Interrogating scholarly responsibility in the era of the neoliberal global university

In 1992, Jacques Derrida insisted that the “strongest responsibility for someone attached to a research or teaching institution is…to make…its system and its aporias as clear and as thematic as possible”(Derrida 1992: 22–23). In 1996, Bill Readings urged those of us working within the university to adopt a form of “institutional pragmatism”, which would involve “ceasing to justify our practices in the name of an idea from ‘elsewhere,’ an idea that would release us from responsibility for our immediate actions” (1996: 153). But, given the intensifying transformations of the university system that are currently taking place around the globe, what does “scholarly responsibility” mean today? And, what are the political implications of adopting a form of “institutional pragmatism” in the face of these changes? This talk will address these questions by examining the current material conditions of the Canadian university system and its myriad contradictions, generative and otherwise.