Accidental Academic Activism – Intersectional and (Un)intentional Feminist Resistance

Francesca Sobande

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Drawing on autoethnographic reflections, this work explores the concept of ‘accidental academic activism’. It outlines how this notion aids understanding of power struggles and resistance in higher education. Shaped by feminist and queer theory, there is discussion of processes of (mis)identification as an academic activist. This article examines how the intersections of racism and sexism result in the presumed political presence of Black women in academia, in ways that may influence their academic activism. This account also considers how creative and selfreflexive approaches can enable resistance to neoliberal pressures to perform perfection as an academic. When considering the history and future of academia, questions concerning identity, ideology and inequality inevitably arise. These include the contested scope for individuals to pursue and produce work that is both academic and activist in nature. Pairing such debates with discussion of race, gender and feminism yields insight into fractious forms of academic resistance, solidarity, (un)settling silences, and identities. This article stems from my perspective as a Black (and mixed) woman, and who as an early career researcher is still determining the extent to which their work is resistant. By reflecting on tensions and overlaps between academia and activism, there is exploration of the parameters within which feminist research and resistance is (im)mobilised.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Social Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018


  • academia
  • activism
  • feminism
  • intersectionality
  • race
  • reflexivity


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