Tag Archives: teaching

draft endorse for forthcoming book by Don Miller “Will to Win”

Will to Win
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Don Miller used to set his students a ‘think piece’ instead of an essay question. His commitment to provocations has never waned, and this book on sport is of course about much more than sport – or ‘Sport’, capitalised. From the corruptions of commercial sponsorship, to the druggy self-deceptions of Lance Armstrong or the gladiatorial parallels of big business Olympian chauvinism: Sport as gambling, made for TV (the camera always knows where the action will be), amateur, spectacular, Wagnerian self-parody. The book canvasses topics as varied as the Vatican beautifying Italian victims of Ottoman raiders as intervention in anti-Islamic politics today, to the body-sculpting substance abuse of school kids that put cyclists on steroids to shame – each compared and contrasted to the Australian obsession with winners and losers in swimming, while quoting bush-ranger folk heroes (no need to acknowledge, ‘such is life’) and Georges Perec.
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I remember when I was 11 years old and playing for The Rosellas under 12 football team in the Eastern Districts Footy League. It was three-quarter time in the preliminary final and we were one-point ahead. Our coach Mr Scanlon gathered us kids together in a huddle as we sucked at our sliced oranges and he told us: ‘boys, it’s not how you play that counts, it’s going out there to win’. I was shifted from ruck-rover to the back-line, took a lucky mark or two, no-one scored, and the final siren brought pandemonium and glory. We went on the next week to lose the grand final to our sworn enemies Knox Eagles, but even today I meet up with teammates who have lived fulfilling lives and we remember that moment. Sport is formative.
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If I were critical, I would say Miller runs over some of the same ground more than once, developing his points, lapping himself perhaps, inspired by the logic of his opening parable about the alternative playbook of the ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’, so famous from the Kokoda trail (not track?). The problematic redeployment of the ANZAC myth and its ‘one day of the year’ jingoism is skewered here too, alongside duly ironic recognition of the  subcontinental origins of cricket and a judicious lambast of Bradman’s displaced militarism. These really are things to think with, and weighty matters are made light yet serous. Like Sport. Here are films, Proust, speed, repetition, Bentham and excess – the range renders Sport as complex as life. Sport as a labour of life, a play, to win or to lose, as serious as heck. A morality, a life lesson, a local-global parable for all times.

JH

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Order http://hybridpublishers.com.au/index.php/will-to-win-the-west-at-play.html

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UCU strike at Goldsmiths includes public teach out at Library picket.

Strike 31.10.2013

9.30am ‘Banking on Food Poverty’, Tom Henri (STACS)

9.50am ‘Pantomime of Terror’, John Hutnyk (CCS)

10.10am ‘What is education for?’ John Wadsworth, Clare Kelly and Maggie Pitfield (Education)

10.30am ‘The internet, security and London Crypto Festival’, Matt Fuller (CCS)

10.50am ‘Digital capitalism and activism’, Veronica Barassi (Media & Comms)

11.10am ‘The militant image’, Ros Gray (Visual Cultures)

11.30am ‘Exclusion and higher education’, Claudia Bernard (STACS)

11.30am ‘Where now for Occupy?’ David Graeber (ex-Anthropology)

11.50am ‘Pedagogy/Practice/Protest’, Irit Rogoff (Visual Cultures)

 

http://www.goldsmithsucu.org/

A distraction from extraction. #murdoch #slept-in

If you had time to read the newspapers critically… – I would think you would start with cartoons, then segway to games of chance, the races, football transfer windows, the property market, subprime crisis, austerity and bankers bonuses to show that the entertainment logic of the sports pages/back of the paper runs to the same surface logic as the so-called news at the front of the paper – all in effect a distraction from ongoing geopolitical and micro-political value extraction no matter that it’s culture like opera or weapons sales and death. It makes no difference what the investment is in, so long as a profit is made for the owner (Marx chapter 16 of capital – sausage factory quote).

Marx Capital lecture course at Goldsmiths ✪

#Marx #Capital #lecture #course at #Goldsmiths #GoldsmithsUni ✪

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Public Lecture course on Marx’s “Capital” at Goldsmiths: everybody is welcome

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Capitalism and Cultural Studies – Prof John Hutnyk:

tuesday evenings from january 14, 2014 – 5pm-8pm Goldsmiths Room RHB 309. Free – all welcome.

No fee (unless, sorry, you are doing this for award) – and that, friends, is Willetts’ fault – though the Labour Party have a share of the blame too.

This course involves a close reading of Karl Marx’s Capital (Volume One).
90 minute lectures, 60 minutes discussion.

The connections between cultural studies and critiques of capitalism are considered in an interdisciplinary context (cinema studies, anthropology, musicology, international relations, and philosophy) which reaches from Marx through to Film Studies, from ethnographic approaches to Heidegger, from anarchism and surrealism to German critical theory and poststructuralism/post-colonialism/post-early-for-christmas. Topics covered include: alienation, commodification, production, technology, education, subsumption, anti-imperialism, anti-war movement and complicity. Using a series of illustrative films (documentary and fiction) and key theoretical texts (read alongside the text of Capital), we examine contemporary capitalism as it shifts, changes, lurches through its very late 20th and early 21st century manifestations – we will look at how cultural studies copes with (or does not cope with) class struggle, anti-colonialism, new subjectivities, cultural politics, media, virtual and corporate worlds.

The lectures/seminars begin on Tuesday 14th January 2014 between 5 and 8pm and will run for 11 weeks (with a week off in the middle) in the Richard Hoggart Building (Room 309), Goldsmiths College. You are required to bring their own copy of the Penguin, International Publishers/Progress Press or German editions of Karl Marx Capital Vol I. We are reading about 100 pages a week. (Please don’t get tricked into buying the abridged English edition/nonsense!)

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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

Back to index page

MA Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy in the Centre for Cultural Studies at #Goldsmiths

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Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths

This is one of those internal discussion documents that never sees the light of day – here it is for the gnawing criticism of the mice (supposed to leave it in a drawer for that, but of course I mean digital mice):

The Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths has offered the PhD for over ten years and aims to provide the destination of choice for research in cultural and postcolonial theory, popular culture studies, critical philosophy of praxis, creative and interactive technological media, new media and media activism. The PhD can be either ‘practice-based research which entails significant practical work and a written component of up to 60,000 words, or textual research with a 100,000 word thesis’. 

