Reclaiming Critical Space in the Academy

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group, Careers and Professional Development, Harassment-Free AAG Initiative, Harassment-Free AAG Initiative
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Wilson B, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Organizers: Kelsey Hanrahan, Beth Bee, Emily Billo
Chairs: Beth Bee


This session takes as its central focus the shifting and unstable terrain of institutions of higher education in the current neoliberal moment and what it means to seek a position or be on the tenure track when institutional politics might foreclose certain types of research, teaching, and activism. Particularly, institutions are facing increasing financial pressures, where faculty are encouraged to ‘do more with less’ and entire departments are restructured. This restructuring can have specific impacts on scholars who may have already been isolated in departments and whose departments now face further shrinking, restructuring, or reorganizing. For example, some might see classes cancelled for under-enrollment or minors discontinued in favor of ‘professional programs’. Cancelled classes and programs might also prevent possibilities for increased student engagement and critical pedagogies as curricula emphasize ‘service’ classes over those that offer disciplinary focus. Feminist scholars have examined different phenomena related to the neoliberalization of higher education, arguing that we must slow down, take time for ourselves and others, and slow our scholarship, working to overcome the isolation of the university system and engage in a ‘feminist politics of resistance’ (Mountz et al. 2015, 1238). Others have engaged with teaching strategies that work to overcome limitations of the neoliberal academy, producing zines that lead to more engaged, caring spaces for ‘learning and living,’ highlighting the necessity of collaboration with students (Bagelman and Bagelman 2016, 365). Still others suggest that in doing queer, feminist, antiracist, and decolonial work, self-care is about surviving as much as it is about the creation of community (Ahmed 2017).

Our session builds on this scholarship and previous AAG sessions to examine how feminist geographers navigate shifting and shrinking spaces in the academy. We invite scholars to engage with strategies that investigate how to reclaim space inside the academy, including strategies that emphasize teaching, activism, and scholarship, as well as those that emphasize rethinking/reclaiming the institution itself. In particular, we are interested in building a conversation where we might collectively investigate strategies to overcome, co-exist, resist, and reclaim. We envision an interactive session that goes beyond the traditional panel format to engage all audience members as participants, just as the session might be a space that prompts sustained collaboration and strategic organizing beyond the conference. To do this, we propose a panel session in which panelists will present a short statement on their ideas and strategies (5-7 minutes), followed by an open roundtable discussion between all those present.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Martina Angela Caretta West Virginia University 4
Panelist Caroline Faria University of Texas - Austin 4
Panelist Jessica Hayes-Conroy Hobart & William Smith Colleges 7
Panelist Federica Bono Old Dominion University 7
Panelist Shea Gilliam 4
Panelist Kate Swanson San Diego State University 4
Panelist Beth Bee East Carolina University 7
Panelist Kelsey Hanrahan 7
Discussant Emily Billo Goucher College 7
Discussant Amber Murrey University of Oxford 7

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