All imposters in the university? Striking (out) claims on academic Twitter
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Taylor, Y. and Breeze, M. (2020) 'All imposters in the university? Striking (out) claims on academic Twitter', Women's Studies International Forum, 81, article no. 102367.
This article extends feminist debates on academic labour and particularly career categories, exploring how ambivalent insider/outsider academic ‘imposter’ positions are performed and circulated on social media. We argue for a conceptual shift from imposter syndrome to imposter positionality via an empirical focus on how the UK 2018 Universities and Colleges Union industrial action played out on academic Twitter. We develop autoethnographic fictions as method, exploring the ethical dilemmas of doing feminist research online. Industrial action was fractured by categorical career stages; however, contested career categories are also mobilised by academics to claim an outsider-on-the-inside imposter position, which implies well-documented academic exclusions according to class, race, and gender while simultaneously glossing over and conflating such inequalities with, for instance, ‘early career’ status. Our argument is against the depoliticization of both imposter ‘syndrome’ and career stage categories, and rejects any search for the avowedly authentic academic imposter. Instead we attend to how imposter positionality is claimed and circulated online, across the career course, questioning the notion that we are ‘all imposters’ in the academy.