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Corinne Schwaller

Austerity politics and labour reforms in Spain have intensified the precaritization of employment, both inside and outside academia. Drawing on the cases of two highly educated young women, this paper suggests an analysis of academic precarity that focuses on the intertwining of the academic and the non‐academic world of work in (re)producing precarity. In Spain, a less precarious alternative to precarity in academia is often nonexistent, putting young academics in a situation of blackmail to accept precarious conditions. Consequently, precarity is increasingly normalised. Yet, the process of the normalisation of precarity is understood not only as the growth of precarious jobs and the lack of alternatives, but, more fundamentally, as a shift in the perception of what can be legitimately claimed or expected within employment relations more generally.

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Politics of precarity

neoliberal academia under austerity measures and authoritarian threat

David Loher and Sabine Strasser

In recent years, precarity has become the norm rather than an exception in contemporary European academia. This special issue on politics of precarity examines the economic, social and political crisis‐effects of the neoliberal turn in academia. It analyses how austerity measures and authoritarian politics have led to a proliferation of precarity among, mostly young, scholars.

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Precarity without borders

visions of hope, shared responsibilities and possible responses

Georgeta Stoica, Julia Eckert, Katharina Bodirsky, and Dan V. Hirslund

This precarity debate intends to raise the following questions by proposing an introduction and three replies that come from tenured and non‐tenured track anthropologists. The aim is to think critically about precarity within academia:

What does it mean to be a precarious researcher in today's academia, which is ruled by a predatory system?

How can this situation be framed in terms of shared responsibilities?

Could solidarity and unionisation get us out of this situation?

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'Facing Outwards Anthropology Beyond Academia'

Apply at the ASA Decennial Conference, Edinburgh, June 2014

Rachael Gooberman-Hill

The ASA’s Network of Applied Anthropologists (Apply) held a panel session at the ASA’s decennial conference in Edinburgh, June 2014. Entitled ‘Facing Outwards: Anthropology Beyond Academia’, the panel welcomed papers that addressed anthropological work and co-work outside conventional academic anthropology. The session was convened by Mary Adams (Kings College London) and Rachael Gooberman-Hill (University of Bristol), and three presenters provided an engaged audience with examples of their work. The presentations fuelled discussion about relationships in research and practice and the translation of anthropological ideas for non-anthropological audiences.

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Anthropological Reflections on Lebanese Art

How Empathy, the Human Rights Topos and Ideological Attitudes Interact with Aesthetic Perceptions

Gerald A. P.-Fromm and Bariaa Mourad

This article analyses attitudes of the art public related to subjects of the 2011 art exhibition 'Beirut', shown at the Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna. Some Lebanese artworks, especially those of the (pre-)war generation, were oriented towards utopias of their time and socio-political criticism, and still today revolve around the topoi of human rights. Socio-cultural milieux and institutions seem habited by adherents with congruent values. Art, science and education are thus particularly disputed fields since their common creative quests produce knowledge and, depending on the theme, ideology. We contextualise these topics and highlight a few empirically corroborated explanatory models developed by anthropology in order to elucidate the complex interplay between the individual and society. We appeal to those in academia, education and critical art to play a role in the debate on essential humanistic and ethical principles.

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Michelle I. Gawerc and David S. Meyer


William A. Gamson's career was nothing less than remarkable. A prolific scholar, Gamson wrote at least eight books and more than a hundred articles from 1961 to 2014. And he bequeathed social movement studies substantial theoretical contributions and methodological innovations in numerous areas including coalitions, resource mobilization, political opportunities, framing, and culture. His legacy also includes pioneering simulation games both for teaching and for use by social movements, novel pedagogies (in part inspired by his wife, sociologist, Zelda Gamson), and a well-articulated scholar-activist model that has—and will continue—to inspire. This article discusses his extraordinary career and his legacy for social movements, academia, and beyond.

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Intellectual endogamy in the university

The neoliberal regulation of academic work

Ana Luisa Muñoz-García

This article aims to analyse the multiple ways in which the neoliberal regulation of knowledge is negotiated by returning Chilean scholars. The data gathered suggest the construction of knowledge is highly regulated by a principle of intellectual endogamy. Intellectual endogamy is characterised by conservatism, reflected in a lack of diversity in research themes and problems and maintained by a peer-review system that controls scholars’ access to research funds. However, it is also characterised by instrumentalism, which is reflected in the requirements for obtaining research funds, such as publications in indexed journals and discourses of efficiency and productivity. Both facets engender a neoliberal regulation of academic work. This research encourages an expansion of the conversation about how academic mobility affects knowledge construction.

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Stratifying academia

Ranking, oligarchy and the market‐myth in academic audit regimes

John Welsh

This historical materialist analysis places rankings into the imperatives both to govern and to accumulate, and positions academic ranking in particular as the telos of a more general audit culture. By identifying how rankings effect not merely a quantification of qualities, but a numeration of quantities, we can expose how state governments, managerial strata and political elites achieve socially stratifying political objectives that actually frustrate the kind of market‐rule for which rankings have been hitherto legitimised among the public. The insight here is that rankings make of audit techniques neither simply a market proxy, nor merely the basis for bureaucratic managerialism, but a social technology or ‘apparatus’ () that simultaneously substitutes and frustrates market operations in favour of a more acutely stratified social order. This quality to the operation of rankings can then be connected to the chronic accumulation crisis that is the neoliberal regime of political economy, and to the growing political appetite therein for power‐knowledge techniques propitious for oligarchy formation and accumulation‐by‐dispossession in the kind of low‐growth and zero‐sum environment typical in real terms to societies dominated by financialisation. A dialectical approach to rankings is suggested, so that a more effective engagement with their internal and practical contradictions can be realised in a way that belies the market‐myths of neoliberal theory.

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Peacebuilding, locals and academia

A call for reciprocity and participation

Katja Seidel

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Getting the Measure of Academia

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.