Academic institutions today are often described as bureaucratic apparatuses that transform knowledge-seeking and driven researchers either into administrators or into adjuncts working under precarious conditions. But this is only half of the truth. Most of the conferences, symposia, and research projects that are produced under such conditions show that academic institutions have a political and moral function as well. Many cultural researchers not only reject the modern idea and possibility of a neutral, objective science as ideological flaws, but they design their research projects as active and engaged political and moral tools. This progressive politicization of academia also implies that all other theoretical practices, which are not imediately following such a moral ideal of political engaged research, can be and are equally recognized as political projects – only that they appear as conservative, as interested in defending a certain developed state of a socially and academically status quo.
From this perspective, the human body with all its desires, passions, and affections appears as a political and ideological battlefield and academic researchers as the revolutionary army that speculatively redefines its possibilities.
One of the reasons for the success of the politicization of academic research is the widely recognized understanding that even the most banal and profane everyday instances are loaded with political and moral interests. Living in a period whose intellectual atmosphere is determined by the authorial shadows of Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, it has become common sense today that not only the way of how and under which conditions we work, but that also the way of how and what we eat, of how and when we sleep, walk, read, and talk, or of how we dress, kiss, and fuck are culturally defined norms and must be understood therefore as repressions and discriminations of other possibilities. The fact, for example, that western culture is most and foremost a visual culture in which the eye is the most active sensual organ has often been described as a repression of the development of all other sensual organs; of the ear, the nose, the tongue, or the fingertips. From this perspective, the human body with all its desires, passions, and affections appears as a political and ideological battlefield and academic researchers as the revolutionary army that speculatively redefines its possibilities.
This is of course only one of the reasons why such categories as gender and race, ability and sexuality have become very attractive academic subjects in recent decades. But moreover, insofar the human body is only an interface to all other existing things – be they external objects like cars, factories, plants, or animals, or internal entities like ideas, feelings, or fantasies – the politicization of academic research has also infected everything else. It has politicized the world in its totality. Contemporary academia is in a symbolic world war; it is thus rather hard if not impossible to find a theoretical practice that cannot be understood as political. Under such conditions it has become not only very easy for an academic to be political, it has become an unavoidable norm.