e versity ide elf
as we while away the hours, it ’s hard and hard not to adhere to an idle and industrious vigil with its formatting of the day ’s functions. drif ting and dar ting desires and designs have always burrowed their stings in precisely mechanised patterns into my f lesh, heightening that sense of being taught. to construct through tears and holes we devour carefree experiments, following where error leads us for th. systems of all living matter could learn to thrill at the delight which falls out of being taught back-to front with a naturally chaotic beat . step-by-step instructions guide us towards some form of nebulous activit y as we daily play with learning, prioritising line, rhy thm and joy. the function of a function subtly de -forms, f iz zing in my setting blood as I remember all these failures. simply skipping ever y moment to accord and match-up means a play time not distant , not puffed up but here. h ere i n th i s ma ni c u re d e nv i ro nme nt the gl int of he at- wob b le d s ta r- s c a pe c a n b ec o m e t he d i a mond f unct i on of c utti ng, p asti ng, dr ying a n d t y i n g , no m atter how much or how far. through our p lay t h e sys te m will c o nti nu e to r u sh towa rds s ome l az y lily- p ond, so me e n dl es s sc a l e d p a t h, s o m e p uffe d up e me ral d- b uz z wi t h s h adow c a s tl es i n t he m argi ns. al way s dumb founde d, rhy thmic an d h usk y, w e w a tc h p a ra s i te s l ea d for t h t he cr umb l i ng wa l l s. f rom t h a t s en s e o f bec o m i ng, th e sy s te m wi l l cont i nue a way of b ein g in th e w o r l d , a bac k- to - front p l ay of sp atte re d le tte rs as I re memb er a ll t h es e co nd u i ts. t he col our of fre sh b lood i s ma s ke d by loca l per fec t i o n, m e rg i ng d esi re s a nd de s i g ns af te r all. t he u n c e n so re d r ight to qu es ti o n stings my trac ks, b urrowi ng i ts f l ow in the day ’s d ri f t i ng fu nc ti o ns n ot idle, not f i z zi ng b ut c are fre e. c are fre e in our b e a t a n d fl u x w e d a i l y fo r m and de -for m the gl int of c hr ysal i s h u s ks, p l a y i ng wi t h s o me se nse of t he sy s te m. a d e hum a n is e d c u l - d e - s ac of s p atte re d l e tte rs can b e come a te nd e n cy s h a pe d l i ke l i p p e d e d g e s me rgi ng, and it ’s ha rd a nd h a rd not to le a d fo r th. l i fe - s hri n k i ng sy s te ms se e m to stop in my t ra c ks, e m erg i ng bl eed i ng, de fe a te d a nd tor n. b e ing t aug h t s o m eth i ng of the b r i ers and t hi cke t s of unexp l ore d an ticipa ti o n s et s u s d r i f t i ng a nd al lows us to c l imb, p re ci s e l y d e - fo rmin g th e patter ns. as we for ma t our f unct i ons with that s e n s e of t h e e n cl o s u re, w e l e a r n a b a ck-to -f ront way of b e i ng i n a wor ld ri c h l y a n d i nte ns e l y d ep l e te d. the te nde ncy to que stion is sh ap ed l i ke t w o t r i a ng l e s k i s s i ng and ca n b e come a re ward – a li ne, a r hy t h m , a fl ow. he re w e daily f i z z, b e ing taught to fa l l ou t , whi l e th e f u nc t i o n of a fu nct i on re conf i g ure s the f ront i e rs of th e un kn own. w hi l i ng a wa y o u r hours, l op side d with j oy, our
de si re s a n d d es i gns c o nti nu e b uilding castle s not simp le, not i n d us t r io us b u t d ai l y. daily mistakes can become step-by-step reward a w a y o f b e i n g i n t h e w o r l d ,w i t h t h a t s e n s e , of the colour of fresh blood. something calcified is hard a n d i t ’s h a r d n o t t o p r i o r i t i s e l i v i n g m a t t e r a s w e ’ r e t a u g h t and we learn to be intact. precisely unknown patterns o f l e t t e r s g r i n d a g a i n s t e a c h o t h e r, d r i f t i n g a n d d a r t i n g , s p a t t e r i n g u s i n t h e i r p l a y. t h e s y s t e m w i l l c o n t i n u e , a lopsided square, a game of cutting and pasting which calls upon the child to lead for th. this ongoing wrestle bet ween air and breathing matter echoes whirls of appetite and laughing which suppor t the welfare of the whole. across this sur face, viscous and enclosed, a snail f inds a dayd r e a m g a p i n g . g o l d e n i n k- s t a i n s g r a s p a t e m p t y n a r r o w routes, proud of this interior blemish large enough to sink an island. by imagining it all to be a straight and narrow route, slotted in like an appendage, we vacate untried ground, not lipped, not thicketed but glinting. a l way s glinting o n a t h re s ho l d e nc r u s te d w i t h b arnacle s, the voi ce of the Sp ir it c a lls us fo r th. a f ra g i l e s ens e of j oy offe rs an al te rnate rou te, s m a s h i n g t he d erel i c t b al ance for fe a r of of fe ndi ng, swi rl ing w i th vo r texe d co l o u r i n a n a t mos p he re of l ife - c hok i ng grasp. lo n g - h e l d c u s to m s and tra di t i ons , normal and ordi nar y, daily and d e - fo r m i ng, b e g i n to s ag wi t h t he we i g ht of our p l ay. s ome sens e of t h e sy s tem w i l l c o nt i nue b e ing taught through sp atte red te n d e n c ies, a nd i t ’s hard and ha rd not to sk i p. a b a ck-to -f ront p l a y s ti n g s o u r he a t- wo b b l ed shadows, p uff i ng up our s e ns e of t h e f un c ti o n. s el f- encl o se d de s i g ns mi stake s ome for wa rdlo o kin g b l a s t , l i tteri ng i t s i nte r i or, e c hoi ng and k issing t he ru l es. i t ’s n ever as s trai g ht for wa rd as an i nt a ct will to f l ouri sh, a l th o ug h ri c hl y i d l e tu r f ke e ps our p r i nci p l e s f ul l a nd devour i ng. all th a t i s v i t a l w re s t l e s w i t h a da i l y l e a r ni ng, e ngaging ful ly with th e t a s k gi f ted fo r f l o u r i shing. wi t h g a p i ng te a rs a nd hol es, mi s ta kes su p p o r t t he i nne r world, te a chi ng fe r vour and i nte nsit y i n th e ra w. a s we whi l e away the hours our f l aws va ca te l i fe sh r in kin g sy s tem s , f u nne l ling the ri c h manure of p l ay. the l i fe bl oo d of the S p i r i t i s a m argi n for mi s t a ke s , not for ma t te d, n ot unexp l ore d b ut gif ted. Joy of learning Anne Jones
Contents 000 Joy of learning Anne Jones
004 Te Wai Ariki instructions Local Time 006
The Learning Quarter Argos Aotearoa
008 The radical demos Neal Curtis 013 A Pacific-friendly future Afakasi Baby 014
Fight against the linear Selina Tusitala Marsh
'Atenisi : six terms of reference for an Athens of the Pacific Paul Janman
024 Indigenous ways of knowing Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal 030 Under the paving stones, the seabed: walking and the university Eleanor Cooper 040
U of I: the university as I experience you Alex Wild Jespersen & Pritika Lal
044 Finance, university, revolt Campbell Jones 052 Under the clocktower Chant Baxter West & Sam Morgan 054 The subject of chance and decision Guy Cohn & Henri Carlos 062 UfSO: (a)history & classroom consciousness Marcus Karlsberg & Verity Mensonage
070 Summary feedback form 072
Credit and credentialising Tim Neale
077 Social auto-totality: the Lecturer's predicament Marek Tesar & Alena Kavka 081 The university of plagiarism Laurence Simmons 087 The new dark ages Anna Boswell 092
Conversations with mark
100 The personal touch (message from a higher power) 102 Imagining unthinkable spaces Sarah Amsler & Mark Amsler 110
A true Pacific graduation Afakasi Baby
111 Equity, change and we the university Airini 116 In search of an activist academic Sandra Grey 123 Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention: the Chilean students' movement Walescka Pino-Ojeda 133 What could the university be? Sean Sturm & Stephen Turner 138 A PhD completion vision board Afakasi Baby 140 Contributors
Te Wai Ariki instructions Local Time
St Paul Street Gallery sits on the ridge known as Rangipuke that runs down to Rerenga-ora-iti (later Point Britomart), once the site of the pā called Tangihanga Pukeā. The name Rerenga-ora-iti can be translated as ‘the leap of the survivors’. It commemorates the capture of that pā by Kawharu of Kaipara and the beginning of Ngāti Whātua occupation in the region in the seventeeth century. Ngāti Whātua held mana whenua into colonial times, and in 1840 made available 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) of what is now central Auckland to the Crown for cash and goods worth £341. Six months later, 44 acres (17 hectares) were sold by the Crown at public auction for £24,275. The rest was mostly sold by 1842 for a total of over £72,000. Before European arrival, two other pā were sited here: Te Reuroa near the present High Court, and Te Horotiu in the north-western corner of Albert Park. All had ready access to the natural spring Te Wai Ariki (‘chiefly waters’) located in what are now the grounds of The University of Auckland Faculty of Law. In the waterways from which Te Wai Ariki springs lived the taniwha Horotiu, after whom the stream that ran down present-day Queen Street and flowed into the bay Horotiu (later Commercial Bay) was named. It is recalled in the name of the Auckland University of Technology marae: Ngā Wai o Horotiu. In 1840, settlers renamed Wai Horotiu the Ligar Canal, after the engineer C. W. Ligar. It was commonly known as Ligar’s Folly for its inability to tame the flow from Auckland’s seasonal rains. Later, it became a sewer canal, and finally disappeared from view altogether. Its waters and taniwha now move under the streets of the CBD.
004 Tim Neale Credit and credentialising
The Learning Quarter Argos Aotearoa
The Learning Quarter is bound by the motorway on its eastern side, Wakefield Street to its west and the strip of hotels running beside Anzac Avenue to the north. The naming of this ‘quarter’ is derived, in its oldest sense, in reference to the four parts into which a slaughtered animal is cut, and one of the earliest references in English is to ‘parts of the body as dismembered during execution’ (c.1300). Over time, the reference to ‘four’ loosened and in the 1520s we see it attributed to a ‘portion of a town’ (identified by the class or race of people who live there). Auckland does not appear to have had ‘quarters’ until around 2009, when suddenly two appeared, dividing the city into spaces for leisure/culture by the waterfront (Wynyard Quarter), and learning/business along the ridge above the Central Business District (the Learning Quarter). Under Mayor John Banks, the Auckland City Council designed the Learning Quarter as the powerhouse for the city’s knowledge economy, ‘key to fuelling Auckland’s future success’. According to the council vision, this is a sector not of waters but high voltages, a hub of frenzied exchange, a hothouse of cognitive current. The spaces of learning are thus re-drawn, literally, as spaces of commerce: the universities’ responsibility to the CBD is derived directly from their geographic concurrence. A ‘quarter’ names a community, and as such the universities are ‘charged’ with welcoming their neighbouring corporates in. The Learning Quarter is, above all, ‘open for business'. Mapping the Learning Quarter brings it into being. There are few clues as to what the development entails other than the drawing of lines. A map, or a set of instructions? Maps exist to lead us somewhere, and as such have always been tools of education (from educare, ‘to lead forth’). Reorienting our worlds from above, they teach what can be seen, heard and done within them, and what cannot.
Neal Curtis The radical demos
The radical demos Neal Curtis
It is now a regular occurrence to see higher education treated as a commodity, students referred to as customers, the university seen as a competitor in a marketplace, and the humanities regarded as economically unproductive. That higher education should be privatised and for-profit and that teaching and research is legitimate only when it directly contributes to economic growth are part of the new common sense of free-market capitalism that has come to dominate all aspects of social life. In a recent book,1 I argued that despite claims to plural, open and democratic government, this new common sense is evidence that we live in increasingly dogmatic times in which alternative, more collective, communal, socially responsible visions of socio-economic organisation and the place of education within that vision are increasingly closed off and rejected as unrealistic, if not deluded, fantasies. We live in an age, then, in which the neoliberal privileging of the private in the form of a mysteriously divine ‘free market’ or the indisputable sovereignty of the individual have become fundamental and irresistible tenets of our belief system; a form of civil religion, one might say. The term I used to describe this condition is ‘idiotism’, and is derived from the Greek word for private, idios. Idiotism therefore speaks of an age in which a deregulated market of private interests and its medium, the commodity form, have become the arbiters of all social value. Against this, and buoyed by the financial crisis of 2008, talk of a communist alternative has been on the rise as even mainstream commentators have difficulty hiding all that was correct in Karl Marx’s analysis of capital. While I would argue that the solutions to the world’s problems (resources, poverty, social inequality, climate change, loss of biodiversity, health) can only come from a communal approach, I would also claim that any such ‘commonism’2 can only be pursued if at the same time we recover the radical character of democracy. Part of the problem, however, when articulating change is the need to find a name around which the desire for change can come together, and in this regard democracy still has a lot of purchase in the popular imagination. Neither closed around the atomised individual nor any predefined dogma, democracy—or rather the demos—is, as I hope to show, open in the sense that it is both public and permanently creative. The difficulty, of course, is that the term democracy has fallen into such disrepute. After the collapse of Soviet communism, the supposed victory of the capitalist democracies has in reality more closely resembled the consolidation of plutocracy governed by an unaccountable oligarchy. Although we may vote for politicians and their parties, it is increasingly the ratings agencies, banks, and large transnational corporations that determine policy. Democracy has lost its political essence and is now used as a technique for social management. In this situation freedom is little more than the satisfaction of preferences within a clearly bounded set of commodified options. This means an integral part of any attempt to move beyond neoliberal oligarchy must be to reclaim this name for a genuinely progressive, diverse politics.
1 Neal Curtis, Idiotism: Capitalism and the Privatization of Life (London: Pluto Press, 2013).
2 Susan Buck-Morss, ‘A Commonist Ethics’, The Committee on Globalization and Social Change (New York: CUNY, 2011), online at globalization. gc.cuny. edu/2011/11/susanbuck-morss-acommonist-ethics/
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself Neal Curtis The radical demos
3 Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala, Hermeneutic Communism: From Heidegger to Marx (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), p. 19. 4 Jacques Rancière Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), p. xii. 5 Jan Patočka, Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History (Chicago: Open Court, 1996). 6 Cornelius Castoriadis, World in Fragments: Writings on Politics, Society, Psychoanalysis, and the Imagination (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997).
What’s in a name? The word demos (δεμος) is interesting when addressing idiotism because it is the logical and linguistic opposite of idios (ιδιος). In Greek, where idios signifies the private and the personal, the word demos means that which is common or public. This can mean something that is held in common, such as land, or demos can refer to the public as a body of people. This is of further interest because in Greek demos has come to refer to the plebeians or common people as well as the citizenry, meaning it refers to both those excluded from the political process and those central to it. The link to the land is also suggested in the name Demeter (Δεμήτηρ), goddess of agriculture. Here demos has a strong connection to work, as well as to making and authorship. This means that buried deep inside democracy is a connection to the commons, and to labour, from which the current form of democracy as privatised consumer choice is very far removed. A second double meaning of the word demos also has political potential, I believe. When thought in terms of the citizenry, the demos is integral to the polis understood as the city-state, yet it can also refer to a rural region or district and was originally understood to be the opposite of the polis. If we take the polis to simply represent the state, then the demos has a very particular relation to it in that it is both intimate yet foreign, integral yet separate. The demos is resistant to being simply subsumed by the state, however it might be conceived. There is a distance between state and demos that prevents the state from claiming the demos. This space is absolutely essential to the criticality and creativity of democracy and must be recovered in an age in which citizenry and state are collapsed into a free market deemed to be the perfect expression and synthesis of both. My point is that no representation or institution can be adequate to the demos, but that this is not a deficiency. Quite the contrary, the lack of fit between the demos and its representation is the source of radical possibilities, and in this the university has a very important role to play.
Democracy against aristocracy Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala have recently referred to our current form of political organization as ‘framed democracy’.3 For them, 7 democracy in the West is largely restricted to a set of descriptions Rancière, about human nature and the best means for satisfying that nature that reinforces both the dogma of free market economics and the social Disagreement, hierarchy that dogma supports. An important part of this framing is the pp. 26-27. argument that we have achieved the ultimate form of socio-economic organization and all that is left to do is roll it out across the globe, but as I have already intimated, democracy is allergic to such closure or to such administration. To articulate this I wish to briefly turn to three 8 philosophers: Jacques Rancière, who argues that democratic politics does not aim at consensus but is in fact a ‘rationality of disagreement’;4 Ibid., p. 30. Jan Patočka, who argued that democracy is tied to the birth of history, not its end;5 and Cornelius Castoriadis, who argued that democracy is the continual expression of the human capacity to create new forms of social organisation.6 It is these three factors of disagreement, historical opening, and collective creativity that take us to the root of what is so important in the word demos. For Rancière, the disagreement that is democracy consists of the political conflict ‘over the existence of a common stage and over the existence and status of those present on it’.7 Politics, for him, is about the emergence and appearance of this or that party, group or class that had previously not been part of the established political order. Politics, he argues, ‘makes visible what had no business being seen, and makes heard a discourse where once there was only place for noise’.8 Working against this is what he calls the ‘police’ function that seeks to maintain the
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
9 Ibid., p. 29. 10 Ibid., p. 30. 11 Ibid., p. 32. 12 Alain Joxe, Empire of Disorder (New York: Semiotext(e), 2002). 13 Rancière, Disagreement, p. 55. 14 Ibid., p. 6.
already described or permitted distribution of who counts, speaks or is represented. It is the ‘allocation of ways of doing [. . .] being [. . .] saying’ in line with existing forms of power.9 For Rancière politics is fundamentally ‘antagonistic to policing’ because it breaks with the given configuration of parts and ‘divisions of the police order’.10 Importantly, this is not an occasional problem, but happens all the time because politics ‘runs up against the police everywhere’.11 The second characteristic of politics, for Rancière, is that the division between those who count and those who do not is perpetually challenged through the pursuit of equality. More specifically, it is a challenge to the structure of inclusion and exclusion that defined Greek aristocracy. This is especially pertinent today as the current oligarchy that governs the global economic system can more readily be likened to a new aristocracy, and a counter-revolutionary one at that. Alain Joxe uses this term to describe the way in which capitalist oligarchy increasingly rolls back the advances of the eighteenth century democratic revolutions and reinstates social division and elite power equal to the absolute monarchy which the age of revolution sought to do away with.12 For Rancière, politics is precisely the disjoining of government from what is perceived to be the natural difference contained in the title aristos (best). It is opposed to all forms of paternity, which would include the paternity of the market and its technocrats. In line with this, Rancière argues that the police function continually tries to reduce the public sphere to the rule of experts (a new form of title) and those who wish to make it their ‘own private affair’, but democracy is the ‘struggle against this privatization’.13 Democracy is the opening up of politics. It is the disruption and displacement of the social and political order as it is given. As a consequence, government by title continually represents equality as catastrophic for democratic civilisation; as the anarchic, excessive ‘disorder of passions’.14
Democracy and the end of history If the current aristocratic oligarchy is at odds with democracy, then so too is the prominent feature of its propaganda, namely the idea that with the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of communism, history ended with the victory of capitalism. Although the emergence of a militant form of Islamism, world-changing new technologies, and political movements exemplified most recently by Occupy and the uprisings collectively referred to as the Arab Spring give a clear indication of how history is alive and well, and even the author of the original end of history thesis, Francis Fukuyama,15 has had to correct the absurdity of his claim, there remains the general belief that capitalism remains the ultimate social and political form. Amid this attitude—part hubris, part hysteria—it is worth reading a collection of essays by the Czechoslovakian philosopher Jan Patočka who was himself part of the Czechoslovakian democratic movement known as Charta 77, and died in custody following police interrogations about his involvement.16 Although the topic of Patočka’s study is the relationship between philosophy and history, philosophy is presented as a moment of disruption and displacement whereby democracy comes to take the place of aristocratic rule and the mythological world upon which ancient Greece was based. Patočka's 'First Essay' begins with a definition of freedom as openness.17 Freedom here becomes a form of questioning. It is essential for humans to constantly ask questions about who we are, how we should act and what we should strive for. For Patočka, if history signifies anything, it is the moment where this openness is made explicit and becomes a
15 Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (London: Penguin Books, 1992). 16 Patočka, Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History. 17 Ibid., p. 5.
Neal Curtis The radical demos
18 Ibid., p. 12. 19 Ibid., p. 25. 20 Ibid. 21 Ibid., p. 28. 22 Ibid., p. 41. 23 Ibid., p. 38. 24 Ibid., p. 41.
philosophical problem. What he calls ‘the preproblematic world’ is a world of ‘pregiven meaning [where gods] stand over humans, ruling over them and deciding their destiny’.18 Much in the way 'the market' reigns over everything today, the gods of the current aristos attempt to render the world unproblematic, save for the technical problem of global delivery. The gods of the preproblematic world assumed the police function that regulated everyday life and preserved social order. What Patočka called ‘the journey of history’19 is not, then, simply finding this or that thing to be a problem, but problematising ‘the whole as such’.20 History, then, is not the recording of 'facts', or the ‘keeping of annals’,21 but the ‘shaking of life as simply accepted’.22 The world erupting as a question is therefore the acceptance of an ‘unsheltered life’,23 and the emergence of democracy is that moment where philosophy opens up history and history becomes politics understood as the questioning of the world. This means that the rise of philosophy and politics in the founding of Greek democracy is not the founding of a solution, but the founding of an interminable questioning. Paradoxically, what unites the Greeks in the demos is a ‘unity in conflict’:24 the founding of political disagreement. Patočka states: ‘Polemos is what is common. Polemos binds together the contending parties, not only because it stands over them but because in it they are at one’.25 Polemos, translated literally as war or conflict, is, for Patočka, a sort of existential ‘shaking’. He writes: '[the] unity it founds is more profound than any ephemeral sympathy or coalition of interests: adversaries meet in the shaking of a given meaning and so create a new way of being human—perhaps the only mode that offers hope amid the storm of the world: the unity of the shaken but undaunted’.26 History and politics—and especially the democratic politics that signalled the emergence of the world as a problem—mean having the courage to be drawn into the shaking of meaning and the demand to invent the world anew. Contrary to democracy presented as the end, democracy is in fact the beginning or rather a recurring beginning, the persistent inception of a radical questioning and a challenge to what is already ordained.
Democracy and social inception To say a little more about this inception that emerges from the questioning of the world, we can turn to the work of Cornelius Castoriadis. For Castoriadis, the politics which is coeval with the emergence of philosophy and democracy ‘amounts to the explicit putting into question of the established institution of society’.27 In this reading, the polemical nature of the demos is the permanent tension between the image or form (eidos) of society that has been instituted and the instituting imaginary that continually offers innovative images of alternatives. In this regard, democratic philosophy ‘constantly tests its bounds’ and is absolutely not the business of priests.28 Akin in many respects to its usage by both Rancière and Patočka, the demos is the recurrence of a questioning and a challenge. Democratic politics is therefore the continual creation or ‘coming to light’ of ‘another relation’29 between the instituting and instituted imagination, and ‘does not halt before a conception, given once and for all, of what is just, equal, or free’.30 History, then, is not the gradual emergence of the true form of human society, but the continual eruption of a polemical truth without end. Importantly, it must also be noted that this inception of new social forms is not the work of atomised or sovereign individuals: the work of what he also calls the ‘radical imaginary’ is always the creation of ‘a common world—kosmos koinos’.31 The demos is thus an interruption in the established public order brought about by the continual opening up of questions pertaining to who we are and how we should live together.
25 Ibid., p. 42. 26 Ibid., p. 43. 27 Cornelius Castoriadis, Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy: Essays in Political Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 159. 28 Ibid., p. 160. 29 Ibid. 30 Castoriadis, World in Fragments, p. 87. 31 Ibid., p. 370.
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
All of this means that democracy can only be at odds with the current situation defined by a new aristocratic social order, and the god-like market that supposedly brings an end to both history and the radical social imaginary. Today, social creativity is tied to technocratic adjustment and entrepreneurial innovation all tuned to the furtherance of profit, but this, if it is to be referred to as democracy, is a profoundly impoverished democracy. It is a situation that must be refused and I believe demos could and should still be the name for such a refusal. We, the people, need to take democracy back from the self-appointed gods, and the university has a significant role to play in this. With the media largely co-opted into the new common sense of markets, freedom of choice, competition, privatisation, deregulation, and 'wealth creators', the university remains the only public institution outside of the current dogmatic groupthink. This is one reason why the university is increasingly under attack as being unproductive and out of touch; it must be brought to heel. The financial crisis of 2008 that still dominates social and economic policy today has also given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the privatising ideologues to roll back the remnants of public service that have thus far resisted the neoliberal revolution. Using the excuse that the country can’t afford it, efforts have been renewed to subject the university as a public institution to the purifying spirit of the private sector, where survival is determined by the ability to provide what customers want. The university has always contributed directly to the economy and to industry through a whole range of scientific and technological innovations. While its police function has been to manage the boundaries of knowledge and the social hierarchy that accompanies those boundaries, the university has also been the producer of heterodox thinking and radical ideas thereby contributing to dramatic social change. It has also been assumed that the university is an institution that tests what people think they already know and challenges what the already think they should do. Of course, the humanities have always had an important role to play in the university. Unlike the universals taught by the natural sciences, where truth is taken to be a correspondence between a statement and an object, a correspondence that is the case in every instance, the universal gathered together under the auspices of the humanities is a different order of truth altogether. What is universal to the humanities is that human beings interpret the world to which they belong. This is a truth that speaks to creativity more than correspondence. While correspondence is absolutely necessary, it is not sufficient to explain the truth of our humanity. This other, perplexing, creative, conflicting, paradoxical, infuriating truth is where the humanities resides and it needs some protection within a public institution still resistant to the idea that the answer to all human questioning has been found, and that the only role the university has is to better advance the correspondence of all social relations to that truth. In this respect, to speak of democracy is to speak of the university and to speak of the university is to speak of democracy. In both instances, they speak of the need to bear witness to the fact that the world as it is currently described is inadequate.
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
Insurgency of discourse and affective interventionSix Walescka Paul Janman Atenisi: Terms of Pino-Ojeda reference for an athens of the pacific
'Atenisi: six terms of reference for an Athens of the Pacific Paul Janman
The university beside itself Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
Between 2005 and 2012, filmmaker Paul Janman recorded the last six years in the life of the late great Tongan scholar 'Ilaisa Futa Helu at his school, 'Atenisi (Athens) Institute. The resulting film, Tongan Ark, is an emotional statement about Futa’s paradoxical synthesis of the Greek scientific revolution with the struggle for Tongan indigenous autonomy. 'Atenisi has remained at the vanguard of Tongan education for more than 45 years. 20
Insurgency of discourse and affective interventionSix Walescka Pino-Ojeda Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself Paul Janman Atenisi: Terms of reference for an athens of the pacific
The conservative avant garde The western university of the past 20 years is a virtually unrecognisable cousin of its predecessors. Futa Helu’s ironic method of assuring the continued quality and relevance of education in Tonga was thus to point to the roots of western academia in criticism, the importance of the formal disciplines and classical heritage, whether Tongan or western. In an environment like contemporary Auckland, which often celebrates what Dostoevsky called 'that apparent disorder that is in actuality the highest degree of bourgeois order',1 Futa Helu would have preferred the quietude of a discussion of the Greeks around the kava bowl, followed by the song-roused harmonies of a composition by a great Tongan classical poet such as Queen Salote or Malukava. In Futa’s words: 'Many have brought a branch of the tree of knowledge back to Tonga but I uprooted that tree and I planted it in Tonga'. That tree has proved to be a potent vehicle of dissent in the small Pacific kingdom and it has disturbed some of our film’s Tongan and palangi viewers alike. The conservative 'Atenisi avant-garde thus exposes the anxieties and the ironies of contemporary cultural politics as well as problematic discourses around freedom and innovation.
1. Quoted in Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity, (London: Verso Books, 1983), p. 88.
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Against the compression of time When I showed the poet Denys Trussell images of the animals that wander and snuffle about on the campus of 'Atenisi, his immediate reaction was not one of pity or condescension but of admiration. Denys considered this an essential part of a university education—to be close to the natural cycles and rhythms of life, as well as elevated ideas. At 'Atenisi there is time for everything—time to think, time to sleep and time to make mistakes. It is not so much when something happens but that it happens and that it is effective. Futa Helu never sought a degree during his eight years of study in Sydney and when he founded his own university in Tonga, his students from independent family plantations often had no particular career objectives. Learning ancient Greek or Latin was a stimulating way of passing time. During my periods of recording and editing, I came to realise a different economy of means and ends at 'Atenisi. In contrast with the emphasis of a world of measurable results, it is the relationship between knowledge and the community of knowers, as well as the natural world, that is as important as the utilitarian final products of knowledge. In the case of making Tongan Ark, it is the back story and the continuing interventions in the community that are as important as the reception of the distributed film itself.
Insurgency of discourse and affective interventionSix Walescka Pino-Ojeda Paul Janman Atenisi: Terms ofuniversity reference beside for anitself athens of the pacific Argos Aotearoa The
Unity as disturbance In a world of awful global sameness, where fragmentation has been elevated to the level of aesthetic virtue, a reactionary draconian order weighs in to balance it with an excess of legalism, decorum and nostalgic form. By contrast, an 'Atenisi graduation celebration does not stand on ceremony. There are no dour processions to organ music. The Tongan word malie expresses a joyful harmony that also intensifies the surrounding social order. Visiting lecturers from western societies often fret around graduation times at 'Atenisi because preparations for the big event seem to be too casual or unhurried. Soon they realise that this is because everyone knows their role in Tonga. Social events can come together very quickly, without the need to broadcast an intricate planning schedule. The huge number of mats and tapa cloths that extended families would gift to Futa Helu and his university, above and beyond the required student fees, is also an indication of the grassroots support that 'Atenisi has enjoyed, despite the school’s controversial position in Tongan society. Loud cries, music and dance are simultaneous manifestations of mafana or emotional warming of an environment—what Futa, following Aquinas and James Joyce, would call the heart-warming aesthetics of fulgente—the vital complement to the unifying qualities of claritas, integritas, consonantia. As he once said during a graduation speech: 'Oggi, tutti sono in fiori—today, everyone is in flowers!'
Aotearoa The university beside itself Paul Janman 'Atenisi: six terms of reference for an Athens ofArgos the Pacific Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
Independence of the knower and the known The essence of the philosophical realism that Futa Helu inherited from his teacher John Anderson at Sydney University is expressed in the idea of the independence of the knower and the known. This translates into other ideals of independence—the independence of the knower from the state, of the knower from the church and of the knower from the global economic hegemony. Philosophical realism comes easily when you are surrounded by pigs and the daily work of subsistence cropping. Political independence is also fairly easy to spot in Tonga, because power is so visible. In today’s economically 'developed' countries, power structures are more difficult to perceive, hidden as they are within the language of career pathways, roles, reporting lines, functions, incomes and outcomes, quality assurances and service models, etc. Almost by default, 'Atenisi Institute has always preferred the way of life of the dreamy intellectual, at the expense of bureaucratic efficiency. Unfortunately the creeping standardisation of the global accreditation system has jeopardised 'Atenisi’s chances of continuing to do its own thing. In Futa Helu’s words: Education has been hijacked by commerce and industry to produce obedient, uncritical followers of western-style consumerism, never before has the university been less of a critic of society than it is now. We need an educational system anchored in the classics and the objectivity provided by the scientific method—an education with a distinct character, a distinct morality and a distinct way of doing things.
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Thinking as the art of unwrapping In one of an eloquent series of musings on the recent goings on at 'Atenisi Institute in his blog Reading the Maps, the poet and sociologist Scott Hamilton recalls a lecture by the current Dean of 'Atenisi Institute, 'Opeti Taliai, on the Tongan word for thinking—fakakaukau. It turns out that the word also means to bathe and it is related to the word 'au'au, which means scraping or unwrapping. Hamilton notes how gentle the Tongan metaphors for thought seem to be, in contrast to the commonly brutal western notions of thinking as cutting, piercing or penetrating. According to Hamilton’s chronicle: 'Opeti also reported that, during some of the thousands of lectures he gave at the school he founded, Futa Helu linked the act of thinking to the deflowering of a huge idol which apparently once enjoyed pride of place in a godhouse on a Tongan island. The idol, which was wrapped in tapa cloth, had been consulted, during solemn and visionary ceremonies, for decades or centuries, by a fearful and reverent populace. When traditional religion began to collapse in the early decades of the nineteenth century, though, a group of Tongans entered the godhouse and unceremoniously removed the idol’s tapa cover. After stripping off layer after layer after layer of tapa, the startled defilers discovered that the idol they had worshipped for so long was nothing more than a small seashell. By unwrapping the idol, Tongans had exposed an important truth.2 Futa Helu’s method of unravelling tapu was constant but gentle, indirect and Socratic. It was only in this way that he managed to survive the reactionary onslaught of the Tongan government and society to ideas that were in fact very subversive. As he says in one of the more controversial parts of our film: 'There are no taboo fields. Taboo can be beneficial in some cases [. . .] but it is really destructive to the gullible'. On the other hand, he also told me privately that tapu was inescapable—it could only be twisted, transformed and renovated—made into new forms. In the best sense, Futa was a paradox. 2. Scott Hamilton, 'Bathing and Sweating', Reading the Maps (15 April 2003), online at http://readingthemaps. blogspot.co.nz/search?q=bathing+and+sweating
Aotearoa The university beside itself Paul Janman 'Atenisi: six terms of reference for an Athens ofArgos the Pacific Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
Acceptance and Thy will be done As an 'Atenisi advocate, I was often frustrated by Futa Helu’s almost complete rejection of planning and his fatalistic attitude to his school’s apparent languishing state. Informed by his teacher John Anderson’s disdain for any form of engineering, it was as if he was quite happy to go down with the ship as long as his dignity and purity of intention remained intact. There were still no strategic annual plans in sight at 'Atenisi. At several moments over the past seven years, it has seemed as if we were recording the end of the school. Yet despite Futa’s passing, 'Atenisi is once more showing an extraordinary resilience. A new administration has given it renewed economic independence and new means with which to articulate its values in the face of the globalised educational bureaucracy. The school is producing many great students and it persists, of course, in the minds of hundreds of Pacific scholars, artists, ethical business people, activists and even clergymen around the world. Viva 'Atenisi!
Indigenous ways of knowing Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal
Since approximately 1980, there has been a revival and a revitalisation of a body of knowledge called ‘mātauranga Māori’, or traditional Māori knowledge. The story of this body of knowledge is similar to that of the many indigenous knowledges found throughout the world—diminished, oppressed and suppressed through colonisation, abandoned by indigenous peoples themselves and revived through late twentieth century revitalisation. In the period 1980 to 2000, the revitalisation of mātauranga Māori was largely driven by quests for social justice and the desire for cultural revitalisation. In my own iwi setting, our efforts to revitalise this body of knowledge were inspired by a mix of ‘speaking back’ to colonisation—reasserting our identity for example— and the subsequent desire to regain fluency with our culture, our language, our histories and more. Since 2000 (the dates are very approximate), a new theme has been coming to conscious articulation. I call this the ‘creative potential’ paradigm. Here indigenous knowledge, of which mātauranga Māori is a part, is explored and considered on its own merits and not merely as a tool for ‘resistance’ or ‘speaking back’ to colonisation. My personal interest is to explore the ‘creative potential’ of mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge generally and how it may contribute to our world today.
Working in a Whare Wānanga: 1996–2002 My teaching and research experience in our whare wānanga illustrates the change and transition that has been taking place. In 1996, I was offered the role of Kaihautū (convenor) of a Masters programme in mātauranga Māori. This graduate programme supplemented and extended an undergraduate programme in the same field. From the outset, one of our tasks was to show how a study of mātauranga Māori in a whare wānanga context is fundamentally different from ‘Māori Studies’, a field of study conducted within New Zealand universities since the 1950s. It was interesting to note how many people struggled to see the difference between the two despite obvious differences. In New Zealand, ‘Māori Studies’ grew out of anthropology and represents the anthropological study of Māori people, culture, histories, language and so on. Hence, the field creates graduates who are able to conduct studies of the Māori world and participate in the worldwide activity called anthropology. Whether this contributed positively or not to the lives and experiences of Māori people and culture was not the preoccupation of this field of study. Rather, the purpose of the study was to contribute to the pool of anthropological knowledge. Given this anthropological origin of Māori Studies, we can note, however, that many working in Māori Studies are not preoccupied with anthropology. In some 027
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quarters, anthropology is rejected outright. In my view, ‘Māori Development’ might be a better title for some working in Māori Studies for most are interested to bring about some kind of benefit for Māori people through their research and teaching activities. Further, some Māori Studies academics would be better described as working in mātauranga Māori. This lack of specific emphasis in Māori Studies upon positive contributions to Māori people and culture led, I suggest, to the advent of an initiative entitled ‘Kaupapa Māori’ which, among other things, was designed to ‘create space’ for Māori language, culture and knowledge within ‘the academy’ (i.e. the universities). Mātauranga Māori, on the other hand, has a different life and quality altogether. Firstly, it was and is conducted in the general milieu of the ‘development’ of Māori peoples, culture, language and so on. It was first articulated and has been advanced by Māori people ourselves as a way of revitalising our knowledge and culture. As mentioned, we were inspired by the desire for cultural revitalisation and the quest for social justice. Hence, from the outset, mātauranga Māori has always retained this view—that it should somehow contribute to the ‘development’ of Māori people and that our efforts should create some kind of non-academic benefit in the world at large. Interestingly, though, the second and critical feature is that mātauranga Māori is not solely concerned with ‘the Māori world’ in quite the same way that Māori Studies is primarily concerned with Māori people and culture. Rather mātauranga Māori represents a response to all life according to certain indigenous principles (see below). The critical difference, therefore, between Māori Studies and mātauranga Māori (as I have defined it) is that one concerns the study of the ‘Māori world’ (usually defined by the presence of Māori people) and the other concerns a response to all life, not just the so-called ‘Māori world’. This distinction was noted by the Waitangi Tribunal in their 1998 report: 'Maori studies focuses on studying Maori society from a Pakeha perspective, while matauranga Maori is about studying the universe from a Maori perspective'.1
1 Waitangi Tribunal, The Wananga Capital Establishment Report, (Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal 1999), p. 21.
These critical differences are helpful in understanding the drive behind the establishment of our whare wānanga. From the outset, these institutions were driven to create benefits for the communities that established them. Secondly, there was and is a determination to create a ‘space of integrity’ for mātauranga Māori so that it might be explored and understood in its own terms and not analysed and therefore judged by pre-existing frames of reference such as those prevalent in the university. Of course, it takes time to initiate and establish new fields of inquiry. I think the most significant achievement of this period was to confirm the existence of a body of knowledge called ‘mātauranga Māori’ and, furthermore, confirm our resolve to utilise it to establish ways of knowing, explaining and understanding life.
The Move to Creativity As mentioned, the early period of my time at our whare wānanga was dominated by ideas of social justice and cultural revitalisation. We were emboldened in our task and the sense of ‘righting a wrong’ flowed through our activities. However, as time passed and as I moved deeper and deeper into mātauranga Māori, my thinking about this body of knowledge changed. More and more I began to think about this body of knowledge on its own merits, outside of our urgencies concerning the so-called decolonisation of Māori people. I can recall the moment when I asked myself, ‘what really beats at the heart of mātauranga Māori anyway and why is this valuable?’ This was an important moment and it resonated with a comment I had read in the work 28
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of Vine Deloria. He writes that American Indian philosophy must proceed on a 'deeply held belief that there is something of value in any tribal tradition that transcends mere belief and ethnic pride.'2 The comment challenged me to interact with mātauranga Māori not merely as a tool by which to struggle against and ‘resist’ colonisation but rather as way of thinking, experiencing and understanding life. More and more I began to think about it on its own terms and I found assistance in the work of indigenous thinkers such as Manulani Meyer of Hawai’i and Gregory Cajete of New Mexico. The work of the Yupiaq scholar Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley was also important. This was a liberating experience and a key feature, I now assert, of the new ‘creative potential’ paradigm, the desire to look at the entire continuum of this body of knowledge and assess it on its own terms.
