Beyond the Limits of Solidarity in the Post-Pandemic University

I have a new article out in a Special Issue of the journal, Work organisation, labour & globalisation. The Special Issue is on Organisation in the (Post)Pandemic University, and the abstract for my article,Beyond the Limits of Solidarity in the Post-Pandemic University“, is given below.


This article challenges a liberal analysis of higher education (HE) inside an integrated system of economic production, and instead critiques: first, how UK policymakers sought to re-engineer English HE during and after the pandemic, through governance, regulation and funding changes predicated upon accelerating a discourse of value-for-money; second, the institutional labour reorganisation that followed, and which placed complete class fractions of academic labour in a permanent state of being at risk; and third, how in continually demonstrating that it cannot fulfil the desires of those who labour within it for a meaningful work-life, the university must be transcended. In addressing the entanglement of precarity and privilege, it argues that, if the university is unable to contribute to ways of knowing, being and doing that address socio-economic, socio-environmental or intersectional ruptures, then it must go.


Hall, R. (2024). Beyond the Limits of Solidarity in the Post-Pandemic University. Special Issue: Organisation in the (Post)Pandemic University, in Work organisation, labour & globalisation.

Capital in Higher Education: A Critique of the Political Economy of the Sector

I am really pleased that Krystian Szadkowski’s brilliant deconstruction of the mess that higher education is in, and what is to be done is out now, with Palgrave Macmillan. The book is titled: Capital in Higher Education: A Critique of the Political Economy of the Sector.

The book offers a systematic, sectoral, and in-depth Marxist perspective on the critique of political economy of higher education. It proposes an original method of analysis of higher education as a field of capitalist production, grounded at the intersection of mainstream higher education research and contemporary debates in Marxist theories. At the same time, it imbues a political perspective based on the embedding of higher education within the wider social network of antagonistic relations that traverse the capitalist economy at large.

My series editor’s foreword is available, open access, here. In it, I note:

as Szadkowski’s crucial work on Capital in Higher Education demonstrates, the construction and power of terms like value-for-money are situated against the political economy of the sector. For many, this situation remains a mystery, which Szadkowski seeks to uncover through a powerful critique that centres Marx’s dialectical methodology, grounded in our particular, material history. The unfolding, material process of history is deeply entwined in our ways of knowing, doing and being in the world that people

may make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. (Marx, 1852)

Szadkowski seeks to help us understand these circumstances and their ontological ramifications for us. At the heart of this work is a desire to understand the unfolding relations between academic labour and capital in the reproduction both of the University and of socially useful knowledge. In this, Capital in Higher Education demonstrates how the connections between, first, the alleged autonomy of knowledge production, second, the quantification of outputs and impact and, third, the accelerated accumulation of the abundance of intellectual artefacts by educational publishers contribute to a terrain for the extraction of surplus-value that is dehumanising.

At the core of this is a deep methodological and ontological engagement with the material history of value theory, in an attempt to unpick how academic labour is conditioned and constructed for the measurement and commodification of knowledge. Understanding how value and markets erupt through processes of subsumption in a competitive, global environment that is itself stitched into a wider social terrain for valorising academic knowledge enables cultures of measure and measuring and prestige to be analysed. This is important because the value that can be materialised by measuring and commodified academic outputs, as a form of private property, is reinforced through a prestige economy that is mediated against an academic division of labour. Through the market, such outputs and measurements of prestige are brought into relation such that they might be compared.

In these days, Capital in Higher Education has lessons for us all.

Has the University Become Surplus to Requirements? Or is Another University Possible?

With Krystian Szadkowski, I have a new journal article published in a Special Issue of Praktyka Teoretyczna, on Latency of the Crisis: globalization, subjectivity, and resistance.

The article is titled: Has the University Become Surplus to Requirements? Or is Another University Possible?

It is available at:

The abstract is as follows.

This article contends that the University has become a place that has no socially-useful role beyond the reproduction of capital, such that it has become an anti-human project. The argument pivots around the bureaucratic university’s desire for surplus, and its relationship to the everyday, academic reality of feeling surplus to requirements. In defining the contours of this contradiction, inside the normalisation of political economic crisis, we question whether there still exists space for an academic method or mode of subjectivation. We also critique the ability of the University in the global North to bring itself into relation with the epistemological sensibilities of the South and the East, which can treat other ways of seeing and praxis with dignity and respect. In grappling with the idea of surplus, and the everyday and structural ways in which its production is made manifest, we seek to ask whether another university is possible?

Decolonising DMU: Building the Anti-Racist University

I’m speaking on Decolonising DMU: Building the Anti-Racist University online, at a University of East Anglia event, hosted by UEA’s Decolonising Interns’ group. My slides and abstract are noted below the event details.

‘That Other History’ Online Symposium (Mixed Panel)

Friday 10th December 2021 from 11.30 AM to 1:00 PM

For more information, email: or click the link to join this 10th December event.

‘That Other History’ Symposium Poster has details and a QR code for access.

NB there is also a published paper with some e-prints available on Teaching in Higher Education. The paper is titled Struggling for the anti-racist university: learning from an institution-wide response to curriculum decolonisation.


The following are the three topics/panellists.

