Exit via the gift shop

Ratle, Olivier; Robinson, Sarah and Bristow, Alexandra (2024). Exit via the gift shop. In: Robinson, Sarah; Bristow, Alexandra and Ratle, Olivier eds. Doing Academic Careers Differently: Portraits of Academic Life. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 417–421.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003267553-66


The gift shop is a collective endeavour by the editors and authors of this book, and the gifts on offer are as eclectic as the rest of the exhibition. There is plenty of the usual gift shop fare on display, but also some rather unusual items. Looking around the gift shop is another opportunity to reflect on the portraits in exhibition and consider the nature of academic careers. Within the gift shop, tensions and contradictions abound between the shop and the gifts, consumerism and the gift economy, the richness of academic life and its impoverishment through commercialisation. There is tension in the question mark over whether this gift shop does not sell anything, or whether everything inside it is for sale (and very expensive). And, in the meandering movement towards the exit, there is a tension between academic careers as a drive or flight towards vacating the premises vis-à-vis the lingering sense of vocation. Browsing the gift shop, the visitor may well find something to further provoke or inspire them, or at least make them smile. Visitors are invited to become a ‘critical friend’ of the ‘Doing Academic Careers Differently Gallery’ and return regularly for inspiration, courage, and hope.

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