Students undertake the CCS PhD for several reasons: academic research and teaching as well as cultural organization, international agencies and third sector careers. The engagement with critical theory in cultural studies is well established and draws upon a strong heritage in the UK, especially at Goldsmiths with staff in the Centre for Cultural Studies as well as Cultural Studies-and cognate area identified staff in Media and Comms, Visual Cultures, Politics and Art, Visual Art, Visual Anthropology and Digital Sociology. At Goldsmiths, the Centre for Cultural Studies was founded by Professor Scott Lash in consultation with people like Profs Morley, McRobbie and Professor Stuart Hall. It was Professor Hall who insisted that CCS should aim at extending beyond the founding interests of British Cultural Studies. Today CCS incorporates theoretical and practical explorations in technological media and cultural difference in the geo-political context of global capitalism. It’s commitment to theory involves enquiries into the most advanced paradigms of cultural thought. It’s practical commitment involves us in cultural production and critical engagement with the culture industries.

An ethos in cultural studies is interdisciplinarity. A way to describe this is to say that the Centre for Cultural Studies works by mixing possibly incongruent constituencies – what this means is that we have, for more than ten years, been bringing what may at first seem like incommensurate groups together to debate and research creatively, in teams, workshops and symposia: for example we ran a series of research conferences pairing neuropsychologists and artists together to examine new modes of representing the brain and its functions, innovating the new area of neuro-aesthetics; also we brought both London City and Chinese Finance modelers together with artists to rethink the portrayal of high finance and money [hence, the recession]; following the same convergence model, in a series of 6 workshops in London, Berlin, Copenhagen and Gothenburg we brought immigration activists and theatre, film, music and medical practitioners together to re-imagine the border. We continue to develop new projects along such lines, most recently historians and the Maritime Museum Greenwich, the Museum of London Docklands and activists in social and housing campaigns along the eastern end of the Thames in London (eg., ‘Proletarianisation and the River’ event for Museum of London Docklands Sept 2013). Our mode of operation is to intersect and interrupt in creative ways the protocols of disciplinarity, so as to inspire new work. This has a successful; track record reflected in our theory-practice research student projects. 

The Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths has some 12-15 PhD students per year, currently 45 students enrolled, and has increased enrollment year on year since founding in 1998 with one PhD student. Its MA programmes feed into the PhD – there are five such programmes at present – Interactive Media, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Theory, Creating Social Media and Culture Industry. MA Contemporary Asia and MA Provocative Media are planned to start in 2013. There are some 100+ MA students. In 2012 there were twelve graduations from the Centre for Cultural Studies PhD programme, but this by no means is the extent of cultural studies at Goldsmiths. Significant Cultural Studies PhDs, especially working in popular culture and media, are housed in Goldsmiths five star rated Media and Communications Department, and there are significant numbers of PhD students working in Visual Anthropology, Visual Sociology, as well as initiatives in Visual Cultures and Politics and Art. Goldsmiths is pre-eminent in this area, as evinced by its staff profile, and its contribution to cultural debate in the UK. 

Training provision for PhD students is rich and diverse and tailor-made to individuals.

The Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths has a dedicated PhD-level cultural theory seminar, writing practice groups, and readings groups (Hegel, Deleuze, Ranciere, Spivak, Lefebvre, new Media at preset) and runs numerous training workshops on practical and formal aspects of the Phds – for example a publishing workshop in Spring 2012, a video editing training in Spring 2013, risograph training, print on demand trainings, and much more, including in-house publications such as NyX: a Noctournal (supported by the Graduate School), Coputational Culture and close associations with Mute, TCS, and Pavement Books. In terms of colloquia, three times each year CCS participates in or co-ordinates a joint doctoral symposium with InterArts Berlin and the Copenhagen Doctoral School in Cultural Studies (Berlin November, London February, Copenhagen in June) and we send AHRC candidates to India via the AHRC International Placement Scheme. CCS doctoral students must present their work at least once per year in the PhD seminar as well as in the Graduate School Spring Review, they participate in the writing group, an annual panel, regular supervision, often with co-supervision in another department, and are encouraged to present at conferences and international colloquia.

Proposal: that we think in terms of Convergences and Frictions. The putting together of seemingly incommensurate or unusual partnerships so as to provoke creative and innovative alliances. A fund to be apportioned to initiatives on the model of ‘incongruent constituencies’ described above, with PhD students in cultural studies tasked with proposing projects:

e.g.,

-        the two Augusts – the imagery of Olympics and the Riots

-        cinema and mapping

-        global rivers, cultural theory, history and value theory

-        geological and social survey techniques, the report from Hunan used to survey London

-        border convergence, time-based media and immigration

-        the politics of cleaning

-        etc.

Proposal: on the model of the artist-in-residence programme, already extant alongside for example the Politics and Art PhD programme at Goldsmiths, we introduce a cultural activist–in-residence programme. An ‘activist-in-residence’ programme similar to established ‘artist-in-residence’ initiatives would be developed with initial efforts to establish the ways such placement would enable relevant people to work in collaboration and parallel to grant holders and other staff members across Goldsmiths…

Educate the educators. Pace Gayatri Spivak: The effort to build an ethics of education into the protocols of the institution. The institution as a mechanism for social mobility is filled with blockages and cul-de-sacs that can only be circumvented through a ruthless criticism of everything that exists

Transnational literacy, lexicon-consulting, language-learning, long-durée effort to unpack assumptions and counter the too easy inducements of information retrieval and impression management that web 2.0 offers as alternative to book-learning.

Patient non-coercive work to rearrange desire and unlearn Eurocentric privilege. (See Gayatri Spivak 2012 An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization)

Stitching the two ends of here and there together. The co-constitution of urban and rural, metropole and colonial theatre. Even if these old binaries no longer map so easily onto translocal globalism, any programme of training must make mobility multidirectional and bifurcate ideological privilege of advanced, western, developed or civilizational privileges. Remote locations, obscure languages, opaque aims are also viable research interests in a critical geopolitical and geopoetical cultural studies.

Perspective Society: Marx, Ford, Jobs

An outline for a block course as part of “Theories of Modern Society” at Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen in Feb-April 2013:
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Perspective Society : Marx, Ford, Jobs.
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This 3-part discussion takes Theories of Modern Society as a research problem in the tradition of workplace Inquiries. In part one, by examining the Blue Books and Factory Inspector reports that Marx used for the Working Day chapter of Capital Volume one, we will look at the Industrial Revolution in the mid 18th Century. In part two we will consider Fordist Production systems and the global advent of assembly work through to finance capital and just-in-time delivery/Toyota-ism, then in part three the co-research tradition of Autonomist Marxism and Kolinko permits us to look at processed work and the alienations and precarity of net-life, internship and service work – the problem of ‘immaterial’ labour and the general intellect/education system. Each of the sections coheres around ideas of workplace or social inquiry and co-research. Each section will also include some topical film analysis and discussion (eg: Hard Times for mid 1800s, Tucker and Modern Times for 1920s, perhaps Wall Street for the 1970s and The Social Network for processed work for late 20th early 21st Century). Assessment will be your own inquiry into your own conditions of work, broadly defined.

