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… public scholar… Fevereiro 1, 2013

Posted by paulo jorge vieira in Uncategorized.
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What does it mean to be political? And why does this feel like an intuitive rather than an intellectual question? My sense is that what creates a public scholar is related to a profound urge to participate and intervene in the political practices of the world—to fight injustice or correct misinformation or provide a needed service—in short, to try to make the world a better place, corny as that sounds. But is this desire compatible with an academic project? Does it necessarily involve selling out, either intellectually, personally or politically?

Like many public scholars I have both spoken and written for audiences outside of a university setting. In just about every situation that I can recall, I have radically changed my language, including the vocabulary and even grammatical structure of my sentences. But I have retained most, if not all, of the content, and in a number of cases, I have felt that editorial suggestions made my writing crisper and stronger than the original draft. I’ve found it surprisingly easy to jettison words like neoliberalism without losing the thread of my argument, and I’ve also found audiences generally receptive to critiques of free-market capitalism, even though I rarely use words like capitalism, which has a different resonance inside and outside of the university.

Katharyne MitchellIntroduction: Becoming Political”, in “Practising Public Scholarship – Experiences and Possibilities Beyond the Academy”, Edited by Katharyne Mitchell, 2008, pp.2

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