Institutional kung fu: on the arts of making things happen
With its emphasis on establishing lines of connection between the multiple localities, historical experiences and social movements traversing and forming our region, the methodology of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies has always emphasized the need for intellectual work to engage in a serious way with activities and situations that initially lie “outside” our own immediate concerns. Today, however, the conditions of precarious labour and the brutal performance imperatives imposed by neo-liberal management in universities make it hard for academic workers in particular to risk any experiments that are not prescribed by their jobs. Arguing that it is possible to learn fighting skills that can help us find ways, at times, to get around these limitations, this article asks what practical measures might be able to help scholars thrive as well as survive in university contexts today. To explore this question it draws on Eleanor H. Porter’s novel Pollyanna, on Chan Koonchung’s discussion of “kung fu smarts,” and on the collective wisdom of colleagues.
Inter-Asian methodology; kung fu; Pollyanna; optimism; academic neo-liberalism; hope
Notes on contributor
Meaghan Morris is Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies, the University of Sydney, and former Chair Professor of Cultural Studies in Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Her current research is on martial arts cinema and her most recent book was Creativity and Academic Activism: Instituting Cultural Studies co-edited with Mette Hjort (2012).