2 Vine Deloria Jr, 'Philosophy and the Tribal Peoples', American Indian Thought, ed. Anne Waters (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2004), p. 5.
Coinciding with this emerging thinking was my experience with the reestablishment of an institution called the whare tapere. These were traditional village ‘houses’ of storytelling, dance, music, games and more. My doctoral study concerned these traditional ways of performing which, unfortunately, fell into disuse in the nineteenth century. The research rested on two simple questions— what do we know about these pre-European ways of performing (these ‘houses’ of performance) and is it possible to create a modern version today? Hence, these projects—my personal research, leading a Masters programme in mātauranga Māori and establishing a new whare tapere—led me to a more creative position with respect to mātauranga Māori. I found that if one finds one’s creative centre, then we need not feel so anxious about our cultural knowledge and identity. We can supplement our understandable desire to preserve our pre-existing traditional knowledge with a new creativity which utilises that preexisting knowledge as a starting point. This growth can be symbolised as a move from a preoccupation with mātauranga (knowledge) to being inspired by wānanga (creativity) for knowledge is exhaustible, creativity is inexhaustible. In our cultural context, our creativity (our wānanga) is likened to the ‘springs of Rangiātea, the springs that never run dry’.3 In the period 2003-2010, I completed an overview of mātauranga Māori which is now being published in a number of research reports.4 This research enabled me to summarise mātauranga Māori and, more importantly, identify a number of principles which underpin this body of knowledge. These principles might be utilised, albeit in a new form, to underpin and inform a new creativity and I find myself now directing my research in this direction. Having completed a large amount of research concerning pre-existing mātauranga Māori, the question for me now concerns whether we are able to use this knowledge, fragmentary and incomplete as it is, as the basis of a new creativity. Contiguous with the completion of this research was my recent appointment to Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, a centre of research excellence hosted at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The focus of our research concerns harnessing and unleashing the ‘creative potential’ of Māori communities through research. Our work is summarised in the phrase ‘indigenous transformation through research excellence’. We argue that the true potential of Māori communities lies beyond mere participation in a range of pre-existing activities in our nation. Rather, we assert that the depth and breadth of this potential can be understood by considering our traditional knowledge, worldviews, experiences, histories and identities and how this may be used to contribute to our nation and the world. To this end, we are interested in a range of distinctive projects such as indigenous approaches to economic development, to environmental sustainability, to education, to the arts, science and humanities and more. This is an exciting and creative field which proceeds on the view, firmly held, that Māori people represent 29 a net opportunity for New Zealand rather than a national burden. 029
3 In Māori we say, ‘ngā punawai o Rangiātea, e kore e mimiti . . . ’.
4 Some of these reports can now be purchased at www. orotokare.org.nz
Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal Indigenous ways of knowing Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
As an indigenous research centre, one of our key challenges is to explore and formulate indigenous approaches and methodologies of knowledge creation and application. This is an exciting and creative challenge. Our goal is not merely to utilise our fragmentary indigenous knowledge within pre-existing and conventional methods of knowledge creation (science, for example) but also to invent ways of creating knowledge that ultimately serve certain indigenous ends—so that the process of the creation of new knowledge can be considered indigenous knowledge too. The last section of this essay presents some ideas about what that process, method or approach might be. We are at the very beginning of our experiments so that the ideas presented below are tentative.
Kinship–Based Participation in the Living Universe Where might one begin? We ought to begin with the foundational idea, belief or view deeply held within all formal indigenous cultures and worldviews—that is of a kinship based, creative and dynamic participation in the living universe. Formal indigenous cultures place mother earth at the centre of their concerns and regard humankind as a child of the earth alongside all other living beings and creatures. The 1992 Nobel prize winner Rigoberta Menchu states:
5 Rigoberta Menchu, I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala, ed. Elisabeth BurgosDebray, tran. Ann Wright (London: Verso, 1984), p. 56. 6 See Māori Marsden, The Woven Universe: Selected Writings of Rev. Māori Marsden, ed. Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal (Otaki: The Estate of Rev. Māori Marsden, 2003).
Our parents tell us: 'Children, the earth is the mother of man, because she gives him food' [. . .] So we think of the earth as the mother of man, and our parents teach us to respect the earth. We must only harm the earth when we are in need. This is why, before we sow, we have to ask the earth’s permission.5 In this worldview, humans are not superior to the natural world but rather are fully participant in ‘the woven universe’.6 This foundational idea and belief has been cited and described in numerous texts published throughout world on indigenous worldviews. We need not exhaustively repeat this point except to note, however, that these themes are beginning to find expression and interest in a range of non-indigenous scholars too. Here is a quote from the American philosopher and historian Richard Tarnas. After delivering a virtuoso rendition of the history of western knowledge, Tarnas discusses the paradigm for a worldview to come. He discusses a ‘participatory epistemology’ in which the human mind achieves a ‘radical kinship with the cosmos’. Tarnas is searching for a new paradigm which seeks to overcome critical anxieties and tensions in post-modern western life. One such difficulty is the relationship between the human mind and the natural world and his writing edges toward a view which reflects the human mind’s pivotal role as vehicle of the universe’s unfolding meaning. He continues with the following statement which feels deeply ‘indigenous’ in atmosphere and style:
7 Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind (New York: Random House, 1991).
The human spirit does not merely prescribe nature’s phenomenal order; rather, the spirit of nature brings its own order through the human mind when that mind is employing its full complement of faculties—intellectual, volitional, emotional, sensory, imaginative, aesthetic, epiphanic. In such knowledge, the human mind 'lives into' the creative activity of nature. Then the world speaks its meaning through human consciousness. Then human language itself can be recognized as rooted in deeper reality, as reflecting the universe’s unfolding meaning. Through human intellect, in all its personal individuality, contingency, and struggle, the world’s evolving 7 thought-content achieves conscious articulation. Hence, the key tenet of indigenous worldviews and epistemology is that the mind exists within the world, participating in it. This is the beginning of an extensive discussion about the nature of humankind’s relationship with the world. Even the very idea of ‘mind’ welcomes discussion from an indigenous point of view. For now, 30let us note that the key or foundational idea of formal indigenous worldviews is that we, humankind, are products of the earth and participate in a living and 030
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woven universe. As such, we ought to remember this and build knowledge and conduct our lives conscious to maintain unity with the natural world.
‘Wānanga’: Features of an Indigenous Approach to Knowledge Creation In our language, the word we can most closely associate with the idea of the creation of new knowledge is wānanga. Our ancestors conducted wānanga processes and maintained an institution of higher learning called whare wānanga. Today, there are three major whare wānanga in New Zealand. Our challenge is that in the midst of addressing important and critical education needs of our people we need to also fashion ways of creating, imparting and sustaining knowledge based upon indigenous principles. One such way is to conduct a deep and creative exploration of wānanga itself. Listed below are some of the features of a wānanga process. These are experimental and were developed through an extensive reading of material concerning the workings of the traditional institution called the whare wānanga. The ideas also reflect the worldview within which this institution conducted its affairs. Finally, reading the work of indigenous thinkers throughout the world has been invaluable. I stress that these lists are not exhaustive and remain in draft form. There is no particular order, either, to each list.
Worldview, Epistemology • Knowledge resides in the body, ‘in bodied’ knowing—authority is built in a person of knowledge as they become a vessel or the embodiment of knowledge. • The pursuit of knowledge concerns the progressive revelation of depth and understanding about the world rather than the construction of new knowledge as one constructs an object. • Knowing (the world) is equivalent to identification with the world—humankind is a product of the earth and we dwell (or ought to dwell) in a kinship relationship with the earth. The world is to be known and understood through relationship. • Indigenous knowledge is a ‘heritage inspired’ knowledge system which often speaks of the wisdom of the ancestors.
The Process of Wānanga Listed here are a range of matters about how the wānanga process might be conducted. • The purpose of the wānanga process is to activate the mana atua of the person, the powers of the individual. It is important to recognise that these ‘powers’ are the qualities and energies of the natural world and the goal is to allow these qualities to flow through the person. Thus the person becomes one with the natural world. • The venue, place and location of the wānanga process is important. Spaces and places are not ‘neutral’, absent of qualities and energies. The topic of discussion ought to be synergistic with the location and vice versa. • The time of the wānanga process needs to be appropriately set. Indigenous knowledge making is conscious of the natural rhythms 31 031
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal Indigenous ways of knowing
of the universe—of the way day and night interact, for example, of the way in which energy flows naturally in a person throughout a single day. Attention is paid to the appropriate date in the lunar calendar and more. • The process for the selection of topic is set by the leaders of the wānanga. They consider the needs of the day, the capacity of wānanga participants to address the question, relevance to community interests and more. • A person is elected by the group to be kaiwhakahaere, to facilitate the setting of the topic (the questions posed) and to facilitate the process for discussion and any outcomes achieved. • Much use is made of narrativised knowledge (kōrero). This kind of knowledge is available to the group (pre-existing stories and narratives of the deeds of ancestors and myth heroes within which contain ideas and perspectives relevant to the topic at hand). • Identification with the subject—one has the authority to speak not because one is ‘right’ but because of connection and relationship.8 • Memory (mahara) is not just about knowledge of previous events but also conscious awareness (te hīringa i te mahara—a traditional expression about the awakening of the conscious mind).
8 In our traditional whare wānanga, one had to cite a genealogical relationship with the topic of discussion (often an ancestor) before one was able to speak.
• Encounter with the world occurs through the apparatus of the body—use is made of meditation (nohopuku) and fasting (whakatiki) practices whereby inspiration and new ideas are actively sought. Hence, whilst much development might take place in a group, individuals may also be dispatched into the wilderness to seek understanding. This, then, is a sample and incomplete list of items concerning the wānanga process for the creation of new knowledge. Overall the purpose of this way of creating knowledge is to bring humankind into greater alignment, awareness, sensitivity and relationship with the natural world environments in which we dwell. We seek not to dominate life but rather to live harmoniously within it and where we might seek to exert our influence in the world: it is the natural world itself prompting us to do so. Given the tremendous distance that now exists today between human consciousness and the natural world; environments in which we live—evidenced by environmental despoliation, climate change, population pressures, energy production issues and more—an approach which seeks to reharmonise our creativity with the planet is warranted and, indeed, urgent.
Walking stick in one hand and the hand of her mokopuna in the other, taking it slow, one foot in front of the other down a gravel road. The photograph of Dame Whina Cooper at the outset of Te Ropu Matakite, the 1975 Land March from Te Hapua to Parliament, has come to signify peaceful resistance in New Zealand and the re-assertion of Maori political identity.2 On the other side of the world, two centuries earlier, a local of Grasmere, Cumbria, would watch the poet William Wordsworth pass in the village. He recalled, 'He would set his head a bit forrad, and put his hands behint his back. And then he would start a bumming, and it was bum, bum, bum, stop; then bum, bum bum, reet down till t’other end; and then he’d set down and git a bit o’paper and write a bit'.3 Last year, University of Auckland staff and students and members of the public marched up Queen Street chanting ‘Cuts hurt’ and ‘When education’s under attack, stand up, fight back!’ in response to the National government’s funding cuts and education reforms.
Eleanor Cooper Under Argos Aotearoa The the paving stones, university the seabed: beside walking itself and the university
Why is it that walking, the most banal of activities, is so often right there at the centre of the action? What is it about ambling and marching that appeals to poets and protesters alike? We have long conceived of the university as a site of cerebral endeavour, analysis and discussion, completely dissociated from the world of physical activity. So why, when people feel strongly about an idea, do they get to their feet and take to the street? The land is hilly, lined with valleys leading to the sea. This gully is too steep for habitation so the main cluster of buildings sits near the top of the slope, facing the sun as it rises behind the tuff crater of the Domain in the morning. Not far beneath the buildings and roads lies the ancient seafloor, the great bed of Waitemata sandstone, laced with circular trenches carved by feeding stingrays, shells, preserved traces of seabeddwelling forams and some tropical corals. Soldiers excavating great warrens (now filled with sandbags) beneath Albert Park and the northern wing of the Clocktower during World War Two tunnelled into this sandstone, hewing away submarine volcanic deposits compressed into rock over five million years to make secret subterranean paths.
Above ground, the footpath from the Business School leading to the General Library owes its steep gradient to the sandstone below. Those approaching the university from the east on bicycle or foot feel the steepness of the hill in their calves and thighs. Some people change their step, moving their weight from their heels to the balls of their feet. Passing the part of this slope beside the Engineering School where several protesting students were pushed over by police last year, I sometimes recall that the Independent Police Complaints Authority subsequently classed the hill as an ‘incline’—‘to call it a hill is an overstatement'.4 Sociologist Antonio Negri declares bleakly, ‘There is no outside to our world of real subsumption of society under capital. We live within it, but it has no exterior; we are engulfed in commodity fetishism—without recourse to something that might represent its transcendence'.5 But perhaps there is reason to believe that access for individuals to some thing outside of capital can be found through walking. Walking is an activity linked to other activites—observing, sensing, exploring, feeling, thinking—that plunge the individual into unmediated engagement with their surroundings. It is concerned with experience, not production; particularities and localities, not universal sameness, and as such it stands in opposition to a placeless, economically focused, homogenised way of being. Like few other things, walking has the ability to bring together body and mind, individual and society, politics and place. It is a fundamental and universal human activity and belonged to us long before our immersion in capital. Anthropologist Tim Ingold goes as far as to say that walking is not what humankind does, it is what we are.6 34
Eleanor Cooper Under Argos Aotearoa The the paving stones, university the seabed: beside walking itself and the university
Critical theorists have long linked physical and intellectual emancipation. Capitalism depends heavily on the alienation of individuals as they devote themselves ‘body and soul’ to the technical apparatus.7 If one technique of domination is training the body to political or economic ends, it follows that self-governed and creative physical activity constitutes a form of resistance. Indeed, the university billboard outside the recreation centre on Symonds Street quips ‘active body, active mind'. Walking historian and activist Rebecca Solnit elaborates on how political, intellectual and physical freedoms come hand in hand: ‘The fight against [the] collapse of imagination and engagement may be as important as the battles for political freedom, because only by recuperating a sense of inherent power can we begin to resist both oppression and the erosion of the vital body in action'.8 Evolutionary theory also supports the idea that movement of the body can evoke fundamental change in both mind and society. Our intelligence developed as our ancestors stood upright.9 Our light upper bodies, strong legs, and elastic tendons suggest we evolved to be long distance walkers and runners, able to maintain a slow but steady pace for days.10 A leading theory holds that we developed as persistence hunters. Instead of competing with the extraordinary speed of four-legged mammals, we used our superior endurance, pursuing them to the point of collapse over many hours.11 In pursuit, our minds were constantly strategising—reading tracks, or where there were none, engaging in ‘speculative hunting', developing the capacities of visualisation, projection, empathy and abstract thinking.12
Eleanor Cooper Under Argos Aotearoa The the paving stones, university the seabed: beside walking itself and the university
This raises the question: are we at our physical and mental best in an environment where busy roads form the main arteries of our cities and campuses, and the transport systems and technology surrounding us make time race and lag and career? A world which philosopher Jean Baudrillard describes as ‘Star-blasted, horizontally by the car, altitudinally by the plane, electronically by television, geologically by deserts, stereolithically by the megalopoloi, transpolitically by the power game . . .’.13 As we leap off the bus and into a lecture theatre, confronted by a dualscreened slideshow with embedded video clips, and fix our attention onto the small figure of the lecturer far below, are we playing with or against our innate capacity for physically-grounded learning and thinking? Where is the persistence hunter within us, as we gaze at the PowerPoint display? In this kind of world walking has become almost obsolete. Have we given up
the ability to experience our surroundings and swapped a walked world of rich sensory experiences for a star-blasted phantasmagoria? Running atop the sandstone ridge, Symonds Street becomes an avenue of plane trees where it passes through campus. These London planes were long thought to be an infertile ornamental hybrid, until it was discovered that they produce occasional offspring. Sapling planes have taken root not in the gardens at their parents' feet, but in tiny rocky cracks in the footpath or pockets in concrete walls, thinking for an instant that they have found the stony river silts preferred by their ancestors. It is autumn and the seed balls are ready to drop; in springtime, maybe unlikely seedlings will be found in the footpath outside Engineering. One symptom of the devaluing of walking is that in western societies we have come to assume that thoughts and experiences of importance occur only from a stationary vantage point. An addiction to efficiency makes the slow act of walking seem anachronistic and time spent moving between one point and another is considered wasted.14 This observation of Ingold’s seems to capture the experience of racing between destinations on campus. If we are indeed walking creatures, how has this ground shift happened and where is it leading us? Ingold describes how western children are brought up to disregard the experience of walking. Parents pull their children through the streets between one destination and the next like baggage.15 He contrasts the practices of the Batek of Malaysia. Forest dwelling hunter-gatherers, the Batek step through the bush with their children before them, free to explore under a watchful eye. For the Batek, walking is at once observing, listening, climbing, fingering, remembering, crouching, and it is through these acts that knowledge is forged. Sitting in a lecture theatre is certainly a far cry from the Batek style of learning and we might wonder about the implications of severing an association with place from the intake of information. It is a common observation of lecture-style teaching that students are atomised, isolated and forbidden to interact with each other by the architecture of the lecture theatre. But they are also cut off from the outside world, which remains out of touch, smell, hearing and sight during the process of learning.
We are built to simultaneously move about, pick things up, and contemplate. Walking is a way to collect information and reflect upon our environment that comes naturally to us. ‘Unlike the quadruped, with four feet planted solidly in the ground of nature, the biped is held down only by two, while the arms and hands, released from their previous function of support and locomotion, become answerable to the call of reason.
Marching head over heels—half in nature, half out—the human biped figures as a constitutionally divided creature'.17 On the move, our feet lead our bodies, hands and minds astray from the highway of common experience. We might see walking as a way of gathering information firsthand in a second-hand world. The demise of a rich conception of walking within Western culture, Ingold proposes, is due to three particular developments of modernity: the physical restrictiveness of footwear, the paving of roads and walkways and the introduction of transport that carries us.18 ‘ Together they contribute to our ideas that movement is a mechanical displacement of the human body across the surface of the earth, from
one point to another, and that knowledge is assembled from observations taken from these points'.19 With these developments, we no longer pick our way over uneven ground, feel the texture of the ground underfoot or even experience the weather as we travel. The booted foot pacing over hard, even pavement need be paid almost no heed by the mind of the city walker. There is very little relationship to place cultivated by this kind of walking. With high levels of foot traffic on campus, almost all surfaces are paved. Steeper slopes are broken into steps so that even on non-horizontal surfaces our feet find a mindless resting place. We walk hurriedly from one destination to the next without gathering information about our environment as we move through it. Are there viable alternatives, when catering to thousands of
visitors every day? David Gauld, Professor of Mathematics and longtime president of the Auckland University Tramping Club walks unshod year round. And it only takes a visit to the Architecture School’s courtyard to find an example of a varied and stimulating alternative to a concrete plaza. The paths encircling the Clocktower wend their way through titoki, kowhai, ponga, kauri, coprosma, puriri. Once I took a walk with a woman from the
Hokianga who taught me about the medicinal properties of these trees. I remember that puriri leaves are boiled and the liquor used to treat sprains and sores, or drunk to relieve kidney complaints. It is good practice, she said, to say ‘E tu', or ‘stand forth’ before picking a plant’s leaves or berries. In midsummer when few students roam campus, the titoki drops its bright red berries with shiny black seeds which can be crushed to extract oil for painful eyes, breasts and earache. The berries are edible but dry your mouth. When the titoki drops its fruit, it is also a sign that rata elsewhere will be blooming. The Māori saying goes: the titoki fruit is ripe and the rata red in the eighth month. A little up the path from the titoki are orange coprosma berries, far tastier than titoki to nibble as you pass. As well as connecting walking to our capacity for critical thinking, learning and building relationships to places, Ingold adds elsewhere that 'walking
is a profoundly social activity [. . .] in their timings, rhythms and inflections, the feet respond as much as does the voice to the presence and activity of others. Social relations [. . .] are not enacted in situ but are paced out along the ground'.20 The Dogrib people of North West Canada walk to read the movement of animals and patterns of weather, and the longevity of this knowledge is ensured by one generation walking through the landscape with the next.21
In a walk around campus with Professor Brian Boyd, I asked about the trees on campus and whether we had any of the varieties Vladimir Nabokov mentions in his novel Pale Fire. He told me about the ginkgo tree at the edge of Albert Park and how the pungent smell came from the tree’s ripe fruits. Only the female trees produce the fruits and because almost all of the trees on campus are planted rather than self-seeded, males are almost always chosen. We also came across the enormous larch outside the Arts 1 building, losing its leaves and turning auburn like a chameleon beside the red brick wall. Brian said that he had watched the tree grow from when it was planted in 1984, the year the building was finished. When one is walking and talking, information is embedded in the real and related to places, not just rationally or causally, but visually and physically. We had to discuss the way the heavy flow of traffic through the heart of campus affects pedestrian experience, over the noisy intersection. The constant change of scenery as we walked prompted new questions. It can be no coincidence that Aristotle’s first school was held in a shrine with peripatos—architectural colonnades, or covered walkways—where he would walk about as he spoke. His school became known
as the Peripatetic School, which loosely means ‘of walking’ or ‘given to walking about'. Early in Auckland’s volcanic era, the Albert Park volcano erupted. Red scoria can still be found in the grass and soil around the northern end of the park. The eruption also deposited eight metres of ash over the existing sandstone ridges and valleys, destroying the forest. Nineteenth century excavations near the lower corner of the park unearthed a tree stump apparently hewn by humans beneath the blankets of ash, believed at the time to evidence pre-volcanic human habitation of the area.22 Walking home down Wellesley Street when the ginkgo there turns yellow and spreads its golden carpet, I sometimes think of the volcano trees and stingray rocks, silent under the pavements of the university.
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
1 Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking (New York: Viking, 2001), p. xi. 2 See New Zealand History Online, 'Dame Whina Cooper', online at http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/people/dame-whinacooper, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20 December 2012. 3 Solnit, Wanderlust, p. 113. 4 Dispositive letter to Blockade the Budget received from the Acting Inspector G. Whitley of the New Zealand Police, 11 March 2013, p. 10. 5 Antonio Negri, The Porcelain Workshop: For A New Grammar Of Politics (London: Semiotext(e), 2009), p. 25. 6 Tim Ingold and Jo Lee Vergunst, eds, Ways of Walking: Ethnography and Practice on Foot (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), p. 2. 7 Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, The Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Seabury Press, 1972 ), p. 23. 8 Ibid., p. xiii. 9 Ibid., p. 32. 10 Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (London: Vintage, 2009), p. 223. 11 Ibid., p. 229. 12 Ibid., p. 235. 13 Jean Baudrillard, ‘Astral America', America (New York: Verso, 1988), p. 27. 14 See Solnit, Wanderlust, p. 12, and Ingold and Vergunst, Ways of Walking, p. 16. 15 Ingold and Vergunst, Ways of Walking, pp. 4-5. 17 Tim Ingold, Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description (New York: Verso, 2011), p. 35. 18 Ibid., p. 17. 19 Ibid. 20 Ingold and Vergunst, Ways of Walking, p. 1. 21 Ibid., pp. 5-6. 22 Atholl Anderson. Prodigious Birds: Moa and Moa-Hunting in Prehistoric New Zealand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 105.
Eleanor Cooper Under the paving stones, the seabed: walking and the university
U of I: the university as I experience you Alex Wild Jespersen and Pritika Lal
â€˜and I experience you as experiencing yourself as experienced by meâ€™. - R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience (Harmondsworth:Penguin,1967), p.16.
That IS intense political graffiti - jaunty dick and balls and all. I think when you’re little, encountering messages where you don’t expect them can be really exciting (still is, but, you know, different).1 As a very little kid, I would be bundled into the back of the car when mum drove into town to pick my dad up from work. I think I was just out of booster seat mode but still in ‘fuck if we are going in the car I need to take this blanket and my favourite dog’ mode.2 The lasso goes around and around and around until the car passes and it is beyond view. I’m sure I saw a similar cowboy in town, perhaps on K Road when driving through with my folks. I just assumed that Las Vegas was the city and that whatever I saw on TV took place here. There were no boundaries for countries, no distance or time between us. Everything was just always happening here and now.3 I immediately thought of just throwing in a kind of circular narrative of footnotes: ones that started out conventionally academic in their format and content, but then disintegrate from there into more personal thoughts and abstractions,4 even visuals/symbols beyond language as such – why can’t jaunty dick and balls be a footnote?
You’d never know it to look at it, that anything was wrong. Unless you happened to see one of the discarded pigs heads on the boat ramp. Or the FUCK YOU FUCK FACE carved into the wooden tunnel of the jungle gym. FUCK YOU (jaunty dick and balls) FUCK FACE The ability to picture the route in his mind, navigating each segment of the journey is very weird. Like he has a block. Losing the connector paths from one building to another after decades out of Berlin, the translator left it out because she thought it was boring to go on and on about buildings and streets, later on someone else was all like ‘this is a forgotten masterpiece of retrospective flânerie’. I mean, people have written about all that since long before Baudelaire was drawing jaunty dicks and balls, surely.5 The sometimes jarring overlaps of academic language and actual life as lived / the geography were all feeling pretty relevant but it was nice to feel like thoughts could be what walking was for.
1 There is a shared space between us. With two adjoining doors. You and I pass in and out of the space at our leisure. Leaving bits and pieces of information. Less pointed than clues, more like remnants from living and moving around and through the space. 2 I leave pigs heads and jaunty dick and balls. Partially blocked out paths. You leave yellow paint, phone calls, support for rebels and an appreciation for the magical monotony of still suburbs. 3 The experience of experiencing someone else’s experience. In my own mind the symbols described above are etched, I thought forever in the form in which I found them. But reading my experiences as your experiences and trying to sketch them out on the page, I have to carefully reconstruct the old way as this new way has taken over. 4 And by this general sentence I mean something quite specific. 5 The pig’s head was on its side, cut at an angle through the neck. Its jaw stuck open, large teeth. I didn’t know pigs had teeth?
Like you said, the references to an end of an era / the sometimes jarring overlaps of academic language and actual life as lived / the geography1 were all feeling pretty relevant. When i meet someone like you and there are these shared memories from different times and places or similar types of feeling,2 I feel like a room has opened up in my mind. A room3 between us with an adjoining room. When i go in that room, you are there.4 Or maybe you’re out but you left your umbrella behind. There is crossover in our experiences, and gaps where they don’t meet too.5 I like these gaps. You probably weren’t even born then. Or maybe just or maybe you saw the jaunty dick and balls before I did. Imagine that etched into the mind of a new baby. Just more information that does not have meaning until so many more experiences have been digested. History is so much about sharing.6 The inability to picture the route. A block. Losing the connector paths from one building to another after decades out of the city. (The translator left it out because she thought it was boring to go on and on about buildings and streets. Later on someone else was all like ‘this is a forgotten masterpiece of retrospective flânerie’.)
You and I pass in and out of the space at our leisure. There were no boundaries for countries, no distance or time between us. Everything was just always happening here and now.7 All these many gathered seemingly unimportant fragments constructed such a strong set of beliefs. I still find empty offices after hours exciting sites of potential, which they are.
1 Mangere Bridge was on the other side of the mountain from my house, the side with the picket fences and sparkly water (go for a walk around the suburb via google maps: you can see everyone’s swimming pools, the ambitious fancy architecture, the complex street layouts (multiple bulbous dead ends) ), so picturesque, it seemed so distant at the time. You’d never know it to look at it, that anything was wrong there. Unless you happened to see one of the discarded pigs heads on the boat ramp. Or the FUCK YOU. FUCK FACE carved into the wooden tunnel of the jungle gym. 2 As a very little kid, I would be bundled into the back of the car when mum drove in to town to pick my dad up from work. There was a stone wall facing the building, and on it, someone had sprayed, in a really strong yellow, EAT THE RICH. It was one of my favourite things. I knew it meant rich people, who I imagined to be the man from the monopoly box, and I knew from the confident logic of the yellow paint that they deserved to be eaten. 3 It can be any kind of room – a library, a kitchen. New Flavour. Even my cube-shaped office in Arts 1 is any kind of room if I lie starfished out on the sensibly thin carpet. I could almost imagine it was this room. 4 A car drives through 1970’s/80’s Las Vegas. From the car I see a neon cowboy with a flashing lasso. The lasso goes around and around and around until the car passes and it is beyond view. I’m sure I saw a similar cowboy in town, perhaps on K Road when driving through with my folks. I just assumed that Las Vegas was the city. 5 The Mt Eden village had, at its unofficial starting point, a sign saying “Mt Eden: Home of the Arts.” A boy from Metro took to it with a sharpie so it said “Mt Eden: Home of the BORGOIS Arts.” He also wrote FUCK FACISM in black on the yellow of a traffic light post. I touched it every day. I saw him swing his lasso and figured that must be the most happening part of town. To re-remember with this new flavour. I can’t help but wonder what did it mean, eat the rich? 6 A bunch of ideas to apply to walking, to going through space, that were nothing at all to do with the concept of physical exercise as an end goal in and of itself. My wheel alignment sucks. 7 I mean, people have written about all that since long before Baudelaire was drawing jaunty dicks and balls, surely.
Finance, university, revolt Campbell Jones
The university finds itself today teetering between finance and revolt. This is a precarious position, one that is precarious on both sides. On the one hand, finance provides what presents itself as a seamless and incontestable logic that can explain the rationale for student participation, the logic of governance and the direction of research. On the other hand, the logic of finance has opened a void over questions of judgement and reason that has led to despair, exit and open revolt. Although the considerations outlined here respond to a specific local situation, the ramifications of this analysis are intended to have a broad scope. The focus is not just one university in one country, nor even one institution amongst others, but rather in view here is a broader process pointing today in the direction of the financialisation of pretty much everything.1 In this process, in which not only private capitalist firms but institutions claiming public purpose are increasingly judged by the concepts, techniques and metaphors of finance, the university stands as an important test case. The attempted financialisation of the university is taking place in contestation of the previously dominant position of the university in claims regarding the location and responsibility for scientific judgement and collective intelligence. The stakes are significant not because we might nostalgically say that the financialisation of the university threatens to depose the notion of the university as an institution of universal knowledge, but because finance today advances its own criteria of judgement that are at odds with the capacities of judgement and reason previously fostered by the university. It is at this level that transformations of the university are implicated with lamentations against ‘the sad project of destroying, of devastating, of dismantling the general intellect’ and the argument that Europe is today seeing ‘the destruction of collective intelligence', or, 'if you want to say it in a more prosaic way, the destruction of the university, and the subjugation of research to the narrow interests of profit and economic competition’. 2 With finance, however, we are not dealing simply with the logic of profit and economic competition, which mark the
classic dynamics of capitalism and have long been known to be one of the key dynamics of the modern university and the legitimation of state funding of universities. 3 Finance, as will be seen, goes well beyond the most obvious and widely recognised features of capitalism, commodification and ‘neoliberalism’. *** It is no secret that university students and academic staff throughout the world have grave concerns about the state of the university. These have been clearly visible in the most recent waves of mass protest and occupations that have swept the world in the wake of the crisis of 2008. While these caught public attention with the protests in the United States in 2009 and the United Kingdom in late 2010, in the extended occupations and protests in Chile since 2010 and in the student strikes and protests in Quebec against tuition fee rises (which led to the ousting of the Quebecois Minister of Education in May 2012), a vast range of university student protests has unfolded and continues to play out in what is increasingly aware of itself as an international student movement. In such a context, when in late 2011 hundreds of students at the University of Auckland embarked on a series of occupations and protests, the response of the New Zealand Minister of Tertiary Education Steven Joyce that the protests ‘didn’t add up to me’ seemed naively innocent if not ignorant of global developments in the higher education sector.4 As student protests in New Zealand built through 2012, hundreds of students engaged in protesting and occupying university buildings and public spaces, with 43 students being arrested in a street protest and teach-in on 1 June.5 The minister again exploded, this time accusing the universities of not producing the practical skills that might resolve the ballooning unemployment that had almost doubled since 2008, and with this a sharp rise in youth unemployment.6 Thus Joyce would directly attack the University of Auckland: ‘If they want us to be more directive, I am more than willing [. . .] I’m watching them really closely
Argos Aotearoa The university beside revolt itself Campbell Jones Finance, universty,
to make sure they do what the market wants, and if they don’t, I can go and tell them how many they should enrol for each department’.7 Such comments might be confusing in light of the radical depth of market measures already undertaken in New Zealand since 1984. Thus although New Zealand tertiary tuition fees are seventh highest in the OECD, this was not close enough to the operation of a pure market, and no irony was present in an irate minister demanding that if the market was not obeyed by students, academics and administrators then direct state intervention would make sure it was.8 Likewise, the glaring financial hole faced by New Zealand universities was again overlooked, leading the Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland to object that ‘The single biggest challenge facing New Zealand universities is that we operate with the lowest expenditure per student of any system in the developed world’.9 This is not just a case of a particular minister open to charges of financial buffoonery or of being astonishingly uninformed about the realities of studying and working in the sector for which he is ultimately responsible. The problem is not restricted to any particular individual or political party, but concerns a logic of financialisation that has been taken up across the political spectrum and is rarely the source of critical suspicion. Finance obeys a logic that is far more specific and concrete than a nebulous ‘neoliberalism’ that many identify as the loose target of criticism today. In a way, financialisation is the flip-side of financial crisis. If financial crisis is dramatic and obvious, presenting an apparently unanticipated and surprising event, financialisation obeys a creeping logic by which finance gradually extends itself in a fashion often unnoticed because of its very gradualism. Thus the place of finance in the university becomes obvious, for instance, in the manner in which the finance company Harvard Management Company, a fully owned subsidiary of Harvard University which is responsible for managing the largest endowment fund of any university, lost US$8bn, which was 22% of its holdings, in the wake of the global financial crisis. But the logic of financialisation that I propose to outline here is much more workaday and mundane. Yes, as the world turns financialisation brings about crisis after crisis. But financialisation signals the routine operation of finance not in open crisis but involved instead in the process of the reworking of worlds, whereby the concepts, techniques and metaphors of finance increasingly come to order life. The notion of ‘logics’ that governs this text is drawn in significant part from the work of Alain Badiou.10 In this sense ‘logic’ refers beyond the narrow notion of formal or ‘ordinary logic’, and refers more broadly to 48
the appearing of a world in which objects and relations are ordered or indexed according to a particular operator that appears transcendental. Hence if the positions of this or that Minister of Tertiary Education are inconsistent or irrational with respect to the demands of formal logic, within an expanded sense of logic it becomes possible to explain the way in which they obey a certain consistency. It is this consistency, which I will suggest here is given by the logic of finance, that must be grasped, in spite of or maybe because of any breaches of what in the university used to be called judgement, reason and logic. *** If there is a positive side to the financial crisis that came to public attention in late 2008 then it is in the dawning public recognition of the power of finance and its centrality not only to the economy, but to other aspects of life in societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails. The power of finance has become visible not only in times of financial crisis, during which financial flows at the local, national or global level enter into systemic instability. What has become unmistakeable today is the place of a broader process of financialisation that was set in train in the early 1970s and is today pivotal to the economic and social realities of capitalist economies. A significant and flourishing scholarly literature now documents the profound historical depth of finance and with this the dynamics of credit and debt.11 This literature makes clear that finance is not a dusty numerical technology nor a logic of abstraction distant or removed from the real economy of work and material production. This research into both the history of finance and the daily experience of financialised life is beginning to make clear that this technology of financial speculation brings with it capacities for social reconfiguration that exceed the dreams of the greatest of speculative minds. The reach of the logic of finance expanded considerably with the collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971, with the end of the gold standard for the US dollar and with this the floating of international exchange rates consolidated in 1973 with the Smithsonian Agreement. The 1970s witnessed a radical financialisation of the economy which involved, amongst other things, the rise in importance of financial activities as a source of profits, the rise of shareholder value in corporate governance, the increasing power of the financial class and the explosion of financial trading and the trade in new financial instruments.12 Significantly, this process of financialisation included not simply a rise in the power and profitability of the financial sector but a transformation of the operation 048
Argos Aotearoa The university beside revolt itself Campbell Jones Finance, universty,
of the capitalist economy more broadly. This involved a change in the nature of profit seeking and corporate governance. This process of financialisation was felt across a range of economic activities and also increasingly in the operating activities of previously not for profit organisations.
