Am I an academic? Reflections on working for REACT

In a new research think-piece, KE Fellow Simon Moreton reflects on how REACT is disrupting traditional notions of academic or creative labour

Over on our research pages, REACT KE Fellow has been considering how REACT blurs the boundaries between academic and creative work. He writes

At REACT we often describe our collaborative projects as comprising academics and creatives. In many ways, this is a logical categorisation: we take individuals from different professional contexts and ask them to work together and produce something innovative. In the case of REACT, those professional contexts are Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and businesses that work, broadly speaking, within the creative sector.

But we've found these categories don't really stand up to scrutiny even at a practical level. For example, some of the individuals in our collaborations are artists or practitioners working in HEIs and others are trained academics who work in a freelance capacity or as part of their own company.

So what happens when we insist on using these categories? Does it lead us to assume that our collaborators have specific skills? Do we then miss contributions our collaborators make because of this?

His piece goes onto explore these questions and argues that there is a tension emerging between existing ways of understanding academic labour and the new spaces of work offered by projects like REACT. The trick, he suggests, is to imagine that tension as an opportunity for change.

You can read the full piece in our Collaborations publication.