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  4. Sarah Burton, The Space for Kindness in the Neoliberal Academy




Sarah Burton, The Space for Kindness in the Neoliberal Academy




This event will take place virtually via Zoom. Please note all attendees will need a Zoom account to access the webinar. A free account can be set up when registering for the event.


Alongside scholarship on the neoliberal academy (Shore, 2008; Taylor and Lahad, 2018) and its dehumanising, brutal, and toxic effect upon university workers (Gill, 2009; Loveday, 2018), there is now also increasing attention paid to the concept of ‘academic kindness’. In this presentation I tease out the power relations underneath ‘academic kindness’, connecting them to already recognised structures of power such as race, class, and gender. Going beyond ‘kindness’ as a flat concept or simple salve to the problems of academic life, I argue that kindness operates in multiple forms – sometimes as a technology of dominant, hierarchical power and sometimes as resistance and solidarity. Through examining these different modes of ‘academic kindness’, the presentation contributes a critique of the concept itself, as well as a demonstration of how the mobilisation of the concept further reveals academia’s sedimented inequalities around colonialism, whiteness, capitalism, and masculinity. I end by folding awareness of these relationships between kindness and power into a loose manifesto for the construction of a more radical kindness predicated on the ethics of community, generosity, solidarities, and mutual respect.

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When and where

1.00pm - 2.00pmFriday 27th November 2020