Tag Archives: education

From Sydney Uni (as reported in the CPA paper)

Issue #1609      September 4, 2013

University of Sydney strike.

Staff at the University of Sydney took the extraordinary measure of striking last Saturday on the university’s Open Day. It’s the 7th day of strike action since March over stalled collective agreement negotiations.

University staff gathered at the main gates on campus to explain to prospective students – and their families – the reasons for their collective bargaining campaign and how deteriorating staff working conditions will affect the quality of education and the conditions of learning.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) branch president Michael Thomson said it was a serious issue but the union action at Open Day was also fun and informative, with barbeques, balloons, and music laid on.

“We’re reclaiming Open Day and the University of Sydney from the marketeers and spin doctors.”

Staff were on the main gates from 8am and leafleted at public transport hubs during the morning. Thomson said that management’s current pay offer to staff was a real wage cut of 0.5 percent a year.

“The paltry pay offer is part of a concerted effort by Vice Chancellors across the country to force down the wages of staff in the higher education sector, even as they ask us to work harder for longer,” he said.

“At Sydney, student load increased by more than 5 percent in 2012 alone, yet staff numbers have remained unchanged. Management simply expects us to meet increased demand through increases in our workload and work intensification.

“Management’s claim that anything more than their offer is unaffordable is an attempt to suggest staff are being greedy. However, our pay claim aligns closely with community standards and expectations.

“Figures released by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations show national system public sector employees received average enterprise agreement wage increases of 3.9% a year in the March quarter 2013. Across the whole national system, wages in enterprise agreements increased 3.7%.

“We deserve a fair pay rise that recognises both our hard work and broader community wage outcomes. The University of Sydney is a wealthy institution and can afford it.”

Next article – Life under an Abbott government

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Workshop for PhDs at QM – 4 Dec 2009

Queen Mary and Goldsmiths PhD Master Class
“Consensus is Oppression: Creating Conflictive Democracy through Global Movement Networks”
Friday, December 4th 2009, 1.30 – 3.30 pm, Room 4.08, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London.
Democratic rhetoric has never been so widespread, yet democracy is in deep crisis. Dominant approaches reliant on representative democratic practices view human diversity as a problem to be resolved, resulting in homogenisation and exclusion. Diversity, however, can be healthy for democracy when given room for expression. Marianne Maeckelbergh argues that conflict must be embraced in organisational processes.
Marianne Maeckelbergh’s research uses a methodology of politically engaged anthropology that calls into question the demarcation of stark boundaries between theory and practice. Her work provides some answers to the double role researchers have in interpreting the cultural practices of organisation whilst simultaneously being actively involved in creating and transforming these practices. Moreover her research confronts important questions about university-based research, its subjects, audiences and purposes. These are key concerns for doctoral researchers today. In this PhD master class, Marianne Maeckelbergh will present her PhD research on conflict in organisation and discuss the methodological approach that informed her study. She will also address questions regarding the process of publishing PhD research.
Dr Marianne Maeckelbergh is lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University, Netherlands and received
her PhD from the University of Sussex. She has many years of experience organising and facilitating the decision-making processes that lie at the heart of her recent work.
The PhD master class is open to all research students and is co-organised by Goldsmiths Centre for Cultural Studies and Queen Mary School of Business and Management, University of London.
Emma Dowling, e.dowling[at]qmul.ac.uk. Tel: 020 7882 8985
John Hutnyk, john.hutnyk[at]gold.ac.uk. Tel: 020 7919 7061


Malevich painting of four figures

Goldsmiths UCU and Goldsmiths Students Union Open Meeting

The new ‘points based’ new immigration rules represent a serious threat to campus democracy and freedom of speech. They require non-EU students and staff to have biometric ID cards, involve checks on the financial background of applicants and mean that staff are obliged to report students to the UK Border Agency when they have not attended regularly. Come and hear why these new immigration controls are unfair, unwarranted and undemocratic.

Helena Kennedy QC, Labour Peer and Civil Rights Campaigner
Manick Govinda, ArtsAdmin & Manifesto Club Arts Visa Campaign
Tom Hickey, National Executive, University and College Union
James Haywood, National Executive, National Union of Students

Time: 5pm
Place: The Stretch, Goldsmiths Students Union

For more information, email Matthew Fuller m.fuller [at] gold.ac.uk


frompda%2B010To:  Goldsmiths, University of London

We are strongly opposed to the implementation of the new attendance monitoring policy and related policies that have been imposed on our university by the Home Office under the new points based immigration system recently introduced in the UK. We invite our colleagues in at Goldsmiths and across the University of London to join us in voicing their opposition to these policies and in fighting their implementation
The new regulations make us do a policing job in our classrooms, turning both academic and administrative staff into agents of the UK Border Agency. We object to this for reasons both political and professional. We are concerned that the regulations represent possible breaches of European human rights conventions and seriously threaten our students’ rights to mobility, privacy and education. Although recent changes to implementation of the law have expanded the scope of student monitoring and reporting–with the result that policies explicitly targeting the monitoring and reporting of information about non-EU students have been expanded to include the monitoring and reporting of information about all students–this does not disguise the fact that these policies are discriminatory in intent and will very likely be discriminatory in practice. International students are an integral and valued part of our community, and we do not accept any measures that will lead to the unequal treatment of non-EU students as a result of their enrollment on our degree programmes.

As will be evident to anyone involved in teaching and learning in a university environment, the new regulations are ill adapted to that environment and out of touch with the lived realities of our work. They detract from academic freedom and will have profoundly negative impacts on the relationship between staff and students, which should be one of trust, not of spying and control. The turnaround time stipulated for the reporting of student absences is unrealistic, and the new regulations will lead to increases in workload for both academic and administrative staff. In the case of our own academic unit, the very premises of attendance monitoring fundamentally misconstrue our mission as a postgrad teaching and research centre. Finally, the regulations raise questions as to the security of staff, placing them in a position where they are probing into and ultimately violating students’ rights. Because staff will be unwilling to inform on students in a way that results in their expulsion from the UK, the regulations may also have the effect of discouraging staff from enquiring after students’ well-being, interfering in our ability to carry out pastoral duties and threatening students’ security as well.

