CASCA/IUAES2017 Conference in Ottawa
- Filip Vostal (Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences) email
- Oili-Helena Ylijoki (University of Tampere) email
- Libor Benda (Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences) email
Academia is now a site of unprecedented dynamization. Various manifestos advancing an ethos of slow have recently emerged as remedies for detrimental acceleration of academia. This panel explores what it means to say that academia is speeding-up and why it needs - or not - to slow down and how.
Academic environment, it is claimed, is now a site of unprecedented dynamization and intensification of its various processes; academia is 'accelerating/accelerated'; it is in the 'flux of time'. Academics report time-squeeze, acceleration of pace of life, burnout, exhaustion, alienation from their vocation and cognate 'hidden injuries', which result from the consolidation of neoliberal governance and metrification of academia. The imperative of speed accounts now for one of the main detrimental aspects of contemporary academia. In this relation, various 'slow manifestos' (Slow Professor, Slow Science, Slow Scholarship) addressing the hasty pace of academic life and advancing an ethos of slow recently emerged as possible remedies. In this panel we'd like to explore what it actually means to say that academic world is speeding-up and why it needs - or not - to slow down and how. Is fast synonymous to neoliberal? Is the notion of slow unreservedly progressive? We welcome theoretical, polemical and empirical contributions addressing such issues. Papers may explore various conceptions and experiences of time in contemporary academia as well as promises and limits of the notion of 'the slow' as a rival and an opposite to fast academia. We particularly welcome investigations of the complexities of 'academic time' as we believe that the dichotomy of slow vs. fast remains reductive. Multi-temporal perspective is needed if it were to capture the conflicting temporalities that characterize academic knowledge production.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
For a fatal clash of temporal structures in contemporary academia
This paper explores the paradox between academic speed and inertia by implicating itself in communicative acceleration conceptually as well as actually. It proposes that this paradox eventually pushes us towards the fatality of academic research as such since its idealistic inception.
It appears that the university today has irreparably strayed from its principle of the pursuit of justice and truth towards an accelerated neoliberal machine. Moreover, as progressive academics, we seem to find ourselves in a paradoxical situation in which the productive acceleration of research via more efficient communicative techniques seems also to be fuelling a larger state of social and innovative inertia. This paper seeks to explore this paradox by productively implicating itself in communicative acceleration partly by way of the speedy delivery at an international conference of the very argument of speed versus inertia. It proposes that the paradox between acceleration and inertia - where one temporal form either begets or is begotten by the other - signals a reversal of the foundational principles of agency and causality. This means on the one hand that the argument that plays off against one temporal form against another for the sake of progress, effectively no longer makes a real difference in the face of an exceedingly oppressive acceleration. Yet on the other hand, this paradoxical temporal structure also pushes us towards the reality of the essentially aporetic endeavour of academic research since its inception, so that the technological and conceptual performance of the hope for a better future and society that this paper likewise performs finally starts to cave in. This eventually leads the paper to make a case for the essential fatality of academic argumentation - and indeed the academic endeavour as such - despite and because of its own good academic conscience.
Conflicts of scheduled time in accelerated academia
Social acceleration has shaped the timeframe, timing, tempo and temporality of academic work, resulting in the domination of fast, fragmented and short-term scheduled time. This paper explores what temporal conflicts the hegemony of scheduled time produces and how academics respond to it.
Drawing upon the theory of social acceleration, the timeframe, timing, tempo and temporality of academic work are changing, resulting in the domination of externally imposed, fast and short-term time, called scheduled time. The timeframe of scheduled time is short and fragmented into unconnected events. Its timing is fixed and defined from outside, leaving little space for temporal autonomy. The tempo is hectic because of the increased, and often conflicting, demands and expectations. Finally, temporality emphasises change over continuity since in the turbulent work environment it is difficult to anticipate the future and one needs to be ready for unpredictable transformations. These changes challenge the timescape of academic work, redefining what academia is all about.
Empirically, the paper is based on in-depth and focus group interviews with Finnish academics working in social sciences. The study discerns four core temporal conflicts: 1) scheduled time vs. body time, 2) scheduled time vs. timeless time, 3) scheduled time vs. career time, and 4) scheduled time vs. family time. However, academics are not victims but active actors who respond to the demands of scheduled time in diverse ways. The paper sheds light on how academics navigate the temporal conflicts, build strategies for achieving temporal autonomy, and craft personally fitting ways to live and work under the dominance of scheduled time. Furthermore, scheduled time itself is complex and multilayered in nature, thereby creating paradoxes and counter-effects to the intended effects, when, for instance, the pursuit for the control of time results in the loss of control.
Not enough time: on the neglect of the temporal dimension of science in STS research
In this paper I argue that despite the epistemic significance of the category of time in scientific knowledge production, it has so far almost completely escaped attention of Science & Technology Studies (STS) scholars, and that this unfortunate state of affairs needs to be changed.
Science & Technology Studies (STS) have revolutionized our understanding of science and its day-to-day practice, its relationship to other segments of society, and the nature of knowledge it produces. Through numerous empirical case studies STS have provided us with a detailed picture of the process and situatedness of scientific knowledge production. In this paper I argue, however, that in studying the epistemic role of various variables/parameters that take part in this process, STS scholars have excessively focused on traditional social categories, such as "interests" and "power relations", while the category of time and its epistemic significance almost completely escaped their attention. Since the constitutive role of time in scientific knowledge production - as in any other human activity - is beyond discussion, as I will demonstrate on a few selected studies of scientific practice, I argue for a more systematic and focused STS research on the temporal dimension of science and its epistemic function. Such research would not only yield better understanding of the mechanisms of scientific knowledge production; it could also substantially contribute to our understanding of the diverse temporalities of science and thus might play a crucial "corrective" role in the recent debates on "fast vs. slow" science/academia.
Slow professing from the margins of academia
This paper uses an auto-ethnographic perspective to explore questions about what temporalities of knowledge production means from the perspective of precarious academic labourers.
In 2005, Meneley and Young published their edited volume, Auto-Ethnographies: The Anthropology of Academic Practices, in which various anthropologists employed a critical ethnographic approach to reflecting on the academy, and “the ways in which current intellectual practices are produced within various institutional, national, and international constellations of meaning and power” (1). This paper adopts these writers’ critical and reflexive perspective, turning the lens toward what intellectual practice means for the generations of scholars working as precarious academic labourers, or move into careers primarily outside of the academy. From the perspective of the many who work within the academy on short-term teaching contracts, what do concerns about slow or fast professing mean? What do (or perhaps should) these reflections mean for how those of us still working within or on the margins the academy approach teaching and training the next generation of anthropologists? Drawing on years of informal discussion and participant-observation, this paper begins to explore how and in what ways these questions about temporalities of knowledge production matters today for marginalized academics and those working beyond the academy.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.