Why Write?: Feminism, publishing and the politics of communication


My concern here is with the enclosure and delimitation of a politics of communication within and across the knowledge and creative sectors. I show how this enclosure is enacted by reform agendas and specifically by the alignment of copyright and access reform in the UK. While policy on copyright and access implements neoliberal values by means of the apparently valueless a-politics of openness, I explore the possibilities of re-politicisation - of opening out from openness - through publishing projects that (re)enact specifically feminist agendas and investments in, for example, care, ethics, agency, responsibility, experimentation and intervention. A feminist politics of communication does not (could not) posit radicalism in opposition to neoliberalism but does constitute a relation of antagonism (Mouffe) within a nexus of trouble understood here as the configuration of writing, publishing, privatisation and marketisation. To the extent that this nexus of trouble is already troubled (and not least by crisis models in publishing, the humanities and academia generally), the specific and strategic question of writing itself is, I suggest, currently underexplored. The question of writing brings philosophy to bear on policies of openness but, I argue, in an environment of increasingly proprietorial knowledge and of creativity as market competition, the key question (to ask) of writing is not the metaphysical one (what is writing?) but rather the more provisional question: why write?