Venturing from home: writing (and teaching) as creative-relational inquiry for alternative educational futures

Anne Pirrie, Nini Fang

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This article explores the shambolic ecology of contemporary higher education by foregrounding the ethical relation between its authors as they embarked upon this particular creative-relational inquiry. In respect of both form and content, it expresses their commitment to throwing off familiar academic conventions in order to promote human flourishing in a sector that has been colonised by new managerialism and the associated mechanisms of ‘performance management’, surveillance and exclusion. The authors write into the emblems of Naajavaarsuk (the ivory gull) and isumataq (the Inuit storyteller) throughout the project: exploring collaborative writing as an ethical, relational practice whilst exposing the lived problematics that have become the ‘new normal’ in the contemporary academy, for instance the fetishization of ‘student satisfaction’. The latter has gained traction in the UK in recent years, and in extreme cases can call forth acts of ethical violence that induce deep and long-lasting effects of discipline and surveillance. Their account is visceral rather than abstract, rooted as much in lived experience as it is in theory. They conclude that the precondition for human flourishing in conditions of constraint is neither all-out resistance nor quietist acceptance of the status quo. It is to open up a space for education that that inheres in our relation to the other, and quietly to resist being defined and limited by practices of monitoring and surveillance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalForum, Qualitative Social Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Nov 2019



  • Creative-relational inquiry
  • Higher education
  • Performativity
  • Relational ethics

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