Complaint as Diversity Work
Introductory remarks: Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector, CEU
What can be learnt about the workings of power from those who challenge power? This lecture draws on interviews conducted with staff and students who have made complaints within universities that relate to unfair, unjust or unequal working conditions and to abuses of power such as harassment and bullying. The lecture approaches complaint as a form of diversity work: the work some have to do in order to be accommodated. Making a complaint requires becoming an institutional mechanic: you have to work out how to get a complaint through a system. It is because of the difficulty of getting through that complaints often end up being about the system. The lecture explores how the experiences that lead to complaint and the experiences of complaint are hard to untangle. It reflects on the role of academic networks and professional intimacies in shaping what happens to complaints and to those who complain.
Sara Ahmed is an independent feminist scholar and writer. Her work is concerned with how power is experienced and challenged in everyday life and institutional cultures. She has recently completed a book What’s the Use? On the Uses of Use, which is forthcoming with Duke University Press in 2019. Her lecture will be drawn from her current research project on complaint. Her previous publications include Living a Feminist Life (2017), Willful Subjects (2014), On Being Included (2012), The Promise of Happiness (2010), Queer Phenomenology (2006), The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2014, 2004), Strange Encounters (2000) and Differences that Matter (1998). She blogs at www.feministkilljoys.com.