About

Heather completed her PhD in Law Studies at the University of Sussex Law Department, studying resistance to the marketisation of higher education through the lens of a reimagining of academic freedom. She is a critical utopian scholar with research interests in unions, protest, education, feminism, gender, aesthetics, utopian analysis of science fiction television, and speculative fiction. She has fought to preserve the archives of the National Union of Students and has been involved in relocating them to the Modern Records Centre in Warwick where they will be available as a public interest archive.

Heather McKnight is one of the co-founders of the Magnetic Ideals Collective which works on projects that use creative and artistic ways of bringing communities together to create social change. She is also an academic researcher, musician, visual artist. She has experience in using diverse creative modes of engagement for development, training and research. She is an experienced trainer and researcher in students’ unions, colleges, universities, and the public sector, as well as an activist and artist. Coming from a working background in equalities, campaigning and education research, she has worked for charities, students’ unions and local government.

Her teaching experience includes modules on Public Law and Order and Disorder (covering Law, Politics and Sociology) and MA seminars on critical theory at the University of Sussex, and on the Self and Society Module on poststructuralism at the University of Brighton. She also has a background in student engagement and pedagogical research working in partnership projects between institutions and students’ unions and have delivered numerous research projects and developed training in these areas that have been delivered to students, university staff from teaching staff and administrators to senior management.

She was the co-founder of the Critical Studies Journal at the University of Brighton, serving on the editorial board for three years and has also been the Co-Editor of Excursions Journal at the University of Sussex. She is a founding member of the anti-racist and trans-inclusive CHASE Feminist Network, which reaches across nine universities in the South East of England, aiming to create spaces of resistance in what continues to be a patriarchal higher education sector with ongoing and intersectional discrimination happening at all levels.

For a full work history please see Linkedin Profile Creative work Google Scholar

Other Publications

McKnight, Heather (2019) The Sussex campus ‘Forever Strike’: estrangement, resistance and utopian temporality. Studies in Arts and Humanities, 5 (1). pp. 145-172. ISSN 2009-826X

McKnight, Heather and Bajwa, Nehaal Farrukh Hameed (2018) [Preface] Networks edition of Excursions. Excursions, 8 (1). pp. 1-8.

McKnight, Heather (2018) Lessons in unionising the future: the art of estrangement and critical pedagogy on the picket line. Art/Law Network [weblog article, March 2018].

McKnight, Heather (2015) Agamben as and through Benjamin’s storyteller and translator. Critical Studies, 1. pp. 28-39. ISSN 2055-141X

McKnight, Heather (2017) Ernst Bloch’s theories concerning religion. In: Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Springer. ISBN 9783642277719

McKnight, Heather (2019) The Utopian ‘not yet’ of pop-up unionism [weblog article, 20 March 2019]. AltVision.

Blog Posts

    Projects

    Anti-Precarity Research with EASA and PrecAnthro: http://www.magneticideals.org/home/research/precarity/

    The Swamp: Ritualising our Biodiversity as a Utopian Somatic Practice: http://www.magneticideals.org/home/research/swamp/

    The Utopian Discourse of the School Strikes: http://www.magneticideals.org/home/research/school-strikes/

     

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    Conference Papers

    2022 – Fail Again, Fail Better? Utopia, Memory, Radical Politics, and Radical Research, Roundtable – Anticipatory Failure: Sustaining Hope as Collective Care in Digital Campaigning and Online Activist Spaces

    2021 – Acting as If: Prefigurative Politics in Theory and Practice, Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague – Chaos and Hope –Nano-Utopian Moments of Activist Self-Organisation

    2021 – Critical Legal Studies, Frakenlaw Conference, University of Dundee – Educating Utopia: The School Strike for Climate Crisis and their Legislative Visions

    2021 – Activism and Resistance, The London Science Fiction Research Community – “I don’t see how singing and dancing could be dangerous” Becoming Utopian in Utopia Falls – Interrogating a Nano-Utopian Moment in Teen TV

    2021 – Living in the End Times, Cappadocia University, Turkey (online) – Unpacking ReGenesis from a Pandemic Perspective: Horizons of Transnational Cooperation and Human Connection

    2021 – Taking Care in the Climate Crisis (online), CHASE DTP-  Educating Utopia: Educating Utopia in the School Strike for Climate Crisis Movement – Video Essay

    2020 The Conference at the End of the World, Alt-ac (online) – The Invisible Roots of Knowledge Production, and Their Role in Resistance to the Marketisation of Education

    2020 Brief Encounters Journal Launch (online) – “The Oceans are Rising and So Are We” – Utopian Discourses of the School Student Strike for Climate Change

    2019 London Science Fiction Network, Birkbeck, The Economies of Science Fiction Conference – The Commons of Consciousness: Labour, dispossession and enclosure in Falling Water and Sense8

    2019 The Art of Not Doing Conference, Interdisciplinary conference on rest, resistance and pleasure activism – Forever Strike! Estrangement and Utopian Temporality on Sussex Campus

    2019 Utopian Studies Society Conference, Prato Italy – “The Oceans are Rising and So Are We” – Utopian Discourses of the School Student Strike for Climate Change

    2019 ‘Faking It’ Excursions Symposium, University of Sussex – The Invisible Roots of Knowledge Production, and their Role in Resistance to the Marketisation of Education

    2019 Disruption, Transition and Transformation Symposium at LSE – Sussex Campus on Strike: Estrangement, Resistance and Utopian Temporality

    2018 Academic Identities Conference – The Peaceful University: aspirations for academic futures – compassion, generosity, imagination, and creation, Hiroshima University Japan – Unionising Hope: Collective Subjectivities of Resistance in Higher Education

