This paper is a reflective piece on a PhD workshop on “feminist organising” organised in November 2017 by the three authors of this paper. Calls to resist the neoliberalisation of academia through academic activism are gaining momentum. The authors’ take on academic activism builds on feminist thought and practice, a tradition that remains overlooked in contributions on resisting neoliberalisation in academia. Feminism has been long committed to highlighting the epistemic inequalities endured by women and marginalised people in academia. This study aims to draw on radical feminist perspectives and on the notion of prefigurative organising to rethink the topic of academic activism. How can feminist academic activism resist the neoliberal academia?
This study explores this question through a multi-vocal autoethnographic account of the event-organising process.
The production of feminist space within academia was shaped through material and epistemic tensions. The study critically reflects on the extent to which the event can be read as prefigurative feminist self-organising and as neoliberal academic career-focused self-organising. The study concludes that by creating a space for sisterhood and learning, the empowering potential of feminist organising is experienced.
The study shows both the difficulties and potentials for feminist organising within the university. The concept of “prefiguration” provides a theoretical framework enabling us to grasp the ongoing efforts on which feminist organising relies. It escapes a dichotomy between success and failure that fosters radical pessimism or optimism potentially hindering political action.
Authors are listed alphabetically. The sequence of names does not reflect a hierarchy of authorship.
The authors are extremely grateful to the workshop participants for sharing their experiences and to all those who encouraged us to write about this event. They wish to thank those who continue creating and protecting feminist spaces within and outside academia.
Funding: This research received no external funding. The workshop was funded by the School of Business at University of Leicester.
Deschner, C.J., Dorion, L. and Salvatori, L. (2020), "Prefiguring a feminist academia: a multi-vocal autoethnography on the creation of a feminist space in a neoliberal university", Society and Business Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBR-06-2019-0084Download as .RIS
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