Spinning in Higher Education: an autoethnography of finding space to be human in academic life

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


Higher Education is spinning. The systematic erosion of our academic freedom, (Docherty, 2012) means that the authors of this chapter no longer know how to navigate what is on the horizon. The neoliberal agenda now driving HE is threatening how we work via, ‘a quiet ruination and decay of academic freedom’ (Docherty, 2012. p.47). This chapter offers an autoethnography of a collaborative creative project that engaged the authors in dialogues about the effects of neoliberalism on how they teach, work, live, and where they compare working in HE to hula-hooping as both demand relentless movement and activity to prevent everything from collapsing. Our story offers ideas for valuing time and space in our academic lives that are playful, creative, bonding and suggest that by mastering hula-hooping, we have enjoyed a renewed sense of confidence with academic work and academic life.

We employ a range of styles of writing that seek to engage the reader with reflection on their own experiences. Guiding questions for any reader might be, but are by no means restricted to:

• What are the effects of neoliberalism on how we work?
• How much time do we give for creative play and risk taking?
• What creative methods can we adopt and develop in order to preserve our academic freedom?
• How can we navigate the HE landscape effectively without succumbing to neoliberal pressures and shifts?
• How can we value human experiences in academic work and in academic life?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Perspectives on Innovative Approaches towards Teaching and Learning
Subtitle of host publicationHumanizing Higher Education
EditorsEnakshi Kapur, Patrick Blessinger
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2021


  • Autoethnography
  • higher education
  • practice-based research
  • collaboration
  • Creative writing
  • Fine art


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