Critical Storytelling: Experiences of Power Abuse in Academia

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What does power abuse look and feel like in the academic world? How does it affect university faculty, students, education and research? What can we do to counteract and prevent power abuse? These questions are addressed in this collection of autobiographical poems, essays and illustrations about academia. The contributors reflect on individual experiences as well as underlying institutional structures, providing original perspectives on bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, and other forms of power abuse in academic workplaces. They share their stories in order to break the culture of silence around power abuse in academia and point out pathways for constructive change.
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Julie Hansen Ph.D. (2000), University of Michigan, is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages at Uppsala University. She has taught comparative literature, Slavic literatures and translation studies. Her research interests include memory studies and literary multilingualism. She is co-editor of the volume Living through Literature: Essays in Memory of Omry Ronen (Uppsala Studies on Eastern Europe, 2019).

Ingela Nilsson, Ph.D. (2001), Gothenburg University, is Professor of Greek and Byzantine Studies at Uppsala University since 2010. Her research interests include all forms of narration and literary adaptation. Her most recent monograph is Writer and Occasion in Twelfth-Century Byzantium: The Authorial Voice of Constantine Manasses (CUP, 2021).
1 The Same Old Story? An Introduction
Julie Hansen and Ingela Nilsson
2 The Polyphony of Academia
Ingela Nilsson
3 What My CV Doesn’t Tell You
Julie Hansen
4 Notes from the Margins of Academic Life
Anonymous 1
5 A Decisive Meeting in Department X
Dinah Wouters, Tim Noens, Thomas Velle and Anonymous 2
6 Phantom Libraries: Unspoken Words, Untold Stories and Unwritten Texts
Moa Ekbom

7 On the Occasion of My Retirement
Cecilia Mörner

8 How to Be a Professor in the Twenty-First Century
Wim Verbaal

9 Bad Days
Anonymous 3

10 On Diversity Workshops: Challenges and Opportunities
Kai Dowding, Hanna McGinnis and Ana Núñez

11 Still a World to Win
Anonymous 4

12 Fragments of Missed Opportunities: Or Unrealized Dialectical Exchanges with a Mentor
Anonymous 5

13 Flexing Muscles
Ingela Nilsson

14 Lessons I Learned at University
Ricarda Schier

15 Benevolence or Bitterness
Antony Smith

16 Observations from a Non-Academic on Academic Life
Ken Robertson

17 Harassment and Abuse of Power from a Global Perspective: Or the Importance of a Conversation
Anonymous 6

18 What My Younger Self Would Have Said, Had She Spoken up, and How My Present Self Would Have Replied
Ingela Nilsson

19 The Ghosts of Academia
Veronika Muchitsch

20 The Unbearable Shame of Crying at Work
Anonymous 7

21 Panic Button 111
Ingela Nilsson

22 Quit
Thomas Oles

23 Diving Deeper: The Redemptive Power of Metaphor
Helen Sword

Epilogue: The Privilege of Writing One’s Story and Reading Those of Others
Ingela Nilsson

Epilogue: Gathering Voices for a Better Academic Workplace
Julie Hansen

The target audience is broad, encompassing all higher education teachers, researchers, administrators and students (both undergraduate and post-graduate). Although most of the contributions in the book are written by humanities scholars, the topic of power abuse is of relevance to all disciplines. The book is also of interest to other professions concerned with work environment issues (e.g. organizational psychologists) and labor unions. Research areas for which this book is relevant include critical storytelling and critical university studies.
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