  1. ‘Critical Decolonisation in British Education – Exploring the space between Representation and Romanticisation.’ Kaeya Zui (UEA-LDC)
  2. ‘Decolonising DMU: Building the Anti-Racist University.’ Professor Richard Hall (DMU) and Dr Lucy Ansley (DMU)
  3. ‘Collective Reflections on trying to ‘decolonise’ UEA.’ Moé Suzuki (UEA-PPL), Arzhang Pezhman (UEA-LDC), Megan Pay (UEA-PPL)


Whilst a number of universities are moving forward with Race Equality Charter work, and broader equality, diversity and inclusion activities, De Montfort University (DMU) has initiated a dedicated Decolonising DMU (DDMU) project, aimed at building the anti-racist University. Building upon work on the awarding gap, the first phase of the project had five strands (Institution, Library, Students, Staff and Research). In its second, emergent phase, the work will shift to focus upon: equality of education and research; progression, talent and representation; governance and accountability; and understanding culture and behaviour.

The project explicitly builds upon a working position grounded in abolitionist, indigenous and critical race positions, which question ontological and epistemological approaches, and which stress social justice. This draws upon existing intellectual and activist practices, and reveals the tensions of bringing such theoretical, methodological and practical positions into conversation with institutional change projects. Where those projects are governed through established change-management methodologies, inside institutions with legacies of power, prestige and privilege, anti-racism as alternative ways of knowing, doing and being potentially jarring and threatening.

Here, DDMU seeks to uncover the tensions in reintegrating such praxis within University structures, cultures and practices. This is important inside institutions that historically centre whiteness, not just in knowledge production but in their everyday lived experiences. In terms of structures, cultures and practices, this brings the University into relation with individual and communal issues of white fragility and privilege, double and false consciousness, and behavioural code switching.

In order to address some of these issues around whiteness, the DDMU project is researching what decolonising means to its stakeholders, through staff/student surveys, student diaries, DDMU team diaries, and staff interviews. This work has revealed: the complexities of meaning around decolonising and its relationship to anti-racism; personal issues that frame and understanding of and engagement with decolonising; structural, institutional issues in delivering meaningful transformation; differing conceptions of the nature of the University; and, the need to explore empathy, relatedness and lived experiences.

In this paper, we draw out some of the themes from this research, in order to reflect upon the development of an institutional project, focused upon delivering long-term, cultural change. We reflect upon the limits of transformation, the relationships between structures and agency, and issues of positionality (for instance, in terms of the identities of researchers seeking to understand lived experiences of marginalisation and trauma).

LOL My Praxis: The Hopeless University

My friend and compadre, James Brown (the other one) nominated me for the lolmypraxis podcast, in order to talk about my work on The Hopeless University.

LOL, my praxis! The timely, interdisciplinary, and entirely un-REFable academic/comedy podcast! Striving for four star, world-leading excellence in terms of originality, significance, rigour, and sarcasm.

The episode is available on Apple and Spotify.

Episode Notes

Dear Lord, what a sad little obsession we have with a retro episode of Come Dine with Me…this episode we’re joined by the hopeless Professor Richard Hall. We’re here to radicalise your pedagogy and diversify your curriculum with the help of a straight white man.

You can find Richard’s research here: and get his new book The Hopeless University: Intellectual Work at the End of the End of History for FREE here:

This work is very deliberately not central to my public engagement and future REF Impact work.

I had some qualms about one phrase I used in the podcast. I discussed it in these tweets.

purchasing options: The Hopeless University

Whilst The Hopeless University can be purchased from Amazon, other retailers will be available through Ingram (who manage the print-on-demand service). Ingram distributes the new titles through its partners. However, there might be some differences in how fast the new titles are available in each vendor’s catalogue.

A video dialogue with Joel Lazarus on his Agent of History site is available here.

Rae Elbow and the Magic Beans has also released a new album with the same name, available from his bandcamp site, here.

Finally, I’m presenting on this in June at both Durham University and also Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland. You will be able to sign-up for the latter, which takes place on 15 June at 1pm GMT (2pm CET) from the Philosophy of Higher Education website.

against whiteness

The power talked of here is of unchecked and untrammelled authority to exert its will; the power to invent and change the rules and transgress them with impunity; and the power to define the ‘Other’, and to kill him or her with impunity. The arbitrary imposition of life and death is one end of the spectrum of power relations that whiteness enacts, across the parts of the world where white people are preponderant in positions of power. From Ida Wells’s anti-lynching crusade, through Malcolm X’s comment that ‘We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock: that rock landed on us’, to Carmichael and Hamilton’s pioneering and striking claims about the way structural racism functions as a compound of class and ‘race’ (1967), the recurrent theme is of African-Americans developing an ethnographic gaze of which the subject is the way power is wielded by White America and how it impacts painfully on them.

Steve Garner. 2007. Whiteness: An Introduction. London: Routledge, p. 14.

Votive offerings

I have decided to put the following into my Nan’s coffin.

A pair of wrist warmers, knitted by Jo. Nan loved the colours in the pair that Jo originally made for her, but one got lost. She loved the pastel colours, but she also loved the labour and love that went into making them. It reminded her of her work in the glove trade.

A badge from the launch for my last book, The Alienated Academic. It was dedicated, in large part, to her.

A Walsall FC badge from 1979, when my Granddad first took me to a game. Their house and Fellows’ Park were safe spaces. The world felt very different in 1979. As she will be interred with him, it feels so important for this to be there with them.

A card representing nature. She loved the world. She loved blossom.

A copy of the tribute I wrote for her.