Is ‘slow scholarship’ feasible in the competitive context of academic careers where managerialism, self-promotion, and tick-the-box measures of achievement have become determiners of academic success? This paper interweaves visual, auditory and performative narratives to represent an emerging alternative to the existing paradigm as seven female academics and educators gradually find ways to disrupt and cross the boundaries of their tenuous roles as academics in four regional Australian universities. Over one year, they create a space where new thinking, confidence and wellbeing emerges. They negotiate an ethics of praxis for writing and publishing: this disrupts the self-seeking habitus of academic life, re-constitutes academic writing as an emergent space for speaking back to received values about what counts as research writing; and reconstitutes and acknowledges the intrinsic value of each individual life as a contributing element of the combined strength and energy of the group. These practices are then adopted by a second group of academics who work alongside the first group. This creates a counterpoint to the market-driven rhythm of universities which diminishes academics by demanding that they compete for an increasingly shallow pool of funds. By interweaving words, images, sound and performance over a series of publications the authors demonstrate the power of arts-informed storytelling to disrupt the habitus and expectations of academic life. More important than the publications generated in that emergent space is the evidence that ‘slow scholarship’ practiced within a cooperative group where listening is as important as talking can generate a powerful ethic of care for self and other. In turn this re-humanising of the research space can re-vivify personal and professional wellbeing cross multiple dimensions by creating new personal, social and academic frameworks for ‘being an academic’.
6th Midterm Conference of the European Sociological Association's Research Network Sociology of Culture (RN7): Emergent Culture, Exeter, United Kingdom 16-18 November 2016