Archive for the ‘Academy’ Category

Strike UK

Posted: February 21, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy, Politics, Research, Teaching
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Posted: January 24, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy, Uncategorized
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The colleagues in management absolve themselves of any responsibility for securing the required funding (by, for example, arguing the case for public funding of research, say). Instead, they delegate blame, in advance as it were, to the academic community. This is a delegation of blame for some simple reasons: first, grant application successes are now extremely low, given the huge numbers of individuals chasing small pots of funding; second, the securing of grants is now, explicitly, taken as a measure of performance; and third, it follows from the first two observations that colleagues are being set up for failure in performance. That is to say: we have an accounting structure here, whose purpose is to jeopardize the secure conditions of work of academic colleagues.

This is what passes for ‘management’ – even for ‘best practice’ in management – in our time. It explicitly rewards those with money, pays little heed to what the money is actually for, but ensures that everyone is intrinsically penalized even before they begin their work as researchers. The point is to consolidate managerial power, to ensure ‘crony academicism’, and to tie success firmly to money-as-such. There can be no doubt that some will play the game and succeed. We can call this the monetization of compliance.

Docherty, T., 2016. Complicity: Criticism Between Collaboration and Commitment, p. 44.

Emphasis in original.

… There was an acceptance amongst managers of the inevitability that education would increasingly be modelled on business. Some managers would typically introduce new procedures by explicitly saying that they didn’t themselves think they were a good idea, but what could you do? This was how things were to be done now, and the easiest option all round would be for us to go through the motions. We didn’t have to believe it, we only had to act as if we believed it. The idea that our ‘inner beliefs’ mattered more than what we were publicly professing at work was crucial to capitalist realism. We could have left-wing convictions, and a left-wing self-image, provided these didn’t impinge on work in any significant way! This was ideology in the old Althusserian sense – we were required to use a certain language and engage in particular ritualised behaviours, but none of this mattered because we didn’t ‘really’ believe in any of it. But of course the very privileging of ‘inner’ subjective states over the public was itself an ideological move …

one manager would cheerily present us with each new initiative, openly saying that he didn’t think it was of much value, but that we should do it to make our lives easier. He once told our team that we weren’t sufficiently critical of ourselves in one of our performance reviews – but not to worry because nothing would happen on the basis of any criticisms that we made. I don’t know what was more demoralising here: the fact that we were required to denigrate ourselves as part of our job, or the fact that the criticisms we made were a purely empty exercise. Some of the affective consequences of this self-surveillance regime are amply demonstrated here: anxiety, accompanied by a sense of the meaninglessness of the activity about which one is anxious. The word ‘Kafkaesque’ is enormously over-used, but it fits this existential situation perfectly. So, bureaucracy becomes immanent to the fabric of work in general, not something performed by a special kind of worker.

… neoliberal bureaucracy is quintessentially ideological. It not only naturalises and normalises the language and practices of business; it makes the ritualised performance of this naturalisation a condition of workers retaining their jobs. The second role that managerialist bureaucracy plays for neoliberalism is a disciplinary function: it subdues and pacifies workers. The anxiety that neoliberal bureaucracy so often produces should not be seen as an accidental side-effect of these measures; rather, the anxiety is something that is in itself highly desirable from the perspective of the neoliberal project. The erosion of confidence, the sense of being alone, in competition with others: this weakens the worker’s resolve, undermines their capacity for solidarity, and forestalls militancy.

So it seems to me that the politicizing of managerialist bureaucracy could be extremely fruitful from the point of view of the struggle against neoliberalism.


Mark Fisher

Posted: October 21, 2019 by zombieacademy in Academy, News, Politics, Research, Teaching

The International Australian Studies Association (InASA) is writing in response to recent press reports of the discontinuation of the Chair of Australian Literature at University of Sydney unless philanthropic funding is forthcoming (SMH 15/10/2019; The Australian 16/10/19). InASA urges immediate reconsideration of this course of action on numerous grounds.

At a time when tensions are particularly acute between national interests and global politics—particularly on University campuses in teaching and research—in-depth and specialised expertise of Australian culture in both its distinctiveness and its global connections is essential to provide knowledge and leadership to the public, students, and government. Australian literature, understood as part of an expanded public sphere and cultural industry, makes an enormous contribution to Australia’s self-image and to our international profile. Leading writers all contribute to a range of topical issues and debates through different perspectives and from different positions. The study of Australian literature amplifies such writers’ voices and provides a stage for their contribution to intellectual thought. Professor Robert Dixon’s leadership in the Sydney Studies in Australian Literature book series, enabled by his role as the University Chair, is an excellent example of this.

There are now thirty-eight “Australian Studies Centres” in China, and many Chinese academics have trained in Australian literature and participate in Australia’s extension of influence and “soft power” in the Asia- Pacific region. This is also evident in the Australia-Japan Foundation Chair in Australian Studies at the University of Tokyo (regularly held by Australian literature specialists).

