International Working Class Academics Conference

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This is an exciting conference BY us as working class academics. Speakers include lecturers, students and researchers. Join us!

About this Event

This is a conference BY working Class Academics, Students and Lectures, NOT ABOUT working class academics. The focus is on our lived experiences and reflections of class and its impact on our work. We offer a positive, supportive and open space to present ideas, research, stories and a wide range of thinking and practice. This conference is by all of us, we know it will be vital, inspirational and help to bring to light our voices and experiences - recognising that these are often hidden, unspoken and frustrated in a sector that often seems not to value the diversity of a working class that is altering, influencing and reshaping what academia is.

We are a group, a forming collective and a place of support and dialogue. We need you, and together we can make this a powerful statement of intent. As Kit de Waal says in 'Common People' - this is a celebration, not an apology.

Read More from Working Classs Academics on the Conference website and Blog

We will not allow anyone to be disadvantaged by conferenve fees so access is free. If you can afford to donate, we have an option to contribute to our Solidarity Fund to help toward the technology, hosting and webinar spaces for the conference. We are non-instituional and unfunded, so all costs are through the collective, voluntary and funded by us. We want this to continue, build on this year's conference and go on to create future conferences, places to speak, meet, support and organise. If you can help, please do - any amount is meaningful and helps support and make this happen.

To read more, see the programme and read the superb blog posts by working class academics, vist the website at

The original Call for Papers was:

Critical Constellations: ‘Working Class’ and/in Academia

Explorations, narratives and critical reflections of socio-economic heritage, academic alienation and border crossings towards the unknown. This conference aims to highlight, recognise and celebrate working class people who have already navigated – or are currently navigating – socio-economic obstacles, to break through the cloistered and privileged boundaries of Higher Education and the University.

The conference remit purposefully adopts a playful reference to Walter Benjamin’s (1998) work The Origin of German Tragic Drama, by use of the term ‘constellation’. As such, it is not the aim or the remit of this conference to schematically interrogate and establish quantified categories of how to define ‘working class’ academics; such an epistemo-rigid approach would only lead to further and inevitable obfuscations and exclusions. Rather, this event is about opening an ontologic space of heritage to hear stories, narratives and conversations of journeys towards the strange and mysterious land of talismanic qualifications, middle class culture, and new academic identity.

This event is about giving voice to those who have journeyed beyond the socio-economic constraints of being structurally ascribed a life of a non-academic expectation. Of working class cultural rupture and ‘fragmentation’ in pursuit of personal growth; of inhabiting the socio-cultural ‘otherness’ and alien terrain of the university, with its implied requirements to metamorphose in to a middle class facsimile – replete with renewed accent.

The conference aims to acknowledge and promote a different academic space, one where constellations of academics and researchers with a working class heritage, can come together to conceptualise and capture the difficulties – and successes – of accessing and finding acceptance in the culture of higher education and the university.

It is about celebrating and promoting opportunities for increasing the visibility of this underrepresented socio-economic area. It is about cascading and disseminating powerful and eclectic voices of uncompromised hope and possibility; through accented, diverse and unapologetic stories, we will assertively claim recognition. Adapting Graeme Gilloch’s (2002) take on the Benjaminian constellation, from the diverse elements of our working class heritages we will recompose ‘critical contemporary constellations’ (Gilloch, 2002, p. 4),[1] which can be used to produce an illumination of present and future possibility.

[1] Gilloch, G. (2002) Walter Benjamin: Critical Constellations. Cambridge: Polity Press

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