Theme 8: Universities /Geography in Crisis

Keywords: economization and neoliberalisation of universities and (higher) education, “excellence”, situation of critical and radical geographies, social movements and academia, radical teaching and pedagogy ...

Universities, teaching/learning and research are undergoing significant transformations. Key phrases like the casualisation of academic labour, the neoliberalisation of education institutions, the invention of “excellence” and “competitiveness” as new rules of the academy only hint at some aspects of these transformations. However, there is also a different movement in academia – attempts at autonomous research, grassroots and bottom-up learning, and activist research are all aspects of attempts at emancipation by different participants in learning and research. They can build on a history of critical approaches to research, teaching and learning, and of the critique of academia, also in geography.

These transformations are located in an uneven geography of critical geography — one in which a wide range of hegemonies operate (anglo, masculinist, white supremacist, to name just a few) — in which people in different settings work under very different conditions, and in which these conditions are also reasons for different critical geographies. In this theme, we would like to call for sessions and papers that address these issues. One of our aims is to bring the various struggles across the globe together. Another aim is to see them in a historical line of struggles. A third aim is to discuss the critical geographies emerging in the unequal relations within the discipline, within universities, and within the larger formations cutting across university-society divides.

We invite suggestions and proposals for panels, workshops, exploratory sessions, individual paper-style presentations, and all other forms of contributions. We are especially keen to support interventions that focus on the various axes of marginalization (such as race, gender, class, disability, sexuality, age) that are being made to operate more powerfully through new forms of neoliberalizing academic social relations in the academy, and possible interventions aimed at exploring options for contesting these processes.

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