Humanities and Social Sciences in Australian universities face new challenges, with philanthropic funding being marketed as a panacea for disinvestment by university administrations and federal governments led by ill-informed and instrumentalist agendas. It is particularly disappointing to see the University of Sydney proposing to outsource its core business in this way, given the strong stance taken by many academics there questioning the potential for philanthropic funding to infringe upon academic freedom.

Finally, the announcement of the disinvestment in Australian Literature comes only months after the Parliament of Australia called an “Inquiry into nationhood, national identity and democracy”. The Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney has long played a national role in precisely the issues raised as under threat by the Senate’s inquiry, and it is extremely unfortunate that the University of Sydney does not consider literature to have a future role in such critical concerns.

We strongly urge the University of Sydney to reconsider its position and to support the ongoing funding of the University of Sydney Chair in Australian Literature.




Survival itself has something nonsensical about it today, like dreams in which, having experienced the end of the world, one afterwards crawls from the basement.

T.W. Adorno, Minimal Moralia.

Critique is always a critique of some instituted practice, discourse, episteme, institution, and it loses its character the moment in which it is abstracted from its operation and made to stand alone as a purely generalizable practice.

Judith Butler, What is Critique? An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue.

Moralistic reproaches to certain kinds of speech or argument kill critique […] by configuring political injustice and political righteousness as a problem of remarks, attitude, and speech rather than a matter of historical, political-economic and cultural formations of power.

Wendy Brown, Politics Out of History.

Critical thinking in the business school has reached a decisive and alarming impasse. On the one hand, despite nearly thirty years of Critical Management Studies, the wider world of work, corporations and the economy has never looked bleaker. Harvey Weinstein, the impending ecocide, and a triumphant global elite have almost reduced radical politics (and society more generally) to a burnout wreckage of pointless complaint. If critical thinking once harboured the optimistic hope of making a practical difference, in the face of such a brutal reality it now risks being an inept moralising bystander grimacing at others’ attitudes as the ship goes down.

On the other hand, the business school itself has embraced ‘extreme neoliberalism’, with rampant managerialism and edict-issuing technocrats in full bloom. Sadly, even the institution that critical scholars call home is often touted as one of the more extreme emblems of all that’s wrong with late capitalism. When it comes to keeping our own house in order, it’s almost as if Critical Management Studies has been fiddling while Rome burned.

This workshop will provide scholars with the opportunity to reimagine how critique can emerge from the business school in light of the dismal actuality that we find ourselves in. Can we crawl from the wreckage of a devastated neoliberal order? And is the practical revitalisation of critical thinking commensurate with the business school in its present form? Indeed, if it is true that the old order is now dying and the new one is struggling to be born, then we welcome papers that seek to bring about a renaissance of criticality in the business school and beyond. Where to start? We could begin by revisiting, what does it mean to offer critique? What does it mean to critique from a particular position and place? What does achieving critique amount to? How will critique manifest and mutate as we move forward in scholarship and praxis?

Although by no means inclusive, possible topics could include:

·       Critical thinking, its origins and future in the business school and university

·       De-neoliberalizing the business school in an era of high-technocracy

·       Capitalism and the future of the university

·       Leftist Critique and radical politics in a Trumpian nightmare

·       Gender and critical thinking in the post-Weinstein era

·      The role of critical performativity in critique

·       Laying bodies on the line through embodied critique

·       The places and spaces of critique

·       The ethics of critique

·       The co-optation of critique into capitalist business school metrics, practices and ideologies

·       The death (and rebirth) of radical democracy in the business school

·       Decolonising critique

·       What comes after critique?

·       Connection to land and Indigenous knowledge within critique

·       Critique from marginal thought

·       Critique as methodological approach

·       Critique as activism

OrganizersPeter Fleming and Alison Pullen 

Date: 20-21 February 2020 

Location: Frank Gehry Building, Sydney

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 1 December 2019

Please send submissions to both Peter Fleming ( and Alison Pullen ( Abstracts of 350 words are due December 1st 2019 and final papers February 1st 2020.

Other details

Due to the generous sponsorship of the Department of Management, UTS Business School and Macquarie Business School there will be no workshop fee. Attendees are required to fund travel and accommodation. Refreshments on both days will be provided, as well as a Sydney Harbour view dinner on Thursday 20th February. The workshop includes an opportunity to participate in a cultural heritage guided tour.

Whilst presentation facilities are available, we would like to create a Powerpoint free space.

ephemera special issue

A special issue will be developed from papers given at this workshop.

Posted: August 31, 2018 by zombieacademy in Academy, Readings

Critical University Studies and the Crisis Consensus.

Posted: July 28, 2018 by zombieacademy in Academy
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I don’t need money to do research.