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brainstorm4b_issue1bFeral Feminisms – CFP Issue 7 – The Neoliberal University: Labour, Struggle, and Transformation

Deadline 30 April 2016

Feral Feminisms, an independent, inter-media, peer reviewed, open access online journal, invites submissions from artists, activists, and scholars for a special issue entitled The Neoliberal University: Labour, Struggle, and Transformation, guest  edited by Naoko Ikeda and Hans Rollmann. Submitted contributions may include full-length theoretical or findings essays (5000 – 7000 words), shorter creative pieces, cultural commentaries,personal narratives or auto-ethnographies (500 – 2500 words), poetry, photo-essays, short films/video (uploaded to Vimeo), visual and sound art (jpeg Max 1MB), or a combination of these. Please direct inquiries and submissions to both of the guest editors, Naoko Ikeda (ikeda.naoko75 [at] gmail [dot] com) and Hans Rollmann (hansnf [at] gmail [dot] com).

Universities in the early 21st century are more than sites of study; increasingly, they are sites of struggle. In the early months of 2015 alone, strikes and occupations have erupted at prominent universities in Canada, the UK, and The Netherlands. Students and faculty have in recent years played leading roles in broader civil society struggles in Chile, Mexico, Turkey, Greece, South Africa, and elsewhere. Many of these struggles are being waged over core issues intrinsic to the university’s identity: commercialization, autonomy, academic freedom, labour rights. These struggles often bear a strong feminist imprint and are indelibly tied to broader and diverse contestations of unjust social structures and hierarchies such as patriarchy, heterosexism, racism, ableism, and on-going colonizations. And they occur against a broader backdrop in which universities find their role and operations increasingly framed by a neoliberal rationality that has ravaged both academic and non-academic workers’ experience of labour in the contemporary university. Much existing research has focused on efforts to chart the transformation of labour in the university under neoliberalism (Brown 2015; Luxton & Mossman 2012; Reimer 2004; Turk 2000), and to analyze these transformations as well as forms of resistance that have emerged in response (Butler 2015; Badiou 2012; Chun 2009; Canaan & Shumar 2008; Ross & Gibson 2006; Hudson et al 1997).

This issue of Feral Feminisms aims to further this work by drawing together ongoing and recent research in this area. It also takes aim at drawing connections across borders, and exploring how processes shaping transformation of the university as a site of labour are linked transnationally. It aims to explore how the resistance movements emerging in response to precarity and neoliberalization of labour at the university–movements aimed at preserving principles of worker dignity, gender justice, academic freedom, freedom of inquiry and expression, democracy and transparency, equity, social justice and accessibility–are linked internationally. Such links are not always formal (although formal exchanges of experiences and tactics do occur) but often manifest through nuanced processes of media consumption, political/social movement-building, and other informal methods of engagement across borders.

The Neoliberal University: Labour, Struggle, and Transformation seeks pieces that examine from a feminist perspective how the university is an increasingly complex and diverse site of labour. This includes the growing complexity of universities as communities of academic labour, and their engagement with both administrative bureaucracies and the state. Yet universities also rely on a large pool of non-academic labour in order to function: janitorial/maintenance staff, administrative assistants, food service providers, security personnel, technicians, and student support staff (who often represent devalued, precaritized, gendered, and racialized forms of work). Universities are embedded in communities, relying on local transit systems as well as housing and service providers within the university’s immediate sphere. While the public image of universities often relies on a division of labour between academic and non-academic staff that typically endows the former with a more privileged status, universities are also sites where these imagined divides are increasingly fluid.

This Special Issue asks: How do academic workers, non-academic workers, communities of workers, and the broader community experience and shape the processes of institutional transformation as well as resistance? This issue seeks to explore the university as a site of labour from a broad perspective, and welcomes submissions that explore the nature and role of nonacademic labour in the processes of transformation and resistance outlined here.

We are seeking original research articles offering data, analysis and arguments oriented around these themes, and addressing the questions and issues highlighted below. We also welcome submission of personal and creative contributions–personal narratives, fiction, poetry, art–connected with the themes of this issue.

Themes and questions to consider include:

Emerging forms of resistance: What forms of resistance are emerging against the precarity and disciplining of labour in the university? What is new or innovative about these resistances? In what ways do they build on, replicate, and/or challenge the structures of oppression and resistance from which they have emerged? How do they engage with feminism[s], and how do feminisms engage with them?

Drawing across borders: What connections/influences inherent in the shaping of

university labour can be identified across borders? How are pressures to reshape the university as a site of labour linked internationally, and how are these processes mutually constitutive across borders (both within and between states)? How are efforts to resist the precarity and neoliberalization of university labour linked across borders? How do moments of resistance and movement-building influence each other internationally? How do efforts to replicate movements in different geographical/political/cultural communities create and respond to challenges produced by local dissonances? What new questions and languages are produced through these (border-crossing) exchanges and linkages?

Personal is Political, and Political is Personal: How are these struggles personal? How do we as individuals, as communities, as physically embodied individuals, experience the struggles which emerge through universities as sites of labour? How do we reconcile the needs and desires of the individual with the demands of a movement? How are contestations over labour transformations at the university shaped by racism, patriarchy, ableism, ageism, homo/transphobia and other struggles for diversity and social justice?

Labour writ large: What is the role and experience of non-academic labour in the university, in institutional restructurings, and in resistance/protest movements at universities? How are the non-academic communities of labour on which universities rely classed, racialized, and gendered?

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