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CFP Workplace Special Issue: Third Space Academic Laborv

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#CFP Workplace Special Issue: Third Space Academic Labor

Guest Editor: Aaron Stoller, Colorado College

You are invited to submit proposals for a special issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor focusing on Third Space labor in higher education. Despite most colleges and universities’ equity and inclusion commitments, labor in higher education is organized, valued, and supported along a false and exclusionary dichotomy. On one side, the “academic” domain — occupied by faculty — is the site of expertise, critical nuance, and knowledge production. On the other, the “non-academic” domain — occupied by staff — is the site of non-intellectual and largely replaceable managerial activity. This labor binary underpins most aspects of university life, radiating into a culture of exclusion regarding professional support systems, agency in governance structures, labor contracts, and policy environments.

Although this dichotomy pervades almost all college campuses, the nature of academic labor is far more complex (Stoller, 2021). Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, colleges and universities have increasingly depended upon what Whitchurch terms Third Space academic labor (Whitchurch, 2013).

Working through problems of division and exploitation between so-called First and Third Worlds, Bhabha (1990; 2004) introduced the concept of Third Space as a creative, disruptive space of cultural production. Following Bhabha, in social theory Third Space has been used to resolve a range of binaries through the conceptualization of identities that trouble conventional ways of being and behaving. Scholars have used Third Space to examine disability, race, gender, and sexuality, where fluid identities disrupt rigid social categorizations and the cultural hierarchies that inevitably follow. Third Space identities are risky and dangerous because they span and complicate defined cultural categories. They are also spaces of creativity and innovation that open new cultural possibilities (Soja and Hooper, 1993).

Whitchurch uses Third Space to identify a non-binary social class within higher education: emerging groups of professionals who disrupt the false distinction between “academic” and “non-academic.” Third Space professionals work in diverse areas of the institution, such as academic advising, writing programs and centers, quantitative reasoning centers, honors programs, first-year experience and transitions programs, women’s and LGBTQ centers, accessibility resources, and teaching and learning centers among others.

By spanning, interweaving, and disrupting traditional notions of academic labor, Third Space professionals bring tremendous value to their institutions and students. They hold deep academic expertise in teaching and learning, increasing the university’s capacity for immersive and engaged pedagogies (Ho, 2000; Gibbs and Coffey, 2004). They also support the DEI missions of colleges and universities. Almost all Third Space professions developed in response to traditional faculty being unable or unwilling to serve students from marginalized, minoritized, and under-resourced backgrounds (Astin, 1971; Boquet, 1999; Carino, 1996; Groark and McCall, 2018). Because of their organizational positionality and academic expertise, they uniquely understand the student learning experience, and they are positioned to advocate for policy, structural, or curricular changes needed to create more equitable learning environments. Third Space professionals work across departmental lines and can identify and develop opportunities for cross-campus partnerships and interdisciplinary collaborations (Bickford & Whisnant, 2010). They create new forms of scholarship (Eatman, 2012, 2014) and have pluralistic forms of scholarly impact (Arguinis, Shapiro, Antonacopoulou, & Cummings, 2014). They advance multiple university goals, often using scholarly approaches to improve a campus’s understanding of an issue and use their knowledge to develop praxis-based scholarship that shapes national and international change movements (Janke, 2019). Because they have advanced degrees and often teach and conduct research, they also enhance the college’s portfolio and can enrich its curriculum.

