Performing Public Scholarship in the Professional Academy: Internalized, Inter-personal, Institutional Mediums of Discipline and Possibility

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

Universities are increasingly becoming self-referential, reflective of neoliberal values and are abandoning commitments to the public interest. In response, there have been efforts to assert a “public scholarship” that can contribute to the progressive transformation of society for social justice and sustainability. Yet, the performance of public scholarship within the neoliberal and elitist university is ambiguous, fraught and contested. I engage with Judith Butler’s work to examine academic professionalization as performativity and unpack the disciplinary systems that shape the possibilities to perform public scholarship. I present an autoethnographic script to critically highlight some of the contradictions, tensions and challenges of pursuing transformative research paradigm within the professional academy. My analysis discusses three relational mediums of performativity: Internalized (selves), Inter-personal (cultures) and Institutional (institutions). Each medium reflects citations of pre-existing discourse manifested in materials, customs, texts, disciplinary procedures and habits. The professional academy holds disciplinary power through these three mediums molding extractive, elitist and ultimately unjust performativity. Performativity is iterative and thus these mediums are not fixed but constituted through their performance and there are always possibilities for disruption, subversion and thus transformation. These three mediums, and their intersections, are sites for critical self- and collective reflexivity and action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages(In-press)
Volume(In-press)
Specialist publicationACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 12 Jan 2019

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academy
professionalization
subversion
reflexivity
public interest
social justice
performance
habits
sustainability
commitment
paradigm
university
discourse
Values
Society

Cite this

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title = "Performing Public Scholarship in the Professional Academy: Internalized, Inter-personal, Institutional Mediums of Discipline and Possibility",
abstract = "Universities are increasingly becoming self-referential, reflective of neoliberal values and are abandoning commitments to the public interest. In response, there have been efforts to assert a “public scholarship” that can contribute to the progressive transformation of society for social justice and sustainability. Yet, the performance of public scholarship within the neoliberal and elitist university is ambiguous, fraught and contested. I engage with Judith Butler’s work to examine academic professionalization as performativity and unpack the disciplinary systems that shape the possibilities to perform public scholarship. I present an autoethnographic script to critically highlight some of the contradictions, tensions and challenges of pursuing transformative research paradigm within the professional academy. My analysis discusses three relational mediums of performativity: Internalized (selves), Inter-personal (cultures) and Institutional (institutions). Each medium reflects citations of pre-existing discourse manifested in materials, customs, texts, disciplinary procedures and habits. The professional academy holds disciplinary power through these three mediums molding extractive, elitist and ultimately unjust performativity. Performativity is iterative and thus these mediums are not fixed but constituted through their performance and there are always possibilities for disruption, subversion and thus transformation. These three mediums, and their intersections, are sites for critical self- and collective reflexivity and action.",
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