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Feb 8-9 Read ‘The Working Day’ chapter of Marx’s Das Kapital (chapter 8) or in English as Capital (chapter 10). This is about 90 pages. (you may of course read the earlier chapters if you wish, but these are not compulsory, though they will be referred to in class, alongside illustrative films for discussion).

March 1-2 Read ‘Machinery and Modern Industry’ in Marx’s Capital (chapter 13 in the German or 15 in the English). Again there will be films, discussion and additional reading in class. Links to the English translation – here http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch15.htm

April 26-27 Read ‘The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation’ chapter 25 of Capital (23 German edn) and ‘Hotlines’. Available online in English and German: http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/kolinko/lebuk/e_lebuk.htm

The class will be in English, but reading can be German or English. Additional resources on the blog http://hutnyk.wordpress.com
All welcome.
Professor John Hutnyk
Goldsmiths College,University of London

Education

[wrote this in January and it got set aside - I wasn't as angry then I guess]

They have something of which they are proud. What do they call that which makes them proud? Education they call it; it distinguishes them from goatherds’ – Nietzsche.

I do not want a life as a last ditch manager of depressed casualisation, directing coal-face grunt teaching, organising free labour placements for narrow option celebrity-culture-industry hopefuls who were taught x, y and beta-tested open source contrition at the nether end of abstract short-term extortion with sub-cost-of-living remuneration. That ghost of past, present and future does not appeal at all.

And I say this with me settled into a permanent job. True, I was for many years what Emma Jackson has called a ‘peripatetic academic’,[i] moving house for work, with multiple short-term and fractional appointments in 6 different cities in 3 countries over 12 years. In the mid 1990s I did not assume having a PhD would secure me employment, and was not sure I wanted it in place of the political career at which many student activists naively aimed. But I had become adept at survival by stitching teaching appointments together like some serial offender. Plenty of the kind of low-pay grind that Marx compared to a sausage factory, where it does not matter if the worker is making sausages or teaching so long as we enrich the proprietor.[ii] I did more than my share of mass processing of essays, stand-in seminars, back-to-back tutorials and one-year replacements that meant starting to apply for new sausage-line work from the first month in any post. Time passed. I applied for 35 jobs in the year before Goldsmiths hired me, and I’m thankful for the chance and still love the College. I even had some luck with the three key indicators that, as I will discuss later in this text, shape the parameters of academia and also, now, are sites of conflict, reaction and recidivation of conditions – harming higher education and contradicting its raison d’être. Teaching, Research and Governance are my topics here, but I want to think these in a wider context, and acknowledge, as far as I can make it clear to myself, that others also tread a difficult path through the institutions.[iii]

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 I agree with Emma that the situation for what the Research Councils call, with no intended irony, ‘early career researchers’ is precarious. Post-doctoral appointments which allow time to research are few and far between. More common is the exhausting high-contact teaching replacement post, which candidates are assured over and over, will be an important step forward, a line on a CV, crucial experience; ‘Learning and Teaching’ as cultural capital. I see up close what sessional-rate work at three separate institutions in the same term does to a neglected PhD project. I am continually amazed at the capacity of such ECR’s to endure. I also see these researchers, and a great many other students, and some colleagues, engaged in debates over conditions in ways that have not been prominent for 20 years: discussions of ‘Really Free Schools’, of teaching ‘free at the point of delivery’, of reconfiguring academia to allow access for all, of occupations which include public lectures, of interventions in teaching formats that involve relocating into public spaces; and more acutely of refusing the imperative to teach as part of the war machine, the immigration restriction, the culture industry, the administered society, the police state. What I see is that something impressive is emerging to confront the Conservatives with another plan for education, another potential, a re-imagination.

There is a cautious optimism that defies circumstances here, and an awareness of the need to deflect any rhetorical compact with austerity too. The ‘Free Schools’ are not simply a progressive twist on the Big Society, nor a realpolitik compromise with career path that prepares ‘apprentices’ for later gainful employ, calibrated with economic requirements and self-serving need. There is enthusiasm in occupations where ‘teach-in’s include ‘teaching-out’ by touring local schools, pickets, other occupations and activist sites and there is a welcome challenge to the hierarchical formats of academic conferences, publishing and writing in the renewed demand of students to have a say in their (paid for) degrees. Yes, there is a sense in which all this still adds to cultural capital for the self-styled ‘activists-academics’ and there is an aspirant careerism in the very idea of going to university or even wanting to run an ‘alternative university’ – perhaps in a tent. There is always some ego investment here. But the conditions do need to be challenged, and apprentice or no, the path towards institutionalisation is a kind of benighted gift. Some of its conditions include:

-       Few scholarships, hard to get

-       trainee academic, on piece rates

-       marking, sessional pay, no preparation fee

-       low union representation, part-timer issues overlooked

-       no holiday pay, no sickness leave,

-       learning and teaching certificates (a paid-for license to perform)

-       PhD, postdoc, initial teaching year, junior faculty, hierarchy

-       probation and discipline, hierarchy entrenched

-       demand to publish early (and often)

-       research Assessment-driven conformism

-       diminution of approved places to publish

-       limit on research funds, travel budget, conference budget

-       less responsibility, less access to committees, promotion

-       no access to the mysteries of management’s grey world

-       cuts, anticipated cuts and more cuts anyway.

This precarity is not lost on me. But I am concerned that this turns into active denial when that elusive ‘secure’ job finally becomes a reality, and the institutionalised scholar finds an ongoing precariousness which enforces complicity with the reaction. This seems most evident when well-meaning established scholars must constantly innovate new projects, albeit under duress. Quite unlike the ‘Free School University’ and Tent-based teach-in’s of #occupy, a massive growth in new programmes, often Masters degrees geared to overseas students from China and East Asia, has been underway for several years. This inevitably now extends to all levels of teaching. Budgeting for fiscal constraint saw a relentless commercial drive to refit education as export earner in overseas markets, with product delivery to short-term visa, high tariff students here, client-seeking degree-fair 5-star accreditation junkets there. No doubt some of these programmes are excellent and of course benefit the students that come, but there are significant problems. On the one hand we can often hear a shallow and largely unsubstantiated lament for the loss of education standards that these international programmes might effect (as if it’s somehow the international students’ fault, or that they have not themselves excellent reasons to come[iv]). On the other hand, the rarely examined and not even guilt-ridden alacrity among those few academics prepared to defend higher education from neo-liberal austerity assaults, to willingly, and more or less efficiently, set up yet more courses for overseas students and hastily renovate undergraduate home offers so as to appeal to market demand and the full-fee terrain. Certainly opening education to wider participation, locally and globally, remains a goal, but these programmes are often referred to as ‘cash cows’ and this opportunist criteria overrides any suggestion that incoming students might have a say in how things are run and why. As it happens the new ‘full-fees’ have not yet hit MA and PhD programmes for home students, but we are several years into charging extortionate level fees for overseas candidates, with detrimental results in terms of debt load and ongoing stress. In these circumstances we must always ask what it is that these programmes do? The aim of course is to preserve the income stream in the face of austerity. Here to enrich the proprietor is the only criteria, though just renovating the buildings seems more than enough for which many hope. On the other hand, these courses have an often under-examined relation to class recomposition, both locally and globally. Globally, where different constituencies see education as a ticket to reconfigure options and constraints via migration and accreditation (as cultural capital), locally as a creeping credentialism and cretinization where a demand for an ever more qualified employee pool is matched with an ever more routinized and uncritical employment sector. Plenty demand for jobs that aren’t there, jobs a-plenty for those who are not too demanding – the stick and carrot of neoliberalism that the Precarious and Carrot Workers Collective so rightly skewers.[v]

