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Bridging the activist-academic divide: feminist activism and the teaching of global politics

Eschle, Catherine and Maiguashca, Bice (2006) Bridging the activist-academic divide: feminist activism and the teaching of global politics. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 35 (1). pp. 119-137. ISSN 0305-8298

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Our starting point in this article is the widespread belief that academia and activism are separate worlds, driven by contrasting aims and imperatives and governed by different rules. Such a view is based on a series of takenfor-granted and highly problematic ontological dichotomies, including mind/body, theory/practice, reason/emotion, abstract/concrete and ‘ivory tower’/ ‘real world’. Perhaps most fundamentally, these serve to set up thinking and reflecting in opposition to doing or acting. Thus in both activist and academic characterisations of what it is that they do, we find the frequent assumption that academics theorise and write, while for activists ‘action is the life of all and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing’; academics exercise their cognitive skills, while activists are animated by passion; academics are impartial commentators on the world while activists are partisan, polemical advocates; academics work in elite institutions while activists are embedded in the everyday, ‘on the streets’ or at ‘the grassroots’.