The conduct of concern: Exclusionary discursive practices and subject positions in academia

Educational Philosophy and Theory 40 (3):394–406 (2008)
Abstract
Drawing on material collected amongst Danish and Australian humanities and social science academics, the article illustrates and problematises a particular and recurring discursive practice amongst academics: 'the conduct of concern'. Conceptualising the conduct of concern as an exclusionary and de-legitimising discursive practice, the article offers a (mis)reading of some of the storylines and constructions it could be seen to invoke and reproduce—amongst others, the idea of the autonomous, rational academic subject. The author discusses the conduct of concern, as a particular kind of subject position and positioning, in terms of Donna Haraway's figure 'the modest witness'. The author suggests that the conduct of concern as a readily available exclusionary discursive practice in academia 'smuggles in' and naturalises constructions and positionings associated with the autonomous rational subject, and participates in masking the discourse mobiliser's subjective and political investments. In that way, by appropriating the ubiquitous discursive practice academics might contribute to upholding constructions and practices they otherwise seek to disrupt.
Keywords exclusion  academic culture  modest witness  positioning
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