Over a period of thirty or forty years, the university student has been reduced in circumstances and privilege so as to now be quite a bit closer to the proletarianised worker, themselves increasingly digitised as precarious labour, data input, call centre workers or shopping-till operators. This foreshortened trajectory of worker-student concurrence occurs while at the upper echelons an administrative demarcation ensures the non-convergence of previously highly-privileged professionals with the non-productive wealthy and rich in business. Indeed, the Professors look set to become little more than petty-bourgeois shopkeepers, and their departments more like merchandise stores, while University management heads, and no doubt in other service sectors the upper managements as well, become robber barons paid six figure sums with benefits. We are not talking social class here, since cultural aspirations in each fraction are shared, but we are talking class formation nonetheless. And a vast gulf in circumstances and understanding or attitude to the coming changes opens up. While it is true the services that universities provide are so much more than this too-easy polarisation into proprietors and sales clerks, it repays consideration to look to the injunctions under which we work. The social battle to retain privilege and hierarchy on the part of the petit-bourgeois professor is belied by actual diminution in economic resource, conditions of work and disarticulation from power and authority. Good riddance to all that. But to add value to another’s labour capacity is one thing, to provide fodder for commerce and profit for the bosses of all the other sectors is quite another.

Theodor Adorno wanted university education to be a constant vigilance that insured against any resurgence of authoritarian thinking in Europe after World War II. He meant a teaching that worked against genocide and related this not just to Auschwitz, but also to the atomic bomb. Research would be undertaken into the authoritarian subject and the ‘tendencies towards disintegration’ that lurk beneath the surface of an ordered and ‘civilized’ life.[vi] Elsewhere, he said to speak of education is also to speak of administration and warned of research that models it’s training on administrative categories,[vii] even though in the difference between reified institutions and the complicity of ‘critique’ there remained a chance to realize something different – a hope.[viii] Ten years after September 11, this seems all the more an implausible lament now: in the context of current cuts, commercialisation of research, privatisation of university services, marketisation of teaching delivery, alignment of pastoral care with UKBA border surveillance and decay of infrastructure, the opportunist retooling of programme content towards vocation runs alongside a reconfiguration of education as a resource utility rather than a promise. Critical thinking has become merely a course option, not an alternative. It is even productively a part of the kind of education encouraged by perceived ‘national’ needs, now focused on the gamble of vocational programmes and contract research for corporate ends. In this context a reified ‘criticality’ offers a limited acclimatisation training that prepares students to wait in line for ever-fewer jobs. This is not education but rather a dormitory holding system, unable able to fend off the cuts and constraints that keep us ducking and diving for survival.

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 So let me come to the meat of this rant and try to set out the parameters of this reaction under the three headings that are usually used to evaluate academic appointments and promotion: Teaching, Research and Governance. This survey is of course not exhaustive.

Everybody knows teaching is under threat in the UK, with departmental closures, uncertainty and constant counter-productive time-wasting, rarely instructive ‘quality’ reviews, overworked lecturing staff, underpaid adjunct staff, commercial drive to commodify teaching infrastructure (Google deals to outsource course-packs, library collections digitised). A scramble to place bums on seats and still take teaching seriously sees a tireless quest by a few quixotic souls to face down a phalanx of dedicated entrepreneurial zealots who would sell their own mothers for recognition by the Senior Management prefecture. The proliferation of short courses and team teaching by necessity hastens the routine of instruction, and concedes a ‘sanctioned ignorance’[ix] that no longer rewards the time taken to learn and write. The merits of team-teaching are not the problem, it is rather the imperative to team-teach that ensures that a kind of mass-market stupidity prevails.[x] Survey courses and one-session-one-thinker introductions are the easiest options for mass-market education with diminished resource – longer, slower rhythms of learning are unsuited to a market-profit model. In the face of resource clawback, alongside managerialist ‘quality’ control hardly worth the name, the formularisation of teaching (aims, outcomes, course templates) means we become ever more learnedly dumb ever more quickly (two year degrees from McDonalds for example, BBC 25 November 2010[xi]).

Research is now driven by a commercial imperative and the prospects of innovation are barely disguised as impact. Research is ruled by evaluation and quantity of publication in ‘quality’ first-rate journals. These are largely owned and managed by private publishing houses taking large profits for work done without fee by college scholars. Manuscript review, proposal evaluation, cover citations and procurement all done without remuneration is free labour; a tax-payer funded subsidy for commercial press (there are still some progressive publishers, but a way forward via small-scale and independent seems only a bulwark that will soon be acquired by the larger houses). Alongside this, not unrelated, the Research Councils continually flip their funding calls into the language of Security and Intervention: community cohesion as a code for profiling; care for the future and heritage as gentrification; value performance as a deployment to work on the geo-political outcomes of crisis, credit and debt; translating cultures and global responsibility as cipher for neo-colonial interference and intrigue (see the RCUK ‘delivery plan’ 2011[xii]). There is some opposition, for example from anthropologists concerned that a £2million Engineering and Physical Science Research Council-led programme for research on ‘counter terrorism in public spaces’ by studying ‘radicalisation’ in faith groups amounted to a compromise with civil liberties,[xiii] or from Arts and Humanities researchers when the Conservative Government’s ‘Big Society’ was touted as a priority.[xiv] But the RCUK strategy still looks shaky and its language perpetrates a systemic social delusion along the same lines as the false coin of quantitative easing so quickly adopted to manipulate both money markets and cultural-national propaganda during the ‘crisis’.

