Audit culture is examined comparatively in US academic life and in Catalan universities, medical research institutions and scientific publishing. In the case of Catalan universities, audit is shown to be a political practice as well, serving the centralising interests of the Spanish state at the expense of Catalan home rule. Despite the variation in formal practices and institutional contexts, then, the similarities in both the appearance and effects of these practices are remarkable. As anthropologists working across cultural boundaries, we should be attentive to the many forms coercive surveillance may take.
A Comparative Perspective
Susan M. DiGiacomo
Universities and the Politics of Accountability
Don Brenneis, Cris Shore and Susan Wright
Audit culture and the politics of accountability are transforming not just universities and their role in society, but the very notions of society, academics and students. The modern 'university of excellence' applies a totalising and coercive commensurability to virtually every aspect of university life, from research output and teaching quality to parking space. But more than this, the politics of accountability enmesh universities in conflicts over neoliberal transformations which are taking a wide variety of forms in different parts of Europe, North and South America, and Australasia.
Neoliberalism, Illiberal Governments and Australian Universities
This article explores neoliberalism in Australian universities, in the context of the politics of a higher education 'reform package' introduced by the Liberal-National Party Coalition presently in power in federal government. I focus attention on the relationship between the broader national environment and the local university configuration at the Australian National University and the dialectic between university academics and students as objects of bureaucratic practices and self-auditing subjects in these new modalities of power. I situate the Australian experience in broader global debates about neoliberalism and universities and earlier ethnographies of audit cultures.
Constructing and practising student engagement in changing institutional cultures
Lisa Garforth and Anselma Gallinat
This introduction sets the theoretical and historical context for this special issue on student engagement. Drawing on literatures about audit culture, governance and change in higher education institutions, and theories of practice, institutions and organisation, it sheds light on the current era of English higher education. The Browne Review led to the withdrawal in 2010 of the majority of the government teaching grant for English universities, and it tripled tuition fees in 2012. In the post-Browne era, ‘engagement’ emerged as an organising concept linked in multiple ways to other objects and discourses, in particular university league tables and measures of student satisfaction; and it was swiftly and often unreflexively translated into visions for developing learning and teaching. This special issue focuses on this specific shift in policy and discourse, exploring institutional change and everyday experience, and reflecting on the power and limits of policies.
A Discussion with Marilyn Strathern
Samantha Page and Marilyn Strathern
As part of my ‘impact editor’ role for Anthropology in Action I approached Professor Marilyn Strathern to seek her personal reflections on the impact agenda related to her own experiences working as head of department, at Manchester and Cambridge Universities, as member and then chair of two Research Assessment Exercise panels, her anthropological research in Papua New Guinea and her work on audit culture. I wanted to find out how Professor Strathern’s work has been engaged with policy and practice or has influenced it. I also discussed my own PhD research with Professor Strathern, including the challenges of being an early career researcher, as well as seeking advice about the best way to disseminate research findings to inform policy and to have ‘impact’.
This is the third edition of the year 2005. We have moved from neoliberalism and the audit culture in the university, to embodiment in the teaching and learning of anthropology, and finally to the involvement of anthropologists in the Second World War and the following Cold War. In this volume, we are still experimenting and finding our feet. Here, after articles by David Price on the OSS and Japan, Gretchen Schafft with archival biographical research on a Nazi medical doctor, and Eric Ross on university involvement in the Cold War, we give Janice Harper some extra space to make her points about nuclear tourism. Rather than split Harper’s article, we have decided to let it run on. It is an article about the curious construction of cultural heritage. And it can be read from a post-9/11, post-7/7 vantage point where the catastrophe as well as catastrophic places can become Zeitgeist (tourist) sites (see also Feldman 2002). The piece links in with the other contributions to show the longue durée of wars with and on terror, and the changing nature and commemoration of our involvement with them.