The politics of privatisation: insights from the Central Asian university

Amsler, Sarah (2013) The politics of privatisation: insights from the Central Asian university. In: Educators, professionalism and politics: global transitions, national spaces and professional projects. Routledge, New York. ISBN 9780415529143

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The origins of this chapter lie in an informal discussion about the ‘crisis of the university’ organized for social scientists and humanities scholars who were participating in an Open Society Institute seminar from universities across post-Soviet Central Asia, the Caucuses and Afghanistan. The purpose of the seminar was to discuss what I had presumed would be shared experiences of ‘becoming academic’ in universities being transformed through the various policies of privatization and marketization that have come to dominate higher education reform both throughout the region and internationally. The discussion, however, evoked a more provocative decentring of some of the principal criticisms of privatized education now circulating within Anglo-European intellectual space, and a challenge to the transnational alter-education movement to clarify its critiques of privatisation and give texture to the alternative visions being produced. For, in circumstances where privately-owned and operated universities may appear to be the only institutional formations in which learning and knowledge production are not transmogrified through state control, wage poverty and petty corruption, arguments against privatization are harder to sustain at a superficial level. In Central Asian societies, liberal forms of privatized education are therefore often represented and experienced as viable means to eke out narrow forms of intellectual and professional autonomy, even while being recognized as repressive forces of de-professionalization, anti-intellectualism and inequality. This chapter begins from this tension to explore how specifically post-Soviet modalities of neoliberal restructuring amplify a dilemma faced by advocates of critical, public education in post-welfare societies around the world; namely, how to extricate education from dependencies on both managerialist states and the irrational vicissitudes of capitalist markets. It suggests that interrogating what privatization means in practice to educators across variegated spaces of neoliberalism, in particular its operations in relation to local traditions, systems and imaginaries, is vital for deepening our understanding of the situated nature and possibilities of alternatives and strengthening transnational movements for critical education.

Keywords:Central Asia, Higher Education, Privatization, post-socialist, neoliberalism, bmjconvert
Subjects:L Social studies > L370 Social Theory
X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
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ID Code:12006
Deposited On:03 Oct 2013 14:36

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