Governance. The quality assurance and blue-skies, white paper, options taskforce world of weirdness mints obscure new terminologies. Renaming collegial forums and replacing accountability and transparency with an opaque ‘Corporate Governance and Information Management’ miasma as cover for the ongoing putsch to refashion all university decision-making into a proliferating middle management. At the same time, the individualising-isolation of those who might critique this – ‘it’s all bad, but if I keep my head down and get on with my research I’ll be ok’ – is both a futile aggrandisement of self, and a failure of co-operative responsibility. There is a contradiction here which sees a radical ‘new times’ sensation seeking managerialism prospect about for a guarantee of future placement at the table reserved for the select ‘old-school’ few. An arid landscape throws up super-power mandarins, but with no support base, or at best an exhausted one. We are doomed if the few small examples of collective action (mostly led by students) are not generalised. The defence of pensions or critique of fees is a tip-of-the-iceberg strategy that cedes too much to Trades Union consciousness and head office directive. No-one in the demonstrations of 2010 said it was only about the tariff-hike; it was also about betrayal, by Clegg, by Labour, limited opportunities, perceived and real decline, privatisation, vocationalisation. A mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of workers is impressive, and there are signs that more is to come as the financial forecasters back-track and prevaricate in confusion (a promised ten years of austerity, with super profits!), but a one-day strike and a walk from A-to-B does not yet a revolution make.

The fancy that there can still be something like an education that would be separate from a system of objects, a vast network of gadgets, devices, protocols, items and orders of communication is a dream. Product placement is not the be all and end all of instrumentalism, but its sway extends deep into the heart of the school. Bringing all this together in the new media, high profile, digital humanities, rapid response, surveillance and security agenda should come as no surprise at a time of commodity glut and innovation slump. A stagflation of ideas, an immobilisation of creativity. By which I mean that the rhetoric of innovation is high, but the outcomes and – yes – impact of thinking is constrained such that the coming together of people through the facilitation of gadgets remains only a latent co-operation. This is a general intellect in abstraction, and education is displaced by untapped potential because caught in a trap, students are led into a servitude of gifting thought for rent or mortgage, ready and willing to work, but for inconsequential gain.

Underlying all this, as Marx pointed out in Capital, there is the expectation by Capital that it has the right to tap a resource of already trained-up labour power without charge to itself. Indeed, user pays, except where the key words of university – teaching, research, administration – condition inmates of the sheltered workshop to the imbrication of knowledge with a more or less stratified corporate need. Infrastructure costs, preparatory materials, regulatory oversight, and reproduction of the workforce have never been more readily conscripted so cheaply for the employers. We even arrange unpaid internships so as to proffer up our graduates for free to the market. Voluntarily gifted labour where there once was a wage, and of course that wage did not adequately calculate the necessary costs of reproducing labour: the home, domestic support, snotty noses wiped, basic skills learned, language, community, general health, compliance, national allegiance.

Is this resource that we call education a social good? If it reproduces the class relation, returns no gain to those it cracks on the wheel of capital, if it subjects all to a cretinisation and a lowest-common denominator extortion, then there is little reason to still call this education. Rather, it is not hard to see, it is training, and control. The reduction of education to training, skills, vocation and business – the sausage/teaching factory – is readily denounced. But if the institution remains a place for a rampant intelligence[xv] as a place where a critical consciousness still chances to contradict the system, there could be a reason to side with Marx, Adorno et al., and imagine another education. One that tries to transmute value extraction into some collective and collaborative sharing of knowledge, with a utopian ideal of the future fulsome development of each and all, even if we are not there yet, if at all. In this there might be something worth fighting for, as the University.

Critique, rebellion, a rampant intelligence, mass participation, everyone must write, poetry, aesthetics – the refuge of romantic ideals can be extended, even while on the run. The family resemblance between education and training does not make the latter illegitimate, only a danger if it holds sway and cedes ground to elitism, and the alpha-class specialists that receive a ‘good’ teaching, as opposed to the beta-through-delta models that prevail for the rest. Rote-learning, historical amnesia, political myopia and a State-sponsored apathy are simply not suited to the circumstances that led us to teaching. The calls to reassert teaching as critical thinking are an indication that a merely corporate-feeder education will no longer be tolerated. Who will hear these calls? There is a groundswell resurgence and disaffection, yet with no significant recognition from the senior staffers or the management. Not one administrator seems ready to acknowledge the coming change. The self-protection of unexamined complicity cannot secure the monastic scholar forever, there must and needs be a time when the isolated walks out into the open to join with others: I nominate that we all become peripatetic, even, and especially (while) in secure jobs.

How do we convince our comrades to look up from their desks and step out and turn up, marching towards a new university compact, with optimism? My college, Goldsmiths, with half a glint in its opportunist eye, and half a lack of nerve, rebrands itself as ‘radical’ (there are badges) and critical; despite an advertising campaign that traduces ideas into cheap slogans there is little sense that management ‘gets’ that they are out of step. There is a massive allegiance on the part of teaching staff to the college, even while a relentless attack on conditions and process erodes possibilities. Escalating corporatisation sees decision making side-tracked into specialist finance-led commissions; Academic Board is reduced to a toothless talking shop; the Senior Management Team an ensemble unable to respond to fast-changing circumstances, and a process barely fit-for-purpose. Yet at a time when there seems to be ever more cogent student and ECR recognition of the weighty cultural capital that exists at Goldsmiths, and indeed across the sector, the possibility of building a platform for revolutionary transformation is beleaguered. The support of the students for UCU strike actions has been impressive, but it sometimes appears to be the ambition of management to undermine and contain any enthusiasm for something outside of the market – the antiphrasic suggestion that student occupiers be offered a designated space for ‘occupations’ is only the most absurd of the developments.

On campuses across the world, the proliferation of activist groups, small zines, alternative publications, blogs, discussion groups, collaborations on research, cross-departmental alliances, drinking games and general conviviality suggests that the fight is not lost to the mandarins just yet. Over the last year the University for Strategic Optimism, to name just one local example, has run a series of samizdat lectures in banks, supermarkets, inside the police kettle and outside the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (responsible for ‘universities’, go figure). The UfSO[xvi] is another form of precarious peripatetic academy, and it is not without its problems, and its tactics are hotly contested within the collective. The classroom of course is also not something to be abandoned to the vocational-privatised alpha-beta and drone streaming system. In the occupation at Goldsmiths in November/December teaching continued in the occupied space, adjacent to the finance offices, with the quite reasonable proviso that any lecture be open to the public and a brief statement to this effect be made at the start of each hour. Sadly, some colleagues could not abide by this small condition – as if they were not already operating under many others. Still, many classes went ahead as scheduled, and only the finance office was forced to relocate, with some scabbing management figures getting overly excited and trying to barge their way through picket lines on the strike day.