Zealand tend by and large to see no alternative and no problem. Understanding some of the consequences of the financialisation of the university might make space for discussion about the desirability of such processes. ***
Thus financialisation is not simply a ‘thing’ that can be observed in ways of running business and other organisations. It is also, as Randy Martin has stressed, a way of seeing, a way of presenting objects in a particular way and understanding things. As he writes in his landmark book Financialization of Daily Life, financialisation is both ‘something to be explained and a way of making sense out of what is going on around us’.13 At this level, financialisation involves a change in interpretive criteria, in which all manner of activities come to be interpreted and understood in terms of finance. This is a process in which not merely the world that we sense is subjected to financial criteria, but in which the ability to sense the world follows a financial logic. Here the concepts, techniques and metaphors of finance stand not only as objects in the world but as ways in which the world is experienced and interpreted. In what can be called the financialisation of the senses, one comes to relate to the world in terms of investment, risk, speculation, hedging and profit. *** My argument is that the dynamics of financialisation hold clues vital for understanding the situation of the university today. The struggle over the future of the university today involves understanding the logic by which it is being run, in order to know, firstly, what we are up against. This is important because the university has been subjected to a logic of financialisation both at the most obvious level of financial imperatives and also in the interpretive sense that is made of the idea of the university.15 It would not be possible here to give an adequate account of the full consequences of the financialisation of the university. The variety of concepts, techniques and metaphors that move from finance into the university have differential impact in their application in particular sites, characterised as they are by different inflections of the same situation. It is also important to note the vast strength of the forces that have in recent years set about resisting the financialisation of the university, and their relations to other movements in schools and in defense of resources and faculties that have been protected so that they can be held in common. What I will sketch here is the hard end of a logic that has been implemented in some contexts with considerable force, and to which many in a country such as New 049
Perhaps the most publicly visible aspect of the financialisation of the university appears around student tuition fees and, along with this, student debt. The history of tuition fees has frequently had recourse to financial motifs. The Wall Street Crash of 1987 was the backdrop against which financial arguments were made to justify the introduction of tuition fees in New Zealand in 1989. Likewise the financial crisis of 2008 served as the background to the Browne Report of 2010 in the United Kingdom presaging the raising of tuition fees from £3,000 to up to £9,000. But financialisation does not operate simply at this most obvious level of taking financial crisis as an opportunity for fees hikes. Financialisation of the senses involves coding social situations in terms of the categories of finance. Legitimation of fee rises in financial terms is one thing, but more important are arguments that seek to persuade students to think of tertiary education as an investment in oneself that one undertakes in order to position oneself in the future labour market. The Browne Report therefore claims: ‘For all students, studying for a degree will be a risk free activity. The return to graduates for studying will be on average around 400%’.16 What this means is that students are seen as, and encouraged to see themselves as, not a potential worker but human capital into which they are enjoined to invest. This represents the emergence, in theory since the middle of the twentieth century and in tertiary education practice since the 1970s, of what Michel Foucault identified as a new conception of homo œconomicus , in which the person is conceived of as ‘an entrepreneur of himself, being for himself his own capital, being for himself his own producer, being for himself the source of his earnings’.17 In this conception of the human being we find what Foucault identified as ‘the individual considered as an enterprise, i.e., as an investment/investor’.18 Of course human beings are not as malleable as is often imagined, and attempts to conceive of people and to have them conceive of themselves in particular terms are rarely as successful as is hoped. It is exactly the refusal of students to think of themselves as a ‘little finance capitalist’ which explains the fury of those such as the Minister of Tertiary Education at students making what appear to him as irrational choices about what to study, and why he would later commission a report documenting exactly how much graduates with particular degrees stand to earn.19 49
Argos Aotearoa The university beside revolt itself Campbell Jones Finance, universty,
What is important in such documents is the framing of questions regarding ‘the outcomes for young people who complete a qualification in the New Zealand tertiary education system’ and in the way in which ‘information in the report can help young people as they make decisions about what to study’.20 While there is certainly a framing of ‘outcomes’ in narrow financial terms, the statistics in the report show that the differential consequences of degree choices are (with but a few exceptions) much smaller than obvious gender effects and family socioeconomic and ethnic background factors. Conceiving of students as human capital is a technology for diverting attention away from these factors and the concrete steps that can be taken to remedy them. This effort to make students calculate how they will benefit is continually confronted by what appears to the logic of finance as the recalcitrance of their stupid wills. Financialisation is constantly reiterated and reinstated because of its very fragility and its constant failure. Students are told again and again to think of the financial rewards of tertiary education exactly because they see that there are quite other reasons for participating in the university. This is also why so much pressure is put on ‘financial literacy programmes’ in schools and in public culture with social marketing campaigns to teach financial literacy. Such programmes target those who are presumed to be unable to understand finance and thus in need of moral lessons in financial responsibility, in a forever failing effort to constitute a youth that would be willing to take on the categories of investment in self as education. If such educational efforts so often fail, it is in part because they rub against the practical lessons of so much else that is taught in the classroom and outside it regarding participation in linguistic community. For a generation that places so much value on interconnectivity and the active participation in culture, music and social networks, the financialisation of self thus revises its target in the invitation to take these vast cooperative networks as raw matter to be pillaged in order to increase one’s stock and future advantages. Yet whatever takes place at the subjective level, students face the reality of being unplugged by the cold reality of finance. This is a reality that moves bodies even if minds remain elsewhere, although in the movement of bodies there is of course a particular pedagogy. Faced with the realities of financing study and life while at university: It would perhaps not be an exaggeration to suggest that students spend more time on personal finance—applying for grants and student loans; waiting for the 50
same to come through; asking their parents for financial support; arranging overdrafts with bankers; finding another part-time job to alleviate their debt – than on actual study. All the while, students are asked to consider their very education as an investment in their future, as an enhancement to their employability...their future saleability to capital. This finance has its own pedagogy.21 Finance has a pedagogy, but one which is always incomplete. It is an act of considerable presumption to imagine that students are fooled into believing that they are nothing but capital. Thus the constant irruption of what Stefano Harney and Fred Moten call the undercommons of the university.22 The students who have been protesting in recent years, those who have taken over the student magazines in their universities and those who have written for this issue of this journal are expressing this very clearly. They are calling the bluff on the presumption that they are human capital rather than workers and citizens. They are telling us that so many of their classrooms are an open sham, in which they can pass their exams to ward off necessity but they are fully aware of the narrowness and bigotry of what they are taught, that they visit libraries or more often raid online document repositories to source materials that blow holes in what they are taught in the classroom. They know that to learn the history of their disciplines is heretical and that to study is a subversive act. They also know that it is only in these heresies and subversions that they can see the future of the university.23 *** If financialisation is overtly or covertly resisted by students, the ramifications for those employed as academics and administrators in the university are fraught. Finance is a world of objectively measurable performance that is oriented to producing ‘improvements’ towards a forever expanding future horizon. Further, the logic of finance is premised on differentials of performance and return. It is out of numerically judged differentials that allocation of investment and, in turn, heightened returns can be delivered. Hence the need to remove all staff who do not deliver and for the rest to be ranked and sorted according to this new numerical machinery. If this is perceived as violence then it can flare up into conflict between administration and academics so, in the interests of smooth operations, administrators seek to channel this new differential antagonism into conflict between individual academics, between departments, and ultimately into conflict between each and every university. At the level of the university an almost universal 050
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presentation of self is offered, in which universities present themselves in terms of the unique return that they promise to offer to investors, be these students or businesses seeking to benefit from speculative investment in research. The practical consequences of finance manifest themselves visibly in the practice of ranking. Just as the logic of finance converts business corporations from profit maximising and reputational mechanisms into vehicles for reliable indexes of shareholder value, in the university this means the replacement of ‘excellence’ with ranking tables. Under finance such measures are constantly shifting and therefore every element of the university must be directed towards constantly rising shareholder value according to the latest measure. Shareholder value is a composite measure depending on many factors constantly in balance – rankings of research, student employability, student rankings, ability to attract research grants and staff. The university thus saw the remarkable rise of ratings agencies in a history of striking consistency with the rise of ratings agencies in the world of finance since the 1970s. As ratings agencies both radically transformed their criteria and moved towards the virtual oligopoly of agencies dominated by Fitch, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, under the logic of finance the university is under equal pressure to become an instrument priced in terms of reliability and return, indicators judged at the juncture of research assessment exercises, student association surveys and the rankings of international newspapers. The problem with ratings agencies is not only with the measures they use, but the fact that their measures are known in advance and, as a result, steps are taken to manipulate them. This is widely known in finance, where the gaming to satisfy ratings agencies has taken on its own dynamic of complexity that is vastly in surplus of the capacities of the ratings agencies, and of the widely present appearance of risk management so as to create the impression of riskfree investment.24 The presence of gaming in the rating of academic research is also widely known, which accounted for the recent abandonment of the Excellence in Research journal rankings by the Australian Research Council. But despite this abandonment, these journal rankings retain a strange undead presence in which they are used even more cynically than before, with a knowing wink regarding their illegitimacy. *** Almost in spite of government rankings comes the dynamic of monopoly formation in the academic publishing industry. The new leaders of the academic publishing industry such as Elsevier, Springer and 051
Wiley regularly make yearly returns on investment in excess of 30%, with Elsevier making a 37% profit in 2011, which represents a return of £768m on capitalisation of £2.06bn.25 Such corporations have over the past two decades formed into a small number of massive cartels, which not only claim monopoly rents —controlling exclusive access to publications without which scientific research is all but impossible—but also extort their profits out of state funding of university libraries and the almost entirely unpaid labour of academics who write and review scientific research. With financialisation in frame, however, it is possible to see not only this financial logic, but what happens to the content that is speculated on in the process. What is important here is the way that financial trading produces a certain ‘abstraction’ from the concrete particularities of the object traded, such that the trade focuses not on the thing traded itself but on the relation between two or more possible objects of trade, which is coded in terms of risk and return. Taken to its logical conclusion, the logic of finance unhindered involves a radical dematerialisation in which the matter of the trade—which is of course the fundamental reason it will ever be exchanged—becomes of a marginal importance from the position of finance and those prosecuting its logic. This goes some way to explaining the logics of contemporary publishing, in which a concern for pure differentiation and rankings external to the product comes to occupy centre stage. Thus the criterion of publishability becomes a matter of differentiation, of producing a commodity that can be brought to market because of a tradability as both consistent with a specific market but also offering something innocuously unique. Likewise the flourishing of new journals, in ever more differentiated sub-specialisms and with their own internal criteria of selection that refuse to admit the discredit they would face if they were to look outside for validation. In this absence, the authority that comes to adjudicate is that of pure arbitrage or risk-free returns of speculative investment. This comes to govern not only the student investing in themselves and the university seeking improved rankings, but decisions about what should be researched, which researchers and research students should be employed, who should be promoted and granted tenure. These come to be determined not by their contribution to reason, justice or well-being, which are dismissed by the logic of finance as abstract and pointless if not self-serving and meaningless jargon. Research funds thus seek out the greatest chance of risk-free returns, and in the technosciences and the technologies of human manipulation it strikes gold. Thought and the struggle for justice retreat to the undercommons, bubbling away slowly under mountains of research that its authors realise and quietly admit is corrupt. 51
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*** What is at stake with the financialisation of the university is thus a question of the criteria and categories through which judgement are made. The financialisation of the university involves a transformation in the very idea of the institution, its participants and social functions. These changes go far back in time and have complex roots, which we are here identifying as part of a logic of financialisation. This is a logic, I stress, that is not irrational but rather encodes a quite particular sense of rationality, in which rationality and logic take on radically new meanings. From within this logic, any question of its contradictions or limits simply do not add up. This, I submit, is the reason why there are today so many works being published that ask what the idea of the university is and means.26 It is also the reason for the void that has been opened up at the heart of the university and for the international student movements that have exploded, wave after wave, throughout the world in response to the logic often described as austerity or alternatively as good governance in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. The revolt against such ideas is at the heart of the current international student movements, from the Edu-Factory collective to the Committee on Revolutionizing the Academy (ComRAD) and We Are The University (WATU).
It may well be true that the logic of finance is making political economists of all of us, in the sense that whatever our ostensible disciplinary affiliation, we are now all being subjected to the logics of finance. Beyond this, as the logic of finance threatens to destroy what we knew before as the logic of logic and its house of last resort, there is a definite sense in which finance is equally in the process of turning all who care for the university to revolt. In the name of moderation and the continuation of a comfortable life, many will say that the logic of finance does not exist or that in the end it must make good sense. But the more we learn about the logic and realities of finance and what it is doing to the university, to society, and to the prospects of thought as such, the more we start to realise that our students in revolt are not only right, but that it is time to join them.
What is important to understand is that these revolts are taking place for a reason. They obey a certain logic of their own, and are in a quite specific sense ‘logical revolts’.27 They are revolts that follow a particular logic of a defense of principles but, beyond this, a defense of that institution of logic itself, the university, and those who inhabit it. Moreover, these movements are not looking back nostalgically to an imagined pure past of the university that never existed, but are struggling in the name of what the university and more generally what a generalised collective intelligence is and in the future might be able to create. The impact of the logic of finance in the university is far from complete, and the undercommons still live on. This incompletion is due to the magnitude of the ambition of the logic of finance and is also due to the fact that it is a logic that runs counter to so many previously established logics that govern the rationale for and functioning of the university. These logics often appear in deeply ingrained dispositions of those working in the university, dispositions that often make them appear unworldly or retrograde to those who inhabit other worlds. We have here the conflict of two logics, a logic of finance that is almost invisible to those who are instituting it and is often merely baffling or bizarre to those in the university who fail to notice it, because it comes from somewhere that seems to be outside of their area of specialism. 52
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1 If we are tempted to speak of ‘the financialization of everything’ (David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 39) then it is important to remember that this is not something that has been achieved but is a process underway and a process that constantly encounters obstacles along the way. The obstacles in this case, of course, are clear: students and academics, and least in the former states of mind and expectations. The obstacles, more broadly: anything else that does not deliver risk free return. Hence, justice and logic, to begin with. 2 Franco Berardi, The Uprising: Finance and Poetry (New York: Semiotext(e), 2012), p. 39. 3 The financialisation of the university thus radically extends and differs in significant respect from the important transformations outlined in earlier critiques by, amongst many others, Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) and Bill Readings, The University in Ruins (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996). 4 Claire Trevitt, ‘Minister to students: "Keep your heads down”', New Zealand Herald, 27 September 2011. Online at http:// www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/ article.cfm?c 5 See my ‘Why the students are revolting’, Scoop Independent News, 8 June 2012. Online at http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/ HL1206/S00038/why-thestudents-are-revolting.htm 6 Statistics New Zealand information on unemployment can be found in the quarterly Household Labour Force Survey which can be found at http://www. stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/ income-and-work/employment_ and_unemployment/householdlabour-force-survey-inforeleases.aspx 7
Simon Collins, ‘Skills crisis: Minister’s threat to uni on funding’, New Zealand Herald, 19 November 2012. Online at http:// www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/ article.cfm?c 8 International comparisons of tertiary tuition fees can be found in, for instance, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Education at a Glance 2012: OECD Indicators. OECD publishing, September 2012 revision, p. 274. Online at http://www.oecd. org/edu/EAG%202012_e-book_ EN_200912.pdf
9 Stuart McCutcheon, ‘Uni rankings fall a big worry’, New Zealand Herald, 30 April 2012. Online at http://www.nzherald. co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_ id=1&objectid=10802329 10
See, above all, Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event, 2, trans. Alberto Toscano (London: Continuum, 2009), and on the distinction between greater logic and ordinary logic see in particular pp. 173-82. 11
Amongst this vast literature see, for example, Ian Baucom, Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery and the Philosophy of History (New York: Duke University Press, 2005), William Hogeland, Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2012); Massimo Amato and Luca Fantacci, The End of Finance (Cambridge: Polity, 2012); Mary Poovey, Genres of the Credit Economy: Mediating Value in Eighteenth- and NineteenthCentury Britain (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008); and David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Brooklyn, NY: MelvilleHouse, 2011). 12
Greta Krippner, Capitalizing on Crisis: The Political Origins of the Rise of Finance (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011). See also Eward Engelen, ‘The case for financialization’, Competition and Change (2008), 12(2): 111-119; Gerald Epstein (ed) Financialization and the World Economy (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2006); Ben Fine, ‘Locating financialisation’, Historical Materialism (2010), 18: 97-118 and Costas Lapsavitsas (ed) Financialization in Crisis (London: Haymarket, 2012). 13 Randy Martin, Financialization of Daily Life (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2002). 14
This financialisation of the senses is one element of what I am elaborating elsewhere in terms of ‘the world of finance’. 15
‘The reclaiming of the university in the name of charity...[is]... crucially reliant upon a critique of finance and accounting in contemporary university governance’. Armin Beverungen, Casper Hoedemaekers and Jeroen Veldman, ‘Charity and finance in the university’, Critical Perspectives on Accounting (in press). 16
John Browne, Baron Brown of Madingley, Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education: An Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance (2010), online at www. independent.govt.uk/brownereport
Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979, trans. Graham Burchell (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008), p. 226. 18
Foucault, Ibid., p. 233 n. 19
Ministry of Education, Moving on Up: What Young People Earn After Their Tertiary Education (Ministry of Education, 2013). Online at http://www.educationcounts. govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_ file/0014/115430/moving-on-upwhat-young-people-earn-aftertheir-tertiary-education.pdf 20
Ministry of Education, op cit., p. 1.
See the accounts of logical revolts that Jacques Rancière documents in Staging the People: The Proletarian and His Double, trans. David Fernbach (London: Verso, 2011) and The Intellectual and His People: Staging the People, Volume 2, trans. David Fernbach (London: Verso, 2012). Alternatively, Badiou writes 'Philosophy is something like a “logical revolt”. Philosophy pits thought against injustice, against the defective state of the world and of life. Yet is pits thought against injustice in a movement which conserves and defends argument and reason, and which ultimately proposes a new logic'. Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought, trans. Oliver Feltham and Justin Clemens (London: Continuum, 2003), p. 39.
Armin Beverungen, Stephen Dunne and Casper Hoedemaekers, ‘The university of finance’, ephemera: theory and politics in organization (2009), 9(4): pp. 261-70, p. 265. 22
Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Brooklyn, NY: Minor Compositions/Autonomedia, 2013). 23
See the University of Auckland student magazine, for example: ‘It is now undeniable. The university is fucked. There is no other way of putting it. Any form of life that is not fully subsumed by the logic of capital is currently being expelled from campus’ (Guy Cohn, ‘The figure of the student’, Craccum, Summer School Edition, 2012). Another student writes directly about their professor: ‘After the first few weeks [. . .] I became increasingly concerned about what I was being taught [. . .] I found that what I was learning was incredibly alarming [. . .] The more I learned [. . .] the more frustrated I became [. . .] As I looked around the lecture theater of at least 150 students I started to think about how much students were paying to learn this sketchy science’ (Lola Thompson, ‘Should we be paying to be taught climate denial?’, Craccum, 001, 2012). 24
See for example the account provided by Alexandra Ourousoff, Wall Street at War: The Secret Struggle for the Global Economy (Cambridge: Polity, 2010). 25
See for example ‘Brought to book: Academic journals face a radical shake-up’ The Economist, 21 July 2012. Online at http://www.economist.com/ node/21559317 26
This issue of Argos Aotearoa is reflective of this, as are, for instance, Stefano Collini, What Are Universities For? (London: Penguin, 2012); Michael Bailey and Des Freeman (eds) The Assault on Universities: A Manifesto for Resistance (London: Pluto, 2011).
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Securing our future
The subject of chance and decision
Henri Carlos & Guy Cohn
Photo: Dan Liu
Henri Carlos & Guy Cohn The university subject of beside chance itself and decision Argos Aotearoa The
Where to begin? Between the beginning of 2011 and the end of 2012, we tried to expose the reality of university life. We are here to take credit: we, the characters who exist outside the determination of capitalist democracy! As anyone who has ever written any thing should know — but of course they don’t because they have the logics of a whole world against them! — the production of each and ever y ‘I’ ser ves to produce each and ever y instance of writer’s block. It is only when we reject the imposition of oneness by the world as it is that the truth can be written! The madness of any prophet is nothing compared to the madness of the academic writing her journal articles! Our emergence was international: we are sustained by radical texts written in occupied universities around the world, by revolutionaries throughout histor y. Locally, our being took shape in the tenuous spaces for critical thought car ved out in the formal studies of the academy, the informal studies of reading and discussion groups, and innumerable friendships and enmities. We were made possible by the chance presented by a number of impending policies, including, but not limited to, our university administration’s moves to reduce the autonomy of academic workers, and our government ’s policy to co-opt student associations by taking away their power of expropriation. We were made concrete by that which transmits chance into a subject proper: decision! Yet we claim to be nothing more — nothing less! — than prophets of the eternal truth of the reality of equality: for the realisation of a world against hierarchy; the end of capital’s dictation! One need only experience the collective fer vour of an occupied university to understand how much energy is siphoned into the individuation of each university’s subjects. On 14 September 2011, we are unashamed to say, we experienced this fer vour. In the librar y basement of the University of Auckland, a teach-in provided the space for the coalescence of elements on the border of a situation. A discussion about the reality of the university; a presentation of examples of student struggles internationally; exposure of the techniques of repression employed by university administrations . Point by point, a subjective determination to affirm our presence and to break with inexistence led to an occupation: the erecting of barricades and the drafting of demands! This event was the beginning of the subjectivation to which we belong. By ‘subjectivation’ we mean the process through which a new body with the ability to act in and on the world is organised. Subjectivation, as organisation, need not necessarily take the form of an organisation; it is better conceptualised as the process of organisation itself, from which an organisation, or many organisations, may or may not be found to be necessar y.
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In the wake of the occupation, we practised and we experimented. We tried through our numerous frustrations to follow through with the consequences of what had happened — without being trapped in the mire of identity. The war machine against the state. The impulsive desire towards formalising a group with a coherent identity seemed almost to universally have the consequence of desubjectivation and contraction; we would not let our desire be subsumed by such pettiness! We would not forget the necessar y consequences! As the claim ‘ We are the university!’ became the catch cr y of the process taking place, we found ourselves in a struggle against the simple becoming of a particular, named group; against saying we are ‘ We are the University’; a battle against the suture; a struggle against common sense! We proposed that this was merely a possible phrasing of the claim that had surged forth from our collective enquiries; it was far better understood as a slogan than an identity, and all slogans are quickly saturated! Could we apply the same analysis to the revolutionar y outbursts of the twentieth centur y? ‘The Communist Party', what a slogan! ‘ We are but the Party of Communists!’ To claim ‘ We are the university!’ but not to say we are ‘ We are the University’. Again and again, we were presented with points at which the truth would be contested: could the process in which we were participating be enclosed within the circle of a group, or does such an enclosure work to delimit the possibilities that present themselves, which is to say, prevent possibilities from becoming present? Both in theor y and practice this was a real problem. We could even go so far as to say it was on this dialectic that ever y thing rested: the dialectic of an organised fraction and its outside. We can hardly say the problem was solved; indeed we would say the lesson is that maintaining this problem as a problem is the only real solution. The Situation — From whence we came! There was little in the way of real politics on the Auckland campus at the beginning of 2011. There was, of course, the presence of various ‘political’ groups and institutions such as the student association and a number of labour unions, but these were all thoroughly subsumed by the logics of management and administration: the student association and unions severely compromised by their place within the overall configuration of power; the political groups, whether mainstream parties or organisations of the radical left, largely focused on maintaining their existence through recruitment. These apparatuses, even under their most subversive pretences, tend to function so as to reaffirm conventional reality. Of course, it would be wrong to say that there was no politics at all; but if we understand politics as the process of asserting the capacity for thought which leads the way to overcoming the banality of life subsumed by the motivations of capital, then politics found itself repressed
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by the desire for order, and other internal limits, most notably, the internal limit of so-called ‘democracy’. The possibility of real politics existed in the cracks of the order maintained both in society at large and within the university situation in particular; an order in which society is subsumed by the dictates of capital and the social relations it foments. The conscious and affirmational desire for the transcendence of society’s subsumption was generally ushered into the margins of formal study. There in the under-commons there would be reading and writing, and the kernel of new movements. These endeavours included a collective which itself sprang from the formal study of a number of students; a reading group involving a number of academics and students; and a cartel for theor y organised by students as a rejoinder to the condescension of soft entr y into texts via speed reading and introductor y guides. These pockets were sites of potential, yet to see the threshold crossed from theor y into practice. As well as these somewhat conscious pockets there existed — and continue to exist — innumerable unconscious pockets of resistance to power without any coherent idea in development. We must admit we were few — but it is the yeast that makes the bread! For us, the existence of such potential had a strong correspondence to what could be more or less openly studied in the different spaces of the university. In our experience, this was most strongly the case wherever theor y could resist the injunction to do nothing more than gather data for the encyclopaedia, or proffer in the disingenuous demand for objectivity. This was ver y much contingent on who happened to be teaching where, and always subject to change. While it is clearly true that the university largely ser ves to subvert any radical thought into ‘writing papers for journals which no one ever reads and books which no one could care less about ', it is also important to state that this is not necessar y. The subversion of radical desire into the tedium of academia is contingent not only on the existing state of things, but also on the failure of that desire to find its true consequence. It is both a failure of structure and a failure of subjectivity. We must always work against the cowardly figure of the academic, who hides behind the empty admission of privilege, who demands to speak and will not listen, and who will not link arms against the violence of the situation when it is revealed. The ‘radical academics’ and rebellious students found lurking in the cracks of the university make up its ‘Imaginar y Party’. Evidence of their membership is found in the small deeds of introducing each other to ideas that expose the contingency of the present way of things, and their atomised resistance to the power that bears down upon them. It is in this Party of the Imaginar y that we found each other. Whereas previously there was the ver y real presence of the Party as the dominant form of emancipator y politics, today the ver y concept of the Party is in tatters; resistance is fragmented, atomised, disorganised. The Imaginar y Party makes potential the idea that the seemingly spontaneous
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outbursts of resistance we find in recent histor y, whether they be the recalcitrance of the workforce or the riots of the poor, find a potentially unif ying principle in the possibility of an imaginar y recognition of a shared project. The importance of those precursor y classes and study groups, despite their flaws, lay in their providing a space for the encounters through which we began to find each other. It was only with those first cautious leanings— coming out with our thoughts and desires—that what followed could: anxiety and its transgression. As these elements began their movement towards amalgamation, there existed a deep current of fear and anxiety toward any real engagement. Pseudo-activity always seems an easier option than taking any risk. We might say then that overcoming fear—fear of punishment, fear of failure, fear of looking ridiculous—necessitated a subjective forcing . This was a decision to abandon our fear and carr y out the consequences of truth’s exposure; only with the necessar y intensities will the permanence of our new present take hold. We must take sides and organise. In the beginning, there was not a problem of the head, but of the body and its acts. The Event —We were the inexistent! The teach-in in the librar y basement on 14 September 2011 was the event with which the real subjectivation began, ushering in a shift beyond the realm of the imaginar y and into the real. The event coalesced around a happenstance sequence from which a number of points would emerge and genuine decisions would be made. Insofar as decisions were made, they were made , created from the new field of possibility we had exposed. These real decisions are something that can only be made between what is given and what is impossible to know, beyond inane and arbitrar y choices, constructed in the radical prospect for change and endowed upon a situation through chance. The teach-in constituted a ‘site', a part of the world apart from the world, ‘at the edge of the void', which, while being within the contemporar y situation of capitalist democracy, managed to avoid the overbearing power structures of that situation. A site has some degree of autonomy as a place from which the contingency and precarity of the existing order can be seen, yet a site is itself contingent and precarious. The teach-in was such a site within the university under capitalist democracy; evidence is found in the fact that the participants came to terms with the reality of the power structures that dominate the university under this capitalist democracy, and from there actively rejected them; the participants ignored the demands of the university administration's proxies the university administration’s proxies, and car ved out a space for thought not subject to the ordinar y constraints which the university places on thinking. The university, within the wider political context, is counted as something that produces a quantifiable
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product, made manifest in the symbolic register of the market, whether it is performance based research scores for academics, the entrepreneurial gamble of student debt, or an obscure patent mined from neuroscience, engineering or pharmacology. So-called knowledge is contained, numerated and circulated. The subjective side to the university, the capacity for study to lead to its own independent conclusions, is glossed over, over written in the language and the logic of finance. And it is in the reversal of the way the university counts for the state that we can find the possibility for something not subsumed by the dominant logics of the world as it is structured. From the point of view of that which the state glosses over—the point of view of thought which follows its consequences without compromising its principles—it is possible to think a rupture with the dominant logics of today, and act in support of this. For us, one of the ways such thought and activity assumed a new consistency was through the formulation of demands that corresponded to different logics, unleashing the university from the dictates of the market and accumulation, and creating the university of taking-place and defending it from the police! The claim ‘ We are the university!’ would put into words what the event had exposed. Despite the teach-in itself being shut down by university administration and the cops, in maintaining the truth of what we had discussed, we claimed that the real university existed precisely in those spaces that are not sanctioned. In fact, the reality of the university—the students, academics, workers, and broader community—which should count for ever y thing, counted for nothing unless subsumed by the rationale of capitalist democracy. And, yet, it is precisely this minimal existence that could be turned into actual subjectivation. The ‘we’ in question cannot be captured in a specific counted off group; we has indeterminacy, such that the claim ‘ We are the university', despite being proclaimed by a particular group of people, summons forth the we of all who are not counted. The university event makes exist that whose inexistence sustains the university as one, not just students, but the broader community itself. What we saw was the possibility for the coming into existence of the entire contingent community in the university and the capacity for a subjectivation that could build relations that reach beyond the confines of the university as such. Fidelity — Faith in dis-integration! The question then became one of endurance: with the realisation that rupture, which first seemed impossible, is possible , how might it become possible that this rupture endures? It is a question of fidelity. Firstly, it is a question of subjectivation, and then, for the endurance of that subjectivation, it is a question of fidelity. The university under capitalist democracy has become a manifest operation in discouraging ideas, of separating, segmenting and allocating parts; if we think of an idea as that which mediates between the world and its truth, we can say that
Henri Carlos & Guy Cohn A chance to decide Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
the university under capitalist democracy is a space in which hoarding and gathering information happens, often in the absence of ideas. Thought in this environment is something more often than not foreclosed or confined. Politics then, as a kind of thought, is in contradiction with the manufactured consensus of the university under capitalist democracy, in which real political thought is already foreclosed or confined to the margins. Again, the figure of the academic cries, ‘ We have plenty of ideas’ — yes, but those ideas are little more than the contents of an encyclopaedia that is ruled by the lies that sustain the current state of things. The state of the modern university is part of a wider ideological situation. The question is: what role does the university play in reproducing contemporar y ideology? We found ourselves within the university, and made the simple assertion that it was possible, from within the cracks of the university, to have an affect . There is little point fetishising the university as it stands as a place that has any clear process for affecting contemporar y ideology. For it seems that it is precisely in the cracks of such unclear processes that the inertia of this period we find ourselves in can be disrupted. The question arises of severing the links of incorporation that interpellate individuals into being ‘realistic’ about what changes can be made. When we engage, we realise that this constant recourse to reality is precisely the operation that needs to be broken down, and the only way to do that is with ideas ; ideas that propose alternatives to this so-called reality, the kind of ideas that are brutally policed out of the picture. ‘How do we convince people to join us?’ someone will ask. Avoiding the temptation of action for its own sake is important insofar as, without the thought necessar y to guide it, action is destined to merely fulfil a reproductive role: to drain our bio-power. We do not need to implement bureaucracy when we come to terms with disorganisation as the ground for all politics. Bureaucracy, as that which seeks to cover for disorganisation, only to give it the power of an empty coercion, emerges in the ignorance of our collective capacity to think, to speak, and to meet, that is, to graft on to the points that can resuscitate the subject! And so we need new political subjects. We call into question the moment when thinking breaks down and actions become aimless; we can point to this as the moment that subjectivation stalls, as the moment where the figure of the student as a political subject realises a certain impotence. Individuals will coalesce around a totem of discouragement, taking lessons in strategy from the already incorporated unions, from particularist community groups and freelance re-enactors of a bygone era. The narrative will turn to a lack of skills and the moderate incrementalism of small victories and membership numbers. The archaic vanguardists will attempt to fill the lull with the recurrence of dead slogans. This incorporation operates at the level of police. An identity will only fall neatly into the enumerable
university beside itself Henri Carlos Argos & Guy Aotearoa The Cohn The subject of chance and decision
play of differences and offer us up for representation . . . to disintegrate. We must dis-integrate from the imaginar y of capitalist democracy. We are not here to set up a false dichotomy between real and imaginar y politics, but when asked, ‘ who are we' , it is in answering that we become who we might be. A Wager —The figure of the student and the characters of a world to come! The figure of the student—a decision, a throw of the dice, to ‘play the part in the name of the waves'—is one that belongs to today. After the warrior and after the soldier, they are dead! Good riddance, we fear their return! Students have always had to defend themselves; we have had to defend ourselves! So much fear derives from our lack of faith in our own ability to defend ourselves. Before we can withhold our might we must come to terms with it. The figure of the student bears witness to the possibility of an immanent transgression of the situation. From the bureaucrats of the left, the same old ideas are trundled out in a new package: abstraction. A thousand NGOs and their wealthy backers are nothing compared to the capacity for which the figure of the student makes way. To study, and to decide. We need to tell a new stor y; to tell a stor y anew; to hone our imaginations; to set forth ideas not predestined to any empty form from histor y. We must take care in the construction of our tale. Our recital must be unconditional. To escape our determination by the world as it is, let us all assume characters, let even our characters assume characters, let us get rid of ourselves . First principles against presuppositions; decisions against choices; truths against opinions; reality against process; honesty against bureaucracy! We should be honest about our own miser y, rather than merely relying on experts and professional activists to tell us what is wrong with the world. The challenge for us now is to reinvigorate the procedure of thinking politics; to sustain thought at ever y stage, and reject the unthinking imposed by identity as we find it. We must theorise and think against ourselves, against ever y micro-state that has been established in the imaginar y of those who inhabit capitalist democracy. We must finally craft in the cracks of this imaginar y the characters of a world to come.
Aotearoa The university beside itself KarlsbergrArgos & Mensonge (a)history and classromm consciousness
UfSO: (a)history Marcus Karlsberg A-History of the UfSO For the uninitiated, UfSO is an acronym for the University for Strategic Optimism. Initially, it was the University of Strategic Optimism, but whoever made the logo got it wrong and we decided the mistake was better anyway. USO, our original acronym of choice, was already taken by the United Services Organisations, a not-for-profit that aims to raise the morale of US soldiers, as well as being the stock market abbreviation for United States Oil fund. Besides, we thought, better to be for optimism than of it: better to be Bruce Willis in Die Hard than some golden-haired child born under auspicious signs. And, as we were forced to remind some professorial poetry pontiff who introduced us with a certain amount of disdain at a conference, a strategic optimism needn’t contradict a felt pessimism.
Merry Capitalism In any case, we were asked if we might do a history of the UfSO for this, the education-themed inaugural issue of Argos. While it initially seemed like a good idea, when I began to think about how this might be done it appeared less so. My main unease with attempting to historicise the UfSO comes from my experience of the brief yet bombastic blip that was the student movement in the UK. I am also conscious of the commitment this journal has to a sense of place, and that that place is elsewhere to my own (although not entirely, given the homogeneity of neo-liberal agendas internationally and the globalising natures of the Euro-American model of the university).1 I neither want to bore you with the internecine beef of an experience local only to us, nor to engage in the auto-asphyxiating self-historicising practices that characterised the movement here. Only to say this, that the engorged desire of many student activists to transcribe their actions into history as they happened stifled the movement by providing a sense that everything had already been done, that resounding applause already greeted our performance on the world-historical stage. (Even in quite practical terms, this often made it quite hard to get at deserving doors and windows because of the sheer number of cameras trying to record any petty vandalism for profit and posterity.)
1. In the UK, Argos is the name of a large chain of stores with a similar product range to The Warehouse, the difference being that goods are viewed via phonebook-like catalogues, then item codes transcribed from a digital box onto a betting slip and taken to a cashier. You then wait, not unlike Odysseus’ dog, for an unspecified period, before your new toaster or whatever is brought to a counter, the waiting being the worklessness of the whole operation, presumably.
Karlsberg & Mensonage UfSO: (a)history & classroom Argos Aotearoa The university besideconsciousness itself
1. A police tactic of ‘containment’: surrounding protesters in one area, often for hours, waiting for them to freeze, starve, implode and generally get put off demonstrating.
A History of the UfSO – A Memoir The revolution brings fine weather. Maybe. This wasn’t a revolution but it was a beautiful day nonetheless, a really beautiful day, it was the beginning. Everyone was pretty angry, but joyful with it. We didn’t know each other then, weaving in and out, bumping into each other, coming together, then apart again. A huge crowd, far bigger than anyone had forecast, tumbled and roared and bowled through the streets. I can still feel the lift in me, a rush, when I remember the sound of it—chest puffed out, fists clenched, throat open. Sky ablaze in blue, people clambered over bus stops and fences, this felt like a mob, it sounded like one. A few of us happened to be there, when it came through, the text: ‘They’ve occupied the Tory HQ'. Smiles flashed around. ‘No wait, they got the wrong building! They’re gonna try the other one’. Quickly racing down Millbank in the opposite direction to a few thousand puzzled faces, beaming under a sea of DIY cardboard and marker constructions. We drew up gasping, a couple of dozen, shouting. One of our esteemed professors, still not out of protest grad school at that point, produced an egg and snapping back his arm, sent it spattering across the entrance with a comedic pop. Half a dozen wide-eyed cops shifted nervously. Then it went off, like a fucking rocket. The crowd swelled from nowhere, and then swelled some more, must have been three, four, five-thousand, more. And we stormed it, we fucking stormed it. Upon a sparkling lawn of shattered glass, I saw friends emerge from the ransacked shell, stepping under a theatrical curtain of shard and scraps, hanging down on shreds of a ruined plastic backing. And we stood next to some blazing office furniture that’d been dragged out into the courtyard and torched. Someone handed me a cider. That was fun. But it didn’t really start then, it was after, back at base camp, an appropriated conference table on a campus where we came and went as we pleased. No ID scanning in those days. We made up a name, a blog, a plan. Not much to it, just an email shout-out to a few good people, and word of mouth. Someone did a reccy, drew up the plans of a bank on a big board and pointed at it with a stick, its mystery location only revealed last minute. This felt exciting, and the footage was great. It was real lift, a feeling of optimism, it was a triumph as far as we were concerned. If it had gone badly, who knows if it would have been all over in a flash.
Aotearoa The university beside itself KarlsbergrArgos & Mensonge (a)history and classromm consciousness
The desire to ‘heroise’ the present is distinctively modern, we are told.2 Yet now the virility of the heroism of the present is measured in likecounts, retweets, reposts, references, and other regurgitations. The radical past can only be accessed in flattened and posterised form, all is leveled for exchange with the present—please complete a Captcha™ before commenting so that we know your avatar is linked to a real . . . . This isn’t a criticism of social media; UfSO has a Twitter account, a blog, a Facebook page (probably), although the pub remains our dearest form of social mediation. The point is that what someone had for lunch, their feelings about this or that TV show, becomes the benchmark for what constitutes something worthy of historification. The present, the energy of the present, becomes stifled by the need that it must be recorded so that kudos can be tallied and awarded. The sustenance provided by being part of an active movement becomes dreary, as any immediacy suffers immediate representation.
2. Foucault, Michel, and Paul Rabinow. ‘What is Enlightenment?’ In The Foucault reader (London: Penguin Books, 1991 ), p. 40.
I want to argue that, although the UfSO’s primary medium was video that hoped to become viral, our attempt was not to fabricate a history book for ourselves, one that we would of course feature in heavily. Instead of attempting to concoct some narrative that picks a path through heady times, I want to have a critical look at what I now think we were doing then, if that makes any sense, and reevaluate whether there is anything that might be of strategic use to us now that the movement here has whizzed round the room making a farting noise before flopping on to the floor. By us, here, I mean more broadly those of us inside institutional education in some way or another, who, faced with attacks on a system that was far from perfect to begin with, find ourselves navigating the vicissitudes of a position best described as: in (defense of), against, and beyond. To ensure that I am at least constant in the contradiction of myself, I will begin by giving a brief blurb on the UfSO as no doubt most readers will never have heard of us. The back of our collectively written attempt to troll the genre of the student handbook gives our bio as follows: The University for Strategic Optimism is a nomadic university with a transitory campus, based on the principle of free and open education, a return of politics to the public, and the politicisation of public space.
The Tesco Lecture
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself Karlsberg & Mensonage UfSO: (a)history & classroom consciousness
So we gave the proverbial finger to a bank, in more eloquent, theoretically couched terms, but not too much theory, it was praxis. We gave the finger to Tesco, we held a conference in a kettle1—a place that felt more like a medieval battlefield as certain of the throng managed to storm the treasury. Recollections of taking a piss in the centre of Parliament Square flood back, looking up at spires, brittle with a spiteful pretense at those same, false architectural claims to authority the church had been heaping on us for centuries. Now it was eclipsed in thick red and black smoke, cold air humming heavy with bass. Another horse charge repelled with a phalanx of twisted fences. Someone poked the establishment in the ribs with a sharp stick. A favourite was the storming of Lewisham Town Hall on a Tuesday evening or something, when our local council met to vote through the massive cuts to local services, including closing down seven libraries. The police turned up with horses and dogs as the pensioners joined the fight. Someone swung on a chandelier and chased away the mayor, someone was taking trophies from the cops, but it was all over in time for a few pints before bed. It felt like the revolution was coming, for about five minutes, but the pub still kept in business. Another fond memory was the party we held at the university to repulse a speech-giving Tory from the premises, an exuberant occasion. ‘Tory Scum Fuck Off’ read one banner, as we burst through the locked doors to the reception, and calmly snatched the wine that someone had tried to hide under the tables of the VIPs, just as some others hauled the sound system up the stairs. It seemed that we did a lot of storming things in those days. That didn’t really last. We kicked a conspiracy nut out for an explosion of dubious gender politics, a few more fairweather friends fell by the wayside, but from there on in it felt like a professional operation, tight. Invites poured in, but there was a self-sustaining energy. Occupations came and went, all good until someone fell off the roof trying to get sexy after drinking a bottle of whiskey. From half a dozen London galleries trolling our inbox, to university talks, conferences and radio shows, our smattering of viral videos seemed to wear us thin with some mysterious kudos. The movement was over and culture was desperate to catch up for a piece of the (in)direct action. Radical chic. Someone stuck us in the New York Times fashion supplement. From Goldsmiths conferences, where the wine was good at least, to Chelsea art ‘happenings’, where it wasn’t so great, we followed the offers where they’d pay cash, which we could use to buy megaphones, paint and other important armouries. That Chelsea show was good for that, and we’d fobbed them off with an old, cut-up colouring book, a copy of Capital and a few dozen cocktail sausages. After occupying this or that library, a government department seemed a plausible target. To sell Tory pornos with monopoly money, cultural capital to the suits of the Free Free Market Market would be easier than expected. Someone dressed up as a clown and a swing band cringed along to 80s hair metal, blockading the exit to the weekend. Some likeminded strangers in New York set up an international branch and carried out like-minded interventions. Dazed, Vice, The Guardian offered us column inches; we fed them half-truths and rolled our eyes in embarrassment. Was this what selling out feels like? Or are we furthering ‘our cause’ (I have no idea what that is, short of full communism). At the apex of the student movement, someone even wanted to put us in the Museum of London, along with other ‘protest artifacts’—seems the Tower isn’t how it’s done these days. That was one offer we politely ignored.
