to non-existing local writings. Bax also incorrectly stated that the resident register was destroyed during the Bosnian war.
The Volkskrant also wrote in the same lengthy article that approximately one third of the scientific publications that Bax had submitted in the internal database, called Metis, of the university does not exist. The Volkskrant accuses him of fraud.
A commission to investigate this possible scientific misconduct was chaired by Michiel Baud and published its findings in a report dated September 9, 2013, and made public September 23, 2013. The commission confirmed serious misconduct:
The VU announced that it will warn academic publishers against Bax.The VU stated that it will not take legal steps against Bax because he is old and because the crime of written misrepresentation has passed the statute of limitations.
Reactions by Bax
According to his own words, starting in the mid 1990s Margry could not make sense of Bax's works regarding the Neerdonk case, in particular Bax's inaugural speech from 1989. Margry contacted Bax and received replies from Bax that did not remove his doubts.
In 2008 the Frankfurter Rundschau did not receive a reply from Bax about the fact that he could not have observed in Medjugorje what he claimed to have observed.
In 2012 Van Kolfschooten did not receive a reply to the letters that he sent to Bax.
In April 2013 Bax wrote to the Volkskrant the following.
In 2013 the Baud committee spoke three times with Bax. In addition to the explanations to the Volkskrant, Bax said that he had written down improbable alleged historical events with certainty to make his articles accessible to readers. He stated that he had followed in this respect the example of Norbert Elias.
In September 2013 Bax did not reply to the report of the Baud committee.