Sure, the movement to re-imagine education remains embryonic, slandered as obstreperous by some, hysterical by others. The slow work of building a radical critical alternative is of course hindered and delayed by those with much to lose. But no-one doubts that a battle for space and ideas is underway, nor that an alternative to business-as-usual is at least on the table for discussion. This text itself was written in close contact with the #occupy movements’ Bank of Ideas in central London and the Goldsmiths occupiers. Asking there, alongside enthusiastic ECR readers of Capital, how long it takes to sweep aside the blockages to a new kind of university seems like a live question. I continue to seek signs of life and find them in class, never in committee. Walk around and take a look at the peripatetic academy as it generalises struggles globally: there is something to learn here if you look up from the paperwork.

- John Hutnyk (1/2012)


[i] Emma Jackson announced her departure from London to take up an appointment to a post in Glasgow in a recent article in the Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/emma-jackson/peripatetic-teachers-rise-of_b_1174064.html – accessed 31.12.2011

[ii]  ‘A schoolmaster is a productive labourer, when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of a sausage factory, does not alter the relation’ – Marx, Capital Vol 1,Ch 16

[iii] for example, in Australia: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2011/October/06101104.asp – accessed 3.1.2012

[iv] see Liz Thompson and Ben Rosenzweig, 2012 ‘Guest Consumer, Multicultural Patriotism and International Economy in Australia’ in John Hutnyk (ed) Beyond Borders, London: Pavement Books (forthcoming).

[vi] Theodor Adorno, 1969/1998 Critical Models, Interventions and Catchwords, New York: Columbia University Press. P.192-3.

[vii] Theodor Adorno 1991 The Culture Industry Reconsidered: Selected Essays on Mass Culture. London: Routledge. p105.

[viii] Ibid. p113.

[ix] Gayatri Chakravory Spivak, 1999 Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Towards a History of the Vanishing Present. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

[x] Avital Ronell, 2002 Stupidity. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

[xiii] http://wp.me/pcKI3-6c – last accessed 2.1.2012

[xv] Peter Sloterdijk, 1988 Critique of Cynical Reason. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Vijay Prashad’s most excellent course rubric

“Requirements:

(1) 300 level course. This is a 300 level course. That means that its purpose is to push you beyond introductions to this or that part of the world, and into an investigation of how to theorize the world, how to do an analysis of problems and opportunities in the world. I expect very high standards from students. You will be expected to do all the work on time, to miss no classes and to allow yourself to be challenged, and to allow yourself to challenge each other (and me).

(2) Regular attendance. If you miss even one class without prior permission, you are liable to fail the course. I am ruthless about this point. Please make sure that you send me an email at least an hour before class (so that I have time to get back to you with my assent). If you have to miss a class (even for health reasons), I expect, by the Wednesday following the class, to have a ten-page paper that lays out the main analytical points in the reading for the Monday you missed. This is non-negotiable. If I do not hear from you before class that you are missing class, or if you fail to get me this paper by Wednesday, you will get an F grade for the course.

(3) Regular reading. I will call on you at will to discuss the reading. If you have not done the day’s reading, I recommend you simply say that you have not done so at the start of class (please hand me a note with your name on it – this will count against your grade, but it will count less if I ask you a question and you have no idea what I’m talking about). If you hand me the card with your name on it, and you do not wish it to count against your grade, you may write a five-page analytical essay on the reading (delivered to me by Wednesday). The reading is not easy. Please be prepared to study hard, and to learn vast amounts. Some of what I assign will need to be read twice. So bear that in mind. Take notes. Be prepared to discuss the readings. Come with questions.

• “Even in a seminar class it seems a little silly to require participation. Some students who are cripplingly shy, or who can’t always formulate their best thoughts and questions in the rapid back-and-forth of a group discussion, are nevertheless good and serious students. On the other hand, as Prof — points out supra, our class can’t really function if there isn’t student participation—it will become just me giving a half-assed ad-lib lecture for 90 minutes, which (trust me) will be horrible in all kinds of ways.” David Foster Wallace (1962-2008).

(4) Regular writing. I will ask you to write about the books and class discussions periodically. You will be given a few days to do these assignments. I do not take kindly to complaints about the volume of work, so be prepared in advance and do not be surprised by my assignments. Every class I teach is a writing intensive class, so please be prepared. If you email me a paper, I won’t read it. I only accept papers in hardcopy, given to me in class (not left outside my office: unless we make special arrangements).

There are four (max. 10 page) papers due for this class on Feb. 24, Mar. 15, April 12, and May 3. You will never get an extension. That I have informed you now of the due dates is all the extension you require. When you hand in a paper, I expect to see alongside it (stapled to it really) the notes you made not for class or for the reading but in drafting the paper. One of the lessons I’ve long learned in trying to express my opinion is to make extensive notes on paper (not on the computer). I would like to see these notes with the final paper. They will help me get a handle on how you have been thinking about the question, and the material in general.

• “If you are used to whipping off papers the night before they’re due, running them quickly through the computer’s Spellchecker, handing them in full of high-school errors and sentences that make no sense and having the professor accept them ‘because the ideas are good’ or something, please be informed that I draw no distinction between the quality of one’s ideas and the quality of those ideas’ verbal expression, and I will not accept sloppy, rough-draftish, or semiliterate college writing. Again, I am absolutely not kidding.” David Foster Wallace.

(5) Regular Speaking. Each student will be asked to write and deliver a “philosophical tantrum” in the manner of Guillermo Gómez-Peña, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74ajLA7MFDw. Each of you will be assigned a section of the reading for the day, in rotation, and then asked to write and deliver in class the tantrum based on the reading, the events of the time, and your own core values. The list for the tantrums will be created before the second class, so that we can begin our intellectual fiesta straight away.

(6) No Electronics at all. My classroom is an electronics free zone. No cellphones to be brought out, no texting, no computers on the desk. If you bring out any electronic equipment, I am given license to borrow it for the week, and you shall get it back on the following Monday. This time, I’m absolutely not kidding.”

Rough justifications [Marx Course reading]

 Rough justifications for including these texts in my prelim reading for the Capital course (see here).

Theodor W. Adorno, The Culture Industry

Adorno is famous for his dictum, “No Art after Auschwitz”, but it’s not necessarily something that he said in his own voice, it’s really important to see that he was putting this forward as a two part dialectic in the voice of those who at the level of satisfied contemplation, at the level of critics, did not break with the bourgeois categories, it was the idle chatter of that class that both said “you cannot make art after Auschwitz” and were incapable of understanding why it was barbaric to make art after Auschwitz. Now, everyone says Adorno was elitist, he was anti-art, but no. In that dialectic he actually has a more important place for the real rebellious possibility of art as something that we all could do. It could still be co-opted and recuperated… and of course he’s still anxious about that. And thinks under capitalism it’s hopeless. Well… We don’t need people to only be artists.

Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures

Aijaz Ahmad had denounced as imperialist the ‘three worlds theory’ in a debate with Frederic Jameson, where Jameson had called third world literature always an allegory of nation – clearly far too much a generalization on Fred’s part. ‘In Theory’ was like a brick thrown in a stagnant pool for us as postgraduate students, the first widely read book of theory in a long while that did not scrimp on the organizational politics. And with the added bonus of actual text-consulting detailed argument that corrects Edward Said’s too-quick dismissal of Marx on India.

Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share

Georges Bataille, especially in his early work, exhibits a refusal to be crushed by the brutality of events, war, oppression, morality. ‘The Accursed Share’ is the culmination of his economic and political writings, though I prefer the harder to access 1930s work (discussed here).

Jonathan.Beller, The Cinematic Mode of Production

In Jonathan Beller’s book ‘The Cinematic Mode of Production’, attention to the gaze and the market of the spectacle advances both film theory and situationist ideas to offer a platform for understanding new media as a terrain of struggle in market, ideology and practice. Just as we willingly go and sit in the dark before the cinema, we also comply with the protocols of the digital. Virtual selves abroad in the world while backache and repetitive strain compensate for touch type immediacy. The world shrunk to a venture start-up as if the assembly of work-station and media-console wasn’t also co-ordinated with wiring configurations, electricity grids and mining industries that make the corralling of workers in all kinds of underpaid labour also part of an integrated geo-circuit.

Sylvere Lotringer (ed), Hatred of Capitalism: A Reader

This book just has the best title, and a great selection of essays from William Burroughs to Marx to Kathy Acker – and the circuit is intended.

Karl Marx, Capital: Volume One

Only volume one! Get them all. Start a reading group. Do not miss the footnotes and all the fun jokes about Money bags. Also there are vampires, werewolves, bibles exchanged for brandy, and trips to Australia, India – Lord Jagganath – and tributes to Leonard Horner, factory inspector and hero of the working classes. It is important to read more than the first chapter. And to read it anew every decade or so, since the context changes Marx, just as Marx tried to change the context (the point!).

Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto

The Manifesto was written over the winter of 47-48 for the International Workingmen’s Association. First drafted on the train from Manchester to London, then finished in a frenzy of work by Marx in Brussels in January 48. It influence astonishing, global, relevant still, etc. Everyone can quote from it: from its first words: ‘Ein Gespenst geht um in Europa’ (1848/1970:41) – ‘A spectre is haunting Europe’, to its last words ‘Mögen die herrschendenKlassen vor iner kommunistischen Revolution zittern. Die Proletarier haben nichts in ihr zu verlieren als ihr Ketten. Sie haben eine Welt zu gewinnen. Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch’ (1848/1970:82-3) – ‘Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of all countries, unite’. The Manifesto was written just as Europe launch into a period of revolutionary turmoil. Marx was himself an activist, expelled from Germany for political reasons, exiled in Paris then London. He was, apparently, a rebel rousing type, turning up to demos and meetings a little pissed, but able, in repartee, to make mince meat of any other ideologues – yet the revolutionary period of 1848 did not deliver freedom, and Marx’s hope for the situation was disappointed. He turned to the library – although never gave up activism – to provide an explanation.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason

In this bumper book of critique Spivak shows she knows ‘the’ debates around a particular author or field with a quick sketch, then she shows she knows the critical angles on these debates and that these could be fruitful, but are often not without problems, and then, rather than detailing or extending the problems, she takes some moment or oblique angle on the text and levers it open to teach us something crucial. Repays reading over and over – wonderfully written, learned, and an education in itself. (more)

Michael Taussig My Cocaine Museum

The myriad examples in ‘My Cocaine Museum’ are assembled to order and disorder Colombia, where Mick has done 30+ years’ fieldwork, such that each of the curios selected for an impossible museum of gold, weapons and profit have to make sense in a history, and in syncopation with other examples for an archive of the imaginary institution, providing a model for eloquence… that I give students as an example of what might be possible if scholarship could be re-imagined.

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Slavoj Žižek, Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917

It has often been said that Zizek never has a thought that has not been published…. twice. Good thing too. We’d have to invent him if he did not invent himself.
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The course starts Jan 10. All welcome.
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Read Marx’s “Capital” at Goldsmiths: everybody is welcome (unless your name is David Willetts)

Capitalism and Cultural Studies – Prof John Hutnyk:

tuesday evenings from january 10, 2012 – 5pm-7pm Goldsmiths RHB 309 Free – all welcome.

No fee (unless, sorry, you are doing this for award – and that, friends, is Willetts’ fault – though the Labour Party have a share of the blame too).

This course involves a close reading of Karl Marx’s Capital (Volume One).
The connections between cultural studies and critiques of capitalism are considered in an interdisciplinary context (cinema studies, anthropology, musicology, international relations, and philosophy) which reaches from Marx through to Film Studies, from ethnographic approaches to Heidegger, from anarchism and surrealism to German critical theory and poststructuralism/post-colonialism/post-early-for-christmas. Topics covered include: alienation, commodification, production, technology, education, subsumption, anti-imperialism, anti-war movement and complicity. Using a series of illustrative films (documentary and fiction) and key theoretical texts (read alongside the text of Capital), we examine contemporary capitalism as it shifts, changes, lurches through its very late 20th and early 21st century manifestations – we will look at how cultural studies copes with (or does not cope with) class struggle, anti-colonialism, new subjectivities, cultural politics, media, virtual and corporate worlds.
http://www.gold.ac.uk/media/CU71012A%20Cultural%20Studies%20&%20Capitalism%2
02011-12.pdf

Email me to get the reading Guide. And please watch Citizen Kane before the first lecture, and read the prefaces if you can.

The lectures/seminars begin on Tuesday 10th January 2011 between 5 and 7pm and will run for 10 weeks (with a week off in the middle) in the Richard Hoggart Building (RHB 309), Goldsmiths College. Students are required to bring their own copy of the Penguin, International Publishers or Progress Press editions of Karl Marx Capital Vol I. Reading about 100 pages a week. (Please don’t get tricked into buying the abridged English edition/nonsense!)

Note: The Centre for Cultual Studies at Goldsmiths took a decision to make as many as possible of its lecture series open to the public without fee. Seminars, essays, library access etc remain for sale. Still, here is a chance to explore cultural studies without getting into debt. The classes are MA level, mostly in the day – though in spring the Capital course is early tuesday evening. We usually run 10 week courses. Reading required will be announced in class, but preliminary reading suggestions can also be found by following the links. RHB means main building of Goldsmiths – Richard Hoggart Building. More info on other free events from CCS here: http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/what-is-to-be-done:

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Update: Please ise this form to send a course evaluation to Sonia.Ali [at] gold.ac.uk Here.

