Measuring Monsters, Academic Subjectivities, and Counting Practices


  • Susan O. Cannon
  • Maureen A. Flint



In this paper, we explore the online academic research platforms we are entangled with as tenure-track faculty members in the neoliberal university. We are so embedded in these systems that the assumptions and constructions inherent in practices of counting are often lost, wrapped in the coils of counting practices—a becoming with algorithm. Though academic platforms are intricately enmeshed in our research and lives, they have been operating as “onto-epistemological blind spots” (Sweet et al., 2020, p. 2). And yet, the numbers they produce and rely on (H-scores, impact factors, citation counts, and journal rankings) matter and are “promiscuous and inventive in [their] agential wanderings” (Barad, 2015, p. 487), offering possibilities for intimacy and response-ability to what we are and might become. In other words, attending to the monstrous qualities of counting practices offers an entry point for re-thinking the relational, ethical, and affective aspects of academic subjectivity. So, we attend tothese qualities to become with the neoliberal counting and control mechanisms in innovative ways. Through this paper, we open ourselves to the wild possibilities of academic algorithms, working within and thinking with counting practices to intimately understand the ontologies of number at work in these platforms and how they work on our subjectivities. As we consider how our futures are being modelled and pre-empted, we think the algorithms in relation to feminist new materialist philosophers, Rosi Braidotti and Karen Barad. We ask: ‘what if?’ we were to think ontologies of number with these theories and see what possibilities emerge. We entangle Braidotti and  Barad with Deleuzoguattarian philosophies to imagine different relational becomings; to construct new ways of attending to our monstrous potentials and possibilities.


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