Following diversity through the university: On knowing and embodying a problem

Zakia Essanhaji*, Rogier van Reekum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Diversity is a widely shared concern within contemporary universities. Most diversity research focuses on what universities are saying and doing about diversity. Herein lies the assumption that researchers already know ‘the’ problem of diversity before studying it and that it stays the same during and after investigation. This article takes a different approach by following how diversity becomes a problem in a concrete academic setting. More specifically, we ask how conditions of knowledge production intervene with, transform, and contribute to what is known as the problem of diversity. We thereby demonstrate how diversity is made into multiple problems throughout a single setting. More importantly, we show how these problems never fully come to contain the controversy of diversity as epistemic troubles routinely (re)emerged. Indeed, our research provoked such troubles. As one of the researchers was recurringly understood as an embodiment of diversity, fieldwork itself elicited and shaped the persistent controversy of diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-900
Number of pages19
JournalSociological Review
Issue number5
Early online date24 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022


  • academia
  • diversity
  • epistemology
  • knowledge production
  • situated knowledges


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