Aotearoa The university beside itself KarlsbergrArgos & Mensonge (a)history and classromm consciousness
3. University for Strategic Optimism. Undressing the Academy: Or, the Student Handjob (New York: Minor Compositions, 2011). Download at: http://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=272#more-272
To date, the UfSO has operated as a framework for the collective production of political activity, as a space for study, discussion and collective writing, as well as delivering a course of performative lecture interventions in public spaces ranging from banks to supermarkets.3 In more day-to-day terms we were a group of students and progressively left—although progressively less and less—academic staff. We formed after the protest that had seen the headquarters of the Tory party smashed up in response to their announcement that they would be tripling university fees and cancelling an allowance that enabled children from under-privileged families to attend school. Our initial decision about how we could contribute to the movement, and how we could organise against the attacks on higher education, led us to temporarily re-appropriate one of the bailed-out banks as a classroom. We collectively wrote a lecture that was given by one of our newly tenured UfSO Profs, arguing for a strategic optimism in the face of the state sanctioned pessimism of austerity. Capitalism was failing and flailing, the situation looked promising.
4. For their explanation of trash theory see: Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl (Los Angeles, Calif.: Semiotext(e), 2012), p. 20 – 21. Prior to this (14) they assure us, ‘Listen: the Young-Girl is obviously [?!] not a gendered concept.’ I’ll let Jennifer Lawrence in .gif form respond: http://imgur.com/gallery/ seh6p (‘Oh yeah, [thumbs up].’) Compare trash theory with crude thinking: 'Nothing is more important than learning to think crudely. Crude thinking is the thinking of great men [!?].’ Bertolt Brecht, quoted in: Ronald Hayman, Brecht: a biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 182. Gender is crudely contrasted here, yet meant only in the same way as any two nouns chosen at random, say, hammer and sickle, may be differently gendered in German. Crude theory takes up the third gender, neuter, in-between and in excess of – by being multiple hence polygendered - the Young-Girl and the Great Man.
Importantly for the point I would like to make, nothing was worked out completely at the level of theory. We theorised on the fly in a kind of makeshift way that was in constant negotiation with our differing viewpoints and the limitations of our concrete context. This type of theorisation I would call something like ‘crude theory’, a basic tool-kit or a pocketknife, as opposed to the ‘trash theory’ expounded by those Young-Girls over at Tiqqun.4 Banks had been bailed out by the public, and universities faced funding cuts to help pay for it, we would use the bank as a classroom. Being and Time this is not; Brecht on a bathroom wall gets closer to my intended meaning.
5. What follows is some sort of indigested tangle of Gayatri Spivak and Frederic Jameson. For it to become crude theory it would need to be argued about collectively as a way of orientating or informing collective action. Crude theory would be whatever survived this process. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (Cambridge,: Harvard University Press, 2012). And, Frederic Jameson, ‘Cognitive Mapping’, in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson et al. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), pp. 347 - 60.
Knowingly or not, the UfSO attempted to address the disorientation, political and otherwise, that is caused by the fragmentation, individualisation, and isolation that characterise life in contemporary capitalism.5 Defragmentation is achieved in part by the process of becoming collective that took place through the work and play of planning actions and thinking through the conditions of our struggle. However small, the collective is caustic to fragmentation, as long as the borders of its praxis remain open. The disorientation that issues from fragmentation suggests an inability to grasp the totality, and so to position oneself within it. In a narrow sense, what I mean by totality here is the sum of social relations that anyone finds themselves connected to in any instant—thinking the totality requiring nothing short of a planetary thinking, then. Any attempt at apprehension of totality is of course a fool’s gamble, an impossible and doomed dash made out of the necessity to find coordinates by glimpsing the whole. Bataille’s mad laughter ringing out in the Bibliothèque Nationale provides an apt soundtrack for any metaphorical leap made from part out in to the unknown.6
6. Bataille below the line: librarian, numismatist, philosopher, Georges Bataille had a checkered employment history at the Bibliothèque Nationale. As the story goes, peals of his maniacal laughter would occasionally puncture the somber silence. ‘I hate the image of being that is linked to separation and I laugh at the recluse who thinks he is reflecting on the world. He cannot really reflect on it because by becoming himself the centre of reflection, he no longer exists, just like the worlds that disappear in all directions. But when I realize that the universe does not resemble any isolated being that is closing on oneself but to what passes from one being to the other, when we burst out laughing or when we love one another, at that moment the immensity of the universe opens up to me and I become confused with their flight.’ Georges Bataille, ‘Friendship’, Parallax 7, no. 1 (2001), pp. 3 - 15.
The passage from the classroom—to the differently organised and political classroom—to the bank-as classroom—to the video of bank as classroom—performs a mapping function. Throwing a small pebble at the impenetrable force-field of the totality, perhaps. Yes, the pebble can be said to have a ‘line of flight’, but that is not what is
Karlsberg & Mensonage UfSO: (a)history & classroom Argos Aotearoa The university besideconsciousness itself
Cropping up in books and articles, we decided to write our own, 100 (very) odd pages of puns, dirty jokes and militancy, to cut through the dross in a space between the university’s glossy poverty manuals and the tedious waste paper of Trots—always using the fucking same designs and slogans about ‘resisting’. We could have sold ourselves as a marketing consultancy, perhaps we would if we weren’t lazy. I’m joking, we did believe in it really, we just wanted to use the stuff they’d trained us in at this ‘radical’ art college against some of the dickheads who had already been shat out the end. So we played a few games with détournement, it was fun, on trains, in newspapers, online. We even détourned a whole occupation, declaring it a party, without an agenda, other than to blockade university finance offices and at once to both claim and decolonise the space. We wanted to offer no point of purchase. In reality we did have an agenda, but claiming that we didn’t whilst releasing as many deliberately rude communiqués about the Pro Warden as possible ensured they wouldn’t be able to offer us some bullshit about ‘listening to our concerns’. We never did get around to leaking the files that we found, about how management ‘failed to adequately monitor social networking sites’ ahead of occupations. As the blog buzzed in the wreckage of a summer’s uprising, a cell of scribes cemented something that was a joy to create, together, and not just the book. Bound on the living room table, we stuffed it under the wipers of cop vans, stuck free condoms to the front and hijacked the Space Hijackers party as a clandestine book launch. That went well until we all got wasted and ended up lost in Limehouse with our designated pissed-up veteran communist in no fit state to facilitate our getaway southwards. He had a steely eye and broad grin, and walked with a stick after the cops beat him up, he’d seen worse though, when he’d fled his home after the revolution there, especially to be our godfather and supply us with cigarettes I think. Somehow we knew he wasn’t a cop, though he’d always be the one to check for bugs and duck from helicopters. We were an international bunch, New Zealanders, Indians, Germans, French, Australians, Poles, Americans, Greeks, Canadians, Italians, Spanish, English, there were others, it was never really spoken of, but it made for a mix of cultural experience that only increased our energies exponentially. There was something utterly ridiculous about performing the tropes of a revolutionary organisation, but something kind of empowering about it too, as long as we remembered the humour. There was the time we were bouncers for a prize-winning novelist, which was fine until we all showed up in black and they gave us red armbands to wear, that wasn’t so funny. Or the time we attempted to do a cocktail making workshop at some twee ‘protest’-themed, artsy fair at the Museum of Childhood—Molotov cocktails that is. It didn’t make the cut with the curatorial team for some reason, so instead we led them on an aimless parade to nowhere, like we’d been on ourselves so many times. We got drunk, enraged a liberal journalist enough to make him smash his water glass during some panel discussion, before hastily apologising, thus spectacularly failing to make the case for his side of the stupid dichotomy between peaceful and violent. The problem with liberals is they have no understanding of the dialectic ;) We could be sweet when it suited us, giving out roses on the underground, inviting our dates to the riot. I don’t know what killed the energy. A few months on the cold steps at Occupy might have done the trick. People moving away, falling in and out of love/bed, group intrigue, minimal, but intriguing I suppose.
of interest.7 The force-field makes an almost imperceptible sizzling noise, its opacity flickers as the pebble hits. We learn something. What is cognised and what is mapped is the possibility of walking out of the classroom in the service of raising the consciousness of that classroom. As UfSO fellow traveller and The Dude lookalike, Stefano Harney, puts it:
7. ‘Heroism is an attitude of flight.’ George Bataille, quoted in Carolyn J. Dean, ‘Georges Bataille: An Occasion for Misunderstanding’, Diacritics 26, no. 2 (1996), pp. 2-5.
I felt I ought to have some way to be able to see that world, to feel that world, to sense it, and to enter into it, to join the study already going on in different informal ways, unforming, informing ways. I am speaking about walking through study, and not just studying by walking with others. A speculative practice is study in movement for me, to walk with others and to talk about ideas, but also what to eat, an old movie, a passing dog, or a new love, is also to speak in the midst of something, to interrupt the other kinds of study that might be going on, or might have just paused, that we pass through, that we may even been invited to join, this study across bodies, across space, across things, this is study as a speculative practice, when the situated practice of seminar room [. . .] moves out to encounter study in general. 8
8. ‘Studying Through the Undercommons: Stefano Harney & Fred Moten interviewed by Stevphen Shukaitis’, Class War University. Online at http://classwaru.org/2012/11/12/ studying-through-the-undercommonsstefano-harney-fred-moten-interviewedby-stevphen-shukaitis/ (accessed February 8, 2013).
This may seem like an elaborate justification of the class trip, which is fine, but let me try to convince you from a slightly different angle. What takes place in the otherwise, politically and collectively organised classroom as it steps out into the world in general, is the beginnings of the beginnings of the preparations for the preparations for an epistemological project that is capable of rearranging desires so that a previously impossible way of being together—communism— becomes possible. Learning how to learn to be collective through the politicised classroom, inscribed as aesthetic that hopes to become contagion. The UfSO was not a generalisabale model in the sense that our structures could have handled expansion into something like a political party or even movement umbrella. Our intervention was only meant to map and enact a small move via an aesthetic that educated us while offering an idea to others. For that idea to ascend, as my friend Ol’ Beardo would say, from the abstract to the concrete, they would have to argue about it in their own local. That said, the air that the UfSO could breathe in was the atmosphere created by a broad radical movement. Without that we would have not only been an avantgarde without a classroom, but also a vanguard without a class. The question of organisation, which is the question of sustenance, remains to be answered. Without the types of coherence that kicked off and maintained struggle in Cairo and Quebec, our collectives can only be temporary, our lives increasingly fractured in direct relation to the increasing unity of the enemy. Learning to learn collectively remains the beginnings of flipping the whole thing on its side.
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself Karlsberg & Mensonage UfSO: (a)history & classroom consciousness
The stifling egos that came in and tried to co-opt us into ‘serious’ initiatives didn’t help much, the autonomists with their nice theory but cliquey hypocrisies about ‘care’ that drove me to despair. We’d mainly, although not entirely, dodged Leninists and Maoists, who to be fair to them, were fairly friendly bunches in this context—history may judge otherwise. We occasionally worked alongside certain Trots, although attempting to avoid them where possible—not least because they were boring as fuck. We were ‘lost children’ who’d been accused of various infantile disorders, even the anarchists didn’t really get us – although their poster boy took time out from speaking at German art biennales and inventing the Occupy movement to attend a few events. Then there were the militant publishers, who seemed to have been taking lessons on tedium from the SWP.2 They wanted to write a pretty paper, because they could, they had a retro printing press. It was a nice idea, and it looked ‘radical’, but after a few issues caught the militant mood of a moving moment, there remained no content that anyone really gave a shit about enough, or even really felt part of. It died, stifled in boredom, a necessary if utterly failed experiment in trying to organise the spontaneity. Another academic exercise. I never wanted to work in publishing. A least the ‘marketing’ stuff was fun, that was always our strong point. We could have made a lot of money out of this— testament to my comrades, no one really did, yet. In the above memoir, I tried to tell it like it was, like it is. Capitalism is the disease that infects both you and us—we were an antagonistic symptom, a bit like an embarrassing rash, and made no pretence to be a cure. Understand such symptoms and we, and you, may be further on our way to finding what was good and what was fucked up in all this, in turn better able to think and act out our next moves in this ongoing war.
2. The Socialist Workers Party—a.k.a. a UK— based bunch of boring, bureaucratic, delusional, struggle-appropriating, control freaky, antidemocratic, ‘deep entryist', rape-apologist Trotskyites.
Credit and credentialising Tim Neale
I The University is a site of distributed cognition. Or: a site for the distribution of cognition, a site for the monetised exchange of cognition between embodied nodes (whereas the site of the thinking of this exchange is ‘elsewhere’). The exchange may be between people (students and staff) or it may be between bank accounts (mine and theirs). In another sense, the exchange involves the educating present being given as a loan from the indebted future to secure the servicing of said debt. Those who wish to acquire certain socialised cognitive processes come here if they want those processes to be demonstrable; is its object the learnt cognitive process, their confirmed repeatability, or the certification of a warranted certifier? This is the distribution centre of certificates of demonstration. The ‘University of Life’ does not, to the best of our knowledge, distribute certificates. Outside of this site thinking (or cognition) may occur. However, these exteriorities are not formalised, nor are they reviewed by independent agencies. If they too are educational facilities, they too have systems for counting and accounting for cognitive behaviours, but they are not ‘best practice’ counting and accounting. These other sites are not highly accredited cognition facilitators and so they cannot on-sell the best cognition, or the certification of the best cognition, through virtual networks. Their customers are not maximising the ratio between their cognitive accreditation and their capital investment; attendance at the University, like any productive investment, is capital intensive. But, this is a leading site of investment with a difference. Other sites of investment – other sites of cognition distribution – have not ranked internationally. They are not privy and their evidences of cognition are compromised, lacking solidity and objectivity. The University’s solid certifications act as quality guarantors in the workplace, allowing our stratified society to be structured around its verified processes of cognition accumulation. The student becomes a portfolio of guarantees. Thinking practices probably exist outside the institution, since the institution provides thinking about those sites, but the practices of these other sites have not been so efficiently monetised. The institution provides documentation and readings of these external cognitive practices, recording and formalising them where it is economically useful (where patents or publications can be established, or where faculties can develop), or borrowing them under license when another institution has formalised them. The formalisation of cognition as patents and publications is a legitimised form of plagiarism. It is the thinking of spaces both within (classrooms, staffrooms) and without the institution (offices, conference rooms, galleries, cafes, flats, etc.), remade into an achievement of accreditation and job securitisation. The use of other’s thinking for credit is plagiarism.1 In order to centre itself as the archive and curator of cognition, the University is itself structured in the language of cognition. The two have been conflated. Clusters of intellectual concerns are called ‘faculties’. One gains accreditation
1 The terror of plagiarism is not, of course, that one seeks credit for ends without acquiring the means. The terror is that it undermines the institution’s guarantees. Thus, students are reminded to rewrite others’ work by exchanging active for passive voice in order to avoid detection by plagiarism software.
Credit and credentialising
from a faculty, mastering that faculty. As it certifies my mastery of a given faculty—my passing of their testing processes—these institutions and archives continuously formalise and normalise themselves as the prime site for the official recognition of my thinking. The faculties are embodied in their faculty members. Without their guarantee, my claims on cognition lack ‘documentation’. When someone—casually, carelessly—asks you where you studied, what you studied and with whom they are also asking a second question: 'Can I see your papers?' The University is a site for the distribution of concrete accreditations reliant on tangible cognition. The University has acquired the alchemical processes of corporate responsibility, requiring that otherwise ephemeral cognitive and administrative practices can be made manifest, sited, recited, patented, distributed, publicised. Thinking demonstrated in speech can be recorded; faculty notes can be digitised; consultations between staff and students take place as electronic correspondence and can be archived as ‘documents’; the classroom is a dramatisation of the publicised ‘aims’ and prescribed pedagogies handed out in the first class of semester. The institute is a correspondence course you can visit. Of all the commodities abstracted by the University from its labourers, teaching was the most swiftly forfeited. The accreditation model has transformed the University into a transcendental corporation: the University Generic. Through the consistent making corporeal of cognition in the form of accreditation the University Specific itself has become the site for the distribution of a transnational economy, an economy of cognition whose performance index – their ability to maximise growth and refine ‘best practice’ – can be tracked courtesy of the annual Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings. Here cognition is counted, collated and compared before being redistributed as an update of an emergent consensus. These are not just the calculations of key performance indicators of cognitive practice as decided by key performing cognitive practitioners; they are also, more nobly, numbers. The numbers speak for themselves. From the University Generic Prime (an alpha University Specific) of any given year radiate descending strata of accumulating algorithms, brackets in which the undergraduate hopefully searches for the best of possible futures and the postgraduate hopefully derives competitive advantage over other accredited species. What are the best numbers you can hope for, given your circumstances? The University is a site of harvested cognition. Each year the University’s total income stems from not only its cognition distribution business but also the multi-million dollar revenues generated by its cognition acquisitions, courtesy of patentable processes and products. The more obvious and traditional manifestations of harvested cognition are the publications of the University Specific’s presses and publications by other manifestations of the University Generic. These publications are primarily the accreditation and re-accreditation of University faculty and are lucrative not in immediate sales, but rather as attributable key performance indicators; academics need citations, not readers.2 The most immediately lucrative sources for cognition harvesting are the Sciences, Engineering and Business, as they are areas in which innovations appear more immediately protected and exploited. Their innovations are already related to the realms of economics and technology – including the pressing concerns of health, design, efficiency and the capitalisation of all three – entailing only technocratic questions of implementation and copyright. Various critiques have worked towards a renovation of the Social Sciences towards the economic and cognitive efficiencies of the Sciences, often suggesting these speculative and analytical cognitive faculties become the service industry of the professional scientific faculties. This is another sense in which we might understand the University as a site of distributed cognition, a bureaucratic hierarchy made out of departments of thinking; Research and Development delivers products to Marketing.
2 Academic journals, much like their contributors, work under the principle that citationality or visibility equates to ‘excellence’. This creates an abstract cycle of circulation but not a readership.
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
Annually the University Specific facilitates an ‘Entrepreneurship Challenge’, asking various nodes to supply competing innovations for the attention of an audience of investors and the monetary prizes of a select panel. This competition is itself the innovation of other ‘best practice’ Universities and previous winners include innovations in the reprogramming of cells, the exporting of indigenous species and devices that deliver higher business efficiency (such as alarms that monitor the drowsiness of workers).3 The competition includes cognition demonstration by successful businessmen who have ‘created value’ in the marketplace.4 The University harvests cognition and onsells it as novel and patented solutions to contemporary functional problems. Problems of lifestyle. Problems of growth. Problems of production and product.
II The University is an institute of distributed cognition. Institutions are, at least in part, built by the individuals who ‘think them’ from within. Our thinking about the institution —what it is, what it is for, what it is doing—is all thinking that manufactures the site as an institution before-the-fact. As a thinking system, the University Specific is no more than the accumulated thinking actors and their thinking activities, structured as they are by categories and stratifications that are bestowed by the University Generic and then re-thought—as legitimated categories of knowledge or standing or practice—by institutional individuals. In this schema, the Humanities seem to be caught in a bind, thanks to the conflict between distributed cognition—where the subject (student or staff) is not autonomous, not Romantic, not individualised, caught as they are between different cognitive practices and practitioners—and a foundational belief in the cognitive autonomy of the subject. This bind seems, in fact, to be an optical illusion. If cognition is not just that ‘knowledge’ which is demonstrated in formal assessments, attributed to a single name and student serial number, but is rather thought of as an ill-defined mash of problem-solving, language usage, formal reasoning, public memory, communal emotion, intuition and imagery, then the Humanities thinkingsubject is just like the Science thinking-subject; they are still disciplined towards the truth procedures of their discipline (it’s just some truth procedures look more truthful than others). While the University Generic is typically obedient to the imperatives of vertical counting (higher numbers equate to higher values), more is not necessarily better even in this site, as it also serves the protocols of efficiency and strategy. More is often worse. So, while serving vertical counting the institute also attempts to distribute cognitive practices and cognitive actors into effective and strategic organisational units, ordering thinking subjects into appropriate buildings, activities, modes of dress, modes of work, technologies, textual practices, environments, etc., in order to think the institution through the individual and the individual through the institution. When you use a calculator you are thinking it and it is thinking you, just as you are thinking (and being thought by) the desk that calculator rest on, the room the desk resides in, the room in-relation-to-other-rooms, the building that names and locates those rooms and the difference between this building and other institutional buildings. Distributed cognition is not made up only of practices and disciplinary protocols, but also of idiosyncratic actors and unpredictable activities. The tension between the formal and the informal allows the highly-designed institution to also be the site of innovations and ad-hoc collaborative activities. What to do with resistance, or rebellion? A peer of leading autonomous Universities Specific that therefore maintains a status as a leading iteration of the University Generic cannot, at least by definition, also produce critique or novelty. The suspicious amongst us might see, in the University Generic’s prioritisation of Science, not only an eagerness for the efficiency dividends and commercialised technology it springs as ‘innovation,’ but
3 What could be better fitted to the needs of excellent businesses than devices that measure and regulate the bio-functions of employees? We need to monitor the graduate’s body, as the bodily is one of those rare things whose effective functioning is not guaranteed by a Bachelor’s degree. 4 Here, ‘thinking innovatively’ means innovating value where formerly there was no value, markets where there were no markets and products where there were no products before.
Credit and credentialising
also its inability to produce criticism of the vulnerably hyperliterate University. Science alone can solely tell us about the chemical properties of technologies, the circulation of air, the respiratory hazards of our aging ceilings or the neurochemical reasons to change room arrangements or assessment modulation. You are likely dubious that this account of cognition being accredited, patented and strategically organised is not a full account of how we come to think what we think. We are regulated thinkers, but we are regulated through interactions with multiple knowers, technologies and tools beyond the bounds of the institute. As all participants in an economically structured society must, we regulate ourselves to take part in the great social reverie – the great ‘growth’ project – through external regulators; we discipline ourselves in order to take part through both objects and others. At the University Specific we don’t just internalise an archive of facts and details, we internalise factdiscerning and detail-discerning procedures. This is what you are learning, socialised and socialising cognitive protocols. After a certain amount of this cognitive training we may self-determine that we are sufficiently competent to start manipulating our cognitive practices. From a professional viewpoint what is important is that our cognitive training can be guaranteed according to the standards of various ‘degrees’; the subject can be counted on to follow further explicit regulation from an employer, and sometimes to a level that the subject is of such high certified discipline that they can self-discipline. But in the University Generic, competence in the manipulation and critique of cognitive practices is limited to teacherresearchers, generating knowledge that is rarely imparted to students as its purpose is actually to accredit the University Specific and the scholar in their ‘counting’ competition with others Universities and scholars. Other than at the advanced postgraduate level, where students become teacher-researchers, the University rarely encourages selfregulated cognition because, simply, what would be its use? The unpredictability of cognition’s distribution explains why innovative thinking sometimes does not run to the temporal (semesters, 50-minute classes), technological (computers, audiovisual systems, pdf and PowerPoint files) or disciplinary organising of the institute. Thinking does not sit passively or tidily within the borders of courses, individuals, offices, departments, meetings or e-mails. The thinking in the institute that manufactures the institute also, then, puts an unruly pressure on the institute’s delineating structures. Against this, a major development across the Universities Generic has been the appropriation of research models and learning theory by their managing overseers to produce commercialised kinds of thinking that are both commercial and ‘best practiced’ by the University. These overseers have taken distributed cognitive practices – collaboration, expertise, adaptive skills, capitalised applications – and formalised them into the skills of compliant and flexible professional ‘portfolio people’ ready to be onsold. These people are guaranteed producers. Just check the certifications of their portfolio. This kind of University is only as autonomous as any business serving the needs of a market, regulated and organised to meet the needs of consumer-employers that request professional ‘disciplined’ thinkers. Hyperliterate, underdetermined and unruly thinking are not compatible with a conditioned and conditional University. The University is not an autonomous institution working for the public good and the betterment of us all. We are not sovereign agents and knowers. We do not control or provide rationale for the larger system in which we are situated. The University has thoughts separate from the thinkers that are thinking within it. Is this a problem or an opportunity? The University Generic is not satisfied with esteem, communal affect or customer satisfaction unless these are indices of quality control or comparative assessment. How we might think of ‘peer esteem’ is intimately bound to the ways in which the University thinks about the distribution of cognition. Under this model, ‘peer esteem’ is not a measure of your standing with students or staff; ‘peer review’ is not an employment protocol or oversight committee as conducted, formally or informally, by officemates
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
and department fellows; ‘peer review’ is not what happens in the dying minutes of each semester as students, beleaguered by bureaucracy, decide where to plot the qualities of your teaching on axes from ‘Strongly Disagree’ to ‘Strongly Agree’; ‘peer esteem’ is not a measure of your rank of ‘excellence’ as a quantified average of the value, originality or rigour of your research as decided by anyone who has to work with you. As managerial culture has taken over the networks of distributed cognition, certain kinds of knowing and certain kinds of making are obviously favoured. Tertiary research is capital intensive, producing tangible commercial outputs. Capital wants to grow, and critique and resistance are rarely, in this sense, growth enterprises. What is at odds here is that teacher-researchers do not teach across purely textual or digital international networks (though they are sometimes encouraged to).5 Teachers teach in classes with students who define themselves as local participants. Between the ranking of Universities by ‘research excellence’ and, financially, by enrolments and endowments, there is the unmarked assumption of ‘teaching excellence’ which seemingly goes uncounted. Undergraduate classrooms, a primary ‘business’ of the University Generic, only enters the count quantitatively, as high enrolments provided a sufficient endorsement of the University’s quality teaching. This problematic schism in the institute remains unaddressed, generating undergraduates with ‘guaranteed’ competences that are delivered in localised environs by academic staff encouraged to ignore local horizons. Academic staff are, on the one hand, creating ‘portfolio’ people with a list of checked and quantified skills, while generating thinking to and for ‘peers’ who are, almost by necessity, nodes in an abstract network; anyone who has been in a tutorial room or lecture hall will understand the weight and affect of bodies that must be accommodated in those spaces, just as anyone who has submitted a paper to a journal will be familiar with the disembodied text-based communiqués—the hieroglyphic ligatures measured out in bullet points, the procession of emails—that make ‘peer esteem’ happen. Managerial culture is happy with this schism, as it produces two viable commodities, even while it creates a schizophrenic postgraduate culture (part portfolio, part peer). It guarantees, in the manner that High School graduation might once have, a certain cluster of basic techniques have accumulated in the undergraduate/ pre-employee, basics which are not core data or content but rather transferable skills like English proficiency, timetabling and infrastructural disciplining through deadlines, assessments and attendance.6 This does not open up the educational space to create contexts or challenge meanings, to ask what the University is here for and what it is up to. The commercial University, the managed University, instead proscribes a set of ‘excellent’ skills for successful employees-to-be, while actively making inappropriate spaces and time for critical thinking and critique. But this makes sense, doesn’t it? What interest does a business like the University have in critique unless it makes it a more effective and ‘higher achieving’ University Specific? Perhaps its tactics may have some purchase due to the University Generic’s stated commitment to social equity, a countervailing force against the split directives of credentialising? Given the above, might we not regard standard ‘equity’ policies as a strategic guarantee against political rapprochement, or an apparatus for the creation of new markets out of those previously excluded by economic or social marginalisation? Demographic equity is a remedy to social injustice but it is not itself justice. Social equity, if it happens across this disciplinary network, happens because cognition remains necessarily ill disciplined.
5 The Sciences have again demonstrated their superior efficiency by digitising the classroom, making it more easily distributed and reducing the unnecessary engagement of teacherresearchers with students. Through the usage of databases, slides, recorded lectures, and monitored ‘online discussions’ the difficult studentteacher work of the classroom, which can lead to moments of institutional opacity and ‘misunderstanding’, is dispersed into a tidily impersonal network of files and processes.
6 We might say here, given the marginal status of any one faculty’s content, that specific and historically-located ‘added value’ is of little ‘portfolio’ value. As such, the Bachelor’s degree is at heart an apparently neutral disciplinary tool; it creates a literate and responsive monoculture.
Author’s note: sections of the latter part of this paper were written in response to an academic seminar on a related topic. The author has sought the permission of the original author for this work.
The university beside itself
Social auto-totality: the Lecturer's predicament Marek Tesar
The Story of the Lecturer This story tells a tale of the ordinary, everyday life/work experience of a Lecturer, who coordinates an educational course, and who, in a Havelian sense, questions his ‘irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals’.1 The Lecturer publicly behaves as is expected of him; he does not do anything extraordinary, and carries out his work expecting that the University system will take no notice of him. He participates in the public domain, attends all required meetings, sends the right emails to the right people, and uses ideologically correct and sensitive language. He does all of this to remain untouchable by the University. He knows and understands that it is only a game, and he accepts its rules and plays his part well. One day, the Lecturer receives an email from the Head of a School. The email comes with a very simple request: to print out and place on his office door the statement ‘PBRF is essential to our University, and it is important that we hire professors to score highly’. The email does not say anything surprising or new; this information, this same request, has been expressed in previous years. The Lecturer knows it well, as he sees the same statements on the doors of his colleagues. So the Lecturer prints out the sign about PBRF and pins it on his door.
& Alena Kavka
How can we ‘Live within the Truth’ within neoliberal academia? In this short paper I will depict the Havelian notion of a post-totalitarian citizen and re-shape and apply it in a story that focuses on a Lecturer in the New Zealand tertiary sector.
Havel is concerned with the reasons why the Lecturer does that. The Lecturer has always done so, because he is aware of the consequences of not displaying it; he could be ‘punished’ and be considered a disturbance, or he could be considered a threat to the University system. He could also be labeled a traitor and be accused of disloyalty, to the goals and to the mission statement of its School. He could be accused of not being a team player. So if the Lecturer wants to live life as he has lived it in the past years, he needs to display this sign. The sign means that he officially, publicly declares that he has accepted his role in the University, and that he is ready to live in harmony with it and its structures. Rewriting Havel, this is the message that the Lecturer conveys as he displays the sign: ‘I, the [Lecturer] XY, work here, and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace’.2 When the Lecturer displays the sign, he acts as if he accepts the meaning of the slogan ‘we need to score highly in PBRF and therefore we will hire Professors’ itself. In a Havelian sense, the meaning of his actions lies not in the slogan but in the performative aspect of responding to the request and placing the sign on his door. This act carries a different message to the semantics of the sign itself. As the Lecturer displays the sign, the message conveyed to all staff members and students walking past his office is: ‘I am 80
Argos Aotearoa The university Marek Tesar The lecturer's predicament Sandra Grey
just like you, I play my part in the system, I displayed the sign on my door just as all of you have done your little parts. You cannot badmouth me, you cannot tell on me, and informers have nothing on me. I am supporting the University, and my public record is clean. My managers know that I have fulfilled my part and that I have obeyed the order’. Following Havel, if the sign that the Lecturer was asked to display stated: ‘I am afraid and therefore unquestionably obedient’,3 the Lecturer would most likely be embarrassed by it, and he would care about what the sign says. The semantics of the slogan would immediately become essential to the story, as it would produce a response and personal feelings in the Lecturer. He would probably feel undignified, he would be wary of anyone looking at him, and measuring him against this sign. However, the semantics of the slogan that he was actually asked to display allow him to think to himself: ‘there is nothing bad, unusual or wrong with reminding yourself that the University needs to score high in PBRF and to adjust its hiring strategies to meet this aim’. Why does the Lecturer need to display the sign and therefore publicly support the University? Why does he need to be loyal to the University in such a visible way that all others can observe it? The Lecturer is already active in various semi-public domains, as he may have volunteered to take on extra workload to support the University operations, and may have participated in University committees. The Lecturer has always done all that was expected of him, he has obeyed and he has been a loyal staff member, and no-one could question his devotion to the University. So the concern that Havel raises is: why does the Lecturer feel that he has to place the sign on his door? The fellow staff members may not notice or even ignore the sign if it is displayed, as these signs are on every door. What becomes the concern is when the sign becomes suddenly invisible—Lecturers who walk by his door may ask themselves: what is absent here, rather then what is present. By not displaying the sign, the Lecturer could demonstrate an act of resistance to the hegemonic discourse by not acting, and therefore not conforming to the demands of the University. Lecturers living within a lie form what can be paraphrased from Havel as the ‘panorama of everyday [academic] life’.4 The concept of a panorama paints a picture within which the Lecturer’s sign is just one small component, without which, the full picture would be incomplete. If the sign about PBRF was missing from his door, it would draw attention. So the predicament that the Lecturer faces at the University is not whether someone would notice or not notice the displayed sign, but that by the
Marek Tesar & Alena itself Kavka The university beside
Argos Aotearoa The university Social auto-totality: the Lecturer's predicament beside itself
act of not displaying it, the Lecturer would become an anomaly within the University. The University needs this panorama to be solid and compact for the staff, as it indicates to the Lecturer how other Lecturers behave, and therefore how he should behave. If Lecturers did not exhibit their public approval with the system, they would be ‘excluded, fall into isolation, alienate themselves from society, break the rules of the game, and risk the loss of their peace and tranquility and security’,5 no matter how fake and artificial these options may be. The staff that walk by the Lecturer’s door have hung these signs too. All staff display these slogans as a sign of their agreement with the panorama of everyday University life. Lecturers are well adapted to the conditions that they live in; they know how they must behave; and they create the public sphere of the University, which in return shapes them. As Havel notes, ‘they do what is done, what is to be done, what must be done but at the same time—by that very token—they confirm that it must be done in fact’.6 As with the Lecturer, the other staff are indifferent to each other about the act of displaying the signs, but at the same time they compel each other to hang them, they are mutually dependent, and they support each other in their obedience. Lectures are supervised and controlled, but at the same time they are the controllers and supervisors of each other. And, as Havel argues, ‘they are both victims of the system and its instruments’.7 When the Lecturer obeys the request for displaying the sign, as he has done in the years before, and when other Lecturers do too, the whole campus is flooded with signs. It conveys an important message from one campus to another: ‘Look, we have done our job, all the signs are in place. Now you need to make sure that all signs are in place in your campus.’ This produces what Havel refers to as the ‘social auto-totality’.8 The social autototality means that every Lecturer is drawn into the sphere of power. Havel notes a change in human beings, as they may now ‘surrender their human identity in favour of the identity of [the University]’. In other words, changes in subjectivity can lead individuals to become part of the ‘automatism and [to become] servants of its self-determined goals, so they may participate in the common responsibility for it’,9 which would ultimately put pressure on their fellow academics. This shapes the subjectivities of those who are comfortable with their positions and their capacity for public involvement, and for feeling uncomfortable with those who opt not to participate. By making all academics participate, the University then produces everyone as instruments of a mutual totality, or the auto-totality of society. 1 Havel, V. ‘The Power of the Powerless’ in Citizens against the State in Central-Eastern Europe, (ed.) J. Keane (London: Hutchinson, 1985), p. 27. 2 Ibid., p. 28. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid., p. 34. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid., p. 36. 9 Ibid., p. 34.
