Anthropologists on the Strike

Yesterday, lecturers began 14 days of strikes in over 60 universities across the United Kingdom. Nominally, the strikes are to oppose pension changes proposed by university employers that would end defined benefits and offload the risk of pension income onto lecturers themselves.

Here at Culture & Capitalism, we will round up writing and interviews from anthropologists on the reasons for the strike and broader issues regarding the marketisation of higher education.


We begin with an audio interview with Sussex Anthropologist, Paul Gilbert, on The Glass Bead Game podcast.

Sussex Anthropologist Paul Gilbert, interviewed by Will Hood on the topic of Pension Capitalism

  1. Intro & What is Happening
  2. Are Pensions a Thing of the Past?
  3. Student Response to the Strikes
  4. Where Has the Money Gone?
  5. The Fee is Not the Price, the Student is Not a Consumer
  6. Corporate Investment of Our Pensions – At What Cost?


FOcutpicPlease send links to anything we’ve missed at

Our colleague in the School of Global Studies, Gurminder Bhambra, has shared the text of her talk, ‘In Defence of the Public University‘ (23 February 2018)

Colleen Morgan at University of York shares thoughts on ‘Teach-Outs and the Progressive Stack‘ (25 February 2018)

Photo from

At the Allegra Lab, the #PrecAnthro collective writes in support of the USS strike: ‘Once the Pension Dispute is Won, UCU Should Prioritise the Fight against Casualisation‘ (26 February 2018)

Photo by Nic Beuret, University of Essex, at the Allegra Lab blog,


Joseph Cook, UCL Anthropology, talks about ‘The Picket Line in the Digital Age‘ (26 February 2018)

‘By holding a physical, and only a physical picket line, and allowing activities to continue off-site, we are not striking from work, we are striking from space.’


Photo courtesy of UCL Anthro Strike


On the Picket Line, University of Sussex, 27 February 2018

Sussex Anthropologists Dinah Rajak, Filippo Osella, Peter Luetchford and Paul Boyce
Global Studies at the picket

From The Ustinovian, ‘Pension Strike 2018: Durham speaks,’ PhD Student in Anthropology, Upul Kumara Wickramasinghe, shares thoughts on the strike (28 February 2018)


On the Picket Line, University of Sussex, 28 February 2018

UCL Anthropology created puns with famous anthropologists in honour of the strike; follow @Joseph_M_Cook for more (2 March 2018)


 On the Picket Line, University of Sussex, 15 March 2018



Students from Anthropology and Global Studies have written a ‘quick manifesto’ in defence of higher education: ‘Accumulation by Dispossession, Solidarity in Precarity and the Future of Higher Education‘ (15 March 2018)


Clive Barnett (Geography & Social Theory, University of Exeter), shares ‘10 Things I’ve Learnt from Being on Strike‘ (15 March 2018)

Other posts from the Pop Theory blog include:


‘…the analysis of processes of the marketisation, financialization, and consumerisation of higher education in the UK needs to be freed from the weight of the theoretical edifice of critical discourses of ‘neoliberalism’…’

Joseph Michael Cook (Material Culture Anthropology, UCL) asks ‘Can workers fully withdraw labour in the digital age?‘ at The Conversation (22 March 2018)

‘Over the past month, industrial action by academics has seen picket lines outide many universities in the UK. Supported by members of the student body and a range of other education workers, academics have stood outside in the cold, encouraging their colleagues to not enter the buildings, and to instead join the strike outside…’ read more


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