Events – Cardiff

Call for Papers on Session: ‘Bullying … petty managerialism … progressive erosion of trust and collegiality’: the (im)possibilities of critical geographies in changing landscapes of contemporary universities

Annual Royal Geographical Society 2018 at Cardiff University (Tuesday 28 to Friday 31 August 2018) 

Session Organiser: Professor Mark Jayne (Cardiff University)

The Annual Royal Geographical Society-IBG 2018 conference is hosted by the School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University with a backdrop of:

‘increasing reports of colleagues being ground down by their working conditions: by bullying and petty managerialism, by bureaucracy, by observation and monitoring, by the progressive erosion of trust and collegiality’ (The Cardiff UCU Branch Committee 20/09/2017).

In parallel with such working conditions there have been increasing concerns over the effects of a problematic disconnection between university managers and academic staff (Shepherd 2017); all of which can be contextualized with reference to an longstanding and ever growing body of literature on neo-liberalisation within academia (Castree and Sparke; 2000; Dowling 2008; Mountz et al 2015). While the above conditions are, of course, by no means unique to Cardiff University it thus vital that we critically interrogate policy and everyday practice, between, and within, universities.

Alongside these critical responses and reflections have been investigations of attacks on personal/academic identities and reputations (Valentine 1998) and disciplinary traditions and pedagogies (Gray 2003); as well as highlighting politics of taking practices/processes relating to ‘complaint’ seriously – because ‘complaint can teach us about the continuity of abuses of power with the use pattern of an institution. And by use pattern, I am referring to the ways in which a university is occupied’ (Ahmed 2017).

More broadly, in the world of work beyond universities contemporary popular and political imaginations are concerned with cognate terrain such as unfolding responses to sexual harassment (Wallis and Lea 2017); the effects of ‘complaints’ procedures on well-being and health (BBC Wales 2017); and controversies relating to productivity/professional development related bullying (Kelner 2017).

This session will consider the (im)possibilities of geographical critical theoretical and pedagogical imaginations and perspectives, in order, where necessary to inform more progressive policy and practice within universities, and within geography departments more specifically.

Papers can include, but are not limited to, theoretical engagement with critical Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, post-structural and more-than-representational theory and include empirical evidence, case studies and personal experiences relating to:

  • Probation;
  • Academic materialities and working practices;
  • Professional development review;
  • REF;
  • Identities and unequal power relations, with regard to age, sexuality, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, disability, subcultural style and so on;
  • Body size, image and ‘health’ discourses;
  • Collegiality and well-being;
  • Promotion and pay transparency;
  • Moral distancing of decision making/blaming;
  • Masculine managerialism;
  • Socialising ‘beyond the workplace’;
  • Staff surveys;
  • Student module evaluations;
  • Taking student complaints seriously;
  • Fieldwork and field trips;
  • Complaints and disciplinary procedures.

Please submit a title, abstract of no more than 250 words to by December 20th 2017


Ahmed, S. (2017) ‘The politics of complaint’, Carolinianeb, 25?10/2017

BBC Wales (2017) ‘Bullying and toxicity’ in Welsh Government, says ex-aide’, 12/11/2017

Castree, N, Sparke, M (2000) Professional geography and the corporatization of the university: Experiences, evaluations, and engagements. Antipode 32(3): 222–229

Dowling, R (2008) Geographies of identity: Labouring in the ‘neoliberal’ university. Progress in Human Geography 32(6): 812–820.

Gray, A. (2003) ‘Cultural studies at Birmingham: the Impossibility of critical pedagogy?’, Cultural Studies, 17 (6): 767-782.

Kelner, M (2017) Para-swimmers bullied and verbally abused in coach’s ‘climate of fear’’The Guardian, 12/10/2017.

Mountz, A et al (2015) ‘For slow scholarship: a feminist politics of resistance through collective action in the Neoliberal University’, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographers, 14 (4) 1235-1259.

Shepherd, S. (2017) ‘There is gulf between academics and university management – and it’s growing’, The Guardian, 27th July.

Valentine, G. (1998) ‘’’Sticks and stones may break my bones’’: A personal geography of harassment’, Antipode, 30 (4): 305-332.

Wallis, H. and Lea, L. (2017) ‘What to do if you think you are being sexually harassed at work’, BBC, 06/10/2017