Interdisciplinarity, neoliberalism and academic identities:

  • Richard Tabulawa University of Botswana
Keywords: interdisciplinarity, neoliberalism, academic subjectivities


This paper explicates the growing interest in interdisciplinarity as a form of knowledge organisation at the University of Botswana (UB). It accomplishes this by locating this development in a global context of a growing instrumentalisation of knowledge, partially occasioned by the advent of the knowledge society. Generally, the paper argues that interdisciplinarity is not some neutral, apolitical technical re-arrangement of knowledge, as often presented. Rather, it is a political technology implicated in attempts to break academics’ monopoly on the processes and products of higher education (HE). It attributes interdisciplinarity’s rise to the emergence in the 1970s of neoliberalism as a social settlement that privileges market rationality. There is, therefore, affinity between interdisciplinarity and neoliberalism, and it is a relationship in which the former is being deployed by the latter in HE to produce ‘neoliberal academic subjects’. The case of UB is presented as a specific case of the general argument that interdisciplinarity is designed to effect new forms of academic subjectivities attuned to market rationality.

Author Biography

Richard Tabulawa, University of Botswana
Research Articles