In raising these concerns, we join colleagues at Goldsmiths and at other higher education institutions in the UK, who have publicly stated their opposition on related grounds (Goldsmiths UCU; UCU Black Members’ Standing Committee; UCU Black Members, University of Kent; Manchester Metropolitan University; a coalition of institutions in Liverpool; as well as the Institute of Race Relations and the National Critical Lawyers Group). We also join, significantly to our mind, Goldsmiths Student Union, which in November 2008 passed a motion asking staff not to comply with the new rules.

Finally, the new immigration policies are of urgent concern to all at a time when our university communities are facing unprecedented economic pressure. Due to new (and excessively stringent) financial requirements of students applying for visas to study in the UK, the new policies will have negative impacts on recruitment. These will hit us immediately, at a time when we are under pressure to increase international student enrollments college-wide. The difficulties recently reported by postgraduate research students who have applied for visa renewals in the final months of their degree work are also worrisome and stand as further evidence that the new immigration rules will detract from the quality of teaching and learning and are ill-adapted to our mission as a university.

We sincerely hope that Goldsmiths will insist on being a teaching and research institution, and that it will maintain its commitments to its educational mission by opposing the implementation of the new Home Office regulations both on our campus and in the context of the growing national campaigns.

Scott Lash, Director, Goldsmiths Centre for Cultural Studies

Centre for Cultural Studies Staff
Jennifer Bajorek
Josephine Berry-Slater
Matthew Fuller
Graham Harwood
John Hutnyk
Breda McAleer
Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay
Luciana Parisi
Lisa Rabanal
Adela Santana

State of Nature


The good people at the journal State of Nature thought it a plausible idea to do an interview. A fine opportunity to talk about what I was reading (and writing) at the time. Happy May Day. See you at the parade.

Things to do – research council wish list

piratesofthecaribbean2_trailer_41As part of my job, late Wednesday evening, I am filling out a ‘response form’ for an Arts and Humanities Research Council ‘consultation’. I include it here as I expect this draft not to get past the photocopier… The consultation form asks, in somewhat bureaucratic survey format, for me to opine on things that might be good to do if one had the ear of the research councils. Obviously this is a task in delicate expectation hampering, utopia limiting, reality conscious compromise. And surely I am not the best person to be quizzed for viable schemes – heaven forbid. Yet how about we do some things like:

a) a Global Politics Institute. Such an institute could be based on the sort of thing we write in the Goldsmiths MA Postcolonial brochure which addresses: ‘The emergence of China and India as global players; of the Persian Gulf, Africa, Brazil and Russia as hubs in the world resource economy; the crisis of the nation-state, and phenomenon of ‘failed states’, and the development global governance; the rise of global terrorism after 9/11 and geo-political instability in the Middle East; the snowballing of the metropolitan credit-crunch into global financial meltdown’ Such an institute would investigate issues of intellectual property rights, social capital, financialisation, global governance, democracy and secularism. An institute like this would deal with issues ranging from the representation of terrorism and fear to images of poverty and charity (double standards) in Asia and Africa; from questions popular democracy and people’s movements in India and Latin America to the volatile debates over human rights in China and over the environment in South East Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia). It would be an important forum for shaping intelligent debates with intellectual rigour and a rounded – can I say wholesome – approach to life and struggles.

b) An Art and Politics Institute. This would be an exciting move because, as the Goldsmiths MA Art and Politics website suggests, this would recognise ‘the appeal within arts colleges, and among art students, to ‘situate’ practice in terms of current contemporary discourse has increasingly led to the incorporation of political and social theory into art school courses’. It would, as also noted, ‘investigate shifts in the relationship between art and politics – theoretically, historically and operationally. Using a diverse range of discourses, the programme will consider, from a variety of perspectives, changes in the relationship between politics and art’. Good stuff.

c) a Centre for the Study of Alternative Futures would support research around climate issues, anti-capitalism, syndicalism, autonomous Marxism, new communism etc. The success of the recent Birkbeck ‘Idea of Communism’ conference – with 800 delegates on each of the three days – suggests a massive untapped potential for a politically relevant philosophy. AHRC could take the lead on this, to its great credit.

What else:

Foster a critical intelligence, a rampant creativity that is more than just cramming.

Reverse the tendency towards conformity.

Against vocationalization of the curriculum.

The push (obsession) to regulate training by research councils has been a disaster I think. Departments doing flips and twists to appear to provide a comprehensive training that is frankly not suited to purpose. It cannot be – there is no uniform code for research at PhD level. The production of a common bland formulaic (quality assured) set of inanities simply does not produce the kind of curiosity, creativity and inspiration that is required for the research we want our students to achieve. Rather, fund existing researchers to pass on experience by example, not how-to sessions called ‘how to type a bibliography’ or ‘mock celebrity 101: publicizing your research in the press’.

Promote dissemination of ideas by encouraging and funding open source journal access, universal distribution of print and electronic resources (beyond the universities as well) an end to the prohibitive costs for journal subscriptions, support for alternative publishing, weblogs, print on demand and the like. The development of adequate public libraries….

Conduct a serious public forum in each university (Bombard the HQ) – as a regular event on each calendar – exposing core aims and objectives of research and the research councils to critical public evaluation. Invite profs and people from all walks of life to an open-ended, ongoing, policy making (ie., empowered to enact funded policies) long-term, reflexive debate about what a research council or university researchers ought to be doing.

Topics for discussion:

- complications of Govt funding v. autonomy/academic freedom

- how might the centre v margin privilege of research, in all its forms, be undone

- race, class and gender bias in research/academia

- vernacular research and researchers

- concept of a community university, solidarity with universities destroyed or hampered by war, such as in Palestine.

- experimental/inspirational futures

- art and politics

- postcolonial…

Run a campaign for unrestricted transfer of academic personnel between countries. Reverse the damages caused by the new points based immigration system and other restrictions on international travel. A national campaign against the requirement that academics take on the work of the UK Border authorities, turning academic relationships into acts of surveillance and distrust.

Reward internationalism, don’t punish it.

