Part I of this article, ‘Missing in Action’, was originally published on the ‘Radical Ruminations’ page of the Cahill/Irving blog Radical Sydney/Radical History, 19 May 2015. It was subsequently posted on the Academia.edu website where it attracted 175 responses. Part II, ‘What Can Be Done?’, is the response to these by the authors in the form of a series of notes.*
|Snapshot: Academics labouring for the audit culture|
A key part of this 'action' is seeking ways to go beyond the academic/scholarly format and conceiving of intellectual work as engaging democratically with more than niche audiences. It is not impossible. In Barcelona in 2012, trained historians and “historytellers, historical agitators, artists, independent archivists, history groups, political archaeologists etc” came together to set up the ‘International History from Below Network’. As the document for its meeting in Manchester (May 2015) explained, the network aims to create a “self-organized, do-it-yourself practice”, an historical sub-culture of “commoning and levelling, promoting the sharing of resources and countering the idea that history is solely the province of professional historians. We aim to find new practices and arenas for radical history beyond the austere mood and sensibility of the academic lecture and conference.”
Outside the Academy: When activist intellectual Stuart Hall (1932-2014) died, there was a deluge of obituaries in academic outlets, correctly acknowledging his role as a founder of cultural studies.
|Stuart Hall in action|
What tended to be lost in the obituaries was that Hall was neither a slave to the audit culture, nor to the academic journal genre of writing. Nor was he a scholar who confined himself to academia. He was the author of no single-authored monograph, the usual holy grail of humanities’ academics, but is credited with many co-authored and edited works, as well as essays, journalism, political speeches, radio and television talks. Much of Hall’s work appeared in outlets like Universities and Left Review, The New Reasoner, New Left Review, Marxism Today, in cases Hall being his own editor and publisher, even in a journal of which he was a founder. He had a preference for collaborative work, and believed in the scholar as an activist who should take part in public discourse and issues of social justice. Our point is that Hall was/is not the model of the scholar/academic preferred by the neoliberal university. And post-mortem, his model of the scholar/academic tended to get lost in the academic celebration of his life.