M E R I D I A N
THE UNIVERSITY OF PLAGIARISM
A N T I P O D E A N
A E S T H E T I C S
“Originality consists in trying to be like everybody else—and failing.” —Jean Cocteau “plagiarising” Raymond Radiguet When Jacques Derrida came to Auckland in August 1999, he delivered a paper entitled ‘The Future of the Profession; or The University Without Condition (Thanks to the “Humanities”, What Could Take Place Tomorrow)’; the essay was published, together with some local responses to it, in Derrida Downunder.1 Here and in another essay entitled ‘Unconditionality or Sovereignty: The University at the Borders of Europe’,2 he gives the name ‘unconditionality’ to the research university’s hypothetical freedom from outside interference, to the privilege to put everything in question, even to put in question the right to put everything in question. He posits that ‘the modern university should be without condition’ and: [t]his university demands and ought to be granted in principle, besides what is called academic freedom, an unconditional freedom to question and to assert, or even, going still further, the right to say publicly all that is required by research, knowledge, and thought concerning the truth.3 ‘The University Without Condition’ relies, as Derrida acknowledges, ‘often and at length on Austin’s now classic distinction between performative speech acts and constative speech acts’. ‘This distinction’, he continues, ‘will have been a great event in this century — and it will have first been an academic event. It will have taken place in the university’.4 The profession of the professor calls not upon discourses of knowledge but upon performative discourses that produce the event of which they speak. The performative is an act that ‘consists in swearing, taking an oath, therefore promising, deciding, taking a responsibility, in short, committing oneself in a performative fashion’.5 The ‘future is not described, it is not foreseen in the constative mode; it is announced, promised called for in a performative mode’.6 Its promise, its performative act, is thus staged as the instantaneous positing of what is not yet, and perhaps never will be, present. Yet the performative can only take place by asserting — constatively, indeed — the actuality of a real, incontestable institution for its future; it can only take place on the double terrain of the not-yet-real, the spectreal perhaps. What is invoked here is the way in which all performatives are necessarily haunted by a non-present remainder, by what still remains to be thought, engaged, experienced, by the possibility that the performative fails or goes astray. Derrida’s unconditional university is based on ungrounded performative speech acts, speech acts based neither on previously existing institutionalised sanctions, nor on the authority of the ‘I’ who utters the speech act. For Derrida, it is literature that manifests this unconditionality as the extreme expression of the right to free speech, ‘as the right to say everything publicly, or to keep it secret, if only in the form of fiction’.7 To understand this ‘turn to literature’ at this moment in Derrida’s discussion of the university, we need to return to an earlier point where he defines literature, notably in ‘This Strange Institution Called Literature’.8 For Derrida, literature is the possibility for any utterance, writing, or mark to be iterated in innumerable contexts and to function in the absence of identifiable speaker, context, reference, or hearer. ‘The space of literature’, he says, ‘is not only that of an instituted fiction but also a fictive institution which in principle allows one to say everything […] The law of literature tends, in principle, to defy or lift the law […] It is an institution which tends to overflow the institution’. That is, literature is the possibility that any seemingly non-literary usage of language can be used in a literary way, that any literal use of language can always be
taken figuratively, such that figurative meaning is the basis upon which literal meaning stands. Yet this ‘lawlessness’ of the literary is the result of certain rules, conventions and institutions. Literature is an exploitation of the possibility that any utterance may be ‘nonserious’. It, and therefore all writing, is the reduction of an idea: a truth, the notion of serious linguistic usage, the ‘right way to think’, my ‘real’ intention. Yet such an idea may always only be a supposition, radically unverifiable, because the only sensible form it takes is its appearance in literature, in language as literary. All language is potentially ‘non-serious’, potentially just literature, because it never is for sure the restitution of the ‘serious’, of something prior to language. Derrida thus identifies literature with the freedom of speech, the unconditional right to say everything and to disclaim responsibility for what is said, that is the linchpin of Western democracy: What we call literature … implies that license is given to the writer to say everything he wants or everything he can, while remaining shielded, safe from all censorship, be it religious or political [….] This duty of irresponsibility, of refusing to reply for one’s thought or writing to constituted powers, is perhaps the highest form of responsibility.9 It should be clear, at this point, how the institution of fiction, ‘which gives in principle the power to say everything, to break free of the rules to displace them, and thereby to institute, to invent…’,10 is not unlike that of, and in its institutionalised procedures informs, the practice of plagiarism. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that Derrida also concerns himself with plagiarism. Derrida’s early essay on Condillac, The Archaeology of the Frivolous, argues that Condillac’s duplicity of terms, his imagining as retracing the connection of ideas, and his repetitive structure of knowing gives rise to ‘a metaphysics of plagiarism’.11 Derrida reproduces Condillac’s own note against plagiarisers from the Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge: I ought to warn that many writers have copied this Essay, for it could be thought that I myself copied them by writing on the art of thinking [Derrida adds an interesting aside here: how do you fight the form of plagiarism that looks like you are plagiarising those who have in fact plagiarised you?]. Plagiarizing metaphysicians could not be more common. When they are shown, within themselves, metaphysical truths, they flatter themselves that all by themselves they would have found these truths, and they unscrupulously present these truths to themselves as discoveries.12 However, deconstruction is itself ‘plagiaristic’: Derrida insists that deconstruction is not a method for repeating the propositions of an original in the voice and spirit of the original; rather, it encourages the potentialities of that supposedly first and originating text to create its own copy or double. For him, the condition for the possibility of thinking is an essential and unavowable debt: in order to speak of this radically new present, and in order to make claim for the new, one must already submit that eventful newness to a repeatable system. There is always a redundant, repeated and stolen element that enables any future or anticipation, an undecidable haunting of all speech and writing with repetition. Repetition is not therefore the opposite of originality or even innovation, but rather both internal to it and at the same time heterogeneous. The paradox is that in order for an original work to be recognised it must bear a resemblance to other works, which compromises its originality, and yet in order to be recognised as original a work must be taken to resemble nothing other than ‘itself ’. Plagiarism is not the machine-like repetition of a work
or event understood in terms of a pure singularity, but rather something like the condition of every work. That literature and plagiarism (of which literary forgery is a subgenre) are categories of writing that have much in common might even cause us to revalue plagiarism as an antimonian phenomenon produced by creative energies whose power is attested to by the individuals and the institutions that exhibit such fierce resistance to it, who feel compelled to denounce and eradicate it. The traditional definition of a citation, derived from classical rhetoric, that limits it to the purpose of illustration and ornament is thus inadequate and no longer applies for postmodern writers for whom quotation represents a break with tradition as well as a means of questioning the nature of the literary text. That is, the concept of text as an autonomous entity is no longer adequate. Derrida’s own experimental volume Glas,13 which relies on citation to such an extent that as readers we never know quite where we are, or with whose words we are, can serve as a new paradigm for a theory of quotation (and by implication plagiarism), one which I only have time to sketch out in a very programmatic fashion here. In Glas, Derrida links quotation with violence and sexual penetration, and stages a deliberate game of appearance and disappearance through which his reader is unable to pin him down; he reveals that words contain within themselves other words, blurs the boundaries between languages and between specific texts, demonstrates how meaning is generated through an aleatory scattering of semes. Indeed, in Glas we might say that Derrida has elevated plagiarism to the level of originality and has shown that writing is always and inevitably quoting. Nonetheless, the turnitin.com view of plagiarism that dominates university discourse necessitates a simplistic definition of the relationship between power and resistance as primarily one of absolute otherness and exclusion. In actuality, this view of plagiarism’s authority to prohibit can never be separated from its need to include, or to regulate by way of strategies of engagement with and appropriation of available meanings. That is, the pure text cannot erase traces of dialogic ambiguity constituted in and constituting any pure text. The identification of authorship thus constitutes a kind of censorial limiting of language. Losing all sense of plagiarism as reading, turnitin.com promotes a kind of non-reading. Tradition does not want to understand fiction as the possibility of the very work of knowledge, and as that which reserves the possibility in its enfolded pliability of unconditional truth. Whereas, in contrast, deconstructive reading (let’s front up and call it that), as Derrida insists, must be understood as polysemy, indeterminancy, ambivalence and dysfunction: Deconstruction is not a method for discovering that which resists the system; it consists, rather, in remarking, in the reading and interpretation of texts, that what has made it possible for philosophers to effect a system is nothing other than a certain dysfunction or ‘disadjustment’, a certain incapacity to close the system.14 Indeed, I could be outrageous (and why not be outrageous!) and suggest that plagiarism and the imposition of it within the domain of specialised knowledges, or the academy, should be understood as the very structure of the field in which university discourse is produced and circulated. This structure of the field, an institutionalised field enabled by its own difference, places internal constraints on the very process of discursive production. It is thus the structure of the field that constitutes plagiarism, not some adversarial position with regard to the sanctity of the word or copyright. Plagiarism, then, is not something that others do to us, but something we do to ourselves. Another way of saying this with Derrida is that plagiarism, like literature, represents a counter-institution. In A Taste for the Secret, Derrida confesses: 87
In abstract and general terms, what remains constant in my thinking […] is indeed a critique of institutions, but one that sets out not from a wild and spontaneous pre- or non-institution, but rather from counter-institutions. I do not think there is, or should be, the ‘non-institutional’. I am always torn between the critique of institutions and the dream of another institution that, in an interminable process, will come to replace institutions that are oppressive, violent and inoperative. The idea of a counterinstitution, neither spontaneous, wild nor immediate, is the most permanent motif that, in a way, has guided me in my work.15 Elsewhere, he noted that in French ‘[t]he word “contre”, counter or against, can equally and at the same time mark both opposition, contrariety, contradiction and proximity, near-contact [.…] The word ‘contre’ possesses these two inseparable meanings […]’.16 So the notion of the (counter)institution requires careful thinking of the kind that may only derive from the perspective of the contre itself, which, as Derrida notes, forces together — and yet refuses to fuse — proximity, on the one hand, and a certain kind of contrariety, on the other. Such a relation articulates and disarticulates itself, within and against itself, at each time of use and persists in its own divisibility. Indeed, this divisibility leaves its mark within the institution of the university between the desire to conserve and defend an establishment, and an unavoidable exposure to what is unpredictable, to alterity and the event. So, finally, ‘without condition’: what does it mean? Exempt from dictations and servitudes;17 immune from the exactions of authority and the contaminations of power;18 self-standing, self-defined, self-governing, self-responsible;19 sovereign without its suspect theological overtone;20 having the freedom to assert, to question, to profess, and to ‘say everything’ in the manner of a literary fiction.21 Derrida’s essay delivers a ‘profession of faith [. . .] in the University and, within the University’22 that helps those of us working in or with it by clarifying how our work is doubly structured, in part by a respect for tradition and precisely the tradition of ‘unlimited commitment to the truth’,23 and in part by a regard towards the future and especially towards what Derrida calls the ‘event’. ‘An event’, he says in ‘The Deconstruction of Actuality’, ‘cannot be reduced to the fact of something happening [. . .] it is what may always fail to come to pass’.24 Derrida’s event, événement, comes from the Latin evenire, ‘to come out from’. At the root of the verb is venire, ‘come’, and it resonates with Derrida’s ‘to come’, l’a-venir, a strange kind of futurity that will never be present. The event names something that changes the notion of truth-as-masterable. We could say that Derrida wagers on the ‘event’. With such an engagement, he commits to something completely different from those whose proposals for university education stop with a tepid and vapid return to tradition. Derrida, on the contrary, seeks not a return to something known, but takes risks for the future. What such ‘events’ might make happen to the concept of truth is that truth not be defined as an affair of mastery, but rather as dependent upon an unconditional. Derrida maintains that ‘[i]t would be necessary to dissociate a certain unconditional independence of thought, of deconstruction, of justice, of the Humanities, of the University, and so forth from any phantasm of indivisible sovereignty and of sovereign mastery’.25 If we conceded to the notion of the master (the teacher) as he or she who possesses certainty and its conventions absolutely, then we first of all give in to a phantasm, and secondly reduce the future to a mechanical application of a programme. Derrida’s allegiance to an unconditional independence of thought resists such closure and finality by insisting upon what is never mastered. As its etymology suggests, unconditional is what cannot be agreed upon, what cannot be said, what is irreducible to consensus. As a teacher, what Derrida teaches is that without an unteachable we cannot teach and are not teachers. He argues for a transformative reaction
to tradition, a re-activation that also produces something not only different but, as yet, unconventional and, moreover, necessarily incomplete. The ‘university without condition’ does not and cannot give the answer; it can affirm answers but it can never prove them. This is, however, why the university can always be appropriated: there is always someone claiming to have the answer.26 The ‘university without condition’ commits to the unconditional: the impossibility of a simple truth, of truth as simple. This is why the university is always in danger: first, such an avowal of powerlessness is well-nigh an invitation to the wolves of demagogy, capitalism and above all ministers of education; second, such an admission will be understood as irresponsible by dogmatists. What is ‘sovereign’ for Derrida would be this unconditionality. It is what, by being impossible, rules since our otherwise supposed sovereignty (mastery, control) can never overtake unconditionality. The violence of the founding act, the institution of the institution, leaves a puzzling mark, as a strange feature within institutions between the desire to conserve and defend an established set-up, and an unavoidable exposure to what is unpredictable, to alterity and the event, even to the possibility of instant death precisely as a result of the institution’s own auto-immune disorder. A true event must be something incommensurate with any pre-existing conceptual grids. Thus the institution remains caught undecidably between life and death; the institution lives in a kind of constitutive dissension — although, in the case of ‘the university without condition’, this indelible scar of the institution’s institution leads, as Derrida argues, to the chance of affirmation and ultimately to the possibility of life over, after or in death: in other words, survival. The university is in principle the institution that ‘lives’ the precarious chance and ruin of the institution as its very institutionality. Like all institutions of meaning, the university can only dream that it is closed and settled, determined in an eternal present by a past tradition. It is not a question, as I have said, of self-inflicting wounding, a form of self-harming, nor is it a question of leaving the university behind, moving beyond it, denouncing it as an institution. It is rather that the counter-institution of the university ‘to come’ brings into the open whatever keeps the institution from fulfilling its goals. The system disarticulates itself before our very eyes, forcing open again whatever closure gives the university its concept. 1. Jacques Derrida, ‘The University Without Condition’, in Without Alibi, ed. and trans. by Peggy Kamuf (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), pp. 202-37. Originally published as ‘The Future of the Profession; or The University Without Condition (Thanks to the “Humanities”, What Could Take Place Tomorrow)’ in Derrida Downunder, ed. Laurence Simmons and Heather Worth (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 2001), p. 233-48. 2. Jacques Derrida, ‘Unconditionality or Sovereignty: The University at the Borders of Europe’, Oxford Literary Review 31 (2009), pp. 115-31. 3. Derrida, ‘The University Without Condition’, p. 202.
12. Condillac cited in Derrida, The Archeology of the Frivolous, p. 128-29. 13. Jacques Derrida, Glas, trans. John P. Leavey Jr. and Richard Rand (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986). 14. Jacques Derrida, A Taste for the Secret, with Maurizio Ferraris, trans. Giacomo Donis, ed. Giacomo Donis and David Webb (Cambridge: Polity, 2001), p. 4. 15. Derrida, A Taste for the Secret, p. 50. 16. Jacques Derrida, ‘Countersignature’, Paragraph 27:2 (2004), pp. 7-42.
4. Ibid., p. 209.
17. Derrida, ‘The University Without Condition’, p. 224.
5. Jacques Derrida, Spectres of Marx: The State of Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, trans. Peggy Kamuf (New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 50.
19. Ibid., p. 236.
6.Ibid., p. 103.
18. Ibid., p. 220.
20. Ibid., pp. 206, 208.
7. Derrida, ‘The University Without Condition’, p. 205.
21. Ibid., p. 205.
8. Jacques Derrida, Acts of Literature, ed. Derek Attridge (New York: Routledge, 1992), pp. 33-75.
9. Ibid., pp. 37-38. 10. Ibid., p. 37. 11. Jacques Derrida, The Archeology of the Frivolous: Reading Condillac, trans. John P. Leavey Jr. (Pittsburgh: Dusquesne University Press, 1980), p. 128.
22. Ibid., p. 202.
24. Jacques Derrida, ‘The Deconstruction of Actuality: An Interview with Jacques Derrida’, trans. Jonathan Rée. In Deconstruction: A Reader, ed. Martin McQuillan (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000), p. 536. 25. Derrida, ‘The University Without Condition’, p. 235. 26. Derrida, ‘The University Without Condition’, p. 27.
The new dark ages •
Anna Boswell A checklist
Systems of reward driven by the imperative to generate commodifiable research in accordance with the dictum ‘publish or perish’ Individual and institutional stature-seeking and grandstanding based on productivity and performance indicators such as peer-reviewed publication outputs Ever-increasing levels of disciplinary specialisation permitting everincreasing numbers of academics to pose as innovators and so reap the symbolic benefits of ‘original’ discovery Subjugation of teaching to research activities whose focus is determined by market forces, budgetary constraints and probable return on investment The rise of modes of governance fostering conformity, calculability and competitiveness through systematising, standard setting, reporting, auditing, benchmarking and league tabling As William Clark’s Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University (2006) makes strikingly clear, leading aspects of the managerial capitalism that defines the current culture of the research university were set in place in German-speaking lands during the eighteenth century. Back to the future Clark offers an ethno-historical perspective on the birth of our institutional environment deeper than the one customarily invoked. His study makes plain that the research university is considerably older than the ‘rough’ hundred years recently proposed by Ronald Barnett.1 It also makes plain that the entrepreneurial and bureaucratic universities of Barnett’s historical schema are not later developmental stages marking the evolution of the research university, but rather that these models are synchronous and entwined. Our current working environment doesn’t just have its origins in the 1980s US, or in late twentieth and early twenty-first century iterations of neoliberalism more generally, and while the so-called global financial crisis may have supplied (and may continue to supply) a rationale and pretext for further and accelerated changes, the lesson offered by Clark is that these patterns of institutional development can be traced back over centuries. The contemporary ‘redefining’ of the purpose of the university, it turns out, is both prefigured and markedly consistent with earlier definitions.
Ronald Barnett, Being a University (London and New York: Routledge, 2011), p. 21.
This immediately begs questions of surprise, not least because we’ve generally understood academic culture to possess a long and distinguished history of relative autonomy. Many of us have clung—perhaps credulously, in the face of compelling indications to the contrary—to the belief that university industry and enterprise haven’t solely and literally always been about ‘industry’ and ‘enterprise’, and that our work in such places is in some ways to do with teaching and social good. Our condition of not-knowing also
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2. Vilém Flusser, Does Writing Have a Future? (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2011), p. 8. 3. Ibid., p. 61. 4. Sheldon Rothblatt, ‘The Professor Comes of Age’, American Scientist, September-October 2006, http://www. americanscientist. org/bookshelf/pub/ the-professor-comesof-age [accessed 28 June 2013]. 5. Clark proposes that the transformation of memory and history into epistemictechnical systems was ‘a hallmark of modernity’, although it seems clear that memory and history have always been ‘technically’ supported. See William Clark, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2006), p. 303. 6. Clark, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University, p. 68.
likely stems from unexamined faith in the modern university as a university of writing, and from unexamined faith in writing itself as a modernising and illuminatory technology—as the source of our salvation from the dark ages. Writing gives us to understand that we live in an age of documentation, recorded information, ‘knowledge’. Tied to ideas of legibility and visibility, and used to produce and implement systems of rational order, it offers a radiance which may, as much as anything, be an effect of the bright ground of the page across which neatly-inked characters march in disciplined rows. Making things historicisable—indeed, making possible historical consciousness itself2—, writing has come to be revered as the highest form of academic labour. Clark’s study points towards the extent to which research (and thus writing) activities conducted within the university have been and continue to be programmatically scripted (as a matter of functioning)3 and marketoriented (as matters of PR and commerce). For several reviewers of this book, realisation of the darkness of this history has been experienced as a shock of recognition. Conspiracy-theorising, however, seems unlikely to be the most helpful response. It isn’t necessarily a matter of having been manipulated or ‘deceived’, as one commentator would have it, into ever more vigorous pursuit of the larger technological and bureaucratic aims of our universities—and, by extension, our modern states—in competition with other universities and other states.4 It may simply be that we’ve been so busy being in something we can’t really remember why we’re there or how we came to be there. Memory itself is technologically mediated (through writing itself, as well as through sites, events, images and objects of other kinds), and it is tenuous at best.5 We sometimes speak of ‘institutional memory’ as if this were memory of a different order, but because memory works in and through things, it is institutional by nature (and subject to institutional pressures of different kinds), and it’s also constitutional or constitutive—which is to say it constitutes who we take ourselves to be. The fact that recent changes within the university are precedented also begs questions of progress. Reaching back to the twelfth century, to the outgrowth from ecclesiastical institutions of what would become the first western universities, Clark’s book charts the programmes of reform through which writing came to serve as the essential site and practice of the university. Progress is, of course, a deeply-embedded capitalist idea and its lexicon— which reflects its onward-and-upward ethos of continuous and graphable improvement—has underwritten the design-drives of official university culture for centuries. Clark does not address this directly, although in practice the sweep of his story is counteracted by tremors and convulsions that show patterns of institutional development being articulated and disarticulated by turns. And when we read, for example, that medieval academia ‘revolved around orthodoxy’, it appears that some things have not moved very far.6 Secularisation of universities may have transpired over time but adherence to doctrinal norms is pretty much still expected, or is perhaps expected anew—as is indicated by the relative conservatism of contemporary research funding- and academic publishing- organs which discourage radical oddness and isolated idiosyncrasy. Working against the linear logics that it invokes, in other words, Clark’s study suggests alternative ways of diagramming the university’s lived course—through parabolic or orbital trajectories, or through cellular mutation, or through accretion and sedimentation. Asking after Clark also usefully corrects the widely-held notion that originality relates to novelty and to the creative wellsprings of individual genius. Originally, he reminds us, ‘originality’ referred to stemming-from-the-origin, and his underscoring of this term (and of what ‘counts’ as original research) points
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up contradictions at play in our evolving environments. Research has always been expected to provide a basis for further research and to relate to existing work in a complementary manner. It is supposed to operate in a paradigm of ‘anticipatory posterity’, knowing itself as the (constitutive, institutionalised) future-memory of its own event or epoch, and it’s supposed to be catalogued and inter-referenced, rather than serving as a singular or solitary display. Such reflections on conditions of ‘originality’ begin to make sense of an industry in which papers submitted to journals are increasingly subject to scanning through plagiarism detection software, and yet in which such papers—along with research grant applications and 250-word conference abstracts and all else—must show direct evidence of networked forms of knowledge. Citational overdrive, stimulated in ever more urgent ways through ‘academic integrity’ campaigns, makes ventriloquism and assimilation legitimate and commonplace practices, and whole careers are now staked on derivation—on piggybacking on the work of others.
7. Ibid., p. 212
Clark also points towards the paradox that while academics and their institutions acquire ‘charisma’ through the publicity generated by research, much of what is published is emphatically not ‘charismatic’, and that a ‘knowledge economy’ really might mean exactly that: knowledge operating in isolation from ideas and in the service of Big Business and/or of institutional and professional ladder-climbing (grant-mongering, book-contract-procuring). As is made clear by the present tide of conference proceedings, journals, edited volumes and monographs surging to fill all available space—on bookshelves, in libraries, on hard drives, in cyberspace, in recycling bins both virtual and real—, the routinised, treadmilled research being funded and churned out under ever-intensifying PBRF and equivalent pressures isn’t necessarily making things ‘clearer’ or ‘deeper’, or shifting conceptual frontiers in any particular direction or manner. Indeed, the principal purpose of an idea seems to be that it can be transmitted to paper which bears an ISBN number, and it’s hard to see that anyone could have time for new ideas when we’re all so busy being busy and accounting for our time and augmenting our CVs and working to secure funding for the production of more ‘knowledge’. In our increasingly pre-formatted working worlds, we don’t actually need to generate new ideas, and we certainly aren’t encouraged to reflect on what ideas themselves might be (the idea-of-an-idea). We’re just required to average the thinking that’s already been done, and to insert these averaged ideas into standardised receptacles (marketing pitches, grant applications, abstracts, essays, articles, reviews, books, PowerPoint presentations). Our research practices and our writing are so thoroughly habituated and automated that we barely register the kind of template we’re filling out in each case. It would be nice—and comforting—to imagine these matters are no big deal. Clark himself shows that they certainly aren’t new. Since early modern times, university-based research has been largely ‘serial’ and ‘technical’, a matter of ‘proving diligence’:7 a publication dating from 1702 bears the title ‘On the Reasons Why Not Few Scholars Bring Nothing To Light’; there was a particular fad for dissertations in the piggy-backing mode between the 1670s and 1730s. Among other things, however, this history raises urgent questions concerning the social benefit or social impact of research. Applicants are increasingly required to address (and profess) such benefits and impacts in constructing research proposals and submissions. Outcomes, in other words, must be known and anatomised in advance of the inquiry, as a precondition for ‘selling’ the inquiry itself. As this suggests, research is becoming ever more strongly conceptualised as a form of problem-solving rather than problematising and it involves rote gestures and predictability: it’s supposed to be targeted to meet the needs of funders or of other identified external parties, and it’s duty-bound to yield quantifiable results (preferably licensable as intellectual property through the commercial research and ‘knowledge transfer’ companies run by universities themselves and/or by other financial
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stakeholders). According to this model, research serves as a business analysis tool for society, cauterising ‘unprofitable’ loops rather than encouraging these to be expanded. In practice, it readily comes to serve as a means of marketing the university to a wider public, and of marketing to this public ideas of what the public itself should be and do and value—although the fact that our local PBRF engine privileges publication in offshore venues further short-changes a local audience, since it means that issues of critical import are frequently fielded in distant or inaccessible places. Clark’s book also obliges us to consider the implications of our research culture in pedagogic terms. Research has left teaching far in its dust in terms of prestige value and institutional and financial support. At the same time as they deploy teaching-derived income streams to cross-subsidise the research activities upon which the ‘excellence’ of their reputations will be calculated, universities are widening the gulf between research and pedagogy through two-tier academic employment contracts. The very structures of the buildings we inhabit are coming to enshrine this ever more hierarchised system: teaching bunkers below, research cages fitted with hamster wheels above. In these circumstances, it isn’t simply a matter of insisting that teaching ought to be research-led. Research, Clark reminds us, originated in the postgraduate classroom in the eighteenth century, arising as a new method of instruction which would simultaneously train graduates to produce capital for floating on the academic market, fashion their academic selves (as Romantic authors, heroes of knowledge), and mark their passage into a new and competitive world of professionalised labour. In other words, research should be properly teaching-led and pedagogically-informed because it is pedagogy, performed in a certain kind of way, and because pedagogical methods count—such methods condition a future workforce of researchers. The dark arts
8. Ibid., p. 185.
It’s hard not to feel despondent—and deeply cynical—that one of the parts of the university perhaps best-equipped to ‘think’ about the implications of this current institutional environment is the part most at risk. Clark shows that despite the early modern development of the arts as a means of combatting ‘scholastic barbarism’,8 this faculty has long battled its own vulnerability. The arts (initially comprising philosophy, arts and sciences) consistently tracks as the last-and-least in the ranked order of faculties, trailing behind theology, jurisprudence and medicine—although the hard sciences circumvented this fate once it became clear how well-suited they are to producing demonstrable applied benefits (partnerships, patentability, saleable results). The shuffling of the order has seen the rise of STEM subjects and the fall of theology into the arts, but the arts itself—in its residual forms of the humanities and social sciences—remains quagmired at the bottom, struggling to prove its worth (or to earn its keep) through research. The irony of this fate is that the origin of the modern notion of research can be pinpointed to German doctoral dissertations for subjects in the arts. As Clark explains, the Doctor of Philosophy degree first emerged as an attempt by lowly Masters of Arts to achieve parity with academic doctors in the three so-called ‘superior’ faculties. For these reasons, it seems incumbent on those of us who are trying to subsist in this particular area to seek to suspend or disturb or dislocate this unfolding history. Here, then, an alternative checklist, which might be titled Possible Ways To Commit Heresy in the Modern Research University: 1.
Insist on the ‘value’ of the arts. If the university is to assist in bringing about social futures impelled by something other than transactional determinacy, and if research is to find and say things that haven’t already been said (or to say things afresh) rather than confining itself to latterday scholastic barbarism, trust needs to be placed in the faculty that is most sharply characterised by and devoted to creative and critical
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Argos Anna Aotearoa The Boswell The university new dark beside agesitself
activities. One form of learning offered by the arts is that a university isn’t hermetically sealed from ‘the public’, as institutional perception frequently has it. Rather, a university enacts and calls into being an idea of society, and its borders are permeable—its people are members of publics of all kinds. Another lesson offered by this faculty is that the conditions for genuinely ‘creative’ endeavour require openness to risk, idiosyncrasy, oddness and provisionality, to abstraction, to unplanned and unplannable outcomes—to waywardness and failure, even. 2.
Make proper commitments to teaching, ensuring that the university itself functions as an object of pedagogy and of research. We owe it to our students to cultivate research networks for their ‘benefit’ that serve as more than reductive ‘entrepreneurial ecosystems’ in which budding businesspeople are encouraged to create start-up companies—in competition with one another, naturally. Future graduates (all of whom are citizens of society, and some of whom are future researchers) should be supported in working with one another and with others. They should ‘learn’ what disciplines are, and why and how these have evolved; they should ‘know’ what research is, and why we do it, and under what circumstances; they should be critically conscious of the ‘selves’ and social worlds they fashion or unfashion through their work; they should be able to think and repurpose the box, or the checklist of aims and goals and outcomes, rather than simply filling or fulfilling it.9 More generally, we need to reframe learning, teaching and research as activities that are not subject to strangleholds of professionalisation and institutionalisation—which is to say that we need to rethink established assumptions about who or what an ‘expert’ may be, and to materialise and recognise classrooms-beyond-the-classroom. And pedagogy and research themselves need to appear in the work of academics and students alike, informing our activities and moving these on in ways that bind (and thus make them accountable) to their own entangled origin. Develop research practices on our own terms, in ways that aren’t strictly subject to programming intents. This may take the form of getting better at appearing to do what we’re programmed to do, while doing other things besides—like insisting in our research on the value of the classroom interface; pursuing projects athwart or beyond the margins of what ‘counts’; resisting the disciplining power of disciplines; turning networked knowledge back on itself. We also need to reflect hard on what we remember with, and to understand ‘anticipatory posterity’ as a matter of both survival and staged disappearance. This might permit refusal or reformulation of the publish-or-perish snare, and it isn’t simply a question of scattering written fragments like white breadcrumbs in the (Romantic, heroic) hope of lighting the way—for ourselves, for others, for the future. It’s more an operative sense that our work might congeal something, ‘blot’-like. A blot might be thought of as representing a meeting place composed of the tracks that have made it,10 and it works against neatness and rational order and recoverability. It’s un-aesthetic, a sign of blemish or surfeit—a means of drawing upon and pushing against the ‘writerliness’ of writing, the ‘templateness’ of templates, the ‘programmatic’ nature of the programmes that run us. If we understand our research activities as holding disruptive (staining, impairing) potential, we might become more aware of how we leave (or fail to leave) the imprints of our own attempts to know where we are and what we’re doing as we go.
9. This paper draws in part on teaching materials prepared for ENGLISH 777: Pedagogy and Performance (University of Auckland, Semester One, 2013). I’m very grateful to the students in that class for their engagement with these ideas and for their willingness to experiment with research in riskprone ways. 10. Paul Carter, Dark Writing: Geography, Performance, Design (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2009), p. 162.
Argos Aotearoa The university beside itself
Prof Marcus Karlsberg Argos & DrAotearoa The Verity Mensonage (A)History university beside itself and classroom consciousness
Conversations with m a r k Collective statement of intent
As a response to the current climate of privatised knowledge and stimulated competitiveness, we propose to redefine our education within Elam by constructing a new pedagogy around learning and sharing knowledge. The intention of this collective is to work in a double bind with the development of individual practices, whereby members will feel empowered to direct their own learning. The collective will physically take the form of a shared work-space, teamed with a number of various scheduled workshops, seminars, field trips, reading groups and other ways knowledge can be shared, open for everyone to attend. We are excited to explore new ways of learning, conscious of our privileged position as art school students. We wish to demonstrate the benefits of interdisciplinary, group and collaborative work as we feel these are not focused on in the current system. The collective aims to challenge the competitive individualism of the current university construct. August 2012
Do you want to talk about your aims?
Last semester, quite a few people were producing more politically-driven art, and more and more talk started about the competitiveness within the university.
We kept talking about how frustrating it was that there were so many things happening around and outside the university that we all wanted to attend, but no one could go to all of them . . . if we somehow all worked together, we could go to all of them without necessarily breaking ourselves.
And in trying to discuss everything with everyone, there’s that element of sacrificing your own project. Like, I should be doing my own shit right now instead of talking about this.
That was one of the things we definitely wanted to change within the university. Just being able to be there for each other, and help each other do the best we can and learn as much as we can, rather than going off in our own worlds.
And prioritising other people’s learning as much as we do our own, which isn’t emphasised enough within the system. In saying that, Elam’s a pretty good example of somewhere where it is emphasised a bit more. Considering crit[ique]s and stuff, you’re really relying on your peers sometimes. But that’s a good thing to draw from, because of how much you can learn from your peers. Why don’t we just emphasise the fuck out of that?
We’re encouraged to leave school, collaborate, and work together as a part of this great team, but it’s not recognised by the institution as a way of learning.
From a broader point of view, if you think about society’s expectations of a successful individual, it’s about contributing to the economy. That’s how you become a contributing member of society: your work makes money, you’re successful and you have a career. And that’s really individualistic. If we can think about our education in a much more open way, as something more than just creating a career for ourselves, it’s a really good stepping stone in thinking about the wider social responsibilities we have. And the things we can do in society if we all work together . . . if we all hold hands and . . . [laughs]
It’s taking control of our own learning, and putting the emphasis on learning. Tertiary [education] is a step that is expected if you have the privilege to go here, and the learning tends to become secondary to the degree. But when we have such limited time and we spend $6,500 a year, why not make the learning our actual emphasis? Rather than just a step to . . . 'art'. 95 095
Argos university beside Argos Aotearoa The Aotearoa The conversations with university mark beside itself itself
Or a step to getting a grade.
If we talk about getting rid of competitiveness and focusing on learning, yet we’re still competing with each other for marks, it detracts from everything we’re doing. So it just makes sense to try to eradicate or fight that together. And when you get rid of that you can actually focus on something. It’s not a façade. You don’t have these backstage thoughts, like, oh, I’ve still gotta get my individual mark. To rid ourselves of that is really freeing.
Totally. I mean you can say that you don’t care about your individual grade but it’s always gonna be in the back of your mind in some way.
In terms of research too, you’re always stockpiling, to make it look like you’ve done more work — whether you’re learning what’s in there or not. There’s a lot of generosity when you’re working collectively. When you stop thinking about yourself and start thinking of others, then you give more to others.
Should we talk about individual projects, like Night School?
It’s from 7-11 each night, Monday to Wednesday, and Thursday is making day. Mondays we’ve got world politics and film studies. On Tuesdays we’ve got contemporary art class. And Wednesday is New Zealand night. We’re doing official languages of New Zealand—so we did te reo for a couple of weeks, and then we did New Zealand sign language. And then we also have New Zealand history, and occasionally we do New Zealand art history as well. Pack it all in there. It’s been real successful. We’re trying to get as many people to come as possible. But attendances have been pretty good.
Translating that back into Monday and Friday studio has been a bit difficult though. It’s hard to just say, oh yeah, this is what we learned this week . . .
I think of the role of the artist as the educator, in that they think they have an idea or a material experiment that’s worth talking about or worth being shown. So why not pare that back so that the role of the artist becomes educating that idea, however abstract that is, to an audience? And then [with Night School] it’s paring that back so far that it’s just the artist as the teacher. So instead of trying to hide that idea or objectify it, you’re literally just presenting that. That’s really nice and it makes us realise what’s important.
How did working as mark affect your understanding of learning?
Learning takes the verb form of education—it’s just something that happens—but education describes the way things are arranged outside of the act. And if you’re having to determine those sorts of structures yourself, then it becomes really clear that for education to work there has to be a teacher-student relationship, there’s some kind of authority there. You have to agree to sit down and listen to somebody else. And if there’s no authority then it becomes difficult, sometimes, organising yourself.
Yeah, but the authority doesn’t need to be understood as a singular authority. All the structures and stuff [which mark developed], we came to by talking about, so the authority became decided on by the group.
There was a lot more subconscious learning. So you didn’t actually sit down and [say], oh, I’m going to learn this today. But looking back on it, I learned how to be in a group and how to work with others, and we figured a lot of stuff out that didn’t need to be said or sat down and taught in a lesson. It was a much more practical way of doing it as well, it wasn’t just all in theory. We were making it and doing it, making things happen.
And a lot of the time there wasn’t a predetermined end goal. Whereas today [working individually] I find that I’ll sit down and read someone and say, I’m going to try and figure out this theory today, in my head, and then have an idea by the end of it. But [in mark] everyone comes together with all these predetermined ideas but then they get lost in dialogue. Which is real nice; there’s heaps of space—and then something new is created that’s unpredictable.
Also when you’re learning by yourself, a lot of the time you’re not really sure if you have learned or what you’ve learned, but having five other brains there . . . they tell you when you’ve learned something. Or they explain what they’ve learned, or reframe an idea that maybe you missed when you were doing it by yourself, or that you didn’t value when you were doing it by yourself. 96 096
Prof Marcus Karlsberg Argos & DrAotearoa The Verity Mensonage (A)History university beside itself and classroom consciousness
It’s helpful to think of it as sharing. If I want to know about contemporary art things, I’ll go to B. If I want to learn about political theory, I’ll go to G. And if I need to talk about my feelings, I’ll go to A [laughs]. It’s no secret that we all have our different interests within a bigger umbrella. The difference of learning in a group is that you share everything. You don’t go and do your learning and then go home and do your own thing. You’re just always sharing and there are always conversations going on.
Yeah, and sharing different ways of learning, I mean we all learn differently. It’s really good to take on another person’s format.
Yeah, an obvious example of that is how the ways of talking about things can change. You might try to describe or communicate something and someone else might feed it back to you in a new way. It’s almost like something completely new—
Completely new but familiar—
Yeah, circles around itself in a nice way.
I feel like learning as a group is way more complex than learning as an individual. And you can’t be lazy and get away with it. I guess you get to know yourself, the more you work, and you can pretty much just switch off and do what you need to do. And it’s quite easy to tell yourself that you’ve learned something. But learning through other people and with other people, you have to be able to communicate everything in a way that suits everyone.
That’s what I was trying to say at the beginning of this, the whole idea of learning as about being alive, engaging with your brain, your consciousness and yourself as a living thing. We have these different ideas, but when you’re with other people you have to use your language to communicate them. Which really helps you to concretise the learning as well.
What do you think it means to teach?
I think L had it spot on before when she said that we should think of it as sharing.
Argos conversations university with mark beside Argos Aotearoa The Aotearoa The university beside itself itself
Sharing and convincing and having to believe what you’re being told are better ways of understanding learning. You could be a teacher, as in a dispenser of information, like a vending machine is a dispenser of food, but it could just fall straight out the slot and land on the floor. You could just miss it completely. But if you’re there, handing it over the counter . . . Like at KFC, they don’t leave the food on the counter for you to pick up. It’s just company policy. They leave their hand on it and watch you, and you walk up, and you take your item and draw it away from them, but you have to come into contact somehow.
'Cause it’s an exchange, right? It’s not just being thrown out there. And that comes down to thinking about education as well. It’s not just absorbing information, but it’s facilitating a space for things to be figured out or experimented with.
And really caring for the other end.
There’s a massive level of faith that you have to put into it. You have to really trust the teacher to be able to get anything from it. You have to have faith that what you’re being convinced of is actually something of value that you can take away.
It’s the same on the other end. You have to have a certain amount of faith in something to want to share it with people—
Yeah exactly. Goes both ways—
Assumes you’re getting the good stuff.
What about teaching in a collaborative environment, as opposed to having the one authority figure at the front of the lecture theatre and then a whole lot of individuals?
I guess it acknowledges that we all have something to give.
Something that’s totally different to a lecture set up is the real human interaction that’s so important that is just taken out of the university lecture style of education. Whereas if you’re having an intense conversation with a group of people you need to trust them, you need to be able to interact socially on some level with them . . . 98 098
Prof Marcus KarlsbergArgos & Dr Aotearoa The Verity Mensonage (A)History classroom consciousness university beside and itself
That whole lecture scenario makes it really easy to understand what’s happening, the drive to commodify education or knowledge. You have this person who’s employed to offload this thing to consumers, instead of trying to make this thing grow together. Can’t say it without sounding like a hippie, but . . . you know? Sharing a real concern for the commons and appreciation for what happens when we’re all on the same level, as opposed to having these hierarchies.
Do you want to talk about your final grades from last year?
Yeah, so they gave us all individual grades, which was kind of hard, and kind of unexpected. We knew that officially they couldn’t give us all the same grade, but [we hoped] that maybe they would just . . . Give us the same grade [laughs]
But by doing this they didn’t recognise the merit of the project as a whole.
It was like them rubbing something in our faces. Like, aw, good try guys, but B-, A, A-, C . . .
The marks were just ridiculous as well. There’s no way that [A and I] did any more than you guys did. I don’t understand it at all.
The thing I found really frustrating was how affecting the marks were. We got them back and I was like, don’t even care. And then everyone shared and I was like, why do I care?
I think we cared more that they were different. Well I did. Just seeing them, I was like, really?
I was happier that you guys got more than a B- because I thought that collectively we deserved (well fuck it, who gives a shit) but when I heard you guys got better than that I was like, ok, rad, someone deserves something better.
And it was just that we worked harder than anyone else. And I’m not being an asshole when I say that. We were at school all the time.
But did you still end up feeling like it did reflect on you as an individual?
I took it really hard. And I think it really affected me. I tried to re-evaluate my own individual practice just because of this grade. And that was bad. [I’ve] stopped doing that now, because I realised that it was just kind of bullshit. A For art practices in general, a grade, like an A- or a B, is arbitrary anyway. So to put us in the position where we’re supposed to take it personally . . . That’s what they were saying, by giving an individual grade. It seems like they’re reinforcing what’s so nuts about [grading] in the first place. B
Yeah, I had the worst semester grades-wise that I’ve had at Elam, and learned ten times more than I had in any other semester, so I was like, well . . . obviously something’s not quite right here.
Do you think we need a marking system in the university?
Not this one.
I don’t understand why we’ve got the A, B, C range of grades, I find that really weird. Maybe [we just need] a pass and a fail?
Yeah. They’re reinforcing competitiveness and individualism. Giving a grade segregates people. A pass/fail system would be much better because you’d want everyone to pass, right? So there wouldn’t be the hoarding of information that you get. Especially in something super-competitive – I can only assume that in Med school 99 99
conversations with mark beside itself Argos Argos Aotearoa The Aotearoa The university university beside itself
or Law School, it’s like, don’t talk to me, ever. I’m studying. I need to get an A. L
Don’t look at what I’m reading. It’ll help you too.
Get out all the books before everyone has a chance.
Do you think that’s because at Elam there are already other systems of evaluation in place? Do you think you need evaluation at all?
We need criticality more than we need evaluation.
Yeah, evaluation could just be something to trip up on. It doesn’t really serve us. It might serve someone whose area of study leads on to a clear profession. It makes sense that you would wanna pick the best doctor for a hospital or whatever. But [if you’re] studying at Elam, you’ve got no identifiable profession ahead of you, and if the purpose of it is just to break you down emotionally . . .
Turn you against each other . . . [laughs]
I’m quite into rubrics. Maybe not the ones that we have in place, but [I like] the idea of a rubric, where you can be doing really well in this area, but need a bit of help in that area, so you can see that and help yourself grow.
'Cause it’s great as a concept right? And if the sole purpose of that was about your education[al improvement], that’s amazing. But the problem is that you tick these boxes and then you get an average and then that’s your grade at [that] moment. As opposed to like, let’s work on this.
And the value given to the different sections, and the way those sections are chosen, is pretty fucked. There’s so many things missed out, which you then don’t really have the encouragement to be thinking about.
In saying that, the rubric took [Elam] a lot of time to work out. And I know that, aside from real grading, the 100 100
Prof Marcus Karlsberg Argos & DrAotearoa The Verity Mensonage (A)History university beside itself and classroom consciousness
Each 'earth' section of the rubric is assessed in relation to the inherent values of: concept material research audience self-awareness If all five segments are filled, the bonus segment 'Boris Groys' is attained and the student has made it.
tutors have our best interests at heart when they [devise and implement] the rubrics. You’ve gotta give them some credit. M
[Referring to mark’s own rubric] But [the Elam one] doesn’t have things like [Boris Groys’ concept of] ‘heart’?
Heart would be such a good thing to be worth 20%! Do you really care about what you’re doing? It’s about what you want from a student body, but the things that could be encouraged through a rubric . . . the potential for that is so exciting.