Better meals, more coffee, a decent bookshop…

ahh, this is getting silly – its late, lets go do something useful…

Warm It Up Moloko-plus my little droogies – I could teach you, but I’d have to charge

mister-mayhem-415x248In another fine mess, the University of East London contributes to the escalation of madness that also saw Will Hutton foolishly pontificating against G20 protesters on the BBC two nights ago as part of a series of suits trotted out to do defensive work in anticipation of the coming protest. Lovely of the press to do this kind of warm up stuff when this kind of one-off event comes around. It adds a certain frisson.

People have asked me if I will be protesting against the G20 on April 1st, and I want to stress that I protest against them every day, and against the G50, G100 and any Gee whizz propaganda scam cooked up by the executive committee. I’ll be about of course, though I am also interested in building political outlooks and alternatives for more than a one-day carnival-cum-police training exercise in crowd containment. This 1 in 365 fractional theatre is no doubt striking, you’ve got to love these occasional stage-managed inversions of the bourgeois order, repleat with boarded up shopfronts, bankers wearing trainers, and anthropology professors outrageously suspended for giving puffed up interviews to local tabloids (its clearly mockery, viddy the picture, read the article). That said, the idea that the G20 protest might turn into a velvet revolution is intriguing, so do bring a snack for the lock down. There surely does need to be an alternative to this rotten, corrupt and unequal system – and although its going to take more than a street party on April Fools day, if we thought about it in terms of larger fractions and what is needed to win we might be getting somewhere (a party organization, overturning of class divisions, open borders, anti-racism that is more than wearing a badge, end of the arms trade, free education [hence this post's title - warm it up] and more). G20, G19, G18, G17… – how many days would it take to get all velvety? Arise comrades, another world is necessary.

In the meantime, Chris Knight needs to be re-ininstated, this sort of reaction is just mad. Again, check out the photo from the article that caused the furore – its clearly pantomime. And the ‘Guardian’s’ intrepid reporter seems to have a bit of the Will Hutton’s about him too – if you compare the ‘Evening Standard’ original article on Chris Knight – see comment one below for the text – I think you can clearly see that the process of escalation is carried out here too. Richard Rogers to the rescue. AwaY. With friends like these, who needs enemies…

Professor suspended over claims he incited G20 violence

• Interview creates trouble for anthropology expert
• Protest organiser revels in ‘perfect storm for enemies’

The G20 Meltdown protesters intend to converge on the Bank of England from four directions. Each group will march behind one of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”.

Richard Rogers The Guardian, Friday 27 March 2009

One of the leading organisers of next Wednesday’s Financial Fools’ Day protests was last night suspended from his role as Professor of Anthropology at the University of East London, on full pay.

Chris Knight, who has been a lecturer in anthropology at the university since 1989, and professor since 2000, was informed of his suspension yesterday evening, and was told it was because of an interview he gave to a newspaper this week in which he is quoted as “inciting criminal action, specifically violence against policemen and women and damage to banking institutions”.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Knight was pictured with a placard bearing the slogan “Eat the bankers”, and quoted as saying: “If they [the police] want violence, they’ll get it”. He is also quoted by the Standard as advising bankers that on April 1 “if you’re thinking of coming in, my advice is don’t”.

Knight, along with fellow UEL anthropologist Elizabeth Power and former Liberal Democrat councillor turned activist Marina Pepper, set up the G-20meltdown.org website and began to host meetings to which they invited other green and anarchist groups.

Knight told the Guardian last night that he was doing everything possible to make sure there was no violence next week. He said he had set up the protest group with theatrical rather than violent aims.

“I’m doing everything possible to make sure that all the anger of the middle classes doesn’t turn into violence. That’s why we do all this play-acting. We’re being nice to the bankers – we’re burning them as effigies. Of course we don’t want violence. If there’s a huge ruck, the press will photograph it, and our vision about a different planet will not get reported.”

He added: “But it’s going to be hard. The message to police is ‘if you press your nuclear button, I’ll press mine’. It sounds like a threat? Well, yeah – don’t do it. If you want violence, you’ll get it.

“I know I’m in my own bubble. But in my bubble I’m predicting we’ll have a velvet revolution in the next week or so …The police, backed up by the army, will try to hold the ExCel centre. While they hold that, they will lose London. Then I think Gordon Brown will go.

“It’s a perfect storm for our enemies,” he added. “I cannot believe my luck. It’s happening 800 yards from my campus … The media are doing all our work for us.”

Academic Border Patrols

combat1Since this topic came up in our CCS program monitoring (course review) session today, I think it would be useful for people to know that there is considerable opposition on campuses to involvement on the part of university staff in the dirty work of the UK Border Police. Below I reproduce the Academic Union’s recent motion from our most recent branch meeting, and after that a separate, but related campaign by Goldsmiths’ own A. Gormley and a few others that – unrelatedly but endearingly – follows up on one of the initiatives suggested at the Sonic Diaspora Beyond Borders Beyond Text workshop we held in CCS in November. I comment without needing to make the obvious references to how well this racist points-based immigration system worked out in Fortress Australia:

Motion: New Home Office regulations (overwhelmingly carried, 12/2/09)

We wish to express our opposition to the new Home Office regulations, introduced under the new points-based system for immigration to the UK, that will require lecturers to monitor international students and to report any absences from seminars, lectures and tutorials, as well as any failure to submit assessment on time. We are opposed to these regulations for the following reasons.

First, they represent a possible breach of Article 8 (the right to privacy) and Article 3 (degrading treatment) of the European Convention of Human Rights and the 1998 Human Rights Act.

Second, such regulations will harm the relationship of trust between students and lecturers that is a vital aspect of doing our jobs which, fundamentally, should be helping students to learn. The regulations, in effect, treat international students as though they are potential suspects who have come to the UK with the specific goal of abusing the immigration system. We feel that this is discriminatory as the Home Office regulations apply only to non-EU students. We also wish to point out that the existing procedures of applying for a student visa requires students to be accepted at an accredited UK institution and, as such, already address the concerns and bogus schools that apparently have motivated the new rules.

Third, the work involved in monitoring international students will add unnecessarily to our workloads, in addition to our regular teaching, administrative and pastoral duties.

Furthermore, we note the passing of a motion in 2008 by Goldsmiths Students Union encouraging staff not to comply with the new rules.

For these reasons, this meeting agrees

1.        To affirm its opposition to the new Home Office regulations;
2.        To request details of the specific plans the University is making with
regard to the implementation of these regulations;
3.        To ask members not to commence implementation of these regulations until these details are made clear to members, and the human rights and workload issues are appropriately dealt with.

