Bibliopolitics: The History of Notation and the Birth of the Citational Academic Subject

Matthew Sharpe, Kirk Turner


The paper builds upon a growing body of critical research on the proliferating use of bibliometrics as a means to evaluate academic research, but brings to it a specifically Foucauldian, genealogical approach. The paper has three parts. Part 1 situates bibliometrics as a new technology of neoliberal, biopolitical governmentality, alongside the host of other ‘metrics’ (led by biometrics) that have emerged in the last two decades. Part 2 analyses bibliometrics’ antecedents in prior notational practices in the Western heritage, highlighting how forms of noting have almost always had political valences tied to projects of control or subversion. Part 3 then delineates the specific features of bibliometrics as a new form of notation, highlighting the latest forms of academic subjectivity bibliometrics suppose and increasingly are summoning into being.


bibliometrics; neoliberalism; biopower; notation; metric power

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