I think social responsibility should be on it. Imagine the people who would come out of Elam . . .
So responsible! [laughs]
Argos Argos Aotearoa The Aotearoa The university university beside beside itself itself
#!/usr/bin/python # -*- coding: iso-8859-15 -*import random, string from datetime import datetime # for institution in universities: for names in database: (forename,email) = names.split() Dear """ + forename + """, This is my first email for """ + str(datetime.now().year) + """ so may I take the opportunity of welcoming you back to """ + institution + """ University. I am sure this will be a busy and productive time as we implement our latest """ + "".join(random.sample(string.ascii_uppercase,3)) text += """ plan, which again involves restructuring all institutional functions across traditionally targeted faculties. This plan is ambitious but achievable if we focus our collective energies on it, and it reflects the stunning earlier success of major developments frequently and infrequently communicated via this regular email. As always, it is my transparent will to keep you informed in authorised ways. Overall, our very generous donors, worth more than """ + random.choice( ["$","ÂŁ","â‚Ź","ÂĽ"]) + str(random.randint(2,10)) + """ million a year to this university, continue to supply and demand numerous intentions which provide strong and stable long-term orientation. Financial security ensures that knowledge flows seamlessly in both directions and is aligned with strategic priorities and an unwavering customer focus. At the same time, our latest cost-benefit analysis demonstrates that utilisation of a consistent model of dialogue would neither
""" + random.sample( ["improve service delivery", "increase capacity", "improve efficiencies", "reduce operational costs", "secure further investment"], 3) + """, nor strengthen managerial functions. The level of service externalised to internal stakeholders has recently been found to be remarkable, rating at """ + str(random.randint(25,75)) + """ per cent. This result nicely reflects our declared objective of operating in an increasingly constrained operational environment, producing decisive implications for infrastructure and performance and placing ongoing demands for near-perfect scores on all service divisions. We aim to keep building on this massive investment, which certainly appears to be paying off. Our state-of-the-art business school has officially been acclaimed as the most successfully benchmarked philanthropic enterprise in the history of """ + random.choice( ["our institution", "this country", "the world", "human endeavour"]) + """. As noted in our latest Annual Report, the business school is the key driver of critical excellence in all valued fields and it reflects blue sky thinking on every level. Following this first whole-of-university initiative, which has likely positioned our institution among the leading brands globally, I am very pleased to advise that our marketing team has secured an integrated sale and purchase agreement regulating all future research. This unconditional agreement is set to realise equity-based benefits that are both significant and as-yet unconfirmed. Each interaction between academic staff and """ + random.choice( ["clients", "prospective clients", "external stakeholders", "internal stakeholders", "mystery shoppers"]) + """ will be subject to a standardised needs analysis assessment, with strong emphasis placed on """ + random.sample( ["perfecting customer service skills", "meeting all legal obligations", "avoiding matters of uncertain value"], 2) + """ and on closing the inquiry. This represents a key qualitative and thematic development, and once again I must congratulate all those who have helped us to attract these paying dividends. I am also delighted to announce substantial improvements in the efficiency of our improvements, which are the result of concerted and collaborative efforts by the most """ + random.sample( ["loyal", "dedicated", "hardworking", "trusted", "recently upgraded"], 3) + """ elements of our workforce. At the same time, we are working hard to ensure that existing contractual obligations to our human resources can be met through phased reversal of the projected transfer of remuneration and promotions. For those affected, such an outcome represents a significant step in an academic career and is vital in addressing the major strengths, weaknesses and opportunities facing this country and the world as technological intelligence continues to break new ground. These challenges notwithstanding, there may remain limited scope for retention of those exemplary members of staff who are endowed with """ + random.sample( ["sufficient endowment potential", "prompt submission systems", "controlled core outage requirements", "relevant experience in tracked changes"], 2) + """ and with the capacity to deliver programmed outputs at machinic speed. Meanwhile, it is very encouraging to see strong interest in the accreditation of our dispute management process. As I spelled out in an earlier communication, and as the review committee has duly recommended, many of our internal interpersonal conflicts would escalate much more effectively through sharp increases in the competitive stakes perceived at individual, programme, school and faculty levels. Finally, as we prepare to execute our dynamic initiatives to re-shape all staff questions and suggestions, I would like to remind current employees that we consistently accommodate the full range of consultative measures which are so important within a comprehensive """ + random.choice( ["future", "first", "world", "leading", "edge"], 2) + """ university. This avenue of support obviously places our institution at considerable risk. It also has important implications for making ends meet and for the enhancement of those areas (formerly known as departments) in which we have already invested heavily, which I acknowledge are not the same thing! While I welcome your confidential feedback, I should make clear that any information you supply will inevitably be utilised in order to safeguard the heightened securitisation of our institution. As you are aware, we increasingly function in a knowledge
Amsler Imagining untinkablebeside spacesitself Argos Aotearoa The university
Imagining unthinkable spaces
Sarah Amsler & Mark Amsler 1 The neoliberalised university embodies the destruction of the public sphere by capitalism. Spaces for heterogeneous thinking, for creative, critical, contested connections, and thus for potentially liberating work are being relentlessly foreclosed. Indeed, the very idea that we have the right to intellectual debate, collaborative inquiry and collective action within the university at times feels almost unthinkable. This is why it is important that we not only think these spaces open, but that we pry them in practice, opening up what has been sealed off or is being made inaccessible, unthinkable. We believe it is not only possible to do so, but that building the collective possibilities to create such spaces in everyday academic life is an important part of more ambitious projects to remake the university. We need better for our students, and for ourselves. Today, higher education is organised increasingly around two complementary projects: market expansion and profitability. Nobler rationales are often offered for these changes: democratisation, dissemination of excellence and ‘world class’ knowledge, promotion of better living for those outside the ‘developed’ west, public/private partnerships which encourage participation by stakeholders. But as exemplified by a recent controversy over New York University’s physical and educational expansion across New York City and around the world (referred to as ‘NYU 2031’), there is a dissonance between, on the one hand, profiteering from corporatised teaching and research and, on the other, democratic ideals, teaching and research for public goods, and public accountability. In March 2013, just over half of fulltime tenured and tenure-track academic staff in NYU’s faculty of Arts and Science approved a non-binding resolution of no confidence in the University’s president John Sexton. Afterwards, both the president and the Board of Trustees stated they were ‘attentive’ to the vote and that ‘the time has come to consider ways in which “the voice of the faculty” may be made even more meaningful’.1 Later, however, Sexton emailed the entire University to assert NYU’s big footprint on international higher education: 'we have during the past 30 years transformed NYU from a decent regional university into an international research university that stands among the top institutions in the world’.2 He referred to this as a ‘collective’ achievement. The NYU debate is one illustration of how the possibility for universities to democratise intellectual engagement and shared governance is undermined by market expansion, profitability and aspirations for international status. The vote by teachers and researchers in arts and science subjects illustrates that the structural questions apply not only to academic work in the humanities or soft sciences but across the university. Nor is the situation at NYU idiosyncratic. It is typical of broader agendas within government, senior university management and commercial enterprises to harness the cognitive labour within higher educational and research institutions as resources for organised capitalism. Organised capitalism is the name for a political-economic system that deploys a range of practices enacted by governments, commercial
1 Ariel Kaminer, ‘Noconfidence vote for head of NYU’, New York Times, 15 March, 2013, http://www.nytimes. com/2013/03/16/ education/no-confidence-vote-forhead-of-nyu.html (accessed 20 March 2013).
2 John Sexton, ‘The Outcome of the FAS Vote of no Vonfidence’, NYU Office of the President, 2013, http://www.nyu.edu/ about/leadershipuniversity-administration/officeof-the-president/ redirect/speechesstatements/ the-outcome-ofthe-fas-vote-of-noconfidence.html (accessed 20 March 2013).
Sarah Amsler Mark Amsler Imagining spaces Argos& Aotearoa The university unthinkable beside itself
capital groups and neoliberal reformers to consolidate profits generated by corporate organisations and other institutions. It is accomplished through various practices and technologies. The imposition of larger student fees and reductions in tuition grants and living allowances, for example, means that the teacher–student relationship is explicitly founded upon a principle of commodity exchange. Activities such as hypercentralised budgeting, targets-based auditing and accountancy, and the pursuit of ‘efficiencies’ through expanding short-term and ‘contingent’ teaching and research workforces all reorganise higher education according to the logic of capital.3 3
Louis Menand, The Marketplace of Ideas. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2010); Bill Readings, The University in Ruins (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996); Cris Shore, ‘The Reform of New Zealand’s University System: “After Neoliberlaism”’. Learning and Teaching 3 (2010): 1-31.
These same processes are accomplished in everyday action and discourse. Publications have become ‘outputs’; students are ‘clients’ who ‘invest’ in ‘quality assured’ education with a demonstrable ‘graduating profile’ keyed to ‘improving the national economy’. Requirements that curricula conform to generic university ‘templates’ align knowledge to institutional strategies and controls about the university’s representation for ‘public’ consumption. In such ways, universities under organised capitalism pay lip service to serving a public or common good in their mission statements but persistently subvert aims of educating an informed citizenry, producing critical knowledge and qualified professionals, challenging and testing accepted wisdom and acting as the ‘critic and conscience’ of society. As the strategic principle of contemporary universities shifts further from people to profit, higher education as part of the public good becomes a public catastrophe. 2 What is to be done? By analysing and problematising these changes within the organising structures of our academic lives, we can regain agency and critical traction within our institutions, locally and collectively. We want to build alternatives, non-monologic and non-administered worlds both inside and outside the university – ethics and sustainability projects in business schools, community-based science research and indigenous public health, critical analysis of ‘benchmarks’, ‘transferable skills’ and ‘strategic goals’ as part of subject knowledge.. From the vantage point of different institutions, countries and stages of career, we have witnessed how organised capitalism remakes the university through the constant restructuring of our everyday lives and horizons of possibility for critical work. Sharing our experiences offers insight into the complexities of this project, as well as confidence in our analysis of its possibilities. Across our careers and two generations, we have taught in nine different universities in the US, UK, New Zealand and Central Asia. We now live in New Zealand and England, two countries in which the transformation of the university is embedded in state-driven marketisation and aggressively neoliberal policies. While we belong to different generations of academic experience, both our careers are products of the expansionist agenda in higher education. Mark completed his PhD in 1976 and began his career as a tenure-track assistant professor in English that year. It was the start of a downturn in the humanities after three decades of expansion in enrolments and academic hiring. The subsequent expansion of higher education in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand has primarily been achieved through strategic hiring and student (particularly international) recruitment not so much in the humanities as in STEM, business, and engineering subjects.4 Since then, in the US, UK and New Zealand, the numbers of traditional (tenure-track, tenured, or ‘continuing’) university research and teaching posts have declined steadily. In 1969, 27% of US university and college teachers were defined as ‘adjunct’ or temporary staff. By 1998, more than 40% of teachers in US higher education were employed part time, as adjuncts or non-tenure-track staff (Part-Time, 1998:5).5 In 2013, adjunct, part time and non-tenure-track academics make
Amsler Imagining untinkablebeside spacesitself Argos Aotearoa The university
up more than 50% of all US university and college teachers. In Australia and New Zealand, ratios of casual and adjunct academics to fulltime and tenuretrack are similar. The problem is not with adjunct positions as such. It is universities’ and US colleges’ increased reliance on part time, qualified instructors who are hired primarily to deliver instruction, invisible within the institution’s governing structure and often without an institutional voice. What were at first short-term measures in the 1980s to meet new enrolment demands have become normative employment practices throughout higher education. Sarah was born in 1973. A beneficiary of the expansion of public higher education in the US, she attended the university where both Mark and her mother Ann worked. After completing her PhD in England in 2005, she was appointed a continuing academic contract in one of the many departments of Sociology created through the incorporation of polytechnic institutions into the English system of higher education in 1992. Tenure had existed for some senior professors in the UK prior to this time, but since tenure in any meaningful sense had been effectively abolished by the UK Education Act of 1988, aspiring to a tenured position in the US sense of the term was not a possibility.6 Since 2000, we have experienced in parallel a number of processes which illustrate how key technologies of neoliberal reorganisation and resistance work cross-nationally. In particular: the commodification of the ‘international student’, the tying of academic work to management-imposed performance targets and market efficiencies, the rolling back of labour rights for university and other public workers, the reorganisation of universities into units that can be both centrally controlled and marketed, and the institutional locking-in of loan-based student fees. • Since Mark began teaching in New Zealand in 2006, more than one dean or head of department has exhorted staff to increase international graduate student enrolments because ‘they are worth more’. In England, information for prospective postgraduate students assures them that ‘many [. . .] programmes are rooted in industry and [. . .] have excellent links with major global employers who often contribute to the curriculum’. Meanwhile, across the UK, universities comply with demands from the state to monitor the attendance of all ‘non-EU international students’ on behalf of the state or risk losing this now essential ‘revenue stream’. • Recently, at one New Zealand university, a traditional arts department hired four new full-time academics at different ranks, but within a few months was required by senior management to downsize its full-time academic staff. The intervention was made to align the department’s budget with the university’s 80/20 ‘rule’, a mandated constraint on the ratio of continuing and parttime (‘casual’) academic staff. Over a two-year period, the department lost through retirement seven senior professors. Academic leadership took a back seat to salaries. In England, the budget rule is often simpler: if you can pay the balance of your salary through attracting fee-paying students and obtaining competitive research grants, you can be considered a valuable, viable and a responsible contributor to the university’s strategic development. Recently, one New Zealand university administration has proposed changing the criteria for academic continuation and promotion to emphasise successful grant applications which ‘stabilise’ one’s position. Ranks are monetised.
4 Cf. Menand, Marketplace of Ideas.
5 David W. Leslie, Part-Time, Adjunct, and Temporary Faculty: The New Majority? Report of the Sloan Conference on Part-Time, Adjunct, and Temporary Faculty. (New York: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 1998).
6 Stephen Court, ‘Academic Tenure and Employment in the UK’, Sociological Perspectives (1998), 41(4): 767–774.
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7 University and College Union, ‘Model Statutes and the Zellick Model’, UCU website (2013), http://www.ucu.org. uk/2529.
• Since 2002, the UK University and College Union has been working to mitigate revisions to the existing statutes of universities which make it easier to employ people on temporary and short-term contracts and impossible for academics to appeal to third parties in cases of dismissal.7 In 2010, the University of Auckland senior administration proposed removing key working conditions (including Academic Grades and Standards Criteria, Disciplinary Procedures and Research and Study Leave) from the existing collective agreement and making them ‘policies’ upon which academics and the union could comment or advise. A new contract was offered to both union and non-union academic staff with a pay increase but with the working conditions removed. The union forewent a pay increase and organised an industrial action around retaining the key conditions in the collective agreement. After a turbulent year, including mediations, demonstrations and an energetic union campaign supported by activist students to respond to many of the Vice-Chancellor’s claims and rationales, the administration and union finally agreed to a new contract and resolved to ‘ensure collective participation in the academic governance of the University' whereby the employer will follow 'participatory processes' when reviewing policies such as Academic Grades and Standards and Research and Study Leave. Subsequently, however, the union filed a claim against the Vice-Chancellor before the government’s Employment Relations Authority, charging the administration had ‘breached’ the terms of the contract by not involving the union from the beginning in any proposed changes to existing academic policies as defined by the collective agreement. Just recently, the ERA found in favour of the union, asserting that university governance is different from corporate governance and management structures. Nonetheless, the Vice-Chancellor’s proposed changes to existing Academic Grades and Standards Criteria are still going forward, albeit with more involvement and pushback from interested academic staff. • In one New Zealand university, after months of discussion and debate and at least one negative vote by academic staff, one faculty is proceeding to reorganize its 16+ departments and centres into four schools with ‘disciplinary areas’. As one academic said at a general faculty meeting, ‘disciplinary area sounds like the part of the building where you go to get a spanking’. The rationale given for the reorganisation was not to improve research or student learning, but to solve the problem of finding enough heads of department and centralising budgeting and administrative structures. When some academics offered novel and energetic alternative proposals to solve the perceived administrative bottleneck, they were rejected. Other faculties and groups within that same university have experienced similar restructurings and administrative interventions in everything from student learning support services to funding schemes for scientific research posts. In the UK, Sarah has also experienced major restructuring which similar characteristics. ‘Change management’ has become the normative practice in university structures. • Recently, our experiences have converged around severe structural disruptions in the organisation of teaching in our disciplines. In 2010, the UK’s conservative–liberal coalition
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government abruptly withdrew all state funding to English universities for teaching in the social sciences, arts and humanities, redirecting it to individual students in the form of personal loans as part of a wider drive to marketise the system of higher education (except in economically ‘strategic’ areas).8 In 2012, New Zealand’s National-led government allocated ‘new’ resources to university engineering and science faculties by shifting funding away from the humanities and social sciences faculties in a zero-based budget scheme. When dedicated resources for teaching in our disciplines are subtracted, the act of teaching itself becomes embedded more squarely within the logic of the market.
8 Sarah Amsler, ‘Beyond all Reason: Spaces of Hope in the Struggle for England’s Universities’, Representations (2011), 116, 62–87.
As these examples illustrate, academic life in both UK and New Zealand universities is characterised by continual struggles with central administrators over working conditions, resources, strategic goals, and what we regard as our core academic activities of teaching and research. And yet, both Sarah and Mark continue to identify with ideals of relatively autonomous inquiry and to participate in knowledge-making for social and public good. These intellectual aims, far from being disinterested, are at odds with the conception of the university as an instrument of organised capitalism and with the broad conditions of our everyday working lives. We find it interesting that versions of this dissonance have always been, to varying extents, part of academic work itself, as Kant, Veblen, Horkheimer and Adorno, Heidegger and Marcuse have shown. We are also aware that because the present project transforming universities into market-expansive and profitproducing economic institutions accelerated after 1975, particularly in the US, UK and Australasia,9 the idea of the academy that we have produced within our own family has been coterminous with both its neoliberal transformation and challenges to it. It is unclear how the dissonance felt by each of us will manifest in future generations of students and scholars. Mark was becoming an adult intellectual and professional academic in the US during the early 1970s, at the end of an earlier era of expansion in public higher education. Sarah, born at the beginning of this period, entered academic life in ways that were not always palpably neoliberal but became a professional academic in more aggressively neoliberal contexts. Many of our younger students and colleagues, however, have had much less exposure to ideas that do not conform to narrow definitions of the usefulness of a university degree determined by specific market goals, returns on student debt, professional status or job anxiety. It is tempting and discouraging to think that the tendency towards what Marcuse called ‘onedimensional thinking’ in advanced industrial societies has been realised in our intergenerational lifetime.10 And yet, our professional lives also challenge this narrative. We know universities to be contradictory spaces of closure and possibility – often frustrating and demoralising, sometimes radical, transformative and enabling, but never one-dimensional. Our students come in all shapes and sizes, from many different backgrounds, and with different relations to critical knowledge, cultural literacies and the marketization of higher education. We both believe in the importance of being scholar–teachers for whom the classroom is an important discursive space for relating our thinking, writing and speaking with that of our students. Despite institutional efforts to control, instrumentalise and commodify education, we are motivated by a desire for critical thought and practice that thrives as excess, the unthinkable, often as refusal or refiguration, and that can carve possibility into even the most inhospitable of spaces. We are also encouraged and challenged by our students who take
9 Menand, Marketplace of Ideas; Shore, ‘The Reform of New Zealand’s University system’. 10 Marcuse, Herbert, One-Dimensional Man (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964).
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hold of critical questions, who pose questions and answers we haven’t dreamed of, who become more active and reflective learners and knowers with complex hopes and designs for the future. Students who protest and struggle to have a voice in their own education when a government minister of tertiary education tells them to ‘keep to their heads down’. Students who themselves are researchers, designers, dancers, bloggers, doctors, public defenders, writers, preschool teachers, literacy advocates, community organisers and much more. Students for whom learning a different vocabulary of reflection and collective hope means finding a different way of being in the world. We believe it is essential to teach and critically explore our subjects and questions with our students in universities that contribute to human flourishing and imagining rather than only or primarily commercial interests or pre-determined goals. Therefore, we both wonder, from our different locations and contiguous generational perspectives, at what point does it become too contradictory to work in institutions that deliberately, even aggressively undermine, destabilise or close down opportunities for human flourishing, except where it can be exploited as commercially-profitable investment? Isn’t that unthinkable? Is it right to abandon students to a commodified system of education with no dialectical tension, no imagination? Can we re-think how we work, critique, produce and progress in transformative dialogues in today’s universities? Should we imagine doing so outside them?
11 Edu-Factory, Towards a Global Autonomous University (New York: Autonomedia, 2009) http://www. edu-factory.org/wp/ book/.
3 The flip side of this grim portrait of academic life dominated by neoliberalising processes across two generations is the overwhelming evidence of the practices that challenge, resist and transcend these forces. We call attention to these practices cautiously, not wishing to overestimate the progressive possibilities of autonomous, oppositional and creative work within existing systems. Indeed, our experiences on either side of the Atlantic and the Pacific remind us that what is possible in one place and time is not necessarily so in another. In addition, while there are strong movements that radically rethink the meaning and organisation of the university itself,11 neither of us yet sees a critical conjuncture that would allow us to conceive of a more radical transformation of the university’s existing institutional forms. Practically, while radical change from above seems to be accomplishable in seconds, change from below often seems impossible, unthinkable. It is difficult for many academics and students living within the money economy to imagine escaping the structures of higher education; nor is there a clear shared desire to do so. Even as we work to critically understand the limits and possibilities of different alternatives, we are also interested in intensifying and expanding the critical spaces that remain within. How can we occupy them otherwise? How can we revolutionise or reassemble teaching and research by altering the thoughts and practices according to which the logic of organized capitalism is sustained and legitimised? We suggest we need to start with dialectic. Critical dialectical thinking and relationships function not only as resistance by negation. They can also be affirmative and need not, perhaps should not, necessarily produce a synthesis. Rather, an alternative positivity (the negation of a negation) can propel us towards something new. Dialectical practice can help us move beyond the unthinkable to create spaces for democratic, even humanistic transformation in higher education by foregrounding the tensions between cultural and political criticism as action. How can we link up cultural analysis and critique with specific action within our institutions and higher education globally?
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Here are nine ways we suggest academics can open spaces of possibility within the university in the everyday:
1 2 3 4 5 6
• Make the ‘place’ and the ‘structure’ into the subject in as many classes, research colloquia, committee meetings and contexts as possible on campus. Try using examples of administrative or official discourse to illustrate all manner of syntactic, rhetorical, logical and political claims, theories, assertions, aspirations and illogics. To whom or what does the phrase ‘the University’ refer in a specific context? • Model heterogeneity, plurality and productive debate in empowering and enabling discourse, rather than as inhibiting or ‘not helpful’. An individual who asks uncomfortable questions is easily labelled as ‘difficult to manage’, but many people asking critical questions can keep space, time and decision-making processes open. Practice being ‘awkward’ together, and make it fun. • Organise events and meetings with parents, prospective students and colleagues where alternative versions of the university and higher education are presented in addition to and beyond the standard recruitment ones. We don’t mean secret neighbourhood covins but venues and occasions organised locally by subjects, faculties and programmes. Also, find ways to communicate across departments and disciplines, and to build alternative visions that can be meaningful within the various languages and logics of the university. Organise roundtable discussions at conferences and academic meetings, especially where graduate students are present. • Make the world ‘meaningful’, as Stuart Hall once suggested. Those presently in power do this through controlling language, standardising expression, swamping discourse in neoliberal-ese. Many academics and students have opportunities to speak and write in classes, meetings, public events, newspapers, magazines, blogs and other media. Where critical concepts have been resemanticised for marketing purposes, reclaim them if you can, and create new common languages. Confront the narrowly commercialised linkage of ‘creativity’, ‘innovation’, and ‘imagination’, and represent other intellectual, social and personal values in freedom. • Cultivate open access to as much scholarly research and writing as possible, especially peer-reviewed work. Presently, the humanities and social sciences are seriously retrograde with the most prestigious 20% of humanities journals not open access at all, as compared with medicine and physics, in which over 90% of published work is openly accessible. Peer or self-archiving is one possibility; new international projects such as the Open Library of the Humanities point to the emergence of more systematic alternative platforms for disseminating intellectual work. • Cultivate collective action through unionisation and, where possible, academic and public-advocacy organisations. At least, so long as unions and academic organisations work progressively, both within individual institutions and coordinated across them. Where academic unions are not or not-yet viable, cultivate alternative ways of building community and collectivity within the university by reimagining the strike ‘as constituted by moments of dignity and autonomy in everyday acts’ and by developing ways to recognise and support industrial actions.12'
12 Sara Motta, ‘Beyond the Picket Line’, Beautiful Transgressions blog, Ceasefire Magazine, 22 March, 2011, http://ceasefiremagazine. co.uk/beautifultransgressions-2/. 13 Stevphen Shukaitis, ‘Overidentification and/ or bust’, Variant (2010) 37/38, http://www. variant.org.uk/issue37_38.html.
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14 Mike Neary and Andy Hagyard, A, ‘Pedagogy of Excess: an Alternative Political Economy of Student Life’. In The Marketization of Higher Education and the Student as Consumer, ed. Mike Molesworth, Lizzie Nixon, Richard Scullion. (New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), pp. 209-224. 15 Harriet Swain, ‘Could the Free University Movement be the Great New Hope for Education?’ The Guardian, 28 January 2013. 14 Mike Neary and Andy Hagyard, A, ‘Pedagogy of Excess: an Alternative Political Economy of Student Life’. In The Marketization of Higher Education and the Student as Consumer, ed. Mike Molesworth, Lizzie Nixon, Richard Scullion. (New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), pp. 209-224. 15 Harriet Swain, ‘Could the free university movement be the great new hope for education?’ The Guardian, 28 January 2013. 16 Joel Lazarus, ‘Understanding the Emergence and Growth of Free Universities in the UK Today’, Oxford Left Review, 9, February 2013 http:// oxfordleftreview. wordpress.com/ olr9-5/. 17 FUL Committee, ‘FUL’s Free Work’, Ephemera (2013), 13(1), http://www. ephemerajournal. org/contribution/ ful%E2%80%99sfree-work.
• Invoke the powers of parody, highlighting existing institutional rationales, norms or procedures so as to unpack and expose their underlying criteria, implications and roles in neoliberalisation. Also called overidentification, such work can create a ‘cynical distance’ that disrupts situations in which ‘people know that there is something fundamentally wrong but continue to act as if this is not the case’.13 The ‘Books as Shields’ demonstrations in Europe foregrounded in a compelling way the conflict between administered learning and critical inquiry. Members of the UK-based Really Open University once dressed up as a giant brain and then chased it around campus to perform the capture of intellectuality by cognitive capitalism. Extrapolating this logic, how might people react if we were to speak ironically about students as if they were actually commodities in the presence of administrators? What happens when we radicalise the notion of ‘student engagement’ to demand that students participate fully in collective governance? How can we imagine pedagogies of excess?14 • Occupy as many spaces and positions as possible within the institution, where those spaces have the potential to be critically empowering and can strengthen collective intellectual and political relations. Work hard to load up the ballots for key senate and faculty council elections with candidates who are union members or strong advocates for a more open university. In institutions where there is little or no academic governance, as is the case of many ‘post-1992’ universities in England, decisions to occupy managerial positions might be made with collective intentions to democratise them. • Step outside the formal university to learn what is being done in emerging spaces of autonomous, public or non-hierarchical communities for higher education and research.15 Can you contribute? Free universities in the UK, for example, are not only ‘a small but significant part of the fight for the right of all people [. . .] to access free, democratic education’.16 They are also critical spaces of experimentation and ‘conditions within which we are able to engage in processes of humanisation with each other [. . .] in relation to higher education and knowledge production’.17
This sort of practical-intellectual politics might take many forms, including occupying, opening and finding outsides. They allow us to redirect energy from fire-fighting the absurdities of the system towards understanding, refusing and transgressing them critically and collectively. None are exclusively push-backs against power, but because they aim to disrupt as much as diffuse power, they are likely to be uncomfortable and risky. Some will be more possible in particular situations than others, and all should be conceived as collective rather than individualised actions, not least because they are important sites for building relationships of understanding and solidarity in order to overcome practices that atomise, isolate and disenfranchise academics and students. These are some of our initial thoughts on the kinds of work that might contribute in small or maybe not so small ways to the development of a prefigurative politics of academic life, where such politics are still possible. Just imagine.
The university beside itself
Equity, change and we the university Airini
We are coming to a decision point of fundamental importance to how we understand our work and ways in New Zealand universities. Do we value Māori and Pasifika students only because they are so often represented as being needy, underachieving, and disadvantaged minority groups, those who are the focus of government investment approaches geared to improving education outcomes? Or is there an alternative based on recognising the contribution of all to the university project of enabling higher education? If the value of Māori and Pasifika students is associated with funding imperatives and research opportunities to address need, then the job is to create the interventions for these groups until ‘the job is done’. The alternative view is that Māori and Pasifika peoples are integral to the very identity of the New Zealand university. If so, then closing disparity gaps is about ensuring success for all within the university, and so to be done at an accelerated pace in order to change the identity and ways of the university itself. Action is not merely an intervention for Others. Rather, there is a social contract between universities and the public, for equity and change for the public good.
1. Tertiary Education Commission, Initial Plan Guidance for 2013 Plans: Guidance for all TEOs. (Wellington: Tertiary Education Commission, 2012). Online at http://www.tec. govt.nz/Funding/ plan-guidance/Planguidance-for-2013/
I am in favour of accelerated change for better outcomes for Māori and Pasifika peoples. I think we all should be, for the advancement of communities and for the good of New Zealand. But when I hear some people talk, I hear confusion and hesitation about the way equity might be achieved. It is as if they are saying, ‘Is there any life in Mother University after equity comes to town?’ With government investment in universities geared to the expectation of Māori and Pasifika students achieving parity in participation and achievement,1 ‘they’ worry, ‘Is this going to shut down academic freedom and institutional autonomy?’ Counter to these concerns are the critical perspectives wherein culture, language and identity are understood to be assets, and knowledge creation and higher education are decolonised. Through these perspectives, the potential to expand how and what we know is brought into view. Genuinely belonging in the university is an ongoing challenge that Māori and Pasifika peoples continue to face. This paper addresses this challenge by critically examining the importance of priority groups and equity targets for universities, and the social contract between universities and the public to achieve equity for Māori and Pasifika students. But at the broadest level, this paper is about who belongs in New Zealand universities. What we may have considered previously to be a matter for debate is no longer such. How we understand our work and ways in New Zealand universities is bound to how we value Māori and Pasifika students, and how in turn this changes the very identity and workings of the university.
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Argos Aotearoa Equity, change, and we the university
Priority groups and targets Universities have emerged as vital institutions of post-industrial democracies, taking on a range of social tasks. From an economic perspective, universities play a key role in the growth of the pool of skilled New Zealanders, in turn raising overall productivity and our ability to compete internationally. Lifting university participation and achievement by Māori and Pasifika students, is crucial both for this task and in and of itself. The university remains in close relation to its social context. Our universities also need to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. In New Zealand, the ethnic make-up of the 15-39 year age group, the group most likely to participate in tertiary education, is shifting to include higher proportions of Māori, Pasifika and Asian peoples of that age. Completion rates show that the university sector is not serving some groups of students well.2 Pasifika students have the lowest completion rates of any group. The long-term performance of the university system depends on its ability to teach a broader cross section of students within our New Zealand public. The changing demographic of New Zealand has been described as the greatest challenge for higher education. As Middleton indicates, the net effect is that those population groups which have traditionally provided successful students are being ‘replaced by increasing numbers of students from groups that are traditionally underserved by higher education’.3 It is clear that it takes an entire education system, including schooling, to address issues of equity and access in higher education. Even so, there is evidence that Māori and Pasifika people are attaining disproportionately poor results through the tertiary education system.4 Universities that respond to the changing demographics will recognise that the supply of students who have conventionally proceeded into higher education will diminish and be replaced by increased numbers of non-traditional (under-represented, underserved, minority) students. Only an education system that can succeed with this wave of new students will be able to respond both to the challenge of increasing diversity in the community and the needs of a new economy. So what benefit would come from greater responsiveness? If we look at Pasifika peoples, the first point is one of community. More Pasifika peoples are born in New Zealand than overseas, which means that Pasifika peoples can no longer be considered an immigrant population.5 Hence, the advancement of Pasifika peoples in higher education is nationally relevant and is about our New Zealand community. The Pacific population is youthful, with 38% (100,344 people) aged under 15 years. By 2030, Pasifika people will be one out of every eight in the younger (15–39 years) workforce. But current unemployment figures show that too few Pasifika secure jobs and independent income.6 In Auckland, 21% of working age Pasifika peoples are unemployed, compared with an Auckland unemployment rate of 7.5%.7
2. Tertiary Education Commission, Initial Plan Guidance for 2013 Plans. 3 .Stuart Middleton, Beating the Filters of Failure: Engaging with the Disengaged in Higher Education, paper presented to the 2008 HERDSA Conference (Rotorua, New Zealand), p. 4. Online at www. herdsa.org.au/wpcontent/uploads/.../ Stuart%20Middleton.pdf 4. Tertiary Education Commission, The Auckland Study: An Assessment of the Tertiary Education Needs of School Leavers in the Auckland Region (Wellington: Tertiary Education Commission, 2009) 5. Philip Siataga, ‘Pasifika Child and Youth Well-Being: Roots and Wings’, in P. Gluckman (ed.) Improving the Transition: Reducing Social and Psychological Morbidity During Adolescence. A report from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. (Wellington: Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee, 2011), pp. 153-168.
6. Alison Sutton and Airini, A Snapshot of Pasifika Education in Auckland 2011 (Auckland: COMET Education Trust and Raise Pasifika, 2011). 7. Ibid. 8.
For New Zealand to do well in the future, New Zealand’s Pasifika students need to do well in schooling and in tertiary education today.8 The link between degree qualifications and employment in higher paid, more sustainable jobs is well-established.9 So, too, is the link between Pasifika higher education and New Zealand’s social and economic future. If, by 2021, Pacific peoples’ wage incomes are similar to the incomes of non- Pasifika people, the benefits to the New Zealand economy would be in the order of $4 to $5 billion in 2001 price terms.10 The focus on priority groups in universities is vitally important to student supply for universities and to New Zealand society overall.
Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Career Futures for Pacific People: A Report on Future Labour Market Opportunities and Education Pathways for Pacific Peoples (Wellington: Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, 2010). 9. Ibid. 10.
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Equity, change and we the university Argos Aotearoa
The social contract 11. George Fallis, Multiversities, Ideas, and Democracy, 2nd Revised Edition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007). 12. Ibid., p 9.
Borrowed from political theory, the metaphor of a social contract emphasises the democratic role of the university. As Fallis has argued, this social contract recognises that the university helps to meet needs and aspirations right across democratic society and is accountable to all its citizens.11 If one part of that citizenry is benefitting more from the ways in which a university operates, then that is not democracy for all. It is a malfunction—if stated generously. So far, the university approach has not served Māori and Pasifika as well as it has served other learners. The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) reported in 2009 that ‘evidence shows that students of Pacific ethnicity experience clear disadvantages within the New Zealand tertiary education’.12
13.. Ministry of Education, The Tertiary Education Strategy 20102015 (Wellington: Ministry of Education, 2010). Online at http:// www.minedu.govt. nz/NZEducation/ EducationPolicies/ TertiaryEducation/ PolicyAndStrategy/
The relationship of the university to society operates much like a contract— setting out the responsibilities of the university, the financial support to be given to the university, and the degree of autonomy and freedom grated to the university in order to fulfill these responsibilities. It was after all the public who gave these freedoms, and it is the public and their government who decide in each era how much they want to control universities. The ultimate legitimacy of the university—for its many tasks and privileged standing—comes from the people in a democratic society. This social contract is formulated over time and shaped by history, and by the needs and wants of each era. It embodies more than an unwritten arrangement: it can find expression in public funding, and the basic principles of the social contract for New Zealand universities can be seen in the Tertiary Education Strategy (2010-2015):13
14. Tertiary Education Commission, Initial Plan Guidance for 2013 Plans, p. 7, online at: http:// www.tec.govt. nz/Documents/ Forms%20 Templates%20 and%20 Guides/2013-PlanGuidance-for-allTEOs.pdf
provide New Zealanders of all backgrounds with opportunities to gain worldclass skills and knowledge;
raise the skills and knowledge of the current and future workforce to meet labour market demand and social needs;
produce high-quality research to build on New Zealand’s knowledge base, respond to the needs of the economy and address environmental and social challenges; andenable Māori to enjoy education success as Māori.
The stated priorities involve increasing the number of Māori students enjoying success at higher levels and increasing the number of Pasifika students achieving at higher levels. In practice, this means that the TEC’s expectation is that Tertiary Education Organisations will ensure that Māori and Pasifika participation and achievement will be at least on a par with other learners. The Guidance is very clear: During 2013 to 2015, New Zealand’s tertiary education system needs to make a bigger contribution to economic growth and it needs to do it within current levels of government investment. This means focusing on outcomes and raising performance—especially for Māori and Pacific learners, where the biggest gains are to be made. New Zealand has planned for greater success and invested public funds accordingly, some $2.7 billion annually. The tertiary sector investment is geared explicitly to the expectation of parity at least, participation and achievement at all levels by Māori and Pasifika students.14
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Argos Aotearoa Equity, change, and we the university
The expectation of equity and reduced disparities is consistent with legislation for participation and success of all. Through the Education Act 1989, the University Councils have explicit responsibilities for supporting the success of all: 181 Duties of councils It is the duty of the council of an institution, in the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers,— … (c) to encourage the greatest possible participation by the communities served by the institution so as to maximise the educational potential of all members of those communities with particular emphasis on those groups in those communities that are under-represented among the students of the institution.Hence, through both legislation and investment plans, universities are contracted to expand and increase participation and achievement.15
15. Ministry of Education, Education Act 1989. Online at http:// www.legislation. govt.nz/act/ public/1989/0080/ latest/DLM175959. html 16. Donald Kennedy, Academic Duty (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997). 17. Ibid., p. 22.
A social contract is consistent with the obligations universities have to the societies that support them. Even so, some within universities may feel that the pulse of their autonomy is under threat by linking national strategy, in the interests of the public good, to institutional strategy. In truth, universities enjoy more independence than they often themselves admit. Consequently, the public does demand greater accountability. After stepping down as president of Stanford University, Donald Kennedy wrote in Academic Duty that there has been an internal failure to come to grips with responsibility in the university.16 Having been given a generous dose of academic freedom, we haven’t taken care of the other side of the bargain. As he argued, the struggle concerning universities has little or nothing to do with political positions, or with relativism or race relations: ‘…It has to do with how we see our duty and how our patrons and clients see it. If we can clarify our perception of duty to gain public acceptance of it, we will have fulfilled an important obligation to the society that nurtures us’.17 Universities remain in relation to society. The relationship between this duty to society and economic imperatives has been critically examined, exposing the need to remain connected to democratic purpose of higher education. Such purpose is essential if the university is to expand understandings of who belongs within its institution. Nussbaum argues that thinking about the aims of education has gone disturbingly awry both in the United States and abroad.18 With similarities to New Zealand’s tertiary education investment approach, Nussbaum sees that by being focused on national economic growth, institutions increasingly treat education as though its primary goal were to teach students to be economically productive rather than to think critically and become knowledgeable and empathetic citizens. This shortsighted focus on profitable skills erodes our ability to criticize authority, reduces our sympathy with the marginalized and different, and damages our competence to deal with complex global problems. The loss of these basic capacities jeopardizes the health of democracies and the hope of a decent world. In response, Nussbaum argues that we must resist efforts to reduce education to a tool of the gross national product. Rather, we must work to connect the curriculum of study at universities to the intention for students to have the capacity to be true democratic citizens of their countries and the world.
18. Martha Nussbaum, Not for Profit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012).
19. Elizabeth McKinley, Barbara Grant, Sue Middleton, Kathie Irwin, Les R. Tumoana Williams, ‘Supervision of Māori doctoral students: a descriptive report’, MAI Review 2009, Issue 1. Online at www.review.mai. ac.nz.