The Piece from The Observer contained a final paragraph gem of doublethink: ‘A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “We want the United Kingdom to stay open and attractive for creative artists. But at the same time we are determined to deliver a system of border security which is among the most secure in the world.”‘ But the article at least started off lauding the efforts of the artists. For those who think that its not just artists who need to be defended from these draconian rules, it was helpfully pointed out to me that in the new cultural economy we are all “Artists” now. I guess that hype might work. Here are the first few paragraphs of this article:

Top artists battle visa clampdown

  • The Observer, Sunday 22 February 2009

Antony Gormley is leading major arts figures in an attack on security controls which prevent star international performers from entering the UK

The visa legislation has tightened up the requirements for all professionals travelling to Britain from outside the EU in order to perform or take part in an arts event. Artists must now not only show proof of their identity, including fingerprints, but also show they have an established sponsor happy to take full financial responsibility for them and to vouch for all their activities while on British soil. Small organisations must pay a fee of £400 to become an official “sponsor”, while larger groups must pay £1,000.

Leading figures from the art world, including Antony Gormley and Nicholas Hytner, have launched a campaign to reverse stringent visa controls which they claim are preventing top foreign musicians, actors and artists from visiting Britain.

They say that immigration laws introduced last year are restricting artistic freedom and have called on the Home Office to review them.

One example they give is that of the virtuoso Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov, who cancelled what was to be his second performance in this country at the Southbank Centre in London when he could not provide the documents required for his planned visit in April.

“This country has always been a hub, an airy place where people from all over the world could come and express themselves in art,” said actress Janet Suzman, one of the signatories of a petition calling for the Home Office to look at the rules again. “This legislation stamps on all that with a clunking, hobnail boot”…

An ‘airy place’ thats been ‘stomped on’. – just how artists speak I’m sure. But however they say what they say, they are at least not as scary as those who would deliver a world’s most secure arts sector. Its a laugh a minute in the museum of democracy. Sign me up now.

Goldsmiths occupied, twinned…

goldsmithsGoldsmiths Students Occupy Deptford Town Hall!

The occupation comes after the college refused the provision of
scholarship programmes for Palestinian students…
Please offer messages of support or join the fray!
Regards, Luke
See a commentary here. And a first blog post here.

There is a facebook site as well. See here.

And tomorrow a union meeting to endorse the twinning of Goldsmiths With Al Quds University in Palestine.  Some discussion from Canada of Boycott politics here. Includes some strange associations in terms of signatories, but the tangentially relevant Banksy graffito that heads the piece deserves a nod.

We will

badgeI’m corresponding with a certain Jen O about her prospective PhD here:

Her day job in marketing reminded me of an anecdote I’ve been meaning to post:

There once was was a workshop once that was run by our marketing/consultancy people. I think this was a rather dim excersize from no doubt excessively paid chancers, but we had fun at this workshop. They asked us to break into teams and brainstorm the five main themes of Goldsmiths mission/brand. Our group had to take the slogan – ‘Goldsmiths offers a transformatory experience’ and make it more ‘edgy’. Stage one we came up with ‘Goldsmiths will change the way you think’, which is OK and I’d been using a version of this for years in introductory talks for new students (I’ve another talk coming up on Opend Day wednesday 18th Feb). But we had to report back at this meeting in front of all the college heads of departments and other tops. All fine, the then head of finance was our designated feedback person, so – with him in a bow-tie – we had him stand up and announce to the assembled heads that our second stage radicalization of that slogan – ‘we will change the way you think’ was now ‘We will fuck with your head’. Much laughter and mock shock, credit to him for doing our bidding. Needless to say, our rewritten slogan for Goldsmiths was subsequently voted down and on the strapline and on the twee little lapel buttons they made as part of the ‘rebranding’ our slogan was not adopted. The badge instead says ‘radical’ – which is of course counter-indicative [but I could not find an image of that badge on line, so will scan it tomorrow maybe, in the meantime see the random badge pic generator to the left, and even better - see here for a better viral marketing move omn Goldies part].


rooThis article below from Melbourne Uni caught my eye since we’ll be evicted from our flat in 15 days. I’m afraid squatting’s not an option for us (unlike kangaroos), though I support the form… the last line  of this report once again underlines the border shame.

from The Age

“Uni squatters gear up for evictions

  • Mex Cooper
  • January 7, 2009

Melbourne University student squatters are gearing up to resist police and sheriff’s officers as the countdown to their eviction begins.

- Squatters rally at uni houses
- ‘Political point’ on rental crisis
- 16 defy court order to leave

Sixteen students remain living in three terrace houses in Faraday Street, Carlton, which are owned by Melbourne University, despite an order to leave from the Supreme Court.

The students moved into the houses about five months ago.

Student Housing Action Collective spokesman James Field said the buildings had been empty for three years until the students began squatting last August.

He said the group were making a political point about the rental crisis in Melbourne and the failure of the university to help its 220 homeless students.

Members of the collective expected the Sheriff’s Office to conduct a “raid” and evict them from the property after an anonymous tip from a police source.

But after staging a rally in front of the houses from noon, Mr Field said the students had since been told that they would not be evicted today.

He said he believed the Sheriff’s Office and police were strategically avoiding the glare of the media’s spotlight and would arrive when there were fewer people around to witness the eviction.

He said the students living at the houses would link arms and refuse to leave – possibly by chaining themselves to the buildings so they could not be moved.

Mr Field said four international students had moved out so as not to risk their visas by resisting police.”

Education is not an unthinkable good.

11-08-05_1607Rewritten in Taipei: (conference and seminars great, city unseen because of flu, rest of the paper in due course):

Education is not an unthinkable good.

