Below is the abstract for an article that is coming out in the Journal of Education Policy shortly. I have worked on this article on and off on this blog for a while. It has been difficult as I have had to re-live many painful and traumatic experiences. While it has always been a personal project, my intention was that this public articulation of some private pain should contribute to a more collective endeavour of challenging the logic of the contemporary university and academic practice.
Struggling for Visibility in Higher Education: Caught Between Neoliberalism “out there” and “in here” – an autoethnographic account
What happens when neoliberalism as a structural and structuring force is taken up within institutions of higher education, and works upon academics in higher education individually? Employing a critical authoethnographic approach this paper explores the way technologies of research performance management, specifically, work to produce academics (and academic managers) as particular kinds of neoliberal subject. The struggle to make oneself visible is seen to occur under the gaze of academic normativity – the norms of academic practice that include both locally negotiated practices and the performative demands of auditing and metrics that characterise the neoliberal university. The paper indicates how the dual process of being worked upon and working upon ourselves can produce personally harmful effects. The result is a process of systemic violence. This paper invites higher education workers and policy makers to think higher education otherwise and to reconsider our personal and collective complicity in the processes shaping higher education.