On Doing Academic Work: Critical Performativity as Intellectual Activism

43 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2017

Date Written: Sept 2, 2016


This paper is an invitation to embrace intellectual activism in academic work in general and in business schools in particular. Based on the work of Patricia Hill Collins intellectual activism is defined as ‘the myriad ways in which people place the power of their ideas in service to social justice’. Intellectual activism is a particular type of critical performativity that allows us to answer the challenges of the hegemonic crisis we are undergoing by changing the terms of our academic praxis in business schools. Intellectual activist praxis outlined here invests the key dimensions of the way we do academic work. In a systematizing effort I indicate that such academic praxis has four key features. It is progressive, critical, engaged and concrete. I elaborate these features and then I introduce specific tactics/practices for engagement offering examples. In summary I suggest that intellectual activism in business schools is i. a form of political work; ii. a form of ‘building work’; and iii. not easy. I argue that given our current historic juncture intellectual activism is extremely urgent. I exhort you all to examine its meaning and discern ways in which you can work to advance social/economic and epistemic justice in your daily academic praxis.

Keywords: Performativity, Hegemony, Scholarship, Social Change, Praxis, Activism, Performance, Academia, Business School, Management Education

Suggested Citation

Contu, Alessia, On Doing Academic Work: Critical Performativity as Intellectual Activism (Sept 2, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3012574 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3012574

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