They have something of which they are very proud. They call it culture. It distinguishes them from the goatherders – Nietzsche, from the fifth section of part one of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

How might we prepare ourselves for collective thinking that is not fear? There has been quite some discussion of late about new initiatives in education, which is fine, remembering that Adorno insisted that education had to combat totalitarianism. New thinking is what we require if we are to think at all. This coda is however less ambitious: Irit Rogoff’s comments on two tendencies in education in Europe perhaps deserve a few remarks. Rogoff mentions both the Bologna Process aiming at some sort of compatibility conversion coherence across degree offerings in the EU countries, and a second tendency which amounts to a proliferation of self-organising Arts School formations, or what Florian Schneider calls ‘non-aligned initiatives converging around “education”’. Education here is becoming a ‘model’ for various initiatives, where the key terms are, it seems to me, recitations: ‘new methods’, new initiatives, new models, ‘radical pedagogy’, ‘collaborative work’ and proposals ‘to change the terms of the debate away from a purely bureaucratic engagement with quantitative and administrative demands and from the ongoing tendency to privatize knowledge as so-called “intellectual property”’ (Rogoff at Goldsmiths College, May 2007). So far so good. I guess. I do not see this as very much different from the training programmes that so concerned the writers of the Factory Inspectorate reports cited by Marx in Capital.

Coming from engaged colleagues, of course these ideas are welcome and we have a lot of ground on which to agree. The problem is that when we think of Education as a model, I want to reach for my gun. What is it to promote education as a model in the new economy – creative economy, culture industry – context of the abstracted immaterial multitudinous spaces of net-activism et al? I am not convinced. There is a critical component missing in the contest of total war, and where the Internet and other networking 2.0, new compatibilities, initiatives and formations are the advance thinking of a new distanciation, new discretizations.

Here, for example, a key sentence I would like to discuss:

The model of education has become central to a range of creative artistic practices and to a renewed interest in radical pedagogy. As a mode of thinking an alternative to the immense dominance of art as commodity and display as spectacle, education as a creative practice that involves process, experimentation, fallibility and potentiality by definition, offers a non-conflictual model for a rethinking of the cultural field. (Education Summit website)

It seems to me that there are several things going on here. Not all of them thought through as radically as they might be. Forget the ‘non-conflictual model’ since this is relegated to the cultural field and we know that class conflicts are not only operating there. The ‘thinking as alternative’ to art really does grab me. An alternative to commodified art, though, would be what? Fabulous possibilities distract me – Popular votes on which pictures hang on the walls. The Tate Modern emptied out. No more National Gallery souvenir postcards. Free access, and free coffee, to all museums? No, that is not what is meant – what we have is a renewal of experimentation, creative practices, process and potential? Although interestingly the word ‘fallibility’ cuts diagonally across these invigorating, but you have to admit, fairly standard educationalist terms, I am not concerned too much with the threat this model will pose to commodification and the war machine. Confined to the cultural field or not, this is, surely, just what the smartest employers want – new thinking, new opportunities, renewal all round.

Rather, it seems to me, the model of education needs to be reimagined, since this kind of modelling is perhaps one of the main ways in which the promotion of education is a promotion of some pretty old modes of thinking. This thinking is smuggled in at the very moment that it claims to be new. A radical pedagogy in a context where education is seen as a good model, is still education that has not thought through the ways this very model operates to train operatives for hierarchy within the cultural economy and hierarchical society, the global war economy, at large. Education as a model has not yet thought through the ways education is not simply or unproblematically a social good.

Perhaps there is another way of telling; someone (like Scheherazade) might be forgiven for insisting that education is more often about affirmations and consolidation of Eurocentric, patriarchal, hierarchical class-based, systems of Fortress exclusion. The playground as learning curve, leaning towards the tuck shop, the in-group, the out-group, the fashion parade, the Cinderella School for Creative Types, the finishing School for corporate dining, the Endomol drill surveillance routines, the preparatory sessions for international diplomacy, the Spooks complex, the God complex, the military formation, alpha drones, beta drones, innovation and incubation centres, career prospects CV padding, weapons research, cultural studies clubs and Diners’ Club, life skills, open day, recruitment programs, D-Day invasions and the consolidation of Democracy. Are we there yet? – these and many more ‘lessons’.

I totally agree that the old collegiate model of Education should not be protected, worn and frayed as it is. But to renovate that model with a ‘radical pedagogy’ without questioning the projected model as model is also suspect. For conflict then. For telling stories of a possible delinking from Capital, for breaking the divisions between those inside and outside since the old model and the new model can also prepare the ground for even greater commodification, commercialization. What if we saw education as a Trojan Horse for exactly that old enemy, and then looked for ways to tow the thing out to the beach and burn it down. We’ll tell stories round the fire.

Everyone needs a good saboteur with a sting in the tale.

You ‘still believe in Grammar’ – Friedrich Nietzsche.

New Schools for Old

exile_logoI’m posting this for Imogen, among others….

Subject: Update on New School University sit-in/occupation going on — support needed!

Solidarity statements can be sent to newschoolinexile@newschoolblog.org

This from the New School in Exile Occupation

12:00 noon update, 12/18/08:

Students have just expanded the occupation to control one sidedoor exit at
the occupation, and President Kerrey just showed up a little before noon.
NYPD police have showed up and begun trying to arrest people at the side
entrance (13th st.) of the building. Witnesses report at least two people
were dragged out onto 13th street and there was as least one person
confirmed arrested.


New School in Exile Occupation

The original idea of the University in Exile, and the New School in
general, was to be a safe-haven for academic freedom and scholarship free
of oppressive political regimes, be they in Europe or America, and to be a
center for critical engagement with important issues of our times. It was
known for its deep thinkers, its innovative academics, and its committment
to social and political justice as a bedrock of all other scholarship. The
New School, under its current administration, is no longer able to fulfill
that role of critical engagement and dissent. This continued betryal of
our founding principles cannot be tolerated any longer, and the time has
come to revive the University in Exile. This is a call for student action!


Statement to the New School Community

We have successfully occupied the Graduate Faculty student building (65
5th Avenue) and established a student space. We are in control of this
building, and counter to any claims by the administration, they have not
“let us stay.” We have taken over this building and are actively occupying
it. Come join us!

Statement to New School Workers

We wish to state publicly to the New School janitorial, clerical and
related union staff (UNITE HERE! Local 100 and other locals) that we
support you and wish to ally with you. We also ask you to respect the
strike and occupation that the students have called and taken in the 65
5th Ave. building, and hope you will join efforts to improve the
university for all of us, students, teachers and workers. If there are
demands or issues you would like us to help voice, please bring them to

Notice to Consortium Students

You are welcome to join our occupation, and we strongly encourage you to
join us. However, the university administration and security have
unilaterally refused to allow other consortium students into the building
without any reason. This is a direct violation of the Consortium agreement
and is another attempt by the administration to claim they are “allowing”
us to be here.


