Top Cover: On Administrative Activism in the Neoliberal University

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Jeffrey R. Di Leo


There must be acts of resistance to neoliberalism in academe. We must use our capacities for critical dialogue as a force of disruption, resistance, and revival. Instead of docile academic subjecivities, ones that play into neoliberal managerialism, we need to adopt a more paralogical approach to academic dialogue. Namely, we must use dialogue as a disruptive force rather than an affirmative one. Critical exchange is at the heart of academic freedom, and academic freedom—the freedom to teach as we choose without interference—is predicated on keeping the “critical” in critical exchange (or inquiry) activated. Neoliberal academic culture strives to stifle critical thought and thinking. We can be a force of resistance to neoliberal academe by awakening and privileging our critical capacities—and tough criticism may be the only way to awaken academe from its neoliberal slumbers. Without a strong auto-critique discourse to counter-act the strong discourse of neoliberalism, resistance becomes difficult, if not impossible.

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Doing What We Can from Where We Are: Personal Histories and Case Studies