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Critical friendship: an alternative, ‘care-full’ way to play the academic game
The severe impact of the neoliberal university has been commonly acknowledged, particularly for women academics. Feminist conceptualisations of academic work highlight that meaningful relationships in the workspace and care ethics in academia are practices of resistance against the neoliberal academy, including those of friendship and mentorship. In this paper, we add critical academic friendship to this repertoire of practices aligning with feminist care ethics and propose it as a way of working within the neoliberal academy slowly and meaningfully. Critical friendship is a practice often used by teacher educators to assist engagement in self-reflection and constructive critical dialogue among colleagues as a means to aid both personal and professional development. Inspired by our personal experience as critical academic friends and using an autoethnographic approach, the paper outlines how our critical friendship developed and was practiced. We highlight how time, space and neoliberal academic practices all influence how this relationship unfolded. Through showcasing how engaging in critical friendship helped us (re)produce robust feminist personal and professional identities, we hope to inspire more academics to share similar experiences, to intensify the message that engaging in ‘care-full’ relationships is paramount for resisting the pressures of neoliberal academic work and for ‘doing’ academia differently and more meaningfully.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Geography and Environment