Demands of the Occupation

* The removal of Bob Kerrey as president of our university

* The removal of James Murtha as executive vice president of our university

* Students, faculty, and staff elect the president, EVP, and Provost.

* Students are part of the interim committee to hire a provost.

* The removal of Robert B. Millard as treasurer of the board of trustees.

* Intelligible transparency and disclosure of the university budget and

* The creation of a committee on socially responsible investments.

* The immediate suspension of capital improvement projects like the
tearing down of 65 fifth Ave.

* Instead, money towards the creation of an autonomous student space.
* Instead, money towards scholarships and reducing tuition.
* Instead, money for the library and student life generally.


An Open Letter: Come Occupy a Building with Us…Now

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you from the inside of the New School Graduate Faculty
Building on 65 5th Ave. We are occupying it. Right now. Literally.
Students of the New School University, along with our partners from other
universities and groups–like NYU, Hunter College, City College of NY,
CUNY Graduate Center, and Borough of Manhattan Community College, have
organically risen up to demand the resignation of President Bob Kerrey,
Executive Vice President James Murtha, and Board Member/torturer Robert B.
Millard (he multi-tasks). We have come together to prevent our study
spaces from being flattened by corporate bulldozers, to have a say in who
runs this school, to demand that the money we spend on this institution be
used to facilitate the creation of a better society, not to build bigger
buildings or invest in companies that make war. We have come here not only
to make demands, but also to live them. Our presence makes it clear that
this school is ours, and yours, if you are with us.

The outside doors have been closed now, so we can’t exactly invite you
in…sorry… We know you wanted a piece of the action, but we’ll be around
for quite some time. Join us at 7 AM tomorrow when the doors open again,
or come now to stand outside with a sign in solidarity. You are cordially
invited to join us in any way you can. We are not going anywhere. In the
meantime, check out our Web site: www.newschoolinexile.com. We have all
night to make things interesting, and the website will continue to be
updated. Stay tuned for the musical pieces, doctoral dissertations, and
creative finger-paintings that seem to be the natural result of 150
students locked into a building together for a night.

We are here, making decisions collectively, doing teach-ins, listening to
music, studying, singing. We’ve got an upright bassist, guitarists and
vocalists (If anyone can volunteer a drum-set we’ll be well on our way…).
We’ll be here until this university changes, or until the party gets
boring (but it doesn’t seem likely that will happen). We’re not going
anywhere. We hope to see you soon, and if you really can’t wait a few
hours–what the hell–occupy your own universities or work spaces.

Come use your voice to declare loudly that this school and this world are
yours. Come use your mind to think up a better world. Come use your body
to create it, one all-nighter in the university cafeteria at a time. Come
stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, and staff of this
university. Come to write letters of support to the people of the village
of Thanh Phong whose parents were murdered by the current President of the
New School during his service in Vietnam. Come join the struggle with the
people of Iraq who are being tortured and killed by a company funded by
this university and represented on the New School Board of Trustees. Come
here to join the uprisings and outpouring of passionate resistance
currently taking place all over this country, and all over the world–from
factory workers in Chicago to students in Greece. Come for yourself. Come
for all of us.

In solidarity,
The New School in Exile


“funny how the ‘trickle-down’ is so much more effective when it’s the redistribution of loss” -IT

img_7678Eating hot soup in my Taipei room at 5am, aircon and airlines contrived to make this visit feel like a crash landing, but the paper went well – I think, and I’m told – even if Andrew Strathern’s response spun off into the anthropological-inevitable, ritual, Victor Turner, Rene Girard, Gregory Bateson and other similarly bongo bongo themes (I was talking about machines, war and education, but it was at an anthropology conference – I will post a link to the paper soon). Yet there was a good discussion – Andrew’s small aside chastising me for saying indexicality was finally broken by CGI (= Computer Generated Imaging for orthodox anthros who should get out more) was perhaps the most interesting part of the response and generated some hostile comments from the floor. He’d missed the point that I reported this as someone else’s view – but it was fun to argue that indexicality was always broken, always subject to question for its partiality, metaphoricity (see Miller – The Reason of Politics) and that I’d like him (Andrew) to explain to me why translation wasn’t a more relevant word here. Yes, we got that obscure. But I was talking about education, sort of like here, but also something like what is well done by IT here. Examining the cost of fluctuations of the economic cycle upon our practices in the teaching factory/sausage factory is perhaps a good way to find resonant and relevant explanations of what is going on. We can say this to students in ways that might have more ‘purchase’ than abstract News-reporter chatter about bail-outs, bank rates and house-prices. Trickle, Crash and Crisis are in the end quite empty – not indexical – metaphors for the economic ‘downturn’ and the inevitable squeeze on those not resource-able enough to resist the vampire sucking, body-stealing, asset stripping zombie stomp of capital eating its young in order to survive. See the crisis bite next time you are asked by the vice-chancellor to tighten your belt – Ho Chi Minh was told something similar by Mao when he had asked for help from China during the war. Tighten your belts, Mao said. Send us belts, Uncle Ho replied.

The pic is from the WLA – a prize for working out what that has to do with the index.

The double crisis of the university and the global economy

144_44821[Info from the people at Mute]

Talk: Wednesday 26 November 2008 at 4pm
Goldsmiths University of London – Warmington Tower 1210

For a number of weeks in Italy the entire education system – from universities to elementary schools, from students to researchers and from parents to teachers – has been mobilizing. Marches, occupations, demonstrations, pickets and blockages of the metropolitan flow have replaced the dreary rhythm of school timetables and university courses. The protests are directed against the new budget cuts implemented by Berlusconi’s government last summer, which seriously undermine the public nature of education and research.

The university movement – self-named the ‘Anomalous Wave’ – acts within a specific context, such as the long crisis and decline of the Italian higher education system. However, it also critically underlines common trends in the transformations affecting the university at the European and transnational level: i.e. the Bologna process, the corporatization of education and the changes of the welfare system, the central role of knowledge in the mode of production, the rise of casualised labor, the emergence of a new type of student-worker figure.

