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On (not) being the master’s tools: five years of ‘Changing University Cultures’

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alison PhippsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.This paper reflects on the first five years of the Changing University Cultures (CHUCL) collective, which conducted equality and diversity projects in four English universities between 2015 and 2020. We explore how CHUCL has been used in the service of institutional polishing (Ahmed, S. 2012. On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. Duke University Press, 143) and airbrushing (Phipps, A. 2020b. “Reckoning Up: Sexual Harassment and Violence in the Neoliberal University.” Gender & Education 32 (2), 230–233), how our reports have become non-performatives (Ahmed, S. 2012. On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. Duke University Press, 90), and how our findings have been weaponised in the service of institutional interests. We are two of three white middle-class women who constitute the CHUCL collective; we situate this retrospective within critical reflections on our positionality and an abolitionist theorisation of the institution. We conclude that we have often been the master’s tools, and while we join the work of imagining alternatives, we must build capacity for survival within the master’s house.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Phipps A, McDonnell L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Gender and Education

Year: 2022

Volume: 34

Issue: 5

Pages: 512-528

Online publication date: 08/08/2021

Acceptance date: 28/07/2021

Date deposited: 17/01/2022

ISSN (print): 0954-0253

ISSN (electronic): 1360-0516

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/09540253.2021.1963420

ePrints DOI: 0


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