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BISR ECR Roundtable: The Challenges of Politicised Research

Venue: Birkbeck Central

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The BISR Early Career Researchers Working Group is pleased to present the Annual Roundtable "The Challenges of Politicised Research."

Many early career researchers (ECR) research matters that are particularly politicised in the public sphere, such as debates on transgender identities, sex-work, immigration, violence against racialised groups, social welfare, police violence, war and interfaces between state powers in an increasingly volatile geopolitical environment. What pressures inhibit academic freedom of speech? How can we deal with these pressures, while finding supportive communities and having our voices heard? In the current political climate, there is an increasing risk of attacks from certain actors regarding both our research outputs and public pronouncements on these subjects. Additionally, our political positions permeate our work and extend beyond it, often conflicting with career considerations. Questions arise: Should we speak up about a particular issue? What might the ramifications be for my employability? Will the university support me if I come under fire? Will colleagues do the same? These challenges are exacerbated by a sector shaped by neoliberalism, characterized by atomized workers, marketized degree courses, casualized contracts and unsustainable workloads.

This roundtable will explore the complex reality of doing politicised research, asking which practices and resources might help us navigate the pressures of not just political/politicised research, but also the inherently political aspects of our work and subjectivity within British higher education. Speakers will talk and engage in dialogue with one another and members of the ECR community around such topics as:

  • academic freedom of speech,
  • pressures to reproduce certain viewpoints or avoid particular conclusions in research,
  • communities and networks that support politicised work,
  • examples of dealing with or encountering these various pressures, and
  • the feelings and concrete problems for us as academics.

The speakers include Professor Jasmine Gideon, Dr Ashok Kumar, Professor David Renton (SOAS) and Dr Kalpana Wilson, with Dr Chao-Yo Cheng serving as the moderator. The Roundtable is supported by the Birkbeck Institute of Social Research and organised by Dr Chao-Yo Cheng, Dr Megan McElhone, Evan Sedgwick Jell, Dr Olivier Sibai and Helena Wee of the BISR ECR working group. Researchers from PhD students to junior/senior academics interested in the challenges of politicised research are welcome. The Roundtable will run between 11am to 1pm on Wednesday 29th May 2024, with a buffet lunch from 1pm to 2pm.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Dr Chao-Yo Cheng (


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