Rethinking performativity in higher education in a crisis: The case of performative universities’ early responses during the COVID-19 pandemic

Srivastava, Anamika (2022) Rethinking performativity in higher education in a crisis: The case of performative universities’ early responses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In: Global higher education during and beyond COVID-19: Perspectives and challenges. Springer Nature, Singapore, pp. 149-158. ISBN 978-981-16-9049-5

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Notwithstanding the notion that there is a longingness for ‘normalcy’ in any crisis, yet, in such a quest, it is equally important to think about what aspects of the regular life should we aim to get back to. Is not a crisis also an opportune time for us to reflect on the existing social structures and agential responses that made the crisis inevitable, its solutions difficult and its impact severe? In the process, if certain lessons can be learnt, and specific actions can be taken for structural transformation then a crisis has the potential for human emancipation. The current chapter looks into the educational crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic by critically discussing the early responses of the universities. Undeniably, universities, across the board, rose to the occasion and displayed their resilience as well as strength to survive this difficult time. Yet, some universities emphasized the spectacle of continuity over any substantive pause and rethinking, rendering the universities’ responses formalistic and superficial. The chapter attributes these responses to the dominance of structures underscoring judgement, comparison and display of universities’ performance, prevalent in the higher educational landscape since the pre-pandemic times. Under performative pressure, universities are challenged to display their ‘quality’ and ‘perform’ their worth in front of their assessors–state, regulatory bodies, funding agencies as well as the market. One of the implications remains the overemphasis on tangibilization and factualisation of university activities as spectacles of their performance. Impeding the ability of universities to respond to a crisis like situation in a substantive manner, performativity in higher education warrants a critical rethinking.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: COVID-19 | University activities | Higher education
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Health (Social sciences)
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Education
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr. Syed Anas
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2022 06:24
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2023 06:38
Official URL:


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