Vi, de neutrale : Skitser til udfordring af akademisk førstehed

Sammanfattning: Over the past few years a Ph.D. student has occupied the academic command centre and sketched a number of renovations in order to change the university’s ongoing work to broaden the recruitment of students from homes with no study habit. The point of departure of the renovations is to direct attention to the terms and structures that people with backgrounds different than the academic norm are supposed to become a part of. Rather than focusing on how ‘they’ adapt to ‘our’ way of doing things, these investigations tries to get a closer look at what this ‘Us’ imply and how that reproduces excluding structures. The ambition is to shift the focus from ‘the Others’ to ‘the Firsts’ – from exclusion to inclusion and this concept (firstness as opposed to otherness) is put forward as a prism to co-think key elements in critical theories of normative subjectification: the understanding of hegemony from masculinity studies, the idea of normativity from (objectless) ‘queer’ (and crip) studies and the idea of unmarkedness and invisibility which is key in critical whiteness studies.The body of research on which the renovations are based is composed of 22 interviews with senior tenured academics with family backgrounds with at least one parent holding a Ph.D and three months of fieldwork from two different university institutions with a relatively high percentage of employees reporting being brought up in academic homes. The question that is scrutinized is how a subjectification framed by academic firstness is experienced and how it is lived and demonstrated within Swedish universities. In order to investigate this, haunting, joykilling and flirtatious methodologies are brought into action creating a methodology that is ’serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious’ (Sontag 1964) and aims to find new ways to go about ‘academicness’. The study’s main contribution is reflections around the participant’s extensive, yet unmarked efforts to position themselves as neutral and ordinary. At the center of this positioning is a longing for scientific neutrality, demonstrated in a strong belief in the justice of the meritocratic system, that blind peer reviews protect against discrimination, and that the individual subject perceives its academic accomplishments as unaffected by external factors such as gender, age, background, ethnicity etc. These efforts are read as expressions of an ideology of blindness which is based on a logic in which only that which is within someone’s sight ‘exists’ and can be acted upon. Alternative comprehensions, views and experiences are disqualified by their invisibility to the normative position and as a consequence the idea of neutrality can be generalized which makes the academic system of neutrality auto-reproducing and self-perpetuating.