Home / Events / Don Brenneis, "The Work of Scholarship in the Era of Electronic Reproduction"

Don Brenneis, "The Work of Scholarship in the Era of Electronic Reproduction"

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When Apr 21, 2015
from 12:10 PM to 01:30 PM
Where SS&H 1246
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Lunch provided. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

“Audit culture” has become a common – and extremely useful – rubric for capturing an ensemble of emergent ideologies, languages, documents, measures, and consequences within our academic worlds. In this talk I’ll be exploring this terrain and especially the mutual entanglement of neoliberal styles in academic administration, new technologies of assessment, production, circulation, and search, ongoing practices of peer evaluation within highly hierarchical institutions, and the careers of both scholars and works of scholarship. I’ll draw upon my participant-observation research in a wide range of research and higher education sites, from NSF peer review panels and journal editorial boards to national level assessment exercises in the UK and the Netherlands in which I’ve participated. I will supplement this focus on deliberative processes with a discussion of analytical assessment practices such as bibliometrics, impact factors, and citation analysis, as well as with their algorithmic reframings. The presentation will focus on two clusters of questions, the first having to do with the translation of value, specifically the value of pieces of scholarly work: how is innovative and significant research recognized and sustained, and what dimensions of scholarship may get lost in new practices of translation? The second cluster is concerned with the complementary sense of work, that is, with what we do as scholars, and with the complex intersections of production and self-making in a rapidly transforming environment.

Don Brenneis (BA, Stanford; PhD, Harvard) is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and works at the intersections of language and other kinds of communicative practice with social, political, and intellectual life. His initial research was in a diasporic South Asian community in Fiji and focused both on the complex relationships between language and conflict and on the transformation of local cultural life from its north Indian antecedents. In recent years he has pursued related questions in quite different setting, focusing on the ethnography of research funding panels and other key sites in which peer review figures centrally in the ongoing shaping and circulation of knowledge in the social sciences. Most recently he has moved to complement his studies of deliberative review by ethnographic research on the underlying structure, uses, and consequences of citation analysis and other bibliometric indicators of scholarly and scientific value within the academy and the research funding world.

This recent focus on evaluation and assessment was catalyzed in part by his extensive experience in scholarly association governance and scholarly publishing and many years spent as reviewer and funding panel participant. He edited American Ethnologist from 1989-1994, was President-Elect and then President of the American Anthropological Association (1999-2003), and served on the editorial committee of the University of California Press from 2005-2010 (including two years as co-chair). He is currently Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Anthropology and has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford), a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Professeur Invité at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and Fellow at Lichtenberg-Kolleg, University of Goettingen.

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