In the early 1980s, French philosopher Jacques Derrida deemed it impossible to disassociate the work we do in the humanities and the humanities-oriented social sciences from “a reflection on the political and institutional conditions of that work.”
In the latest issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, co-editors York Professor Bob Hanke and Western University Professor Alison Hearn take up this challenge in their introduction, they chart the transformation of universities that began in the 1990s, the emergence of a critical literature on the contemporary university, and the evident detachment of academics from their own institutional life worlds.
Through an array of critical perspectives, contributors to this issue of TOPIA analytically and vigorously explore the idea, practices, organization, condition and institution of the university. These themes are of great importance to anyone who works in a university, from graduate students aspiring to have an academic career or reflecting on its difficulties, to indebted undergraduate students who might be inspired by events in Quebec known as the “Maple Spring” to become more engaged, to citizens in Canada and around the world who have a public interest in changing higher-education affairs, said Hanke. Taken together, this theme issue makes a strong case that cultural studies needs to trouble the university.
This special issue contains six articles, six short essays or offerings, five review essays and six book reviews along with a gallery of voices and images from the Quebec student protests.
The co-editors have put together a multiperspectival issue that examines the transformation of publicly-funded post-secondary education in parallel to student struggles in Quebec.
“In Canada, as ‘publicly funded’ education is replaced by ‘publicly assisted’ education and the number of precarious professors swells along with the cost of tuition and student debt,” note Hanke and Hearn in their introduction, “we have seen the longest and largest strike in history and tens of thousands of people in the streets for months in Quebec.”
Contributors for this issue of TOPIA are based in universities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US.