Like other non-binary identities, Third Space professionals fall outside normative social categories and therefore face interpersonal, cultural, and structural challenges specific to their work and professional identities. Their work is consistently miscategorized within the academy’s false labor binary, resulting in it being reduced to a “mere” administrative activity (Stefani & Matthew, 2002; Green & Little, 2017), or an “illegitimate” form of scholarship (Rowland et al., 1998; Harland & Staniforth, 2003). Faculty often frame Third Space professional contributions in oppositional (rather than complementary) terms (Handal, 2008). Because they are coded as “non-academic” and not tied to “home” departments, their expertise is rendered invisible in the epistemic economy of the university (Solomon et al., 2006). They rarely have access to institutional support structures for their academic work (e.g., teaching, research, grants, and fellowships), although their contracts often include these activities as part of their professional duties (Bickford and Whisnant, 2010). Third Space professionals are often barred from receiving institutional recognition, such as institutional designations, named professorships, and teaching and research awards, simply because of their class category (Post, Ward, Longo, & Saltmarsh, 2016). Despite their academic expertise and connection to the teaching and research mission of the university, they are systematically excluded from university governance structures (Bessette, 2020a). They also have no clear pathways for professional growth (Kim, 2020; Bessette, 2020b) and yet are often criticized for “abandoning” their institutions for professional gain. Because their labor often performs a “helping” function, it is often coded as “feminine” and devalued as a result (Tipper, 1999; Leit et al., 2007; Bernhagen & Gravett, 2017). Conversely, because traditional academic labor is culturally assumed to be more desired and desirable, Third Space professionals are often coded as “failed” academics (Whitchurch, 2015, p. 86).

This cultural denigration of their labor means they are frequently the subject of bullying and micro- aggressions by traditional faculty, but because faculty enjoy the protections of tenure there is no possibility of accountability for workplace abuses suffered by Third Space professionals (Henderson, 2005; Perry, 2020).

This issue seeks articles that identify and conceptualize problems cutting across the diverse forms of Third Space labor, and articles that propose pathways forward. Questions addressed by articles might include but are not limited to:

  • How might we redefine the nature of academic labor from a Third Space positionality, or how might we create language that more adequately describes Third Space academic labor?
  • What are the theoretical and practical connections that unify diverse forms of Third Space labor and professional identities?
  • What are the material, structural, and cultural barriers to supporting and legitimizing Third Space

academic labor?

  • How might we organize and create solidarity between Third Space laborers nationally and internationally?

Inquiries or to Submit:

 For inquiries or to submit proposals, contact Aaron Stoller at astoller@coloradocollege.edu. Prospective contributors should submit a proposal of 1-2 pages plus bibliography and a 1-paragraph author bio to Aaron Stoller astoller@coloradocollege.edu. Final contributions should be between 5,000 – 8,000 words and follow APA style.


  • Call for Proposals: April – June 2022
  • Peer Review and Acceptance of Proposals: July – October 2022
  • Full Drafts of Papers: February 2023
  • Issue Publication: March 2023

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor is a refereed, open access journal published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES) and a collective of scholars in critical university studies, or critical higher education, promoting dignity and integrity in academic work. Contributions are aimed at higher education workplace scholar-activism and dialogue on all issues of academic labor.

Special co-published issues of Cultural Logic, Works & Days focus on “Education for Revolution”

The journals Cultural Logic and Works & Days are collaborating to co-publish special issues on “Marxism and Education: International Perspectives on Education for Revolution.”

The issue will be published this fall, in print, by Works & Days. Cultural Logic will then publish an expanded online version—including several additional articles, including pieces on Greece, India, and Turkey—in 2014.

Rich Gibson and E. Wayne Ross, co-editors of the special issue, describe the context and focus of the issue as:

The core issue of our time is the reality of the promise of perpetual war and escalating color-coded inequality met by the potential of a mass, activist, class-conscious movement to transform both daily life and the system of capitalism itself. In this context, schools in the empires of the world are the centripetal organizing points of much of life. While the claim of capitalist schooling is, in the classics, education, “leading out,” the reality is that schools are segregated illusion factories, in some cases human munition factories. Rather than leading out, they encapsulate.

Mainstream educational and social research typically ignores, disconnects, the ineluctable relationships of what is in fact capitalist schooling, class war, imperialist war, and the development of varying forms of corporate states around the world.

At issue, of course, is: What to do?

The long view, either in philosophy or social practice is revolution as things must change, and they will.

Connecting the long view to what must also be a long slog necessarily involves a careful look at existing local, national, and international conditions; working out tactics and strategies that all can understand, none taken apart from a grand strategy of equality and justice.

“Marxism and Education: Education for Revolution” will be the second collaborative publishing project between Cultural Logic and Works & Days. In 2012, the journals co-published the special issue “Culture and Crisis,” edited by Cultural Logic co-editor Joseph G. Ramsey) in print and online versions.

