Life in the Undercommons: Sustaining Justice-work Post Disillusionment

Chelda Smith, Erin Dyke, Mary Hermes


This paper explores the tensions, challenges, and possibilities for engaging in justice work from within and beyond the university. Through personal and shared narratives, Mary Hermes, associate professor, and her students Chelda Smith and Erin Dyke discuss their motivations for becoming academics while also justice workers, and some of the ways these two roles scrape up against each other in the university and our communities and struggles within and beyond it. We frame our narratives, the products of a series of group discussions, around a few salient and overlapping themes: legitimizing modes of knowledge production, the dichotomization of the ‘university’ and ‘community,’ and the tensions involved in moving between and merging scholarship and activism. We conclude by considering our places in the undercommons of the university, and its potential for helping us collectively grapple with these tensions.

JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

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ISSN: 1942-2563