1st Edition

Universities and the Occult Rituals of the Corporate World Higher Education and Metaphorical Parallels with Myth and Magic

By Felicity Wood Copyright 2018
    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    Universities and the Occult Rituals of the Corporate World explores the metaphorical parallels between corporatised, market-oriented universities and aspects of the occult. In the process, the book shows that the forms of mystery, mythmaking and ritual now common in restructured institutions of higher education stem from their new power structures and procedures, and the economic and sociopolitical factors that have generated them.

    Wood argues that universities have acquired occult aspects, as the beliefs and practices underpinning present-day market-driven academic discourse and practice weave spells of corporate potency, invoking the bewildering magic of the market and the arcane mysteries of capitalism, thriving on equivocation and evasion. Making particular reference to South African universities, the book demonstrates the ways in which apparently rational features of contemporary Western and westernised societies have acquired occult aspects. It also includes discussion of higher education institutions in other countries where neoliberal economic agendas are influential, such as the UK, the USA, the Eurozone states and Australia.

    Providing a unique and thought-provoking look at the impact of the marketisation of Higher Education, this book will be essential reading for academics, researchers and postgraduate students engaged in the study of higher education, educational policy and neoliberalism. It should also be of great interest to academics in the fields of anthropology, folklore and cultural studies, as well as business, economics and management.

    1. Introduction 2. The Magic of the Market 3. Setting the Scene 4. Corporate Simulacra 5. A Climate of Fear 6. Rituals, Talismans and Templates 7. Performance and Ritual 8. Kinship, Collegiality and Witchcraft 9. Secrecy, Publicity, Confusion and Power 10. The Zombies of Corporate Academia 11. Sacrifices and Suffering 12. Smoke and Mirrors and Wind Money 13. Conclusion: Breaking the Spell Bibliography


    Felicity Wood is employed by the University of Fort Hare, South Africa. Her area of research interest is the way contemporary western and westernised societies partake in aspects of mystery, ritual and magic, especially in economic and socio-political contexts and the present-day workplace.

    "A timely and innovative contribution at a time when Universities world-wide are becoming increasingly bureaucratic and corporate in their approach to academic affairs. This book provides a critique of the mysterious top-down style of managerial control that often stifles academic freedom and thought. Such voices are often oblivious to the academic project. The book shows how the magic of the market has corporatized higher education. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the folklore of university governance."

    Professor Russell H Kaschula, NRF SARChI Chair and Professor of African Language Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa.

    "Universities have become international businesses much of whose capital takes the form of academic values and ideals. Such capital is malleable, readily shaped to meet the requirements of corporate marketing. In this extraordinary book, Felicity Wood digs deep into the occult to understand the university’s descent into madness. Ritual, myth, mysticism and magic facilitate the sacrifice of public benefit on the altar of neoliberal greed. Where reasoning fails to explain the collaboration of academics in their own demise, fear succeeds. Magic rewards compliant incantation of meaningless mantras - excellence, quality, world class. A brilliant and truly original exposition."                                                      

    Stuart Macdonald, General Editor, Prometheus.