A proposed volume edited by Abby Day, Lois Lee, and Jim Spickard
working with Policy Press
Concerns are growing about the dominance of a narrow set of perspectives and interests across all areas of society. For universities, debates have centred on the ways in which people from specific identity-categories dominate the production and dissemination of academic knowledge in teaching, writing, and research. The dominance of such elites – crudely equated to ‘white men of the Global North’ – poses challenges to how all supposedly democratic institutions function. It hits at the heart of the academy. There, it distorts the knowledge universities produce, it disserves students from non-dominant groups, and it threatens the humanistic values on which the modern university is founded.
Elite domination affects the academy on many levels – ethical, epistemic, and economic among others. It includes the dominance of perspectives from particular gender, ethnicity, sexuality and class positions, as well as issues such as of Eurocentrism, androcentrism, Westernization, indigenization, and colonialism . These affect everyone working in the academy, elites included.
Building on the remarkable achievements of the recent wave of critique and the emergence of new initiatives responding to it, this new volume aims to gather, consolidate, and share practical actions that institutions and individuals within the academy – staff and students alike – can take to address issues of elitism. It seeks to encourage positive and decisive steps beyond critique and towards the growth of ‘pluriversity’ – processes of knowledge production that are, in Achille Mbembe’s words:
‘open to epistemic diversity … [pluriversity] does not necessarily abandon the notion of universal knowledge for humanity, but … embraces it via a horizontal strategy of openness to dialogue among different epistemic traditions.[*]
Our proposed volume focuses on what we can all actually do, both practically and theoretically, to bring about the change that is needed. What visions do we need? How can we each contribute to attaining them?
Doing Diversity provides case studies detailing the initiatives that both individuals and institutions have been including in their everyday teaching, writing, and research practices. It also includes chapters locating these initiatives in wider theoretical contexts and chapters reflecting on these initiatives’ achievements, their problems, and the work that they leave undone.
We are seeking proposals for chapters that share practices and/or address these themes. Chapters might, for example, engage with the following questions:
- – What new methods can we bring to our teaching, writing, and research to challenge any form of elitism?
- – How are the challenges different for teaching, writing, and research? What factors encourage or impede working for diversity in each of these areas?
- – What are the successes, problems and limitations of current initiatives, such as e.g. gender quotas for conference speakers, publication contributors, and/or citations?
- – What issues arise from field-specific variation? What, if anything, should we do in those fields or topic areas where non-elite groups dominate the discourse? Do we need to consider bringing elite perspectives into those locations?
- – What challenges do institutions and individuals face in taking up successful methods of ‘doing diversity’? What support can institutions and colleagues offer to others doing this work? How do we manage the workload in our already busy, often over-stretched lives?
- – How are students involved in these processes – or how could they be? How is diversity negotiated in the classroom? What works? What doesn’t?
- – Do new institutional and individual innovations cluster in particular areas? What does this tell us about our current ways of thinking about elitism and diversity? What might we be missing?
- – How adequately do concepts like ‘diversity’, ‘anti-elitism’, ‘liberating’ and ‘decolonising’ the academy frame these activities? What work are these concepts doing? Are there better or best ways to frame this work?
Final chapters are expected to be between 5,000-8,000 words (including all notes and references), though shorter submissions will be considered for the case study section.
- – Submission deadline for abstract: 31 October 2018
- – Decision of acceptance: 30 November 2018
- – Deadline for chapter submission: 31 July 2019
[*] “Decolonizing the University: New Directions,” Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 15/1: 37, 2016.