Feel the Fear and Killjoy Anyway: Being a Challenging Feminist Presence in Precarious Academia

  • Órla Meadhbh Murray
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Gender and Education book series (GED)


Being a feminist killjoy (Ahmed, The promise of happiness. London: Duke University Press, 2010) is an uncomfortable position to hold. Sometimes this position is actively chosen and pursued as a political aim—challenging people around you, in your personal life, and through your work. Sometimes one is positioned as the killjoy by others due to presumed political beliefs or through being ‘out of place’ in the whiteness, the middle-classness, and the cissexist-ableist patriarchy of the academy. For many, just being present in academia is seen as challenging because it is a space that was not made by, or for, people ‘like you’. In this chapter I will explore how it feels to be a feminist killjoy in academia, focusing on early-career feminist academics who are in precarious positions due to contract and/or visa status. This will be based on in-depth interviews and online questionnaires with seven other feminists about their experiences, alongside reflections on my experience as a PhD student and tutor in UK academia. I explain the feminist killjoy and precarity in more detail, provide an overview of my methodology, participants’, and my own positionality, and finally present my analysis and some strategies of resistance.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Órla Meadhbh Murray
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghScotland

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