UKZN Academic Publishes Book on Contemporary Campus Life

Professor Keyan Tomaselli with his new book
Professor Keyan Tomaselli with his new book

Emeritus Professor Keyan Tomaselli of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) has launched his new book: Contemporary Campus Life:  Transformation, Manic Managerialism and Academentia.

The book is a critique of market-driven neoliberalism offered as a metaphor to analyse the excesses, contradictions, and obstructions in contemporary university governance. With incisive satirical humour, Tomaselli delves into the quirks of education administrative systems to ‘show how manic management negatively affects teaching, research, science, and reasoning – and must be brought into line to preserve the very nature of the academy.’

Contemporary Campus Life’s analysis of managerialism as a cause of academentia is partly framed by exigencies imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomaselli’s argument is ‘that the virus has brought about an ecological correction that affects all human and animal kinds, one that management theory can learn from.’

Discussing Tomaselli’s book during a panel session at the launch, Professor Nithaya Chetty of the University of the Witwatersrand said: ‘Keyan looks critically and – at times – humourously at the many forces that come to bear on our higher education system today, not just in South Africa but also the world over. He reminds us that there are many academic principles that are still important – that we need to give even more attention to – as we contemplate change, lest a university cease to be a university.’

Providing the preface of the book, UKZN Emeritus Professor Michael Chapman said: ‘Keyan Tomaselli’s focus is the managerial university. His observations expand to traffic, branding, the World Cup, street renaming, students, teachers and lecturers, bean-counting, grumpy old men, and, generally, the heightened blood pressure of an audit culture.’

Reviewing the book, President of the Academy of Science of South Africa Professor Jonathan Jansen commented: ‘Arguably South Africa’s most perceptive cultural studies scholar, Keyan Tomaselli takes the reader on a decidedly uncomfortable, insightful, and entertaining ride through the managerial university to show us, barefaced, what we have become. In the mindless pursuit of efficiency, productivity, and measurement, we have lost sight of the broader purposes of education and the intrinsic value of academic work. Tomaselli has produced one of the best available satires of academic life.’

The book – published by Best Red of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) – is available from all major book retailers.

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