At Breaking Point: An intervention on resilience within the UK academy

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Resilience has become something of a buzzword within and beyond the academy, with the concept being applied to diverse contexts of endurance, particularly related to national security, climate change, and more recently Covid-19. However, despite the growing popularity of ‘resilience approaches’, considerably less work has accounted for the role of resilience within the context of academia itself. In the wake of Covid-19 and in light of the ongoing University and College Union (UCU) strike actions across the UK, this commentary reflects upon how resilience manifests within the academy, specifically focusing on our own institution, Royal Holloway.

Through this commentary, we contribute to resilience scholarship by employing a feminist geographical approach that accounts for multi-scalar power relations and acknowledges that multiple resiliences co-exist. We begin by thinking about resilience at the institutional level (the university and its departments) before considering resilience at the individual level (staff, students, their physical/mental well-being, and the role of unions), drawing out how these multiple forms of resilience interact. In doing so, we seek to subvert traditional narratives of resilience that are often romanticized under patriarchal capitalism (and within the neoliberal university) which reduces resilience to purely individualistic endeavors and equates personal value to research outputs and academic results. We conclude with a hopeful reflection on a more just and equitable academic future that is built upon and fostered by the collective resilience of student-staff solidarity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-117
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • resilience
  • feminist geography

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