Moreover, one of its key slogans is particularly interesting ‘We won’t pay for your crisis’. It indicates the critical intersection of a double global crisis: the university crisis and the financial crisis. The rise of a ‘debt generation’ is one of the points at which this intersection is clearly observable. But the movement is also an occasion to formulate a deeper, more complex analysis of this double crisis, in order to allow a debate between different perspectives to topics such as the rise of a global university and its various forms of translation, the conflicts in the process of knowledge production, the role of networks in the education
and financial markets.

[pic, ancient pillars hold up the University of Bologna]

Culture University Firesale – Sussex 18.11.09

101_0160Tuesday 18th Nov 2008
Russell Building 12 Sussex Uni

The Anthropology Society welcomes Prof John Hutnyk (Goldsmiths) to present his talk:
The Culture University Firesale:
Scholarship Ablaze in the Teaching Factory

Bill Burroughs applied…

‘Words of advice for young people’ is the refrain William Burroughs stamped on the album ‘Spare-ass Annie’ by the Disposable Heroes of Hip-Hoprisy. I cannot aspire to Uncle Bill’s lofty heights, but was very pleased to be asked to ‘spare just a few minutes’ by a year 9 secondary school student to comment on what I look for in applications to study with us at Goldsmiths. Great topic for the school magazine he is writing for. While the applications we get are for PhD, since we do not have undergraduates in CCS, I think the wider (wilder?) things I look for are relevant at all levels (our applications go through several drafts of a research proposal and that is more important than the actual application form at this level, I think perhaps the personal statement in UG applications is the relevant place to show some of the below…). Anyway, for what its worth, here are a couple of answers to a couple of the questions I’ve just sent (as our interviewer pointed out, these will be presented as my views alone and not necessarily those of Goldsmiths) – [I hope its of use Natty]:

… Q3: What do you look for in an application?
We look for someone who has prepared well, who has an idea of what they are getting into, and approaches this with a sense of enthusiasm, curiosity and adventure. Higher education should be something that ‘changes the way you think’ and to be open to that – and critical of stale thinking – is really what grabs my attention in a student. Of course some good marks and some experience (extra-curricular activities, interest in politics, media or travel etc) are also appealing, but the most exciting students will convey a sense of a rampant curiosity, and an inquisitive intelligence. This can come through in so many ways: in a creative bit of writing, in a fascination for a particular artistic form of expression, film perhaps, or in psychoanalysis, or even in history or math, and then it could perhaps appear in an unexpected juxtaposition of two different areas. One of the best proposals for research I saw recently mixed a plan to do research into the history of propaganda with the study of abstract poetry. I thought that might produce new and interesting angles for cultural studies. Another mix that surprised was a proposed research into neuropsychology and artistic imagery – of the brain. How do we draw, map, imagine the architecture of that mess of stuff inside our skulls.

Q4: What makes for a good application- what would you advise year 13 students to think about when filling in a form?

I look for the ways the applicant has told us something about themselves in a way that has some verve, some sort of hard to name spark/mix of honesty, enthusiasm, creativity. It is of course hard to choose between the many capable applicants, so I look for someone with either, or especially both, a streak of creativity and a streak that I’d call a critical attitude to the world. Someone who is able to think critically about everything – without just having a winge – might make a very capable student.

Oh, and someone who reads. I mean, loves to read. To read and write. And to talk about books. To talk about writing – to care about writing as a craft, as a critical craft. And perhaps someone who might even help start up and write for a journal or magazine in their school. Three cheers for that part then.

I wonder if good bowling averages might also help with a Goldsmiths application, since we have a college cricket team in need of a spinner.

Hope some of this is useful for you. I have to crack on with some other friday night work – actually, I am going to watch the US presidential debate which should be on in about an hour – video streaming permitting…



PS. And if I was going to suggest any reading – Marx on education might not be a bad place to start. See the piece ‘Text message: what does Marx have to say about Jamie Oliver style school lunches?’

Grand, just Grand.

For some time now, with varied success and certainly with lively consequences still yet to be fully implemented, we have been discussing the future of research and teaching in CCS at Goldsmiths (see the Attack the headquarters link in the sidebar). All that has been great and the enthusiasm and engagement impressive. I’ve even heard that students in other colleges in London have ‘wished’ they also had the same chance to debate research futures. Well, be careful, it seems now that we are not the only ones with such bright ideas. UCL has a rather different style and tone, and they are further able to advertise for a Senior Post (Vice provost) to implement their plan, but they are on the way towards something pretty special:

A new initiative has been launched today to engage the entire UCL community in discussion of possible future research themes for the university.

UCL Research Challenges invites UCL academic staff, non-academic staff, students and alumni to suggest and comment on research themes at the Research Challenges website. The aim is to inspire fresh new ideas for projects. A board composed of leading figures from academia and industry will review the best ideas and will award grants totalling £50,000 in seedcorn funding to the most promising. This is enough to get an idea off the ground – perhaps to a stage where a formalised project proposal can be put forward to research councils for full funding.

Professor Jo Wolff, head of UCL Philosophy, is the chair of the Research Challenges Board. He said: “We are really looking forward to seeing people’s ideas. UCL has great potential for interdisciplinary activities, and by opening this initiative up to everyone involved with the university, we are hoping to see where members of the community feel we should be concentrating our strengths.”

The project is divided into two main stages. The first, which begins today, is to explore themes for research activity. These could be anything from the environment to political reform, nanotechnology to agriculture – whatever areas people believe UCL should be focusing on in the 21st century. The second stage, in a month’s time, is to draw up a shortlist of themes and invite project proposals based around those themes.

Professor Wolff said: “This is a great opportunity for everyone to have their say in the future of research at UCL. We have funds to support the best ideas that emerge, so it’s well worth getting involved. Who knows – a vague idea in the back of someone’s mind could turn out to be UCL’s next great discovery!”

Community, interdisciplinarity, political reform, nano tech… vague ideas in the back of your mind… This is fantastic! And there is seedcorn funding of not insubstantial amounts on offer. But what are the challenges? Curiously enough, just a few months after the above call it seems the GRAND CHALLENGES have been identified. In the Times Higher Education Supplement of last thursday there was an ad for a new post as ‘Director of Grand Challenges’. Now there is a job title to impress. Ahh, I can almost see the business card with that emblazoned – in embossed gold – across the front (see the scene in the movie “American Psycho”).