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20. The University of Auckland, The University of Auckland Annual Report 2012 (Auckland: The University of Auckland, 2012). Online at http:// www.auckland. ac.nz/webdav/ site/central/ shared/about/theuniversity/officialpublications/ documents/ The-University-ofAuckland-AnnualReport-2012.pdf
Equity, change and we the university Argos Aotearoa
Taken to its extension, Nussbaum’s argument could mean New Zealand universities changing what and how they teach and engage with students. This is not the same as the provision of remedial approaches framed as ‘academic support’ for at-risk students; a ‘clip on’ to mainstream approaches. This is about liberating university curriculum and teaching in ways that affirm the contribution of Māori and Pasifika as integral to its organizational purpose and identity. In so doing, the understanding of who belongs is expanded because the identity and practices of the university are changed. In their study of Māori doctoral student experience, McKinley and colleagues described one such development.19 Their study found that Māori doctoral students in New Zealand universities face challenges not usually experienced by other doctoral candidates. After analysing data from 38 Māori doctoral students, the researchers concluded that universities need to consider ways to recognise and resource indigenous methodologies, including educating and resourcing ethics committees, so that they can provide good counsel to students embarking on research involving indigenous knowledges and communities. In addition, the supervisors themselves should take part in robust professional development if non-Māori advisors are working with Māori doctoral students. Crucially, the challenge for the institutions in which doctoral education takes place is both to create an environment supporting indigenous students to work at the interface of academic and traditional knowledges, and also to recognise their dual contributions to the advancement of their communities and the project of higher learning. A critically responsive approach to equity views Māori and Pasifika identity as intellectual assets. Practices of the university change not solely on the basis of need, but in response to the intellectual assets represented by students of colour.
Conclusion Equity in universities is about changing understandings of who belongs at university and why. Neediness has been a historical reason for attention to Māori and Pasifika university participation and achievement. Although there is government funding currently linked to Māori and Pasifika participation and achievement, this alone is insufficient. A critically responsive approach to university strategy and planning recognises when the institution delivers for some yet not for all and makes changes to its practices; the onus being on the university to ensure more effective engagement with underserved students. Getting to parity at least, and at an accelerated pace, is core business for New Zealand universities. When we hear the word ‘university’, the images that come to mind directly link to the people-facts we know about our own universities. For the University of Auckland, the image is of 2807 Māori, 3153 Pasifika, and a university in which Māori, Pasifika and Asian students combined out-number ‘European’ and ‘Other’ students combined.20 Our mind’s eye sees thousands of Māori and Pasifika students. This is our university public. We see too that a national strategy and legislation committed to equity in representation and outcomes, at all levels of university studies. We see the social contract with our communities and the public, and the duty therein. We can look at the intellectual and scientific leadership of Māori and Pasifika ancestors and contemporary scholars, and we see that Māori and Pasifika belong and lead in places of higher knowledge and learning. We see too the possibilities for expanding research through Māori and Pasifika ways of creating knowledge and advancing learning. We as Māori and Pasifika are integral to the identity of the university. We are not outreach groups attached to the university, or beside the university, as if for the time being only, to address neediness. We belong in places of higher education. At this time of change we say, ‘We belong in the university’. 118
In search of an activist academic
In search of an activist academic Sandra Grey
An activist who is required to act in ways which are secretive, unaccountable, and not open to dialogical engagement with others is an activist who is displacing activism in favour of professional elitism.1 Most of us working and studying in tertiary institutions in New Zealand are familiar with the corridor conversations, the grumbling after meetings, and the remarks over a cup of tea about how managerialism is changing the nature of our institutions and our profession. Furthermore, there is now a significant body of academic work critiquing the current policy direction shaping higher education worldwide. The picture painted around the globe is of institutions and their staff being robbed of the spaces needed for research and teaching projects which are not countable, auditable, measurable or commercialisable, as their institutions are enveloped by what Richard Winter has called the ‘new higher education’ environment (NHE).2 What has not yet been well developed is an analysis of the opportunities for staff and students to resist the myriad of corporate, managerial and auditing techniques infusing daily life in universities—an analysis that will enable us to build a coherent strategic campaign against the NHE agenda. Pockets of resistance, often led by unions, are appearing at university and college campuses in the US, England, Scotland, France, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. The question, however, is how to turn these pockets of resistance into a coherent global movement to ensure that universities in the twentyfirst century are places where we can address the cultural, economic, environmental, scientific and social questions of our age. How do we move from academic analysis of the problems facing higher education to a concerted and ongoing political campaign which pushes back against those driving an NHE agenda dominated by economic imperatives, privatisation, marketisation and managerialism? This paper analyses resistance to the NHE environment documented within a range of sources in order to identify some of the possibilities for moving from 119
analysis to action. It mobilises concepts drawn from social movement and non-violent conflict research to understand activist techniques, and it is informed by ‘lived’ activism and scholarship in the form of document analysis. I served as the full-time National President of the New Zealand Tertiary Education Union in 2010 and 2011, and am a member of the successful Campaign for MMP.3 While some may assert that my ‘situatedness’ within the union means I am uncritical and unthinking, my role as an academic demands that my critique of the NHE environment is public, rigorous and open to dialogical engagement. At this point I want to acknowledge the tensions that many of us face when discussing our role within a political project which challenges the power of those supportive of the NHE environment. Though many academics now happily challenge notions of ‘objectivity’ in research, when pushed to contribute their rhetorical, intellectual and research skills to a political project, they question whether this is a suitable space for academics to occupy. Certainly this challenge was something I encountered on joining the Campaign for MMP. Colleagues often indirectly questioned my actions, saying they would remain available for ‘objective’ commentary since the duty of political scientists is to ‘inform’ the public, not to fight for a particular alternative. I am of the view, however, that there are moments in time when good academic evidence supports a particular ‘political’ perspective, and that the roles of academic and activist are legitimately intertwined. An activist is someone engaged in publicly challenging the status quo, and this challenge can take place through acts as diverse as producing public reports to street activism. If significant evidence shows that the NHE environment is causing harm to students and staff, to knowledge, to teaching and learning, and to democratic debate,4 should we not use all the resources at our disposal to fight back? We will be accused of having ‘vested interests’ for engaging in resistance to the NHE agenda, since public choice theorising infuses the reshaping of universities just as it does the broader project of neo-liberalisation and marketisation of all public entities. At its heart, public choice theory views 119
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society as a collection of individuals (rather than groups) who are assumed to act rationally in order to maximise benefit given their own preferences and desires.5 But, we must ask, who better to fight for quality public tertiary education than those who participate in it daily? To dampen this ‘vested interest’ criticism, we must also ensure that any work (including work to support political projects) is done with intellectual rigour and honesty.
it tends to provoke countertendencies, and it exists in historically and geographically contingent forms’.10 Understanding the NHE agenda as unfinished is important because, as Wendy Larner notes, it is only by theorising neo-liberalism as a multi-vocal, contradictory, and historically contingent phenomenon that we can make visible the contestations and struggles in which we are currently engaged.11
Taking action against the NHE environment
From analysis to ‘activism’
For academics, the easiest form of ‘activism’ in which to engage is the ongoing diagnosis and critique of the NHE environment (since it sits squarely within the bounds of our existing world and expertise). While the problems created by managerialism, commercialisation, privatisation and corporatisation have begun to be thoroughly identified and debated, we must continue to articulate these problems publicly. As Jean-François Lyotard and Jacques Derrida have suggested, the very future of the university depends on how successfully it carries out the task of its own self-examination, and, along with this, the responsibility for the scrutiny of reason in all its historical forms.6 As this inaugural edition of Argos shows, many who work within the current NHE environment are prepared to engage in academic critique of the NHE agenda and its impact. We must articulate the problems of the NHE environment because there is power in the taken-for-granted nature of the project that is presently being pushed through.7 This taken-for-grantedness is central to the broader social, political and economic project dominating our world. As Erik Olin Wright has noted, ‘to most people capitalism now seems the natural order of things’.8
While we must expose the boundaries and contradictions of the NHE environment, academic analysis is not enough to change the system. As academic members of staff within tertiary education, we contribute to the system's functioning through our daily actions. It is therefore incumbent on us to devise and implement a coherent programme of transformative action:
Part of challenging the taken-for-grantedness of the NHE agenda is to demonstrate that the world it creates is a created one. As they advance their reforms, the architects and acolytes of the corporatised, privatised, commercialised and managerial higher education system insist ‘there is no alternative’ (the mantra historically used to embed multiple forms of neo-liberalism). They also assert that those working within higher education institutions consent to their vision. Indeed, the New Zealand Ministry of Education states that the Tertiary Education Strategy approach, which links the ‘outputs’ of the tertiary education sector to ‘government goals’, is ‘accepted by the sector as the necessary way forward’.9 This TINA obscures the fact that the NHE environment is a created environment and that it is multi-vocal, fragmentary and incomplete, as is the overarching ideological and economic project of neo-liberalism itself. As Jamie Peck and Adam Tickell observe, neo-liberalism ‘should be understood as a process, not an end-state [. . .] it is also contradictory, 120
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All of us working on these issues in research universities [. . .] have been waiting for someone else to take the lead in moving civic engagement work but it hasn’t happened. What we have now discovered is that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.12 The question is: what will be involved in taking the lead? For me, the answer lies in seeking out knowledge, expertise and skills from those—such as social movement leaders, organic intellectuals, unions, non-violent conflict leaders, community and voluntary sector leaders—who are engaged in activism in civil society. We must find new modes of acting and working, since what we have been doing for the past two decades in New Zealand has not halted the implementation of commercial and managerial imperatives in our universities. Social movement and non-violent conflict literature suggests that the ‘activist academic’ will have to participate in acts both of commission and omission.13 Staff and students already practice a range of acts of commission. We make submissions to our own institutions and parliamentary select committees; we write letters to those in management positions and to relevant political elites; we take part in institutional forums; we write columns for newspapers and other media; and we make deputations to senior management teams, governance bodies, government agencies and ministers. Instances of acts of commission are readily found in New Zealand. The Public Service Association, for example, made a submission on changes to student unions in 2010, noting concern that if the bill were to proceed into law, ‘it would devastate important services to students’.14 In 2012, a Victoria University of Wellington 120
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academic, Dolores Janeiwski, wrote to the Dominion Post newspaper, commenting that as protests about the removal of funding for primary and intermediate teachers mount, we should also pay attention to the impact of declining levels of funding in the tertiary sector.15 Another act of commission featured in the April 2012 report to the University of Canterbury Council from the Vice-Chancellor, Rod Carr, who noted the engagement of staff in debates at Canterbury during planned closures of three academic programmes (engagement which resulted in one of the planned closures being cancelled). These are but a few examples of the ‘insider tactics’ being used by staff concerned about the NHE environment and its impacts on teaching, learning and research. Acts of commission are relatively ‘low cost’ (they are often require only a short-term engagement and do not threaten an individual activist’s life or liberty), but as the NHE environment has enveloped our institutions, there are suggestions that such acts have become less common. It is possible that many staff have found it easier either to exit, or to show loyalty, than to voice their concerns.16 Some staff may have chosen to exit (by changing professions or retiring) rather than sitting by and witnessing the on-going effects of power moving from the hands of staff collectively to the hands of those implementing arbitrary accountability and efficiency measures on behalf of the paymaster (the government). Research demonstrates that the introduction of managerialism in New Zealand from the 1990s resulted in increasing line-management within institutions and a ‘drift upwards’ in decision-making from faculty to professional administrators.17 The ‘professionals’ who hold expertise about teaching and learning have been pushed aside in favour of managers interested in balanced books and KPIs—though in the New Zealand education sector these are labelled EPIs (Educational Performance Indicators) to make them more palatable. As Paul Trowler has explained, within the present NHE environment, managers have control of the ‘product’ and academic staff are disempowered ‘in order to eliminate “producer capture”, to facilitate market responsiveness and to ensure that structures and processes are honed to maximise economy and efficiency’.18 While some of our colleagues have chosen to forego decision-making in our institutions or to exit universities altogether, others have become loyal to the ‘new’ way of doing things—perhaps because they have accepted the TINA mantra or because they benefit from the new rules of engagement. As noted by Chris Lorenz, support for New Public Management (NPM)19 in higher education ‘is based on the unholy alliance between the neoliberal political class and the NPM managers on side and aligned faculty and students on the other’.20 This speaks to another 121
Argos of Aotearoa In search an activist academic
lesson we can take from those who practice and teach non-violent conflict resolution: the need to dismantle the pillars of support.21 One pillar of support which it seems obvious to target in the new NHE environment is comprised of the many Vice-Chancellors, senior management teams and ‘academic’ managers who have ceased to be advocates for the broad-based mission of universities, and instead uncritically implement the managerial line. I agree with Stewart that: The ascendancy of entrepreneurial university managements who emphasise a market-based rationality in which education becomes a consumer good, and who have a correspondingly anxious eye on consumer satisfaction and public relations as well as governments concerned with fiscal constraints, corporate ties and short term priorities, are paving the way for dangerous widespread institutional change.23 I would add that another factor helping to pave the way for dangerous widespread institutional change is that many of our senior management teams currently have their ‘anxious eye’ on meeting government objectives. Examining the public proclamations of Universities New Zealand (the New Zealand Vice Chancellors Committee) demonstrates this problematic tendency in action. Throughout the public documents of Universities New Zealand appear statements drawn from economic discourses which present universities as existing for commercialisation, business development and economic ‘growth’. The Universities New Zealand Briefing: Contributing Government Goals, for example, states that universities are ‘uniquely well placed to partner with government’ in pursuit of boosting economic growth, creating high value jobs, and growing export education.24 There is only one mention of a ‘social goal’ in the 53 press releases put out by Universities New Zealand between March 2008 and April 2013. This seems at odds with the stated mission of Universities New Zealand, which is to advance university education and research activity, to promote ‘the common interests of the universities nationally and internationally’, and to contribute ‘well-argued, unified responses to developments that may impact on university autonomy’.25 The fact that economic imperatives for education infuse Universities New Zealand publications is deeply problematic, no matter what is said behind closed doors to political elites. As noted by Cynthia Gibson, it is important to have administrators who ‘inculcate a civic ethos through the institution by giving voice to it in public forums, creating 121
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In search of an activist academic
PILLARS OF SUPPORT Successful nonviolent movements analyse the various segments of society (pillars) that keep a power structure intact (supported). Once identified, those pillars can be dissected into their component parts, identifying specific individuals or groups that make up that pillar. Nonviolent movements plan for ways to weaken and topple those pillars, eventually causing the power structure to collapse all together.
• Identify the various pillars of support in this conflict that were keeping the power structure intact. • Discuss which pillars you think are strongest and which are weakest. • How did the movement attempt to undermine and topple the different pillars of support?
infrastructure to support it, and establishing policies that sustain it’.26 Part of the problem is that the NHE environment seems to encourage the creation of individual ‘master managers’ for our complex institutions, when in reality ‘good’ institutional leadership will be seen as a ‘portfolio of roles and tasks performed by a group of people in key institutional positions’.27 Distributed leadership—that is, leadership underpinned by collective and inclusive philosophy—may in fact be the required approach for complex institutions: [D]istributed leadership [is] a new architecture for leadership in which activity bridges agency (the traits/ behaviours of individual leaders) and structure (the systemic properties and role structures) in concertive action.28
A second pillar of support to which we must turn our attention is the bureaucrats who at times acknowledge problems with the government’s narrow economic measurements which distort the rules of the game (Gilling’s Law states The way the game is scored shapes the way the game is played),29 but are not prepared (or able) to reject the failing system. We must find alternative administrative and policy approaches which will appeal to public servants. The political leaders of New Zealand comprise a third pillar of support for the NHE environment. The present National-led government is rapidly advancing the NHE agenda in ways that will fundamentally alter the nature of inquiry, teaching, learning and knowledge generation.30 Analysis of policy documentation, however, makes it clear that the major opposition party, Labour, was responsible for placing public tertiary education on the road to strong government steering when it established the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission in 2000.31 It was from this point 122
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onwards that the actions of our ‘autonomous’ tertiary institutions were moved to align closely with the goals of government. The challenge now is how to convince at least some political parties that this agenda is propelling universities in the wrong direction. Moving to dismantle the pillars of support for the NHE agenda means working with those ‘elites’ who are uncomfortable with the current direction of higher education in New Zealand, and enlisting them to support alternatives. In order to aid this, we must build empowering processes, structures and institutions to which people can align themselves.32 If the existing institutional mechanisms of academic challenge and debate are proving less useful than they once were, then we must create new ones. Drawing on the work of Eric Olin Wright, I would suggest that the focus should be on interstitial and symbiotic transformations, and on developing new forms in niches and margins; such reforms will ‘simultaneously make life better within the existing economic system and expand potential for future advances in democratic power’.33 Social movement actors are long versed in this type of behaviour. Women’s movements internationally, for instance, have set up refuges and rape crisis centres to help immediate victims of patriarchal violence, and in so doing, have advanced the possibilities for removing patriarchal systems altogether. Related forms of activity have been evident in our own institutions. During the 1960s and 1970s, feminist scholars set up gender and women’s studies courses to challenge patriarchy, and black scholars established spaces for teaching ‘black studies’, challenging racism, disadvantage and colonisation within academia and more broadly. There are already examples of alternative institutions being established at the margins, both in New Zealand and around the world. Conferences and seminars are debating, discussing and challenging the ‘takenfor-grantedness’ of the NHE environment. Academics are coalescing around research and advocacy groups such as URGE34 and the Campaign for Public University in the UK.35 Students are also creating spaces at the margins to debate and discuss the future of education. There are many examples of this, such as the deliberative forums and street politics of the Quebec student movement in 2012 and the WATU (We Are The University) campaigns recently formed in Auckland and Wellington. Staff in some places are setting up parallel institutions, like the Council for the Defence of British Universities36 and advocacy organisations such as Campus Compact.37 We must continue to set up institutions, structures and processes that will enable us to thrive as an academic community based on moral principles which support a broad based vision for tertiary education, and which can eventually replace those 123
In search Argos of an activist academic Aotearoa created under the NHE agenda. We must find and make spaces within our institutions where we can begin to dismantle the neo-liberal project which threatens the very nature of universities—spaces where we can turn anger or disillusionment into hope and action. As Wright notes, we need an ‘agentcentred notion of power’, which involves ‘people acting individually and collectively, using power to accomplish things’.38 I would argue, too, that in the case of a push back against the NHE agenda we must fight collectively, since there may be huge costs and penalties if individuals or individual institutions try to challenge or opt out of the auditing process.39 The acts of commission mentioned so far are insider tactics involving those already engaged in governing, managing and staffing higher education. If we are to turn the NHE environment around, it is likely we will need to borrow contentious political techniques from social movements. While university staff have tried a range of insider tactics to resist managerialism for 30 years, it seems that a major public movement will be needed to mount a successful challenge.40 Large numbers of people internationally know that higher education is a transformative experience. We need their moral support as their voices can help put moral pressure on the leaders of our nation to turn this ship in another direction. Engaging the public is likely to require actions which capture media attention and it may stretch to contentious performances such as demonstrations, teach-ins or public meetings.41 The aim must be to build ‘complex activity networks’.42 There have been examples of these already around the globe. At WITT (the Western Institute of Technology) and at Virginia U, staff and students have taken protest actions over the removal of popular institutional leaders.43 Student protests have been staged in Auckland and in the UK over budget cuts and rising student fees, and last year TEU members at polytechnics in New Zealand mounted a day of action against the government’s diverting of a large pocket of funding from public institutions to private training establishments. What is needed is to turn these moments of activism into ongoing challenges of the NHE system. Social movement activists and scholars know that successful campaigns are ones displaying ‘worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitment’.44 We must support academic staff— many of whom have practiced acts of commission to try to push back against the NHE agenda being rolled out for decades—to find the time and energy not only to continue to resist the agenda, but to increase the intensity of that resistance. Finally, we must examine whether acts of commission will be enough to force change in the policy, governance and management approaches being imposed on higher education. While research shows that it is much easier to build alliances and forge support when asking people to take fairly safe (and 123
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often institutional) actions, the time has come to think about the transformative power of acts of omission— perhaps better known as civil disobedience. In the case of the NHE environment, this would mean refusing to take part in processes which are not educationally and pedagogically sound. We have to do this as a strong collective, however, not as individuals who can be picked off one by one, so the first step is to stimulate widespread appreciation that change is both needed and possible. If we believe that universities should not simply be destined to become an instrument of the economy, activism will be a necessary end point. More than two decades ago, Colin Lankshear called upon university staff to find energy for day-to-day resistance and challenge, for critiquing and debating university policy, and for establishing active networks with activist organisations and/or political elites.45 As this suggests, we must use the resources we do have—which are numerous—to oppose and resist further implementation of managerialism, commercialisation and privatisation in higher education. And we need to view this goal as being achievable. Since, as Campus Compact has noted, research universities possess significant academic and social influence, world-class faculties, outstanding students, state-of-the-art research facilities and considerable financial resources, they are well-positioned to drive institutional and fieldwide change relatively quickly, and in ways that ensure commitment to civic engagement for centuries to come.46
Argos In search of an activist academicAotearoa 1 Anna Yeatman, ‘Activism and the Policy Process’, in Anna Yeatman (ed) Activism and the policy process, (Allen and Unwin: St Leonards NSW, 1998), p. 33. 2 Richard Winter, ‘Looking out on a Bolder Landscape’, Times Higher Education Supplement (18 October 1991), p. 17. 3 This paper is an academic analysis informed by my active engagement in the union, not a paper setting out the TEU position on this issue. 4 For the past two decades academics have been examining the cost of the NHE environment, for an overview see: Daniel Seymour, ‘Boundaries in the New Higher Education Environment’, New Directions for Institutional Research 68 (1989): 5-24; Paul Trowler, ‘Beyond the Robbins Trap: Reconceptualising Academic Responses to Change in Higher Education (or…quiet flows the don?)’, Studies in Higher Education 22:3 (1997): 301-318; and Cris Shore, ‘Beyond the Multiversity: Neoliberalism and the Rise of the Schizophrenic University’, Social Anthropology 18:1 (2010):15-29, p. 17. 5 Richard Mulgan, Politics in New Zealand (Auckland University Press: Auckland, 1994), p. 8. 6 Cited in Michael Peters, ‘Re-Reading Touraine: Postindustrialism and the Future of the University’, Sites 23 (Spring 1991): 63-83, p. 78. 7 See Paul Trowler, ‘Captured by the Discourse? The Socially Constitutive Power of New Higher Education Discourse in the UK’, Organization 8 (2001):183-201, p. 190. 8 Erik Olin Wright, ‘Transforming Capitalism through Real Utopias’, American Sociological Review, 78:1 (2013):1-25, p. 2. 9 Ministry of Education, OECD Thematic Review of Tertiary Education: NZ Country Background Report (Ministry of Education: Wellington, January 2006), pp. 17-18. 10 Cited in Shore, ‘Beyond the Multiversity’, p. 17. 11 Wendy Larner, ‘Sociologies of Neo-liberalism: Theorising the ‘New Zealand Experiment’’, Sites 36 (Autumn 1998): 5-21, p. 17. 12 Cynthia M. Gibson (writer/editor), ‘New Times Demand New Scholarship I: Research Universities and Civic Engagement: A Leadership Agenda’, Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement 15:4 (2012): 235-269, p. 238. 13 Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action (Porter Sargent Publishers: Boston, 1973). 14 Submission to Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill 2010. 15 Dolores Janiewski, ‘Letter: Kiwis Must Mobilise to Stop Tertiary-Education Cuts, Too’, (Dominion Post, 11 June 2012) http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominionpost/comment/letters-to-the-editor/7077103/ Letter-Kiwis-must-mobilise-to-stop-tertiaryeducation-cuts-too
17. Patricia Gumport cited in Penni Stewart, ‘Academic Freedom in These Times: Three Lessons from York University’, Cultural and Pedagogical Inquiry 2:2 (2010): 48-61, p. 57. 18. Trowler, ‘Captured by the Discourse?’ p. 190. 19. NPM is defined by Steven Van de Walle and Gerhard Hammerschmid as a ‘two-level’ concept. Firstly, NPM is a set of managerial innovations, and, secondly, it signifies a 'change of the role of government in society'. See Stephen Van de Walle and Gerhard Hammerschmid, ‘The Impact of New Public Management: Challenges for coordination and cohesion in European Public Sectors’, Halduskultuur— Administrative Culture 12:2 (2011): 190-209, p.191. 20. Chris Lorenz, 'If You're So Smart, Why Are You Under Surveillance? Universities, Neoliberalism and New Public Management', Critical Inquiry (Spring 2012): 599-630, p. 625. 21. Robert L. Helvey, On Strategic Non-violent Conflict: Thinking About the Fundamentals (The Albert Einstein Institution: Boston, 2004). 22 . ICNC-Rutgers course material, 2013. For information on this course see: http://www. nonviolent-conflict.org/ 23. Stewart, ‘Academic Freedom in These Times’, p. 49. 24. Universities New Zealand, ‘Universities New Zealand Briefing: Contributing to Government Goals’, December 2011, p. 2. 25. Universities New Zealand, ‘Briefing for the Incoming Government’, November 2008, p. 5. The briefing does acknowledge the one social goal within the government agenda -achieving greater educational accomplishments for Maori and Pasifika peoples – but the focus of most of the documentation is on the economic growth-oriented goals. 26. Gibson, ‘New Times Demand New Scholarship I’, p. 240. 27. Cited in Geoff Sharrock, ‘Four Management Agendas for Australian Universities’, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 34:3 (2012): 323-337, p. 335. 28. Sandra Jones, Geraldine Lefoe, Marina Harvey & Kevin Ryland ‘Distributed leadership: a collaborative framework for academics, executives and professionals in higher education’, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 34:1 (2012): 67-78, p, 70. 29. Brian Easton, ‘Shaping the Way We Play: an Economist’s View’, The 11th Annual Public Sector Finance Forum, 11 September 2007, http://www. eastonbh.ac.nz/2007/09/the-current-state-of-thepublic-sector-an-economists-view-3 30. For an overview of the agenda see Office for the Minister of Tertiary Education, Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-15 (Ministry of Education: Wellington, 2010). 31. See Tertiary Education Advisory Commission, Shaping a Shared Vision: Strategy, Quality, Access (Tertiary Ministry of Education: Wellington, August 2000); Shaping the System: Second Report of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (Ministry of Education: Wellington, March 2001); Shaping the Strategy: Third Report of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (Ministry of Education: Wellington, July 2001).
In search of activist academic Inansearch of an
32 See Wright, ‘Transforming Capitalism through Real Utopias’, p. 20. 33 Ibid. 34 URGE (University Reform, Globalisation and Regionalisation) is a multidisciplinary programme of knowledge exchange, examining how processes of regionalisation and globalisation are redefining the nature and scope of universities (See http://edu. au.dk/en/research/research-projects/universityreform-globalization-and-europeanisation-urge/) 35 Initiated by a group of university teachers and graduate students, the UK Campaign for the Public University is based on the notion that “the public university is essential both for cultivating democratic public life and creating the means for individuals to find fulfilment in creative and intellectual pursuits regardless of whether or not they pursue a degree programme.” The Campaign is not affiliated with any political party (see http:// www.publicuniversity.org.uk/about). 36 The Council for the Defence of British Universities exists to advance university education for the public benefit (see http://www.cdbu.org.uk/about/ values-and-aims). 37 Campus Compact is a national coalition of college and university presidents in the United States of America who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education (see http://www. compact.org/). 38 Wright, ‘Transforming Capitalism through Real Utopias’, p. 12. 39 Shore, ‘Beyond the Multiversity’, p. 293. 40 See Lorenz, 'If You're So Smart, Why Are You Under Surveillance?’ p. 601. 41 Charles Tilly and Sidney Tarrow, Contentious Politics (Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Publishers, 2007). 42 Trowler, ‘Captured by the Discourse?’ p. 194. 43 In November 2012, Tertiary Education Union members and students at The Western Institute of Technology (WITT) came together to protest government funding cuts and the removal of WITT chief executive, Richard Handley (see http://www. stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/7987435/ Union-protests-at-funding-cuts and http://teu. ac.nz/2013/01/walsh-and-handley-move-on/). Similarly, in April 2013, students at Virginia State University gathered to urge the university to reconsider the contract renewal of associate professor of sociology, Sundjata ibn-Hyman (see http://drsundjataatwvsu.blogspot.co.nz/2013/04/ west-virginia-state-university-students. html#!/2013/04/west-virginia-state-universitystudents.html). 44 Charles Tilly, Social Movements, 1768–2004 (Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Publishers, 2004). 45 Colin Lankshear, ‘In Whose Interest? The Role of Intellectuals in New Zealand Society’, Sites 17 (Spring 1988): 3-21, pp. 15-17. 46 Gibson, ‘New Times Demand New Scholarship I’, p. 237.
Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention: the Chilean students' movement The university beside itself
Walescka Pino–Ojeda Imprisoned Emotions
During the Chilean military dictatorship of 11 September 1973 to March 1990, a widespread contestatory culture of collective enthusiasm for political and social change produced affective networks of solidarity that weakened the very foundation of pragmatic civic order. These networks of resistance provided the basis for a culture of opposition towards the projects of ideological cleansing that had been so brutally implemented by the dictatorship. Upon the return to institutional democracy in March of 1990, the affective ties that had been created in this resistance movement were suppressed, civil society ceding the task of mending national social bonds, democratic culture and national institutions to the state’s political elites. Once they regained legitimacy, the nation’s political class was also entrusted with the task of managing collective sentiment, ameliorating fear, uniting former political antagonists, tactfully identify perpetrators of state terror and dealing with victims of the outgoing regime’s repression. Faced with the destruction of their judicial system, the government established two Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, proposing a politics of reconciliation that built an emotive framework for behaviour hinging on responsibility and the civic need to build consensus.1 Their expectations in this regard were well intentioned and largely understandable —to a certain point. Taken to an extreme, this collective sentiment could be seen to have become hostage to the politics of consensus (i.e. governability), with feelings of consolidation becoming subsumed within economic imperatives and the fulfilment of market-mandated consumerism. Thus, financial transactions would occupy the social sphere previously reserved for more varied types of collaboration, companionship and daily affective exchanges. In other words, these processes made the post-authoritarian Chilean political elites responsible for managing the entire affective sphere of civil society. This meant not so much moderating, but rather reorienting it, liberating a proxy of social interaction through liberalisation of markets and, thus, the massive circulation of merchandise. Within this new framework, market circulation became a surrogate for collective ideological and social aspirations. In this way, the recovery of true communal order in post-authoritarian societies such as Chile may be seen to still require a massive ideological redirection away from ephemeral individualist imperatives and towards the communal sphere of long-lasting shared fulfilment that these imperatives have inadequately replaced.
1 The Truth and Justice Commission resulted in the ‘Rettig Report’ in April of 1990, identifying around 3,000 cases of disappearance. The National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture, also known as the ‘Valech Report’ released its own report on November 28, 2004, recognising a further 27,000 victims of these practices.
Theuniversity university besideitself itself The Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention Walescka beside Pino-Ojeda
ArgosAotearoa Aotearoa Argos
The ongoing social movement initiated by Chilean students in May 2011 tackles current frustrations with this condition, enacting dissent through a discursive framework that re-appropriates the notion of ‘common sense’ away from neoliberal adages and centres itself in the fundamental realm of feeling and emotion.
'Let’s recover common sense. The solution will come through mutual action'.
The students’ rhetoric has broken through the veil of normativity that once hid the ongoing ethical duplicity and absurd logic of the current system of socio-economic politics and practices. Their discourse has drawn attention to the fact that what we are dealing with in the current social structure is a logical obscenity which confuses the means with the ends. This confusion was repeatedly put forward in multiple debates over the imperative to generate profit in all types of exchanges of service— even essential social services such as education. In these discussions, profit, which provides the means necessary for the achievement of social objectives, which in this case is education, has been converted into the goal for which education serves as the means. Only an intentional blurring of critical judgement could lead to this perversion of goals. The discursive insurgency exercised by Chile’s student leaders in this regard has attempted to invert this dynamic in order to reorient a much larger social debate. This represents a gesture of transcendental responsibility to the degree that it returns debate to the realm of communal sustainability through the recovery of basic modern notions of humanism.
Perverse Goals and Discursive Insurgency This student protest movement constitutes a foundational dislocating event in Chilean society. It is foundational in the sense that, from its very emergence, it has been propositional, rejecting the binary rubrics that structure typical political, economic and generational debate. These are the same rubrics that place powerful financial and political elite coalitions in constant opposition to debilitated unions and activist groups, with both sides adopting well-worn rhetorical frameworks. Indeed, the discourse adopted by the current protest movement’s student leaders—and by the wider population they represent—rejects the legitimacy of this dynamic, putting into question the entire discursive parameters imposed and upheld by the dictatorship and the post-dictatorial political elite, respectively. For their part, these political elites have absolutely failed to respond to this discursive re-framing, and have become paralysed by their inability to step outside the rational parameters through which they have governed thus far. To an extent, their disconcerted reactions have been understandable, given the massive worldwide ‘success’ enjoyed in the last 40 years by the ideological model they inhabit. In this sense, this movement represents the most radical schism to have yet stemmed from Chile’s transitional democracy —refusing to engage in dialogue within the established parameters of imagination, logic and affect set up by this transition. It is precisely because of this negation that the student movement has been able to bring the ethical duplicity and absurd logic of current political and socio-economic practices to light. The movement seeks to reveal how these practices, rather than benefiting the wider social body, instead benefit a very small minority of the population,
The university beside itself Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention Walescka Pino-Ojeda
consistently betraying the social contracts they themselves have established through their sustained abuse of both the environment and labour. In many ways, this discursive rupture has succeeded in bringing to light the fraudulent underpinnings and deceptions of economic success inherent in neoliberalism, revealing that, rather than a problem of systemic and institutional corruption (though this is a concern), what is at issue here is the fact that the very foundation of Chile’s current institutional and social environment has been built upon an ethically bankrupt and logically corrupt construct. The leaders of the movement put forward this very sentiment when speaking in front of the Chilean senate. In outlining and defending their legislative proposal to bar profitdriven educational institutions from receiving state funding, Giorgio Jackson points out in what way the logic that has allowed market forces to control education is ‘perverse’: You only have one opportunity to get an education [. . .] This can’t be seen as a marketable asset, because it is impossible to truly measure the quality of the education you are receiving once you have committed to becoming a student in a given institution. It is very difficult to perceive. It’s not like trying a dry fruit, deciding that it’s not to your taste, that it is bad, and the next day buying another, or demanding your money back with a receipt. In this case, one goes on for 12 years, and then another 4 or 5, and it’s only one chance [. . .] right now we are seeing education as a market commodity, as if a person could come back, demand better quality, and waste another 15 years of their life [. . .] As such, it is barbaric that we can admit and be complicit, as a society, as a nation, with a system that generates such perverse incentives, (incentives that allow) the commodification of the right to education [. . .] We see the legislative project proposed here as being a step in the right direction, one in which the state will cease to be a participant in this moral offence [. . .] We believe this legislation is a moral imperative and necessity [. . .] in which we may establish the foundation for the state to become the guarantor of human rights, and not of market commodities.2
Camila Vallejo, President of the University of Chile Students Association, speaking in the Chilean Senate.
Presidents of all major university students’ associations in a meeting with the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera.
The perversity to which Jackson refers is tied in with a form of premeditated evil fostered by hegemonic power structures. In turning education into a consumptive profit-driven mechanism, these structures are demolishing Chile’s social fabric and turning their victims into the very instruments of their perpetuation, unable to see the sinister nature of said structures. It is because of the obscurantism involved in this dynamic that it has been possible to impose such perverse imperatives, and it is within this context that the discursive insurgency enacted by these student leaders has sought to rectify this reorientation of means and ends and, in doing so, re-frame social debate. For its part, the wider civil movement has now responded with strategies that display an awareness of the manipulated rationale they have been living within in the last few decades, utilising rhetoric that places an emphasis on affective bonds and shared ideas.
2 Jackson was then the president of the Universidad Católica de Chile’s Student Federation (FEUC) and together with his fellow leaders he spoke before the national Commission on ‘Education, Culture, Science and Technology’ on the 16th of August, 2011. This presentation was made available to the public live via the Senate’s television channel, and is accessible online at: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=HNe3XgPaxB4
Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention Walesckabeside Pino-Ojeda The university itself
'In a world of lies, to tell the truth is a revolutionary act'.
'I think, therefore they won’t let me be'.
Irruptions of Affect and Memory
3 In October of 2010, the month in which the miners were rescued, President Piñera’s popularity rose to 65%, 15 points higher than those he had before the accident. Amid the student protests, the President’s popularity fell to 23%, a figure that leaves him as the president with the worst ever approval rating since Chile’s return to democracy.
The outbreak of this massive civil movement takes place within a social context which, superficially at least, appears to be both functional and healthy. In recent years, Chile has enjoyed strong economic indices, has soundly overcome the significant earthquake of February 2010, and currently has a presidential administration that has gained much respect from the international community in the wake of the successful rescue of the much publicised miners trapped underground between August and October of the same year —an incident which contributed to the image of efficiency promulgated by the impresario Sebastián Piñera’s administration for Chile, something that bolstered the governing conservative coalition’s hopes for future electoral success.3 Indeed, when observing common indicators of development, there is no perceptible crisis in Chile at present, be it economic or political. What then is the populace demanding? There are, in fact, a multitude of explicitly stated demands being put forward in the manifestations organised by the student-led movement —demands which come from a range of popular sectors. Of these, I have selected three as particularly illustrative examples of the ideas and emotions involved in these acts. With some variation, all of the sentiments detailed in these examples can be seen either in the movement’s marches and performative acts, or in the signage it has posted in a variety of educational and private spaces.
¡No más lucro!’ (‘no more profit!’)
'For sale: public education'.
'No more profit from education. Our hopes/ dreams don’t belong to you!'
'Chile doesn't educate: It profits'.
Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention Walescka beside Pino-Ojeda The university itself
the primary political agenda it seeks to bring to the attention of the nation’s political elite. This proclamation recuperates the ‘NO+’ (NO ‘more’) ensign seen throughout the urban environments of the dictatorship era, and recaptures the symbolic potency of this symbol as a truncated protest against an environment of oppression and brutally enforced censorship. At the same time, this same truncated nature invites a dynamic, appellative relationship with the reader, compelling them to fill in the blank: No More Torture, No More Death, No More Fear, etc. In this way, though NO + certainly functions as an evocation of memory, it is flexible enough be integrated into present circumstances. In this way, ‘No more profit’ works as a phrase that doesn’t just seek to complete the statement with a signifier, but rather identifies that signifier, profit, as the one that is to be addressed in this particular instance. It is somewhat counterintuitive and paradoxical to realise that it was during the dictatorship that such an open and collective social ambition was manifested in this call to action, and it is in fact within a democratic context that it is seen as necessary to reiterate it and attach a specific agenda. This situation is much easier to grasp when taking into account the nebulous rationale described above, which serves to illustrate how the repressive technologies of authoritarianism have created divisions based in the polarisation of meanings, thus leaving neoliberal violence to persist amid the confusion of the same in the post-dictatorial context.
4 This document is available online at: http://www. forumsocialmundial.org.br/ main.php?id_menu=4&cd_ language=4
‘¡Nos tienen miedo porque no tenemos miedo!’ (‘They fear us because we are not afraid!’) This slogan encapsulates the emotional imprisonment implicit in the politics of governability I detail above, in which the administration of collective emotions has caused civil society to internalise an almost visceral rejection of conflict. This collective behaviour has been fostered in order to serve the politics of reconciliation, and benefits from the residual fear first set in place by the dictatorship.
