Beyond all reason: spaces of hope in the struggle for England’s universities

Sarah S. Amsler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay examines how academics and students in England have been primed to comply with a political agenda of “deep” neoliberalization through cumulative processes of institutional and subjective undermining and considers what might be an appropriate logic of critical response. It first describes how the embedding of principles and mechanisms of market governance within academic life has depoliticized methods for critically theorizing and collectively resisting these processes and then explores the work of recent student-led opposition to the British government’s new policies, teasing out some theoretical implications of the logic of occupation being cultivated there. It suggests that by fusing a determination for autonomy with a transgressive cultivation of new forms of thinking and social practice, the occupations illustrate new critical-experimental work in the politics of possibility. The underlying logic thus offers some resources for reimagining modalities of resistance to processes of deep neoliberalization; however, becoming receptive to them may also require a critique of professional academic subjectivities and reevaluation of attachments to existing forms of the university itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-87
Number of pages26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


  • crisis
  • university
  • neoliberalism
  • politics of possibility
  • academic politics
  • student politics
  • occupation


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