Director of Grand Challenges

UCL is rated in the top ten universities in the world and generated �200m in research income last year. Our newly launched research strategy defines four Grand Challenges – namely Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interactions and Wellbeing.

We are now seeking a Director of Grand Challenges to lead, develop, nurture research, education, teaching and learning initiatives within each of the Grand Challenges areas, which engage broad participation within UCL.

Likely to have a background within the higher education sector, the successful candidate must be able to articulate a clear vision which will excite a diverse and multidisciplinary community both within and outside UCL. Experience of policy making and programme development is essential and you will have demonstrated success in the development of strategic responses to diverse and multidisciplinary research opportunities. Outstanding communication, interpersonal and influencing skills are essential as is the ability to deliver change through effective project management.

Salary will be circa �85k,

Heady well-remunerated stuff – dare we ask what the Grand Challenges facing Goldsmiths might be?


One of them could turn out to be childcare. It seems that there are moves afoot to outsource Goldsmiths nursery. I’m concerned by this in general, but also subjectively by dint of being a likely user of the nursery service, for the beautiful Emile (here pictured by popular demand, he’s a week and a day old in this one). Why post on this though? Well, no-one will be surprised that we suspect the rampant monster of privatization seems set to twist its knife yet again. Sure, there is no doubt subsidized childcare is far too grand a privilege in these times, but I know its not just me that sees a continuity between these micro-moments of power and the creeping routinization of every aspect of all life in the teaching factory. From the corpororate-speak that invents Challenging Directorships, to the managerialist tinkering with local services that blink blink blink: from a Union missive sent yesterday:

You may also be aware that management have decided to put out to tender Goldsmiths nursery provision. It has been decided that it is not possible to sustain a viable nursery on-site and it appears that management have identified a local council nursery off-site that may provide an additional nine places. However, many questions remain unanswered about both process and provision: did management explore all options? Did they fully consult with all user groups? Will we have guarantees about fees and places from an external nursery? UNISON (whose members work in the nursery) has now launched a petition (that UCU is supporting) that calls on Goldsmiths’ management to reconsider the future of the nursery. Copies of the petition are available in the Nursery and at the reception desks of the Richard Hoggart Building, the Library and Loring Hall. Please take a minute to go along and add your signature, and encourage colleagues to do the same. (From Goldsmiths UCU)

HQ Terrors and Uncertainties

Apropos research agendas and what the HQ might be up to. This (renewed) call is just out from ESRC/AHRC. It follows some debate already mentioned here, here and here. But I think now the conjoining of environmentalism, poverty and terror research ads a new, still more spurious fold.

“From: “ESRC
Date: 18 June 2008 12:22:43 BST
Fellowships under the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme

Please could you bring to the notice of your membership the following
forthcoming opportunity for fellowships under the RCUK Global Uncertainties

RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme: Security for All in a Changing World
ESRC/AHRC Fellowships on Ideas and Beliefs

Call Launch: 30th June 2008

At the end of June there will be a joint ESRC/AHRC call for proposals for
Research Fellowships addressing key elements of the cross-Council programme
on Global Uncertainties: Security for All in a Changing World.

The cross-Council programme aims to understand the nature and interactions
of five global phenomena: conflict, crime, environmental degradation,
poverty and terrorism. Within this cross-Council framework, this Fellowship
call will focus specifically on ideas and beliefs. The call specification
is currently under development but headline issues will likely include:
• How ideas and beliefs evolve that underpin risks and threats evolve,
and why and when do these develop into violent or criminal activities
• Role of access to knowledge and information
• Communication and representation of risks and threats including the
use of language, images and symbolism
• Relationship between national security and civil liberties debates
• Role of different security institutions

We will be running workshops in different parts of the UK to explain the
call to potential applicants. Current thinking is for workshops in
Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Southampton.

Please see the ESRC web page for further information and updates on
workshop details: www.esrc.ac.uk/gufellowships/

Any queries should be directed to: gufells@esrc.ac.uk.

This email has been scanned by the MessageLabs Email Security System.
For more information please visit http://www.messagelabs.com/email

AtHQ – Education Privatization – Union Campaign

From the Uuniversties and College Union campaign update:

Challenging the Market in Education – Conference takes the campaign up a gear
More than 120 delegates attended UCU’s conference ‘Challenging the Market in Education’ last Saturday, another indication that this is a high campaigning priority for members. The conference heard Professor Dexter Whitfield providing an overview of ‘marketisation’, how it works and how it leads to, and prepares the ground for, privatisation. Professor Roger Seifert explained how public sector ‘modernisation’ in the form of human resource management is about assisting the process of marketisation and privatisation at the level of the workforce. Dr Ken Spours outlined his vision of an alternative vision of FE, which moves away from the neo-liberal Leitch agenda and toward a democratised system which would enable creative  partnerships between colleges, communities and civilsociety organisations. Activist-led workshops analysed the ways in which Academy Schools, Train2Gain and privatisation in HE were affecting members, and began to suggest ideas for increasing and developing our campaigning work. The excellent work done at the conference will now be used to feed into the production of a new campaigns resource for members and branches, a revised cross-sectoral campaigns pack on privatisation and marketisation. Watch this space for more!

At the Conference Sally Hunt warned that privatisation is now growing faster in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, and threatens our proud international reputation for educational excellence. Further reading:
http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=3304 – press release
- Express

UCU launches new report on privatisation in Further and Higher Education

The conference was also an opportunity for the union to launch its new report into the growth of the private sector in tertiary education. ‘Marketisation and the growth of the private sector in tertiary education’, uncovers the growth of the private sector in tertiary education and sets it in the wider context of the growing ‘marketisation’ of education. This is full of information about the companies involved and provides a preliminary analysis of what’s happening to our sector. It also contains suggestions for the union’s future campaigning and points for discussion. You can download the report here:

All the news and resources associated with UCU’s campaigning against privatisation are now on a single web page for ease of access. You can download UCU’s new report on privatisation as well as reading the latest news on current campaigns across the UK.
Click here to view it: http://www.ucu.org.uk/stopprivatisation


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