Accepted Paper:

Anthropologies of university reform: an introduction  


Susan Wright (Århus University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper traces the emergence of the notion of a global knowledge economy on which many current university reforms are predicated. It provides facts and figures about the speed and extent of reforms. It highlights how the session’s papers explore anthropologically how students, academics and managers participate in reforms.

Paper long abstract:

The first half of the paper provides a context for the session. It sketches out the emergence of the notion of a global knowledge economy and the ways it has been used to propose major changes to universities. The paper then provides some facts and figures to capture the speed and extent of the current wildfire of reforms, often originating in New Zealand and Australia, sweeping into and across Europe and then moving onward to other parts of the globe, now, importantly, including many emerging and poor economies. In this section the paper draws on an 'anthropology of policy' to explore how policies and their associated technologies travel.

The second half of the paper briefly introduces the other papers in the session by highlighting some of the ways they draw on anthropology to explore how students, academics, managers and other actors participate in different aspects of these reforms. Here the focus widens out to consider how to study the language, symbols and power in often localised contests and struggles over large scale processes of transformation.

Panel W034
Anthropologies of university reform: restructuring of higher education - anthropological perspectives