Collective MX90 – Abstract

To: Academia 
Re: Collective knowledge production

Knowledge production is always the result of a collective endeavor but academia, in its current organization, tends to erase (often in subtle but entrenched ways) this collective dimension. This becomes particularly salient when it comes to authorship and ownership, a sociolinguistic concern, which is also a terrain of dispute and a site of the reproduction of structural inequalities (race, gender, seniority, etc.). Academia has, in some sense, recognized authorship and ownership as an important issue, and regulations regarding the naming of authors, their order of appearance, and the indication of their specific roles have been produced. Responsibility and accountability, as well as the supposed division of labor in academic knowledge production are the guiding principles of these regulations. However, these techniques do not fundamentally embrace the complexity or potential impossibility of objectively defining who has contributed what. Furthermore, single authorship remains privileged as a sign of intellectual autonomy even if collaboration is appreciated. The underlying logic of an autonomous scholar who presents her/his work to the public in her/his own name remains unchallenged. Hence, the collective dimension of knowledge production appears fragmented and the fundamental problem of academic inequalities and misrecognition are sustained. In this keynote, we aim to explore alternative ways of imagining authorship and ownership from a perspective of participatory parity, hence addressing the academy and its declared commitment to the collective dimension of knowledge production. We will examine how, under what circumstances, and with what consequences for whom, collective authorship and ownership are envisioned and enacted by academic collectives. Through an exploration of alternative ways of conceiving collective authorship and ownership, including how academic institutions (funding bodies, conference organizers, and journal and book editors) challenge, endorse or reject these practices, we intend to spark disruptive ways of thinking and acting on the necessarily collective dimension of knowledge production in academia.