On May 3rd, 2013, Keguro Macharia wrote a piece for The New Inquiry called ‘On quitting’. It was a courageous, painfully beautiful piece that started with a diagnosis: ‘bipolar disorder, an oscillation between periods of frenetic activity and periods of profound depression’ (Macharia, 2013). This is a condition perfectly compatible with the academic calendar, he added, chronicled by an alternation of almost drug-induced bursts of mental productivity followed by a near-catatonic state of exhaustion and prolonged delays.
Vulnerabilities, complicities and injustices: ‘Tim-adical’ actions for change in the neoliberal academy
While we could start this piece by theorizing ‘the University’ as a neoliberal institution, it is rather a redundant task when others have got there well before us. Various scholars, writers, journalists and activists have described, discussed and conceptualized the corporatization (e.g. Castree and Sparke, 2000), commercialization (e.g. Slaughter and Rhoades, 1996), commodification (e.g. Mirowski, 2011) and corruption (Gill, 2009) of higher education. This is not limited to one country or another, instead stretching from the antipodes to Europe and beyond (e.g.
Activism and the academy: Assembling knowledge for social justice
Given the extent to which academic labour has been colonised by the neoliberal logic, the worth of positioning oneself ‘in and against’ the academy quite rightly has been posed as a foundational dilemma to be addressed in this special issue. However, in ephemera’s issue on the ‘Excellent Institution’, Hoofd (2010) astutely reminds us just how problematic the very terms of this debate are, as binaries such as academy | activism, institution | movement, ivory tower | rhizome, continue to mutually presuppose and reproduce one another in a circular fashion.