Complaint as Counterpublic: Weak Resistance and Feminism in Neoliberal Academia
Ewa Majewska (Institute of Cultural Inquiry, Berlin)
Contradictions: A Journal for Critical Thought IV, no. 2 (2020): 17–45
Keywords: The complaint, counterpublics, diversity work, feminism, academic labor
This article critically engages in the perplexed ontology of the complaint, which crosses the boundaries between the personal and the public and at the same time undermines the presuppositions organizing said division within the academic workplace. A feminist counterpublic – as Nancy Fraser defines it – opens ways of opposing the existing inequalities by producing a discursive space of critique of the status quo from an oppressed or marginalized position. Following the analysis of the complaint offered by Sara Ahmed, this article emphasizes the political dimension of the complaint, showing how it actually needs to become something else, probably more than a mere procedure, to bring any change. The passage from complaint to counterpublic built here is an effort to combine the critique of academic procedures of justice as potentially discriminatory practices within neoliberal academia with a suggestion that perhaps a more public and labour rights oriented strategy is better suited to accomplish equality.
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