Professors + Publics: A Roundtable on Academic Activism
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM (EST)
San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
In a 2002 essay, “The Public Role of Writers and Intellectuals,” Edward Said argued that the intellectual’s role was not to solve problems, but rather “dialectically, oppositionally, to uncover and elucidate...to challenge and defeat both an imposed silence [in public discourse] and the normalized quiet of unseen power wherever and whenever possible.” Intellectuals ought to expose the overlapping “yet irreconcilable experiences” of history and the present, which entails a process of public and political engagement that is as much a struggle now as it was twelve years ago.
This roundtable revisits Said's challenge by interrogating the status of academic activism in the 21st century. Digital technologies and social media are reshaping the public sphere and remaking the power dynamics of knowledge, activism, and social justice. At the same time, destabilized labour markets and dwindling government funding are challenging universities to rethink their role. Humanists, in particular, feel compelled to justify their relevance to career-minded students and cost-cutting administrators. How should we address these changes as scholars and citizens?
Our panelists will address the potential of politcal engagement beyond the academy with special attention given to the discipline of history, where activism has traditionally been deemed inappropriate. How should present concerns shape history-related scholarship, if at all? What kind of voice should this scholarship have in the public sphere? Can academics collaborate effectively with communities struggling for social justice? What barriers prevent us from more meaningful and equitable engagement beyond the classroom and how can we overcome them? How essential is history for the pursuit of a more just and democratic society?
Please join us at the Art Centre, University College on February 24, 1:30-3:30pm.
Paul Kennedy from CBC's "Ideas" will be moderating our discussion.
Michelle Murphy, University of Toronto
Melanie Newton, University of Toronto
Nadia Jones-Gailani, University of South Florida
Melonie Fullick, York University
Sean Kheraj, York University