Narratives from the underground of a socially just world – part 2

Year: 2019

Author: Toscano, Maurizio

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation takes up fictional narratives in order to examine the nature of academic life as it has been re-shaped by personal and institutional commitments to social justice. In brief, it asks after the degrees to which academics can, may and still do exercise their freedom to choose; especially as episodes involving social justice become increasingly characterised as calls for immediate and uncritical intervention rather than as invitations to engage dialogically with situations overflowing with moral and ethical complexity. In order to explore these themes, this presentation sets the work of the contemporary academic in conversation with John Berger’s insightful critique of the present neoliberal condition, which he argues, has increasingly criminalised our ways of working and made us all into prisoners: ‘The Gulag equation “criminal = slave labourer” has been rewritten by neoliberalism to become “worker = hidden criminal” (Berger, 2011). If Berger is correct, then we may ask: who enforces this regime of imprisonment and criminalisation in the context of higher education?

Berger, J. (2011). Fellow Prisoners. Guernica, a magazine of art and politics.