Table of Contents for Marxism and Education: International Perspectives on Education for Revolution

Marxist Sociology of Education and the Problem of Naturalism: An Historical Sketch
Grant Banfield, Flinders University of South Australia

The Illegitimacy of Student Debt
David J. Blacker, University of Delaware

A Tale of Two Cities – and States
Richard A. Brosio, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Schooling For Capitalism or Education for Twenty-First Century Socialism?
Mike Cole, University of East London

Barbarism Rising: Detroit, Michigan, and the International War of the Rich on the Poor
Rich Gibson, San Diego State University

Reimagining Solidarity: Hip-Hop as Revolutionary Pedagogy
Julie A. Gorlewski, State University of New York, New Paltz
Brad J. Porfilio, Lewis University

The Pedagogy of Excess
Deborah P. Kelsh, The College of Saint Rose

Contesting Production: Youth Participatory Action Research in the Struggle to Produce Knowledge
Brian D. Lozenski, University of Minnesota
Zachary A. Casey, University of Minnesota
Shannon K. McManimon, University of Minnesota

Undermining Capitalist Pedagogy: Takiji Kobayashi’s Tōseikatsusha and the Ideology of the World Literature Paradigm
John Maerhofer, Roger Williams University

Class Consciousness and Teacher Education: The Socialist Challenge and The Historical Context
Curry Stephenson Malott, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Insurgent Pedagogies and Dangerous Citizenship
E. Wayne Ross, The University of British Columbia

Learning to be Fast Capitalists on a Flat World
Timothy Patrick Shannon, The Ohio State University
Patrick Shannon, Penn State University

Hacking Away at the Corporate Octopus
Alan J. Singer, Hofstra University

SDS, The 1960s, and Educating for Revolution
Alan J. Spector, Purdue University, Calumet

About the Co-editors:
Rich Gibson is emeritis professor of social studies in the College of Education at San Diego State University. He worked as a foundry worker, an ambulance driver, a pot and pan washer, fence painter, soda jerk, bank teller, surveyor’s assistant, assembly line chaser, a teacher, a social worker, organizer and bargaining agent for National Education Association, TA, and as a professor at Wayne State University. With about ten other people, he helped to found what is now the largest local in the UAW, local 6000, not auto-workers, but state employees.

E. Wayne Ross is professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia and a former secondary social studies (Grades 8 to 12) and day care teacher in North Carolina and Georgia. He has taught at Ohio State University, State University of New York, and the University of Louisville. Ross is a member of the Institute for Critical Education Studies at UBC and co-editor of Critical Education and Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor.

Gibson and Ross are co-editors of Neoliberalism and Education Reform (Hampton Press) and are co-founders of The Rouge Forum, a group of K-12 and university education workers, parents, community people, and students, engaged in fighting for a democratic and egalitarian society. Find out more about The Rouge Forum conferences here and here.

About Cultural Logic:
Cultural Logic—which has been on-line since 1997—is an open access, non-profit, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal that publishes essays, interviews, poetry, reviews (books, films, other media), etc. by writers working within the Marxist tradition.

CL co-editors are: David Siar (Winston-Salem State University), Gregory Meyerson (North Carolina A & T University), James Neilson (North Carolina A & T University), Martha Gimenez, (University of Colorado), Rich Gibson (San Diego State University), E. Wayne Ross, (University of British Columbia), Joe Ramsey (Quincy College)

About Works & Days:
Works & Days provides a scholarly forum for the exploration of problems in cultural studies, pedagogy, and institutional critique, especially as they are impacted by the global economic crisis of late capitalism. Whereas most scholarly journals publish groups of relatively unrelated essays, each volume of Works & Days focuses on a specific issue, and contributors are encouraged to share their work with each other.

Recent special issues of the Works & Days journal have focused on the effect of globalization on women and the environment, the attacks on academic freedom, the privatization of higher education under neoliberal capitalism, the increasing exploitation of part-time, temporary faculty, the shift from print to electronic media, and the politics of knowledge.

Works & Days is edited by David B. Downing (Indiana University of Pennsylvania).