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Naming the ‘elephant’ in the room within academic conferences on equity and ‘difference’: A focus on class privilege by Vassilissa Carangio


Academic conferences held within business schools on topics such as ‘difference’, ‘diversity’ and ‘equity’ are ‘about them’, the ‘others’ and the oppressed, but occur, at times, ‘without them’. This means the voices of the marginalised are not truly heard.

This conference paper explores the process of silent exclusion, with a focus on social class, through an autoethnographic inquiry of my experiences as an early career scholar. As an adjunct lecturer, I offer a view into the entangled process of class privilege production and my own making as a working-class subject.

In doing so, I attempt to illustrate how unspoken privilege boundaries exclude those at the margin of lucrative academic conference spaces by preserving class privilege, even within venues discussing difference and equity. In theorising from my narrative accounts as a precarious academic worker from an Italian working-class background, I reflect on how my own socio-economic obstacles have allowed me to see how elite class power in academia is reinforced by a reproduction of a maintained economic inequality.

Drawing on the interdisciplinary nature of autoethnography inquiry, this paper elucidates how fictional academic conferences which celebrate equity and difference, keep perpetuating and reproducing class privilege. By failing to put class, gender and race together within an already gendered and racialized discourse, conference rooms remain luxurious fortresses filled with economic injustice.

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Ragged University is in partnership with the Working Class Academics conference sharing its ideals and love of open intellectual spaces

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