Figuring out the university and the student in neoliberal times: reviews of Learning under neoliberalism (Hyatt, Shear and Wright 2015) and Figuration work (Nielsen 2015)
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The university today is in flux, and so is the nature of learning and what it means to be a university student. While terms like ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘globalisation’ have been spoken of so frequently these days – both in academic and non-academic contexts – that they border on becoming hollow clichés, not engaging with these concepts and their implications for higher education transformations worldwide would not only represent a loss of a critical intellectual opportunity but, more seriously still, also the potential risk of seeing the university and the student slip into shapes and forms that we might retrospectively find unsettling and undesirable. Learning under neoliberalism, edited by Hyatt, Shear and Wright (2015), and Figuration work, authored by Gritt B. Nielsen (2015), are two good examples of such critical engagement. In this essay, I take turns to review these two recently published works, summarising their scopes and notable contributions for readers who are interested in an anthropological/ethnographic take on critical higher education studies from the Euro-American perspective.
© 2016 European Association of Social Anthropologists. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by Social Anthropology, European Association of Social Anthropologists. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1469-8676.12291].