Graveyards of Academe: The Neoliberal University

headless statue at grave

Inspired by Benjamin Balthaser and Bill V. Mullen’s essay “The Necroliberal University:
COVID-19, Racial Violence, and the Management of Death“, this event offers us an opportunity to discuss current practices and ideologies of higher education. Necroliberal melds neoliberal with necropolitical, resulting in a word that suggests the management and administration of death within an environment celebrating freedom, individualism, and prosperity.

Balthaser and Mullen argue that the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have converged to highlight the necroliberalism of universities that now must weigh the danger of the pandemic versus the economic toll of remote work, that must confront their racialized histories and figure out how to issue institutional statements about systemic racism. The ivory tower has been breached. “For many years,” Balthaser and Mullen write, “the university has been imagined as a site removed, a place in which class, race, and social conflict can be managed. That era is over: the madness now has a glossy thirty-page brochure and an ever-increasing death count.”