ASAP at Dubrovnik: Call for papers on higher education

Universities and the Knowledge Economy: Perspectives from the Anthropology of Policy

Panel for the Inter Congress of the International Association of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences.
Dubrovnik, Croatia; May 4 – 9, 2016.


The reorganization of universities in the global knowledge economy has been premised on an assemblage of neoliberal ideas and practices that seek to transform universities into autonomous, entrepreneurial ‘knowledge organizations’ by promoting competition, opening up the public sector to private investors, steering educational services so that they contribute more to economic competitiveness, and encouraging individuals to maximize their skills in the global labour market.  Under increasing pressure to pursue ‘excellence’, gain higher world rankings, forge links with business, and attract elite, fee-paying students, many universities are struggling to maintain their traditional mission to be ‘inclusive’, to improve social mobility and equality, and to be a critic of society and a source of alternative ideas. This panel examines the effects of these processes and the way universities are engaging with these dilemmas.  It looks for ‘spaces of hope’ for developing alternative ideas for organising higher education and academic work. We invite papers that address any of the following questions:

•    How are higher education institutions being reconfigured as ‘entrepreneurial universities’ and as ‘knowledge organisations’?
•    How are new kinds of management and governance regimes, rankings and performance indicators transforming the culture of academia?
•    How are universities coping with these diverse and seeming contradictory policy agendas?
•    How are national and international reforms impacting on the social purposes of the university and its relationship to society?
•    What possibilities are there for alternative university futures?
•    What insights can the anthropology of policy offer to any of the questions above?

Call for Papers

On behalf of the Association for the Anthropology of Policy, we seek to bring together scholars and practitioners interested in university reform and higher education policy as topics of anthropological study. The aim of the panel is to open up a space for reflection on the changing political economy and micro-politics of university reform and the way neoliberal policies and programs are redefining the culture of academia. The panel seeks to explore how the approach and methodologies of an anthropology of policy can shed light on these processes and their effects. We particularly welcome papers that examine the internationalization, privatization and ‘managerialization’ of universities, the policies that frame these programs, and the way local actors negotiate, experience and resist them or explore alternatives.

If you would like to participate please contact either or both of us giving us an idea of the topic you plan to address:
Cris Shore at [email protected] and Susan Wright at [email protected]

Full conference information is available at: