Wednesday 17 April, 15:30 – 17:00, Gaia 1, Gaia building, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, Building 101, 6708 PB Wageningen,
This talk presents a theoretical analysis of the neoliberal production of anxiety in academic faculty members in universities in Northern Europe. The presentation focuses on neoliberalization as it is instantiated through audit and ranking systems designed to produce academia as a space of economic efficiency and intensifying competition. We suggest that powerful forms of competition and ranking of academic performance have been developed in Northern Europe. These systems are differentiated and differentiating, and they serve to both index and facilitate the neoliberalization of the academy. Their impact is intensified by the existence of what Guy Debord identified as “the falling rate of use values”. Moreover, these audit and ranking systems produce an ongoing sense of anxiety among academic workers. I argue that neoliberalism in the academy is part of a wider system of anxiety production arising as part of the so-called “soft governance” of everything, including life itself, in contemporary late liberalism.