The Activist Academic
Engaged Scholarship for Resistance, Hope and Social Change
Published: April 2020
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Published: April 2020
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Published: May 2020
E-Book (ePub)
Published: May 2020
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6" x 9"
Language: English

Donald Trump’s election forced academics to confront the inadequacy of promoting social change through the traditional academic work of research, writing, and teaching. Scholars joined crowds of people who flooded the streets to protest the event.

The present political moment recalls intellectual forbearers like Antonio Gramsci who, imprisoned during an earlier fascist era, demanded that intellectuals committed to justice “can no longer consist in eloquence ... but in active participation in practical life, as constructor, organizer, ‘permanent persuader’ and not just a simple orator" (Gramsci, 1971, p. 10). Indeed, in an era of corporate media and “alternative facts,” academics committed to justice cannot simply rely on disseminating new knowledge, but must step out of the ivory tower and enter the streets as activists.

The Activist Academic
serves as a guide for merging activism into academia. Following the journey of two academics, the book offers stories, frameworks and methods for how scholars can marry their academic selves, involved in scholarship, teaching and service, with their activist commitments to justice, while navigating the lived realities of raising families and navigating office politics. This volume invites academics across disciplines to enter into a dialogue about how to take knowledge to the streets.

Table of Contents:


Foreword by Margo Okazawa-Rey


Chapter 1
Year One - Activists Entering the Academy

Chapter 2
Year Two - Capturing Praxis—Critical Co-Constructed Autoethnography

Chapter 3
Year Three - Framing Our Work in Critical Social Theory

Chapter 4
Year Four - Activist Research

Chapter 5
Year Five - Activist Pedagogy

Chapter 6
Year Six - Activist Service in Schools and the Community

Chapter 7
Year Seven - Community in the Undercommons

Afterword by John Saltmarsh


About the Authors


Reviews & Endorsements:

“In deeply revolting times, Colette Cann and Eric DeMeulenaere have gifted us a book that is part GPS for navigating the academy; part glass of wine for surviving difficult politics; and part eavesdropping, as we listen in on their conversations, reflections, relations and even campfires. In the main narrative, The Activist Academic offers us a textual pajama party of laughter, relationship, teaching nightmares and radical innovations, activist research praxis and dilemmas. We appreciate through the pages the joys, struggles and wild imagination that grows at the intersection of activism and the academy. From the volume, we learn what it means to survive in the academy, with full heart and soul; in the footnotes, we meet the elders, ancestors and those who have written and journeyed before. As a critical small-book companion, the volume is a refreshing, radically honest and comforting text to accompany us as we carve radical possibilities, in the undercommons, with colleagues, students, activists, community members and movements for justice. The Activist Academic is oxygen for the researcher/scholar/teacher who dares to imagine the university as a site of radical accountability to justice.”

Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology and Urban Education, The Graduate Center, CUNY

"With all the humor, honesty, and humility that you'd expect in a conversation between friends, the dialogues between Cann and DeMeulenaere that span cover to cover animate the potential and the challenges of approaching research, teaching, and service as an Activist Academic. But be ready: drawing deeply on theory and experience, this book will pull readers into the conversations, the inquiry, and the unavoidable demand that we dive into the unresolvable contradictions at the heart of being a professor committed to justice."

Kevin Kumashiro, Ph.D., author of Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning toward Social Justice

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