Thursday, October 30, 2008

How free to be radical can an academic really be?

"Who wants to be an academic these days, and what do they do? All the smart people go and work for McKinsey, right? They’re all bankers or something. Who wants to come and waste seven, eight years of their life on their intellectual passion to be trained and prepared for a life as teacher in a university? I don’t want to sacrifice my professional probity, but most academics are not people who change the terms of academic debate; they are people who recycle and elaborate on the insights of others. That’s what most of us do. And if you’re not one of those people, if you have an original agenda of your own, it’s not always easy to get it recognized. It’s not always easy to work across disciplinary lines; it’s not always attractive to be an intellectual—and I don’t mean a public intellectual, but to be an intellectual rather than a scholar. Sometimes those things are pulled in different directions, and it would be silly to pretend that tension isn’t there."
Paul Gilroy

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