    2018 The Social Life of Time Conference, University of Edinburgh – Exploring Unionised Potentiality: The 2018 Strike as a Site of Utopian Temporality

    2018 Utopia Now, Chelsea College of Arts – Unions as Utopian Spaces: Narratives of Resistance in the Fight Against Marketised Education

    2018 Critical Legal Conference, University of Warwick – Student Resistance Between and Beyond: How the Charitable Status of Students’ Unions is Relocating Student Activism, Paths in the Midst of Collapse: The Role of Academic Freedom in Resisting the Marketisation of Education

    2017 University of Sussex, Art and Law Workshop, Dystopias of Motherhood and Fear: An Absence of Legal Interventions against Weaponised Reproduction in Television Sci-Fi

    2017 Solidarity and Utopia Conference, Gdansk, Utopias of shared anticipatory
    (pre)consciousness: Blurring the thresholds of self in Falling Water and Sense8


    2017 Encounters, University of East Anglia – Theorising the ‘Not Yet’: The Value of Critical Utopian Theory in Interdisciplinary Research and Discourse Analysis

    2017 Postgraduate Workshop, Sussex – Dystopias of Motherhood and Fear: An Absence of Legal Interventions against Weaponised Reproduction in Television Sci-Fi

    2017 Bringing Life to Politics Conference, University of Brighton – Narrating the Boundaries of Being Human: Blurring the thresholds of of self in Sense8

    2017 Politics of Temporality Postgraduate Workshop, Sussex – Exploring Unionised Potentiality: Heterotopian Sites of Resistance and Utopian Temporality in Higher Education

    2017 Politics of Temporality ‘Time and Fear’ Workshop, Sussex – A Heritage of New Terrorisms: The Chronotopology of Prevent Legislation in University Spaces

    2017 Dystopia Now! Conference, Birkbeck – Dystopian Narratives of Motherhood and Reproduction in TV Science Fiction: Challenging the Patriarchy or Reinventing the Witch Hunt?

    2016 Society for Utopian Studies, St. Petersburg, Florida Tracing the Edges of Contemporaneous Contradiction, Paths in the Midst of Collapse: Preventing Prevent

    2016 Critical Studies Research Group Resistance Conference, University of Brighton: Unionising the Future? Potential resistance to marketisation of education between Trade Unions and Students’ Unions

    2016 (16th June) Utopia Research Workshop – 500 Years of Utopia, University of Nottingham: Utopian Temporalities and Horizons of resistance between Trade Unions and Students’ Unions

    2016 (17th June) Society for Women in Philosophy Conference Precarity: Passion, Rage, Reason, University of Brighton: “I am not your property; I am not your Weapon” – Weaponising Reproduction: Motherhood, pregnancy and cloning as forms of control in TV Sci-fi

    2016 (12 – 13 May) International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Onati, Workshop on Radical Temporality: Law, Order and Resistance: Mapping Radical Utopian Temporalities of resistance between Trade Unions and Students’ Unions

    2016 Buzzcuts Conference, University of Glasgow: Unionising the Future: Trade Unions, Students’ Unions and Resistance

    2015 Society for Utopian Studies Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Messianic Cooperisms and Fantastic Trees: Tracing the Utopian Horizons of Twin Peak & Mother, Martyr, Cyborg: Dystopian Dialectics of Feminine Power in Continuum

    2015 Utopias CAPPE Conference, Brighton: Reclaiming the Night: Fatal Intersections in Concrete Spaces – An analysis of Reclaim the Night Marches through Foucault’s notion of Heterotopia concurrently with Bloch’s Utopian Function

    2015 Utopian Studies Society Conference: Utopia and the End of the City: Daydreams of becoming Human: Conflicted Horizons of Identity & Reclaiming the Night: Fatal Intersections in Concrete Spaces

    2015 Feminist Futures Conference, London: Reclaiming the Night: Fatal Intersections in Concrete Spaces – An analysis of Reclaim the Night Marches through Foucault’s notion of Heterotopia concurrently with Bloch’s Utopian Function

    2015 Quality Assurance Agency Enhancement Themes Conference: Conflicting Roles? Student Representatives as the Storyteller and the Translator – Applying Benjamin in the student movement

    2015 Vanishing Acts: Exploring Marginalised Television Identities, Newcastle University: Mother, Martyr, Cyborg: Dystopian Dialectics of Feminine Power in Continuum

    2015 The Practice of (in)Visibility,University of Brighton: The Ideology of Community Organising: (in)visible (dis)courses of Power in the Student Movement

    2015 Disorienting the Topological Conference, London: Reclaiming the Night: Fatal Intersections in Concrete Spaces – An analysis of Reclaim the Night Marches through Foucault’s notion of Heterotopia concurrently with Bloch’s Utopian Function

    2014 Society for Utopian Studies Conference, Canada, Montreal: Towards Violent Utopias? Butler and Agamben as manifesting Bloch’s utopian function – Funded by the University of Brighton, School of Humanities

    2014 Workers in Democracy and Representation Conference, Manchester: Measuring Without Numbers: A Story about Enhancement – Resituating Evaluative Structures in Students’ Unions through Bloch’s Theory of Deficits and Realisation, and Benjamin’s concepts of the Storyteller and Translator

    2014 International Ontologies of Conflict Conference, University of Brighton: Towards Violent Utopias? Butler and Agamben in the ‘darkness of the lived moment’

    2012 Workers in Democracy and Representation Conference, Leeds, Improving Voter Turnout and Participation

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