Click on the image below to see (or download) the full copy of our zine, collectively produced at our event on academic resistance on the 4th of May 2018 at Newcastle University. Many thanks to all who attended and contributed! Please feel free to print, distribute, use, make origami with, send to your department’s printer and leave for colleagues to see etc.
Thanks to all who attended our BSA early career forum event on reclaiming collective spaces for academic resistance. Attendance was high and it was great to bring together so many inspiring teachers, educationalists, academics and activists, some of whom a travelled a great distance in order to attend and contribute. Thanks to the speakers, Jana Bacevic, Mariya Ivancheva, David Webster, Nicola Rivers, Carl Walker, Catherine Oakley, Ellie Harrison and Nick Megoran, all of whom made insightful and inspiring contributions.
The afternoon’s activities produced a zine which will be collated, edited, published and printed over the summer of 2018 via Footprint printers coop. As a co-authorship the making of the zine involved all willing event participants, and will be published under a collective name. If you would still like contribute a page to the zine please get in touch via the contact page. Also, if you would like to be added to the collective mailing list please also get in touch. Information on zine publication, further events, and relevant literature and publications will be circulated via the mailing list.
Daniel Nehring, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of Daegu in South Korea, has interviewed the organisers and some of the speakers who took part in our 4th of May Event on reclaiming collective spaces for academic resistance. This has grown into an interview series that has been published by Sage Social Science Space, which can be found here.
The series includes contributions from Audrey Verma, Ewan Mackenzie, Mariya Ivancheva, David Webster, Nicola Rivers, and a soon to be published interview from Jana Bacevic.
Fantastic insight from Jana Bacevic – Universities, neoliberalisation, and the (im)possibility of critique.
A great piece from Dr Nicola Rivers and Dr Dave Webster on the normalisation of insecurity and the depoliticisation of social structures in ‘resilience’ discourse.
Sat at the Association of National Teaching Fellows one-day event in sunny Birmingham, I found myself engaging in passive-aggressive tweeting about bloody ‘resilience’. On my return, I complained about my disquiet with the way the term, and what it has come to stand for, have become pervasive in some parts of education. With great relief, I discovered that my office-mate Dr Nicola Rivers, shares some of my views. Out of our conversation, we have tried to capture the core of what, in a Higher Education context, is so problematic about the narratives on resilience, grit, Millennials, ‘snowflakes’ and ‘academic buoyancy‘ that seem so omnipresent.
There are things we leave out, such as the place of Mindfulness practice, discussions around ‘trigger warnings’, and free-speech on campus; and we hope to write a fuller version of this post, which includes them, possibly for publication elsewhere, but this is an…
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Calling all early-career academics, mid-career researchers and teachers, postgraduate students, and academic activists to join us for a day of dialogue and zine-making.
The motivation for this generative one-day event (4th of May at Newcastle University) comes from an observation of two parallel phenomena.
The first is the explosion in critiques of the neoliberal university, which are accompanied by a comparative dearth of sustained resistance or structural change from within academia. Commentators have identified several factors that serve to uphold the status quo and dis-incentivise active dissent: the ‘gamification’ of research and the circularity of critique within a ‘publish or perish’ logic, precarious and competitive labour conditions both inside and outside of the academy (Bacevic, 2017), aggressive audit cultures, the transformation of students into consumers, and an increasing curtailing of opposition using legal instruments. We add to this the complexity of university structures, resulting in ideas intended to bring parity being regulated, diluted, and having to face the prospect of slow death by committee.
The second observation is the proliferation of discourses around ‘resilience’, a concept increasingly evident in a wide range of strategies, policies and programmes. Terms such as resilience, ambition, aspiration and adaptability place the onus on individuals, organisations and communities to become abler to confront external pressures, tending to valorise exemplars who ‘beat the odds’. There is scant acknowledgement of structural inequalities in these accounts; to confront how the decks are stacked in the first instance, thus serving to reproduce the social relations that sustain the status quo.
Discourses of ‘resilience’ are mirrored in academia (Webster and Rivers, 2017), observable in a ‘self-help’ industry targeted in particular at aspiring academics in the early stages of their working lives. ‘Resilience’ implies that individual academics, particularly ‘early careers’, bear the burden for their own successes and failures. Such discourse constructs a façade of meritocracy, overlooking the injustices of a job market increasingly built on precarious labour. ‘Resilience’ thus offers little by way of collective responses to pervasive structural inequalities, such as the large pay gap between faculty and senior management, the feminisation of casualised academic labour, and the lack of diversity in UK higher education institutions.
This event is premised on the idea that there are everyday collective spaces to be carved out or reclaimed, located between the individual and the institution. We will seek to springboard from identifying the conditions and effects of neoliberal academia into a consideration of the resources and approaches academics collectively possess on hand to effect change.
Drawing on examples of recent resistance, such as Newcastle University’s successful pushback against a proposed outcomes-based performance management programme (Morrish and The Analogue University Writing Collective, 2017), Aberdeen University’s Reclaiming our University campaign (2017), workplace solidarity at SOAS (Unison, 2017) and alternative modes of publishing (e.g. SocArXiv Open Archive of the Social Sciences), we will seek to radically imagine what academics can creatively, practically or ordinarily do together to enact collective and intersectional resistance, revitalise collegial governance mechanisms, and effect structural changes from the ground up.
We anticipate a collaborative workbook/zine of actions and tools arising out the day’s thinking and making, co-authored by all event participants. This living document, which will be publically accessible, will provide imaginative strategies to confront dominant discourses on academic employability and careers, and birth alternative means to engage with work.
For booking and a full programme go HERE.