‘Counter to advance? Observations on the traditions, trajectories & openings of the re-emerging field of ‘critical university studies’ – talk by Dina Zoe Belluigi for Liverpool Hope University

Below is a recording of the talk Counter to advance? Observations on the traditions, trajectories & openings of the re-emerging field of ‘critical university studies’ which I offered online on the 18 March 2020 at Liverpool Hope University.

Against a backdrop of increasing strife, dis-ease and uncertainty expressed by students and academics within higher education in many places across the globe, Critical University Studies (or Critical Higher Education Studies) has seen a re-emergence. This talk presents a number of reflections in an attempt to productively question our engagement with this ‘field’ within the academy – clues of which are embedded within the discord suggested in the title. ‘Advance’ is a sense of the agency of those of us within, to shape the field and be shaped by it, and the currents and imaginaries to which such movement relates. ‘Counter’ relates to resistance, to a concern with whom and what is counted as important in and for this area of enquiry, and whom or what can effectively counter the dominant and the oppressive within and about higher education. It relates to the geo/politics of this field, and its internal processes of de/ legitimation as it becomes disciplined into a discipline. Against this to-and-fro discord of countering to advance, are ‘observations’ to situate this talk within the speakers’ particular perspective, concerns and positionality about possible traditions, trajectories and openings of this area of enquiry and its possible ways of operating.

It was shifted to a fully online engagement due to travel and other restrictions in response to the coronovirus. As such, I have uploaded it to share with you.

The talk is 32 minutes long and asks the viewer to link to one specific video related to the Counter // Narratives project. For that link go to this site:https://counternarrativefilm.wixsite.com/counter/the-bell

The discussion also related to A Higher Education Studies Arts Archive. See that here https://padlet.com/d_belluigi/h0gt6acbb0v1

Thanks to my Frank Su for his interaction about this talk.

Fragments of ‘At the Margins of the University: Scholarship and practice of higher education transformation and disruption in contexts of post/ conflict, inequality and oppression’

This audio recording, with selected stills of the event and powerpoint, documents the introduction by Dr Dina Zoe Belluigi of the seminar ‘At the Margins of the University: Scholarship and practice of higher education transformation and disruption in contexts of post/ conflict, inequality and oppression’ on 20 September 2019 at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

At this event, as part of School of Social Science, Education and Social Work’s research focus on Peace in Societies, reflections on three intentional interventions (a roundtable; a cross-institutional academic development programme; a network) were presented by those concerned with social justice in and of the academy:

  1. Building solidarity through comparative experiences of post/conflict academia: Reflections on two days of dialogue – Tom Parkinson (University of Kent)
  2. A capacity development model for women in higher education institutions in East Africa – Naomi Lumutenga (HERS-EA)
  3. Reflecting on ‘Emancipatory Imaginations: Advancing Critical University Studies’ Event – Jenny Boźena du Preez (Nelson Mandela University), Dina Belluigi (QUB), and Tony Gallagher (QUB)

Due to the nature of this frank reflexive conversation, the contributors of the first two sessions have not provided permission for those digital artefacts to be reproduced here. The audio recording below documents the third reflective discussion.

Reflecting on ‘Emancipatory Imaginations: Advancing Critical University Studies’ Event – Jenny Boźena du Preez (Nelson Mandela University), Dina Belluigi (QUB), and Tony Gallagher (QUB)

Between the 15th and 20th of August 2019, over 40 invited scholars and practitioners with an interest in the critical study of higher education from Ghana, India, Kenya, Ireland, South Africa, Uganda, the UK, Europe, Canada and other countries, gathered for the GCRF-funded Emancipatory Imaginations: Advancing Critical University Studies Winter School at Nelson Mandela University in South Africa. As part of the collaboration between Dr Dina Zoe Belluigi (SSESW, Queen’s University Belfast) and Prof André Keet (Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation, Nelson Mandela University), the aim was to challenge and ‘denaturalize the dominant higher education imaginary’ (Stein 2018, p.1) and consider the prospect of ‘other’ ways to study universities that are meaningfully different from the various strands of conventional higher education studies. In doing so, the School also intended to explore a flexible configuration of a Critical University Studies programme that is capable of thinking plural forms of emancipatory higher education imaginations and futures.

The Emancipatory Imaginations Winter School, in bringing together scholars from multiple locations to Africa, has explicitly situated itself at the nexus of the various intellectual, intergenerational and geopolitical tensions in this emerging field, in the hopes of responding to the already extant traditions of Critical University Studies, unpacking its tensions and co-creating new ethico-political possibilities for social justice and solidarity in this field. This seminar will bring together three of the attendees of the Winter School – Dr Jenny Boźena du Preez (Nelson Mandela University), Prof Tony Gallagher (QUB and Dr Dina Belluigi (QUB) – to reflect on the processes and outcomes of the School, including emerging themes, contestations and possibilities for collaboration.

Below are links to the videos from the Winter School event. The report can be accessed here.

Jenny Boźena du Preez is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa. She is currently working on the critical and transformative potential of literature and Literary Studies and what it might have to offer Critical University Studies. Jenny was instrumental in organising the Emancipatory Imaginations: Advancing Critical University Studies Winter School, and leading the CRISHET team through the event. She holds a PhD in Literary Studies in English focusing on representations of gender and sexuality within literature by African women. She has published an article entitled “Liminality and Alternative Femininity in Sol T. Plaatje’s Mhudi” in English in Africa and an interview with South African writer, Makhosazana Xaba, in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde. She has taught a range of courses in Literary Studies in English and Media, Communications and Culture at Nelson Mandela University.

Tony Gallagher is currently Professor of Education at Queen’s University Belfast. He has held various leadership posts in Queen’s including Head of the School of Education, Pro Vice Chancellor and Acting Faculty Dean of Research for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. His primary research interest lies in the role of education in divided societies, especially as this relates to work on social cohesion and equality. In addition, he works with the Council of Europe and an international consortium on the civic and democratic role of higher education. (Twitter: @tgeducation)

Dina Zoe Belluigi is an academic in Higher Education Studies at the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland), prior to which, she was a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL) at Rhodes University in South Africa. Her scholarship and practitioner work has circulated around how those with responsibility for representation, at first artists and then academics, bear witness to the problematics and im-possibility of such representation and such responsibility, and moreover how such agents are constructed, enabled and/or ‘schooled’ as agents of social change and critical consciousness. Dina organised this seminar, and is honoured to bring these speakers to Belfast. (Twitter: @DZBelluigi)

Funding for the event was provided by SSESW’s Contested Societies research group (Queen’s University Belfast) and the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF)..

Conversation with Dr Jason Arday about race in UK higher education

(40 mins)

Jason has been working on race matters in the UK context for some time. I was fortunate to have him respond to a plea I made when first coming to the UK in 2017 – and his continued scholarship and responsiveness to my perplexed requests, have been a source of strength and learning for me.

The recording above (40 mins) is a hastily grabbed moment in the midst of an intellectual gathering in Port Elizabeth, South Africa – as is this selfie near the sea during that time.

Jason has not yet curated his work into a space – but when he does I promise to update! Many of the publications are online, as are some YouTube recordings.

Access information on the Runnymede Trust here or follow them on Twitter (@RunnymedeTrust)