A forum to share research on the politics of higher education.
Policing Academics: The Arkhè of Transformation in Academic Ranking
This article attempts a properly critical and political analysis of the “police power” immanent to the form and logic of academic rankings, and which is reproduced in the extant academic literature generated around them. In contrast to the democratising claims made of rankings, this police power short-circuits the moment of democratic politics and establishes the basis for the oligarchic power of the State and its status quo. Central in this founding political moment is the notion of the Arkhè, a necessarily asymmetric “distribution of the sensible” that establishes the basis of the political order, in this case an oligarchic political order. Drawing on Foucault and Rancière, the article argues for a necessary “dissensus” with both the ranking practice and its attendant academic literature, as the first step towards a politics of ranking that is properly critical, and therefore genuinely political.
Governing Academics: The Historical Transformation from Discipline to Control
Given the transformation in the government of academic life over recent decades, the article attempts to derive a political critique of the changing psychosocial conditions of academic life via a historical juxtaposition with the nomos of the labour camp in Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. The aim is to address the need to think beyond normative disciplinary power, to explore a distinctly capitalist governmentality in relation to Foucault’s genealogy of power and to elaborate the techniques and practices of an emergent ‘meta-disciplinary’ technology of labour control in academia. Therefore, a broadly Foucauldian analysis on these questions will be undertaken, and augmented with Marxian and post-Freudian insights into the role of capital accumulation dynamics, in order to texture the conventional presentation of governmental rationality. The result is a metonymic presentation of the ‘camp’ as a physiological structure of capitalistModernity,whose imprint can be discerned in numerous social and institutional settings, in this caseAcademia and theGulag. From this outcome, insights into the transformation of living and labouring in academia, and the effects on psychological and intellectual well-being stemming from the new complex of control can be derived. The piece concludes with some thoughts on strategies of intellectual survival in academia, on counter-conducted techniques of subjectification and on possible means of resistance in the meta-disciplinary idiom.