Convened by Hannah Moscovitz & Jo Dillabough

The reading group provides a critical space for engagement and dialogue on the evolving role of higher education (HE) in contemporary society and its link to broader political, social and economic structures at national, global and transnational scales. Taking a broad transdisciplinary approach, the group will engage with a wide-range of themes and issues relating primarily to the cultural politics of higher education past and present, with a focus on the role that state crises and state experiments play in HE transformations. These include (but are not limited to): the rise of populist political imaginaries and its impact on HE; HE as a space for the dramatic action of politics; HE as a necropolitical site; the making of HE, elite knowledges and modern technocratic rationalities; new managerialisms and the cultural political economy of higher education; the knowledge, power and politics of HE; the politicisation of higher education policy and its ‘publics’; HE activism; HE and authoritarianism; and transnational HE initiatives, geopolitical conflicts and contemporary global challenges (including the Pandemic), and higher education.

The reading group will meet bi-weekly for an hour session. Circumstances permitting, we will be meeting in person with social distance guidelines in place. Until this is possible, the group will meet virtually via Zoom. For each session, a member of the group will discuss a reading of their choice, which has proven influential for their own work. The reading group is designed to provide members with the opportunity to discuss their own research whilst sharing seminal literature influencing their thinking and which could prove valuable to others. It is also designed to provide collaborative thinking space for identifying points of convergence in our work as well as to expand our theoretical thinking on HE. We aim to develop new forms of criticality beyond the instrumental study of higher education, relying on literatures from a range of fields; political and social theory, transnational sociologies of HE; critical HE and public policy studies, sociology of HE, political geographies of HE; international relations, cultural political economy and sociology.

Sessions will be held on Thursdays with the proposed time slot of 14:00 (hour subject to change depending on others’ availability). We intend to have the first session on January 28th. We hope to be able to eventually hold the meetings in person, until this is possible we will be meeting virtually on zoom. Get in touch if you’d like to participate and we’ll forward your message to the organisers.