"Enacting the University : Danish University Reform in an Ethnographic Perspective"; CHEF book launch and discussion

Activity: Attending an eventOrganisation or participation in workshops, courses or seminars


A webinar discussing the book Enacting the University (Springer 2020) and its longitudinal and multi-sited ethnography of Danish university reform. After two decades of debate in national and international forums, a University Law in 2003 started a further two decades of reforms to Danish universities. The book juxtaposes two meanings of ‘enactment’: a top-down view based on laws and institutional power and a bottom-up view of multiple actors, such as students, academics and managers, who shape the university in day-to day life.

The book’s challenge is to analyse the university as multiple ‘congeries of small acts’ whilst also seeing the emergence of new shapes in the formation of the university and its staging in the world. It does this by tracing ‘telling moments’ when contestations between different ideas about the purpose and organisation of the university come to a head and new ways of acting are instituted, around which subsequent events turn.

By tracing the ways that the meaning and practice of ‘freedom’, ‘openness’, ‘self-ownership’, ‘co-ownership’ and ‘participation in decision making’ have been transformed and the ways ‘strategic leaders’, ‘academic subjects’ and ‘student figures’ have been negotiated and enacted, the book avoids a totalising picture of the reform process. Instead, by seeing universities as contested spaces, continually re-enacted by a range of agents, the book ends by advocating university members adopt a politically reflexive stance to seek out ways to actively contest and shape the university into the future.
Period18. May 2021
Event typeSeminar
LocationAarhus, Denmark
Degree of RecognitionInternational