Experiences from Academia Around the World
Edited by Saija Katila, Susan Meriläinen and Janne Tienari
Chapter 13: Practising Inclusion: Diversity Matters!
Silvia Gherardi INTRODUCTION This is a book which discusses academic practice without directly naming it and yet doing so from a point of view shared by all the authors. This shared point of view – this positioning that gives unitariness to a polyphonic account – consists in the standpoint of diversity. In other words, this book proposes a semantic shift from academic practice to academic practices. It shows that it is possible to be and to do different things in academe and in the higher education system in general. My intention in this concluding chapter is to conduct a cross-wise reading which brings out the plurality and the transformative dynamics of academic practices as they result from the personal experiences of its practitioners. Let us start from the fact that academe has founded its legitimacy as an organization on the ideal (and the ideology) of universality. As the locus of the production and transmission of knowledge, the university can only furnish valid and legitimate knowledge if it fulfils the criteria of truth, disinterest and universality. Founded on this ideal is a vision of knowledge ‘in the singular’, as indivisible and universally valid. It is this sole ownership/production of knowledge that underpinned the image of the university as an ivory tower and as an institution independent from society when it first arose in medieval Europe. Against this background, what is the place for an image of knowledge ‘in the plural’, that is, situated and rooted in a plurality of experiences and visions of...
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