'They fear us because we are not afraid'. The fear referred to in this slogan is not only that of social exclusion, unemployment and denigrating labour conditions, but also indicates an ingrained historical fear—one which has demanded there be a culture of forgetting with regard to the recent past for the sake of establishing social consent. This imperative has damaged the notion of conflict as a healthy civic reality, stigmatising the figure of the communist and socialist, turning these into cultural phantasms or zombies that traffic alongside those dissidents now labelled subversives and terrorists. It has also devalued and trivialised campaigns working towards social justice, collective causes, and all the advances in labour rights that have been achieved in past decades. As such, this tendency represents a multi-generational culture of wilful forgetfulness entrenched in fear.
Despite the positive discursive rupture enacted by the movements towards this culture of fear, the very fact that fear is being evoked as a point of discussion
The university Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention Walescka Pino-Ojeda beside itself
indicates the extent to which fear is still relevant as a factor in Chilean society. It serves to liberate repressed, imprisoned emotions and reorient collective discussion by re-empowering the political agency of the citizenry.
'Better a useless subversive than an oppressed dummy'.
'A world for citizens not for mark €t$'.
'You don't represent me'.
They dress like democracy, but are made up of dictatorship We aren’t terrorists, we are dissidents I’m also one of those useless deadbeat subversives that wants free education
Confronted with a country for sale, the people wake up
If they educate us to exploit us, we rebel to explode their system
Pinochet’s education will collapse!
Don’t let them fool you, there is a life outside capitalism
‘¡Chile debe ser distinto!’ (‘Chile must be different!’) 'Chile must be different, lets fight for equality'.
'Another Chile is possible'.
Insurgency discourse affective intervention Walescka Pino-Ojeda The university beside itself Insurgency of of discourse andand affective intervention Walescka Pino-Ojeda
This slogan echoes the one first brought to the public fore in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in June of 2002 during the First World Social Forum ‘Another World is Possible’.4
4 This document is available online at: http:// www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/main.php?id_ menu=4&cd_language=4
While the current Chilean social movement places itself within this larger framework —particularly with regard to its opposition to the ‘domination of capital interests’— it distinguishes itself from the open invitation to construct a new world put forward in Porto Alegre, by presenting a much more urgent, imperative message. The message that Chile must be different suggests much more responsibility and agency in the reader, its imperative tone suggesting that this necessary change is long overdue and requires immediate action. Within the above-detailed Chilean context of discursive rupture, this imperative can be seen in a variety of urban occupations, many of which display vastly divergent and sometimes contradicting emotions within the need for change. While some demonstrations emphasise a celebration of entrenched communal spirit, others do not take these bonds for granted, and seek to first generate them through pathos and empathy, with a conscious effort to interpelate the spectator as a co-participant to the act, and not as an ‘other’. Among the first, celebratory category we may include:
The Family March For Education (July 6, 2011) 'Piñera, if you studied for free, why don’t my grandchildren have the same right?'.
'I have two kids, which one do I educate?' 'Mr. Piñera, if you studied for free, why can’t I ?'.
'Because I don't want to be educated in a ghetto'.
Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention Walescka Pino-Ojeda The university beside itself
Kiss-athon for Education (July 7, 2011)
'If love isn't visible it is because social inequality fragments it'.
'Love with no profit motive'.
'As much in love as in debt'.
The Cueca Dance for Education' (July 23, 2011)
'I’d rather be part of the Chilean rabble than a boujee government supporter'.
The Umbrella March (August 18, 2011)
'Rain won't stop us' .
“Marches and Carnivals for Education” (July 29th, September 4, 2011, March 25th, 2012)
'Lose a year, win a future'.
'I’m a useless, subversive dog... and I’ll keep barking for a free education for EVERYBODY'.
The university itself Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention Walescka beside Pino-Ojeda
Multiple ‘Karaoke Videos for Education’ and ‘Spoken Word for Education’ films have also emerged as the movement has progressed. All of these acts playfully celebrate a communal spirit deeply intellectually and affectively enmeshed with the interests of all those involved. This community seeks to create a dialogue that ruptures with dominant ideological and moral parameters by recurring to those aspects and desires of existence which appeal to the very core of communal life: family, love, festivity, and a shared historical and cultural past. Within these demonstrations, a special role is played by flash mobs as a means of performative, collective demonstration. As stated by Georgina Gore, flash mobs: [are] designed to create a visual stir, to intrude into or even disrupt the quotidian [. . .] I suggest that the event acts as a marker in several ways. First of all on memory – the novel or unexpected has a particular cognitive impact and is integrated with difficulty into the maps of the mind. Flash mobbing is like soft terrorism, using guerrilla tactics, which explains why it is a good medium for communicating a succinct message, as it is retained because of its difference with the habitual, because it creates a shift in focus [. . .] Polymorph and polyvalent, flash mobbing may be said to be a truly universal dance form, more flexible and versatile than tango, salsa or flamenco for creating ephemeral identification with communities of interest where the celebratory, political, and commercial become conflated in a mode typical of twenty first century consumer capitalism.5 The examples of flash mobs realised in Chile present the majority of the attributes identified in Gore’s profile of these performances. Their particularity within this movement’s context, however, lies in their power to transmit a social message while at the same time avoiding the political canonism inherent in both coordinated political picketing, as well as the Chilean funas, a likewise spontaneous though much more confrontational social act by which this movement’s flash mobs nonetheless have been clearly influenced.6 In contrast to these acts, the flash mobs are much more geared towards eliciting surprise, empathy, persuasion and feelings of social congregation and openness with regard to their political messages, now laid bare and stripped of institutional partisan politics. At the same time, and taking into account the long-term nature of their campaign, they have also served to create new performative points of interest in the wider population, bolstering a general attitude of alertness and awareness of the movement as it continued to adopt new messages and formats for protest.
5 Georgiana Gore, ‘Flash Mob Dance and the Territorialisation of Urban Movement’, Anthropological Notebooks 16 (3): 125–131, pp. 130-131.
6 The funa is the Chilean equivalent of the Argentinian escrache, a form of popular justice that seeks to both make visible and publicly punish the perpetrators of dictatorial human rights abuses who have escaped legal justice. It consists of a sometimes very large group of people visiting the home or workplace of the perpetrator, reading a prepared document detailing their crimes, after which speeches will follow, generally combining both a mournful and celebratory tone.
A few of the more noteworthy flash mobs of this type include the ‘Thriller for Education’ (June 24th 2011), which recreated the zombie dance from Michael Jackson’s eponymous music video, complete with full choreography, make up, and bearing signs bearing such slogans as: ‘RIP, my brother died owing $5,150,109 studying medicine’ and ‘I died owing $15,347,251’.
The figure of the zombie itself not only symbolises the persistent and unyielding student debt that burdens so many and which exceeds the limits of the human life span. It is also indicative of an economy that manufactures its own ruin, establishing
The university beside itself Insurgency of discourse and affective intervention Walescka Pino-Ojeda
unsustainable parameters through its phantasmagorical dependence upon the speculation of virtual capital and is not sustained in any human or ecological reality, as is well detailed by Chris Harman in the aptly titled Zombie Capitalism. ‘Genkidama for Education’ (July 15, 2011) represents an example of the ways in which new symbolic imaginaries, in this case derived from Japanese comics and animation, are coming to the Chilean cultural fore. Despite the (obviously prejudiced) perception of such media as being alienated from concrete quotidian concerns, it was drawn upon by the students in this instance through their symbolic evocation of the supernatural benevolent force of the Genkidama (translated as ‘spirit bomb’ in English media but keeping its original Japanese appellative in the Latin American translation). The Genkidama itself is a massive orb of collectively donated life-energy (Chi), wielded as a weapon by the character Son Goku, protagonist of the massively popular animated series Dragon Ball Z (1999-2001, L.A airdate). Collectively evoking this force of collective will, represented in the performance by a massive paper orb, the students hold it aloft collectively as they enforce their positive energy over the educational authorities in order to compel them to provide free, high quality education.
Genkidama for Education (with original voice): 'Because he is, and will continue to be, a hero! GOKU supports the students in their struggle for free, quality education in this song'.
The collective nature inherent in the diegesis of the Genkidama cements this evocation’s discursive relevance within the strategies and goals of the movement, as does its generational relevance as a cultural product embedded in the childhoods of so many young adults in Chile. The various discursive techniques wielded by both the leaders and participants of the Chilean student movement have all sought to interject themselves within both physical urban spaces and in the public imaginary in order to enact a re-orientation of meanings and affect. In all of these cases, what is being questioned fundamentally is the radical nature in which neoliberalism has reformatted alterity, so that the ‘other’ is seen not as an unknown neighbour, but rather an unknowable and dangerous entity that threatens the subject’s wellbeing. The other is, above all, the antagonist competitor, a latent enemy. The performative acts adopted by the Chilean student-led movement combine, then, both accusatory and contemplative imperatives. While they denounce, indict and call to action, they likewise perform, entertain, satirise and create spaces in which affects and feelings may be enacted. In this way, they appeal to the realm of sense and emotion in order to facilitate the understanding of what otherwise would be very abstract ideas and ideals. Slogans succeed in their imperative pleas only when sentiment is put into action, when performative acts compel us to see by looking at ourselves, and reflect upon the world around us by examining within. By gaining awareness of the ways in which one may see ‘oneself within the other’, we are able to rebuild, recuperate, appreciate, and reconnect individualities into a functional collective body. This is true even within the larger context of discursive and ideological violence engendered and perpetuated by neoliberal rhetoric. In as much as this movement’s leaders have assumed the role of evidencing the manipulations of meaning inherent in this context, performative techniques are able to communicate not simply what is being denoted, but also evoke the multifaceted and emotive power only available within the language of art. It is in this way that the current student-led movement of Chile manifests the agency of culture and its power to transform the socio-political through the force of imagination. Assistance with translation: Camilo Diaz Pino
What could the university be? Sean Sturm & Stephen Turner
If I were to wish for something, I would wish not for wealth or power but for the passion of possibility, for the eye [. . .] that sees possibility ever. — Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or1 The many worlds of the pluriversity The name Argos, allied in Greek mythology with the epithet panoptes (all-seeing) as Argus panoptes, implies an unwearying watcher, and, as the primordial 'lord of the neatherd' (herdsman), the very name of the land he watches.2 (The Greek town named in his honour still exists today.) But we two writers, both of us Pāhekā, cannot help but see our land differently. We are not in Europe now, or rather, the 'Europe' we occupy is the powerful penumbra of a differently centred place,3 a place called Aotearoa ('The [land of the] long white cloud,' namely, New Zealand), located in a 'sea of islands,' Te Moana nui a Kiwa ('The great ocean of Kiwa,' namely, the Pacific Ocean).4 To find ourselves in this position suggests a double occupation, whereby Europeanisation, or more specifically, Anglosphericism, has had to accommodate itself to an already differently occupied place and its larger Oceanic setting. Such a pre-occupation cannot but make us think geotheoretically—and, in turn, think in terms of other centres and on other grounds than those of the northern axis of Europe or Anglo-America.5 In this spirit, we ask after the grounds of the university—and the grounds, literal and figurative, of the university in which we find ourselves. (Strictly speaking, the land asks us to think about it, for 'the land has eyes,' to borrow the title of Vilsoni Heroniko’s film about Rotuma.6) For us, this asking after grounds is what a university does or, rather, ought to do. We see every 'class,' or university occasion, real or virtual, as subtended by the deeper set of questions raised by Māori scholar Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal: 'Who am I? What is this world I find myself in? What am I to do?'7 Thus, the 'ground' of the university, unlike that of any other social institution, is not given in the sense of being preordained or pre-programmed ('prescribed'), but given by asking after grounds ('constructed'). That is, it is constituted as such by this critically deliberative activity, which we would argue must be interactive (alert to its setting), interpersonal, collaborative and collective. The land on which our university lies makes it a pluriversity, a place of many worlds—and makes it plain that the university per se ought to be seen likewise. So, we aim to give this land sides, to acknowledge that it is whenua tautohetohe ('contested land').8 Furthermore, for us, this implies that the university as pluriversity is worldmaking: it enacts a constructive 'worlding' or possibilism, in other words, neither the positivism of knowledge production that is blind to its own purposes nor the probabilism of the techno-capital university (the University 2.0) and its taken-asgiven normative imperatives. Possibilism, as Albert Hirschman writes, 'consists in the discovery of paths, however narrow, leading to an outcome that appears to be foreclosed on the basis of probabilistic [or positivistic] reasoning alone.'9 This is the university we see: the university as a 'garden of forking paths', of paths of possibility.10
The university beside itself Sean Sturm and Stephen Turner
Aotearoa What Argos could the university be?
The one world of econometrics The normative imperatives, or scripts, of the University 2.0 could be acronymed as ICE (innovation, creativity, and enterprise):11 we ask not only why we live in an age of acronyms and when this came about—along with the econometrics of technical capitalism (ETC), no doubt—but also what these terms and their acronyms actually mean, and when it was that they assumed the normative power of givens. Are these scripts, we ask, themselves 'innovative,' 'creative' or 'entrepreneurial,' especially when they are every other university’s imperatives, and therefore globally convergent and generic? Is it innovative, for instance, to follow imperatives to be innovative? To us, this normative drive is better understood as econometrically determined programming, or prescription, whereby the measure of performance itself determines what counts, for example, as innovation, or, to put it another way, knowledge creation becomes knowledge management. We reject this kind of 'end-stopped' thinking, which reduces thinking to mere calculation in advance12 and participation to the managed consensus of 'consultation,' in which even the strongest objections are considered merely 'positive feedback' and evidence of 'robust' processes. Instead of simply executing and extending such scripts, we ask after their rationales. In doing so, we suspend such norms and make them available for deliberation by those whom they concern and to whom they matter. We do not allow norms to simply govern the action to be taken or the process to be followed, that is, the rule to be applied. Instead, we reconstruct them, along with the university itself, on the basis of this questioning. In such deliberation, the consensus such norms constitute—an 'anthropological bedrock', in Paolo Virno’s terms13—is itself opened up for inquiry and other worlds (or 'paths', indeed) considered that give the 'one world' of the globally convergent and generic University 2.0 sides, options, openings. The university 2.0, unlike our pluriversity, lacks contest and context. Driven by econometric scripts ('Globalise or die!'; 'Follow others or fall behind!'), it is a place that lacks critical imagination— that cannot offer alternate visions—and that can offer neither students nor society the wherewithal for personal or collective transformation. In it, people think 'outside the box,' which is to say in 'innovative', 'creative' or 'entrepreneurial' (ICE) clichés ('crystallised thinking'),14 because they cannot think what a box is or does. Teaching the emergency Here is where the Arts, supposedly redundant due to their econometric deficiency, actually come in handy. If anyone knows anything about innovation, creativity, and enterprise—not to mention critique—it is scholars in the Arts, for whom these are everyday matters of practical concern. The capacity generated by Arts-based critical imagination, which has of course addressed numerous social crises in the past, is not negligible, however difficult it might be to measure in terms of economic—or social—outputs or outcomes. Indeed, the current global crises, financial, ecological, technological and military, suggest that teaching and learning is taking place in a global 'state of emergency'.15 We therefore advocate teaching the emergency in two senses: with these critical emergencies in mind, and with a view to producing emergent lines of inquiry. With regard to the second sense, it is our task, as Walter Benjamin puts it, 'to bring about a real state of emergency'.16 Thus, we believe the Arts are more, not less, important than the Sciences to our shared social futures. The more general crisis of humanity is a matter of philosophy, which is to say, of how we ought live together, and not simply a matter of technical solutions to problems of population, food supply, global warming and so on. (What is the technical solution, for instance, to global surveillance, which technology itself gave rise to?) The shift in the weighting of research funding to STEM (Science, 137
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Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, as is happening under current Government policy, may equally be viewed as simply an increase in investment in universities by the corporate interests that stand to benefit from such a partnership. Similarly, the increased emphasis on research in the 'research[ i.e., richer] university', may be seen as the abandonment of the university’s mission to 'educate' in favour of 'quality assurance' and outsourced (adjunct) or tickbox (constructively aligned) teaching aligned with faculty goals and aims, themselves aligned with the university’s strategic mission and overseen by managers responsive to the spreadsheet rather than to the classroom. Furthermore, we would also advocate using the Arts to produce deliberative knowledge (this is the Arts’ version of 'Mode 2' knowledge).17 Undeliberative teaching, subject as it is to econometrics, misses the very purpose of the enhanced means of measure it serves. The reduction of intelligence to computable information is part of the general crisis of humanity: today, all that is solid melts into the data cloud. Our first response is to address the misbegotten language of the terms in which social crises are articulated, and to thereby give sides to issues that cannot be resolved by more or better programming. This 'problematising' involves taking language literally, and taking the buzz out of buzz-words (transparent, excellent, robust; experience, quality, benchmark; etc.).18 It involves asking what templates and their boxes do, which is to say, every other survey, review, report, outline or summary feedback form, and what rationale might drive the pre-programmed scripts they unfold (what pass for meetings, in universities as elsewhere, also merely require people to be present and to implement their scripts, certainly not to deliberate on the grounds of the meeting itself). To take such language literally, then, is to ask after the letter of such scripts. The university can hardly be a place where this, but not anything else, escapes pause, reflection and deliberation. We therefore take the grounds of our institutional practices, as well as the grounds of all other knowledge, quite literally. We realise that this literality is heretical because it exposes the empty consensus of doctrine—in this case, the feedback loop of managed consensus (to give an example of literality as heresy, St Francis of Assisi exposed the interest of the Church in feudal property relations by taking literally the vow of poverty). Thinking the emergency Our literal method takes us beyond critique in the twentieth-century sense of unveiling ideology, premised on a caricature of Kantian transcendental idealism, to something that we might call emulation, or, to misread Alain Badiou, 'immanent articulation'19 (emulating the immanent 'agency of the letter', perhaps20). This is an action in and though which the inner contradictions of normative imperatives are revealed (i.e. the 'ill-logics' of 'a-human' rationales21). By emulation, we mean literal replication, designed to induce a certain reflexivity (from the Latin reflexivus, 'returning') that is actually a re-purposing.22 The university, we think, is an institution for generating social purposes conducive to social emergence, that is, flourishing and transformation, generating such purposes not ex nihilo, 'out of nothing', but de novo, 'anew' (genuine innovation, we would say). As Ronald Barnett argues, 'a university that takes seriously both the world’s interconnectedness and the university’s interconnectedness with the world' is ecological, a university that 'does not merely take its networking seriously but engages actively with the world in order to bring about a better world.'23 It is, to paraphrase Barnett, at once hopeful and critical: as he puts it, 'a university neither in-itself (the research university) nor for-itself (the entrepreneurial university) but for-others'.24 The university is thus failing in its true mission if it does not prompt conversation about matters of local public and political import, that is, if it does not pose problems for language—and business—as usual (the public is itself constructed as the voice of contest and context in this conversation). We do not simply mean to provoke or persuade; instead, we wish to prompt others to consider what provokes us and to become engaged in the same issues. Our object is to give 138
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them pause for thought as an act of social affirmation, where what is taken to be 'social' is constituted as such by a collective reflection and deliberation. The university is conceivably any place where this occurs. In the actual university that we inhabit, we therefore value moments of pause: error, digression or procrastination. Such interstices are, as it were, cracks in the bedrock of the university that allow for creativity and criticism that is at once accidental and opportune. Making up the pluriversity Finally, we are interested in rules, or orthography (from the Greek orthographia, 'straight writing'). We do not mean that social rules should simply be followed— such rules are modelled by but not reducible to language—but, again, that they should be asked after, and their human purposes brought into clear view. The 'anthropological bedrock'25 of any social consensus is a set of 'crystallized' rules.26 Our own 'purpose' is not simple replication, or rule recognition, though this is part of our teaching (of writing). It is to investigate the human capacity to make and break rules.27 In this sense, the pluriversity bears some resemblance to the Māori whare tapere, or house of games.28 In learning how rules can be made, and not simply recognised, we recognise the human capacity for the transformation of social and natural worlds. Herein lies the wherewithal that we call worlding or possibilism. Both the 'where' and the 'with' of this wherewithal are important to a university that is sensitive to contest and context, which is to say, to a local place and its peoples, and to the many worlds it withholds from view. A real university is always situated, always face-to-face, despite the technological utopia and technical feasibility of e-learning and cloud teaching (the logic of university administration means that it should entirely outsource teaching, so that students would download superior lectures from Harvard, and make all university employees administrators). Otherwise, reflection on rules is reduced to the function of a programme: an app for critical thinking. The human animal is not only rule-bound, but also rule-finding. In the first instance, the making of rules may have involved making the most of an accident: a tree that provides shelter becomes a house; a rock that serves to cut becomes a tool. Upon reflection, such crystallized rules can be reconstructed to repurpose their original human purpose, for good or ill, which process exhibits the humanity of design rather than the ascriptive force of the tool or the letter (such templates imply a proscribed or pre-inscribed outcome). We find that focusing on error or digression or procrastination in order to opportunise accidents is critically and creatively engaging. We consider the possible worlds in terms of which such accidents make sense in unaccountable or unaccounted for ways, and we reconstruct the university in the light of these worlds. The erratological (from the Latin errare, 'to wander, roam, ramble' or 'to be mistaken') engagement we advocate—a kind of 'wandering thought'—takes all sorts of forms: in 'asking after' rules, it can deform, defuse, assume power in alternate forms, and so on.29 We say: perform the university, emulate it, occupy it, teach it with an 'eye [. . .] that sees possibility ever', in the words of our epigraph.30 This is the joy of rulemaking and rule-breaking—after all, humanum est errare: 'to err is human.' In and though such activity, the university turns out to be many worlds: a pluriversity. Its future is what we make of it.
1 Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, vol. 1, ed. and trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987) 41. 2 Walter Burkert, Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth, trans. Peter Bing (1972; Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983) 166–67. 3 Interestingly, the geonym “Europe” derives from the Greek eurus, meaning “wide, broad” and ōps, meaning “eye, face,” hence Eurōpē, “wide-gazing,” “broad of aspect.”
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4 See Epeli Hau’ofa, 'Our Sea of Islands,' A New Oceania: Rediscovering our Sea of Islands, ed. Eric Waddell, Vijay Naidu and Epeli Hau’ofa (Suva, Fiji: The University of the South Pacific in association with Beake House, 1993). 5 See Raewyn Connell, Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science (Sydney: Allen & Unwin Australia; Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997). 6 Vilsoni Hereniko (dir.), Pear ta ma ’on maf [The Land Has Eyes] (2004; Northcote, Vic.: Umbrella Entertainment; Te Maka Productions, 2006). 7 Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, People Need Nourishment (Not Judgment). Presentation to the Apostolate hui, Catholic Church, Palmerston North Diocese, 22 July 2006, web. 8 Sidney Moko Mead, Landmarks, Bridges and Visions: Aspects of Maori Culture: Essays (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1997) p.235. 9 Albert Hirschman, 'In Defense of Possibilism,' Rival Views of Market Society and Other Recent Essays (New York, NY: Viking, 1986) 173 (171–75). Hirschman’s possibilism was announced in his A Bias for Hope: Essays on Development and Latin America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1971). 10 Jorge Luis Borges, 'The Garden of Forking Paths,' Collected Fictions, ed. Maria Kodama (New York, NY: Penguin, 1999) pp. 119–28. 11 Note that The University of Auckland’s Business School is the founder of, and now partner in, the Icehouse, a “business growth centre” described as “development factory of owner-managers and entrepreneurs who will shape the future of New Zealand’s economy”; see Partners: The Icehouse, Icehouse, 2008, http://www.theicehouse.co.nz/partners/, 4 Aug. 2013. 12 See Martin Heidegger, 'Postscript to ‘What is Metaphysics?’, Pathmarks, trans. William MacNeill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) 235–36 (231–38). 13 Paolo Virno, Multitude Between Innovation and Negation, trans. Isabella Bertoletti, James Cascaito and Andrea Casson (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext[e], 2008): 115. See Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 3rd rev. ed., trans. G. E. M. Anscombe (Maiden, MA: Blackwell, 2001): 10–11. 14 Arnold Gehlen, 'The Crystallization of Cultural Forms,' Modern German Sociology, ed. Volker Meja, Dieter Misgeld and Nico Stehr (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1987): 218–31. 15 Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998): 95–96. 16 Walter Benjamin, 'On the Concept of History,' Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, vol. 4: 1938-1940, trans. Edmund Jephcott and others, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003): 389–400, p. 392. 17 Michael Gibbons, Camille Limoges, Helga Nowotny, Simon Schwartzman, Peter Scott and Martin Trow, The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies (London: Sage, 1994). 18 See Michel Foucault, 'Polemics, Politics and Problematizations: An Interview with Michel Foucault' Essential Works of Foucault 1954–84, vol. 1: Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York, NY: Penguin, 2000): 111–19. 19 Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event II, trans. Alberto Toscano (London: Continuum, 2008): 21. 20 Jacques Lacan, 'The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious, or Reason Since Freud,' Écrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Tavistock, 1977): 146–178. 21 See Sean Sturm and Stephen Turner, 'Erratology and the Ill-Logic of the Seismotic University,' Educational Philosophy and Theory (2013), forthcoming. 22 For re-purposing, see Sean Sturm and Stephen Turner, 'The University Beside Itself' paper presented at The Creative University: Education and the Creative Economy, Knowledge Formation, Global Creation and the Imagination Conference, University of Waikato, Hamilton 15–16 August, 2012; forthcoming. 23 Ronald Barnett, 'The Coming of the Ecological University,' Oxford Review of Education 37.4 (2011): 439–45, pp. 451-52; for the ecological university, see Ronald Barnett, Being a University (London: Routledge, 2011) pp. 141–50. 24 Barnett, 'Ecological University' p. 452. 25 Virno, Multitude p. 115. 26 Gehlen, 'Crystallization.' 27 Paolo Virno, Multitude Between Innovation and Negation, trans. Isabella Bertoletti, James Cascaito and Andrea Casson (2005; Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext[e], 2008) p. 117. 28 Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'Te Whare Tapere: Towards a New Model for Māori Performing Arts,' PhD thesis, Victoria University (Wellington), 1998. 29 The neologism 'erratology' combines — in what we are aware is an etymological error — two senses: erring, that is, wandering, roaming or rambling, or being mistaken (errare in Latin), and ground, discourse or thought (logos or -logia in Greek); see Sturm and Turner, “Erratology.” 30 See Jeffrey J. Williams, 'Teach the University,' Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 10.1 (2010): pp.1–9.
Contributors Sarah Amsler is Reader in Education at the University of Lincoln (UK). She writes on the cultural politics of knowledge and education, teaches the sociology and philosophy of education and critical pedagogies, and is a founding member of the ‘Social Science Centre’ higher education cooperative. She is involved in research projects on transformative cultural practice, popular higher education and pedagogical justice. Her book Educating Radical Democracy is forthcoming. Sam Morgan is a student at Auckland Grammar School. As an aspiring stencil artist, he is doing his best to stay on the right side of the law.
Henry Babbage is an Aucklandbased artist, curator and graphic designer. Henry graduated with a BFA(Hons) from Elam School of Fine Arts in 2011. Henry’s art, design and curatorial practices overlap around an interest in design-as-research. As well as working collaboratively on the design for Argos Aotearoa, Henry has recently designed publications and catalogues for Elam, The Physics Room and Window. Henry is a curator at Window, a gallery within the University of Auckland and he is a director of Gloria Knight, a gallery he co-founded in March 2012. Henry has contributed texts to exhibitions and publications for Te Tuhi, split/ fountain, The Physics Room and Auckland Art Gallery.
Alex Wild Jespersen is a writer, lecturer and researcher obsessed with the historiography of everything. She has a PhD in German Studies (2013) and a Master of Creative Writing (2008) and is, at present, a Professional Teaching Fellow for the Department of English at the University of Auckland.
Stephen Turner teaches Writing Studies at Auckland University. He writes and talks about migrancy, metropolitanism and the constitution of Aotearoa New Zealand. He is interested in ‘untenable objects’, which should not but do exist, which invoke care and courage, and which give us pause and prompt questions about the everyday and what we value. He also writes and talks Afakasi Baby is an art collective with Sean Sturm on learning, writing and the university. made up of brothers Caleb Satele and Daniel Michael Satele. Caleb is completing an honours degree at Elam School of Fine Neal Curtis is Senior Lecturer in Media, Film Arts. Daniel is a writer and a and Television at the University of Auckland. doctoral candidate in English, He is the author of Against Autonomy ( Drama and Writing Studies at the Ashgate, 2001), War and Social Theory University of Auckland. Daniel’s (Palgrave, 2006) and Idiotism (Pluto, 2013). writing has appeared recently in His current interests include media theory, Art New Zealand, ArtAsiaPacific, technology and comics and is currently Brief, EyeContact and The writing a book called On Sovereignty and Pantograph Punch. Superheroes for Manchester University Press.
Born in London but raised in New Zealand, the half-Welsh Paul Janman is an Auckland writer and filmmaker. Early studies in history and philosophy and an interest in Buddhism and martial arts caused him years in Europe and Asia. Back in NZ, he entered into anthropology and street theatre before becoming bemused and inspired by Herakleitos and Andersonian Realism. After two years under ‘I. Futa Helu at ‘Atenisi Institute in Tonga, he made the film Tongan Ark – a series of paradoxes and an interventionist model of documentary-making that has both elated and disturbed audiences around the world.
Marek Tesar is a Lecturer at the University of Auckland. His research is concerned with the construction of childhoods, and the importance of children’s literature as a discourse that affects the production of childhood subjectivities. Marek was a recipient of the 2012 Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia (PESA) annual doctoral award and the 2013 Dean’s list award.
Anne Jones has spent far too much of her life, foolishly struggling to make sense of the contradictions of living as a human being on earth. The puzzlement she experienced as a child in relation to the academic dryness she was expected to adopt towards the immediate vibrancy of all things living, forced her into the world of the theater, the falseness of which, in turn, soon forced her back on herself in a way which plunged her deep into the abyssal depths of the human psyche, as she left the stage and dived into the reality of relationships based on human weaknesses of all kinds. This led her back into her passion for writing, allowing her to transcribe her experiences into a two-hour one-person performance piece called “Alive and Desperate” which led her back to the stage and into the worlds of Buddhism and Anthroposophy. These two philosophies supported her belief in the sovereignty of the human spirit in relationship to the material realm. Out of the study of these two philosophies, a new respect was born for the world of the intellect and she returned to university, where a whole new struggle evolved: one in which her thirst for learning was thwarted and narrowed by the dictates of a depleting assessment-based system. Having worked her way through a Masters of Creative Writing, she has returned to a state of sanity she first experienced as a child, where she was empty of all expectations and in this empty state, finally, she is now able to relax with a sense that she and everything around her is enough, as is, while, relentlessly, she continues in her exploration of ways in which to convey the balance between the spiritual and the material, the active and the idle, the need for improvisational play along with the need for disciplined rigour.
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Mark Amsler is Senior Lecturer in English, Drama and Writing Studies at the University of Auckland. His teaching and research includes literacy studies, critical theory, semiotics, sociolinguistics and medieval studies. He recently published Affective Literacies: Writing and Multilingualism in the Later Middle Ages, and is currently completely a book on pragmatic discourses and heterodox communities, entitled How to Do Things with Words, 1100-1500.
Anna Boswell knows what precarity feels like. For now, she is a Professional Teaching Fellow in Writing Studies at the University of Auckland, and while she dreams of occupying an office fitted with a hamster wheel, she feels lucky to be making do with slivers of support offered by research awards and prizes from the Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust, Auckland Museum and the Journal of New Zealand Literature. She talks and writes about settlement in terms of inscription, institutionality and pedagogy, and is becoming increasingly preoccupied with the (healthy) relationship of parasitism to these things. Pritika Lal is an interdisciplinary author whose method of exploration across all media uses sketching to focus on process. Pritika holds a Master of Creative Technologies 2013, Spatial Design Honours 2011 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Elam School of Fine Arts.
Once upon a time, Toivo James was here, before you. At said point, he busied himself building web-based miscellany, whilst quietly dreaming of crafting jewels which might instead, under the right light, reflect that glint in your eye... Miri Davidson has studied anthropology, sociology and English, and is currently doing an MA in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, London. Working in, writing about and taking part in politics at the University of Auckland has led her to interests in continental critical and decolonising theory.
Campbell Jones is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Auckland. HIs most recent book is Can the Market Speak? (London:Zero, 2013)
Sandra Grey is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research focuses on social movements and citizen engagement in democracy. Sandra is currently working on a project examining four decades of contentious political activity by the women’s, union and anti-poverty movements of New Zealand. Her recent publications in this field include a chapter on the New Zealand women’s movement in Rethinking Women in Politics; an edited collection Women's Movements: Flourishing or in Abeyance? co-edited with Marian Sawer, and ‘Voices of the community: the community and voluntary sector’s role in New Zealand democracy’, a report co-authored with Charles Sedgwick. As well as her keen research interest in social movement activism and civil society politics, since 2010 Sandra has been the spokesperson for the Campaign for MMP. And during 2011 and 2012 Sandra took leave from Victoria University to work full-time as the National President of the Tertiary Education Union. Alena Kavka is a student in her last year of high school at Western Springs College. Faced with the impending uncertainties of adult life, she spends most of her time looking at photos of cats on the internet and crying.
ri Carlos and Guy Cohn are two figures of responsibility. In a world hich taking responsibility in any meaningful sense is obscured and ced, Carlos and Cohn present themselves as more than happy to take onsibility. They insist on putting forward the necessity of an end to al relations dictated by capital, and the chances for the construction world beyond capitalist democracy. Their desire for forms of action, ght lost to the past, whether it be shutting down streets or holding ersities captive, is not a nostalgia, but a beginning.
oetry and doodling, opps, I mean, diagrammatic nowledge reconconstruction via mind mapping, are viable ways of knowing for Selina Tusitala Marsh. Any learning nvironment, no matter how dense or boring, can gain hat L’Oreal mantra of being ‘worth it’, if something new is reated. Selina’s second collection of poetry, Dark Sparring Auckland University Press), is now out. It comes with a CD f poems with music by Tim Page.
Local Time is an Auckland-based collective of artists, writers and teachers who have been working together since 2006. Their practice is varied, creating site-specific projects with an emphasis on local and indigenous knowledge and the investigation of naming and framing across multiple histories. Local Time’s multi-strand projects and events aim to integrate their academic and artistic backgrounds. Their research and interventions have often been staged in remote areas, addressing the complexities of living in a colonial nation.
Tim Neale is a writer and researcher at the University of Melbourne. His research concerns political ecology, econationalism and historical geography in the settler-colonial south, and his writing has appeared in journals such as Australian Humanities Review and Hue & Cry.
mark was an artist collective formed mid-2012, made up of six third-year Elam students. The collective was formed as an act of resistance to the university’s neoliberal appropriation of education. mark based itself on the rupture of the competitive, individualist nature of the university in order to rethink education, not as a commodifiable good, but a process of reciprocity and collaboration. Removing the individualised transactional process by which a grade is given, and by which success is measured, revealed the possibility of collectively controlling the education process. In doing this, mark was able to renegotiate the possibility of an education which superseded market logic and neoliberal structures. The students involved used the space formed by this rupture in the neoliberal logic to create a dialogue about our current situation and how to collectively create change.
Sean Sturm is a lecturer in academic development in the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education (CLeaR) at the University of Auckland. He teaches and writes about writing, teaching and learning in the university, often with Stephen Turner.
Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal (Marutūahu, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngā Puhi) is a musician and researcher with interests in the creative potential of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), particularly as this relates to the whare tapere (traditional houses of performing arts). He is Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Indigenous Centre of Research Excellence and Professor of Indigenous Development in the Faculty of Arts, The University of Auckland. Charles has been a New Zealand Senior Fulbright Scholar, a Winston Churchill Fellow and a visiting scholar at the University of London. Charles has written or edited six books on aspects of mātauranga Māori and iwi history.
Walescka Pino-Ojeda is an Associate Professor in Latin American Studies, and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Latin American Studies. She specialises in Latin American literature and critical theory, with an emphasis on popular culture, memory and trauma studies. Her book Night and Fog: Neoliberalism, Memory and Trauma in Post-Authoritarian Chile was published in Chile in 2011 by Cuarto Propio Editorial House.
Eleanor Cooper is an Auckland-based artist. Recent exhibitions include Hermes’ Lack of Words at Artspace and Mount Eden Information Kiosk at Split Fountain gallery. She completed her honours degree in Fine Arts and BA in Philosophy at the University of Auckland in 2012.
Ashlin Raymond is an Auckland-based artist, writer and graphic designer. She predominantly works in video, installation and sound. Her practice is conducted through various fictional guises to navigate around uncomfortable zones of ego. Recent projects include Chill Spree at Dogpark, 100% Pure You at Blue Oyster, Virtual Spa at Dogpark, Boundless Energy at Ferari and Eternal at Gloria Knight.
Marek Tesar is a Lecturer at the University of Auckland. His research is concerned with the construction of childhoods, and the importance of children’s literature as a discourse that affects the production of childhood subjectivities. Marek was a recipient of the 2012 Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia (PESA) annual doctoral award and the 2013 Dean’s list award.
Laurence Simmons is a Professor Department of Media, Film and Television at the University of Auckland. He is the co-editor of Derrida Downunder (2001), Baudrillard West of the Dateline (2003) and From Z to A: Zizek at the Antipodes (2005) and has published a book about Freud’s papers on art and aesthetics and his relationship with Italy entitled Freud’s Italian Journey in 2006. His latest book, Tuhituhi (2011), is on the painter William Hodges, who journeyed with Captain James Cook on his second voyage to the South Pacific.
Henri Carlos and Guy Cohn are two figures of responsibility. In a world in which taking responsibility in any meaningful sense is obscured and policed, Carlos and Cohn present themselves as more than happy to take it. They insist on putting forward the necessity of an end to social relations dictated by capital, and to exposing the chances for the construction of a world beyond capitalist democracy. Their desire for forms of action, thought lost to the past, whether it be shutting down streets or holding universities captive, is not a nostalgia, but a beginning.
Chant Baxter West is studying spoken word poetry in Tamaki Makaurau, and looking at how it performs dissensus. Issues of justice such as colonialism and cultural identity are articulated in this new way of speaking that are accessible both in who gets to speak and what they can say, as well as who can experience what’s being said. It is then an anti-elite, intensely democratic and inclusive creative for(u)m. This makes it an important tool in political organizing—in her own activism and in general—especially considering a middle class Pākehā background.
Airini is Head of the School of Critical Studies in Education. Her major research and professional interests revolve around issues of ethnicity and equity in education, particularly higher education. http:// www.education.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/airini
Verity Mensonage and Marcus Karlsberg are a couple of washed up academics from a profligate institution that only ever had fleeting existence in the fugitive inbetweens of fantasy, friendship and the imposition of reality in severalty. They remain optimistic and still find life in the street, the pub, the park, the street Party, and the pages of those books whose authors managed to resist the unceasing demands to professionalise or otherwise polish themselves slick. They believe in full communism and the infinite debt of planetary reparation.
Argos Aotearoa Issue 01: The university beside itself March 2014 Published by Argos Aotearoa Auckland, New Zealand www.argosaotearoa.org Argos is Henry Babbage Anna Boswell Miri Davidson InDesign Toivo James Ashlin Raymond Sean Sturm Stephen Turner Special thanks
We gratefully acknowledge English, Drama, and Writing Studies and Media, Film and Television at the University of Auckland, and URGE (University Reform, Globalisation and Europeanisation) for their support for this publication. We extend special thanks to all contributors and to Ian Wedde, Wystan Curnow, Jo Smith, Ross Boswell, Jane Horan, Jack Hadley, Robin Murphy, Marcus Elliot, Echo Janman, Conor Lorigan, Evija Trofimova, Jenny Stuemer, Kelly Malone and Makyla Curtis.
Argos also pays tribute to And (1983-85). Printing SG Digital, Auckland Typefaces Aktiv Grotesk by Dalton Maag ZXX by Sang Mun
All parts of this journal, images and text, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License. They may be shared freely for any non-commercial purpose, as long as they are not altered in any way and the authors are credited. To view a copy of the license, visit http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ PDF copies are available online at www.argosaotearoa.org
Argos Aotearoa issue 01: The university beside itself ISSN: 2324-5794 132 pages 195 x 278 mm Published: Auckland, New Zealand March 2014
The uni bes itse