About

Critical utopian scholar and activist with research interests in unions, protest, education, feminism, gender, aesthetics and speculative fiction. She is currently a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Sussex Law Department, studying resistance to the marketisation of higher education through the lens of a reimagined academic freedom. She is currently chair of the anti-racist and transinclusive CHASE Feminist Network which aims to create spaces of resistance in what continues to be a patriarchal higher education sector with ongoing and intersectional discrimination happening at all levels. Coming from a working background in equalities, campaigning and education research, she has worked for charities, students’ unions and local government. She is founder of the social enterprise Magnetic Ideals which works on projects that use creative and artistic ways of bringing communities together to create social change. She is also a musician who dabbles in visual arts and creative writing.

Other Publications

McKnight, Heather (2019) The Sussex campus ‘Forever Strike’: estrangement, resistance and utopian temporality. Studies in Arts and Humanities, 5 (1). pp. 145-172. ISSN 2009-826X
McKnight, Heather and Bajwa, Nehaal Farrukh Hameed (2018) [Preface] Networks edition of Excursions. Excursions, 8 (1). pp. 1-8.
McKnight, Heather (2018) Lessons in unionising the future: the art of estrangement and critical pedagogy on the picket line. Art/Law Network [weblog article, March 2018].
McKnight, Heather (2015) Agamben as and through Benjamin’s storyteller and translator. Critical Studies, 1. pp. 28-39. ISSN 2055-141X
McKnight, Heather (2017) Ernst Bloch’s theories concerning religion. In: Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Springer. ISBN 9783642277719
McKnight, Heather (2019) The Utopian ‘not yet’ of pop-up unionism [weblog article, 20 March 2019]. AltVision.

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

Conference Papers


  • 2019 Utopian Studies Society Conference, Prato Italy  – “The Oceans are Rising and So Are We” – Utopian Discourses of the School Student Strike for Climate Change

  • 2019 ‘Faking It’ Excursions Symposium, University of Sussex – The Invisible Roots of Knowledge Production, and their Role in Resistance to the Marketisation of Education

  • 2019 Disruption, Transition and Transformation Symposium at LSE – Sussex Campus on Strike: Estrangement, Resistance and Utopian Temporality

  • 2018 Academic Identities Conference – The Peaceful University: aspirations for academic futures – compassion, generosity, imagination, and creation, Hiroshima University Japan – Unionising Hope: Collective Subjectivities of Resistance in Higher Education

  • 2018 The Social Life of Time Conference, University of Edinburgh – Exploring Unionised Potentiality: The 2018 Strike as a Site of Utopian Temporality

  • 2018 Utopia Now, Chelsea College of Arts – Unions as Utopian Spaces: Narratives of Resistance in the Fight Against Marketised Education

  • 2018 Critical Legal Conference, University of Warwick – Student Resistance Between and Beyond: How the Charitable Status of Students’ Unions is Relocating Student Activism, Paths in the Midst of Collapse: The Role of Academic Freedom in Resisting the Marketisation of Education

  • 2017 Encounters, University of East Anglia – Theorising the ‘Not Yet’: The Value of Critical Utopian Theory in Interdisciplinary Research and Discourse Analysis

  • 2017 Art and Law Postgraduate Workshop, Sussex – Dystopias of Motherhood and Fear: An Absence of Legal Interventions against Weaponised Reproduction in Television Sci-Fi

  • 2017 Bringing Life to Politics Conference, University of Brighton – Narrating the Boundaries of Being Human: Blurring the thresholds of of self in Sense8

  • 2017 Politics of Temporality Postgraduate Workshop, Sussex – Exploring Unionised Potentiality: Heterotopian Sites of Resistance and Utopian Temporality in Higher Education

  • 2017 Politics of Temporality ‘Time and Fear’ Workshop, Sussex – A Heritage of New Terrorisms: The Chronotopology of Prevent Legislation in University Spaces

  • 2017 Dystopia Now! Conference, Birkbeck – Dystopian Narratives of Motherhood and Reproduction in TV Science Fiction: Challenging the Patriarchy or Reinventing the Witch Hunt?

  • 2016 Society for Utopian Studies, St. Petersburg, Florida Tracing the Edges of Contemporaneous Contradiction, Paths in the Midst of Collapse: Preventing Prevent

  • 2016 Critical Studies Research Group Resistance Conference, University of Brighton: Unionising the Future?  Potential resistance to marketisation of education between Trade Unions and Students’ Unions

  • 2016 (16th June) Utopia Research Workshop – 500 Years of Utopia, University of Nottingham:Utopian Temporalities and Horizons of resistance between Trade Unions and Students’ Unions

  • 2016 (17th June) Society for Women in Philosophy Conference Precarity: Passion, Rage, Reason, University of Brighton: “I am not your property; I am not your Weapon” – Weaponising Reproduction: Motherhood, pregnancy and cloning as forms of control in TV Sci-fi

  • 2016 (12 – 13 May) International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Onati, Workshop on Radical Temporality: Law, Order and ResistanceMapping Radical Utopian Temporalities of resistance between Trade Unions and Students’ Unions

  • 2016 Buzzcuts Conference, University of Glasgow: Unionising the Future: Trade Unions, Students’ Unions and Resistance

  • 2015 Society for Utopian Studies Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Messianic Cooperisms and Fantastic Trees: Tracing the Utopian Horizons of Twin Peak & Mother, Martyr, Cyborg: Dystopian Dialectics of Feminine Power in Continuum

  • 2015 Utopias CAPPE Conference, Brighton: Reclaiming the Night: Fatal Intersections in Concrete Spaces – An analysis of Reclaim the Night Marches through Foucault’s notion of Heterotopia concurrently with Bloch’s Utopian Function

  • 2015 Utopian Studies Society Conference: Utopia and the End of the City: Daydreams of becoming Human: Conflicted Horizons of Identity Reclaiming the Night: Fatal Intersections in Concrete Spaces

  • 2015 Feminist Futures Conference, London: Reclaiming the Night: Fatal Intersections in Concrete Spaces – An analysis of Reclaim the Night Marches through Foucault’s notion of Heterotopia concurrently with Bloch’s Utopian Function

  • 2015 Quality Assurance Agency Enhancement Themes Conference: Conflicting Roles? Student Representatives as the Storyteller and the Translator – Applying Benjamin in the student movement

  • 2015 Vanishing Acts: Exploring Marginalised Television Identities, Newcastle University: Mother, Martyr, Cyborg: Dystopian Dialectics of Feminine Power in Continuum

  • 2015 The Practice of (in)Visibility,University of Brighton: The Ideology of Community Organising: (in)visible (dis)courses of Power in the Student Movement

  • 2015 Disorienting the Topological Conference, London: Reclaiming the Night: Fatal Intersections in Concrete Spaces – An analysis of Reclaim the Night Marches through Foucault’s notion of Heterotopia concurrently with Bloch’s Utopian Function

  • 2014 Society for Utopian Studies Conference, Canada, Montreal: Towards Violent Utopias? Butler and Agamben as manifesting Bloch’s utopian function – Funded by the University of Brighton, School of Humanities

  • 2014 Workers in Democracy and Representation Conference, Manchester: Measuring Without Numbers: A Story about Enhancement – Resituating Evaluative Structures in Students’ Unions through Bloch’s Theory of Deficits and Realisation, and Benjamin’s concepts of the Storyteller and Translator

  • 2014 International Ontologies of Conflict Conference, University of Brighton: Towards Violent Utopias? Butler and Agamben in the ‘darkness of the lived moment’

Heather McKnight

Profile picture of Heather McKnight

@heathermcknight

active 9 months, 2 weeks ago