Course Gen. evaluation form

Chalk and Cheese

The University is the last uneasy comfortable place that is not yet in 100% total denial of the white supremacist neo-imperialist war-mongering social privilege and violence that is, frankly, the condition of the whole of Western capital, the ruling class State, and its many comprador clients, including, of course, the University itself (approx 2% of 100 makes the total pretty thin). The circular sentence and bad math does not mean anything is ok. Everywhere else there is also denial, but perhaps the ongoing complicity of the critic is the most jarring. That said, I don’t think giving up the possibility of teaching jar-heads a critique of everything is the best next move. A ruthless critique of everything that exists, said Marx, in his famous Letter to the Rube. Where else will those one day a year adventurers (two days this year already, stop and admire) get their fill or fillip and citation to carry to the afterparty?

I am waiting to hear more of the anti-war movement. The raids on Libya continue unabated. The French are arming the Rebels, from whom we hear less and less. Britain’s Apache attack helicopters raid the city. Saudi Police snipers are UK-trained with a ‘it will save lives’ rationale. A vast war apparatus at home services the military effort – a cultural industry itself – worse than Mother Courage in Brecht’s old play, selling her kids to service the troops – ‘war will find a way’, and for 30 years the battle for the Holy Roman Empire rages. The present war effort for Empire stalls in Afghanistan, and Iraq is a twisted failed and abandoned building site. Yet more and more money is ploughed into the profit making venture of arms sales and the reckless escalations are bantered palab katakata style by William Hague in the Parliament, while the so-called opposition leadership of Millibrand can only gurn and insult. The burning issue (ouch!) that will only be glossed as an inconvenience to parents when the teachers defend their pensions is as far from an adequate politics that can win as chalk is to cheese-sticks.

A discussion today on cases of intrigue in our very own gulags of absentmindedness:

Two cases of note:

Row after university suspends lecturer who criticised way student was treated

Rod Thornton accused Nottingham University of trying to discredit student, who downloaded an al-Qaida training manual

Jeevan Vasagar, education editor
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 May 2011 19.09 BST
Article history

A view of Nottingham University’s Jubilee campus. The suspension of lecturer Rod Thornton has led to a row about academic freedom. Photograph: Zander Olsen

A university has been plunged into a row over academic freedom after suspending a lecturer who criticised its treatment of a student who researched al-Qaida.

Rod Thornton, an expert in counter-insurgency at Nottingham University, was suspended on Wednesday after he accused the university of passing “erroneous evidence” to police and attempting to discredit a student who downloaded an al-Qaida training manual from a US government website.

A member of staff at the university also lobbied successfully for Thornton’s article to be taken down from an academic website, arguing that it contained defamatory allegations.

The masters student, Rizwaan Sabir, was arrested and detained for six days for downloading the al-Qaida material.

A university administrator was also arrested after Sabir asked him to print the document because the student could not afford the printing fees. Both were later released without charge.

In the paper, Thornton wrote: “Untruth piled on untruth until a point was reached where the Home Office itself farcically came to advertise the case as ‘a major Islamist plot’ … Many lessons can be learned from what happened at the University of Nottingham.

“This incident is an indication of the way in which, in the United Kingdom of today, young Muslim men can become so easily tarred with the brush of being ‘terrorists’.”

Thornton’s article was prepared for the British International Studies Association (Bisa), which promotes the study of international relations and held its annual conference in Manchester last week…. (continues)

AND:
(LETTER TO FRFI)

Honorary Fellow sacked for supporting Millbank occupiers

I am a founder member of the University of Kent Law School and Kent Law Clinic and principally responsible for its international reputation as a critical law school. I was appointed an Honorary  Fellow in January 2007 as part of a settlement for breach of contract.

I was interviewed by the media after the Millbank occupation by students opposed to the rise in fees and gave unconditional support to the actions of the students. My comments appeared on the University of Kent’s Centre for Journalism website and in consequence the university demanded the article be taken down. The Centre’s director, Tim Luckhurst, refused to do so.

The university then sought to terminate the Honorary Fellowship and ordered me to remove Kent Law School as the mailing address of the National Critical Lawyers Group (NCLG) (founded in 1987 with this address, see http://www.nclg.org.uk). I was ordered not to associate myself in any way with Kent Law School and to leave my office with one day’s notice. Kent Law School then suspended the NCLG mailing list of over 3,000 and ordered the removal of NCLG from university internet servers.

Before the suspension, over 60 members of NCLG emailed the Vice Chancellor and Kent Law School head of department protesting strongly at my sacking – the protests came from barristers, solicitors and professors, staff and students at other law schools.

No one in Kent Law School staff and students has dared to say anything about these events, fearing the consequences, although there have been private messages of support. The university is in fascist mode, as are many other universities at this time.

I have received limited support from my union UCU, consisting of one visit to the Vice Chancellor who refused to talk. The union has failed to take any other action. The student union has a no victimisation policy but has also failed to support me, even though I was the legal adviser to the magnificent Kent occupiers who kept their occupation going from 8 December to 5 January.

UCU legal committee is meeting on 4 February to consider whether to support me legally, but this is not the best option.

I am a supporter of the RCP – now the Spiked Group – but have received no support whatsover from my former comrades; one at Kent Law School has worked actively against me. The SWP know about these events but they have so far failed to give any support. Similarly Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party and the Coalition of Resistance, including Clare Solomon, have not supported me.

The university has cancelled our booking for the NCLG bi-annual conference in March at Kent University and we have found it impossible to get a booking in London. SOAS accepted our booking then cancelled under pressure from some of their law professors. I suspect the NCLG has been blacklisted.

I would like to thank FRFI for their comradely support.

In solidarity and onwards to a better world,

Ian Grigg-Spall

Canterbury

CCS PhD Seminar 2010-2011 (CCS only)

Centre for Cultural Studies PhD seminar 2010-2011

4 Oct - John Hutnyk – introductory and organizational discussion (no pre-reading)

11 Oct - John Hutnyk –

Mussell: Three pages from “Social and Political Thought”

Adorno: ‘What National Socialism Has Done to the Arts’ from “Essays on Music”

Adorno ‘Critique’ – a 1969 radio address, From “Critical Models”

18 Oct – John Hutnyk

Ronell: ‘The Question of Stupidity: Why We Remain in the Provinces’ from “Stupidity”

Ronell: ‘On Television: the feminization of the World’ from “Fighting Theory”

25 Oct – Scott Lash

Sloterdijk: From “Terror From the Air”

1 Nov – Scott Lash

Badiou: ‘Mathematics and Philosophy/Philosophy and Mathematics’

15 Nov – Matt Fuller

Agre: ‘Towards a Critical Technical Practice’

22 Nov – Matt Fuller

Guattari ‘The New Aesthetic Paradigm’

29 Nov – Alison Hulme

Lefebvre: from “Critique of Everyday Life” vol 1.

6 Dec – Richard Iveson

Derrida: from ‘The Beast and the Sovereign’ and

A.Benjamin: ‘Particularity and Exceptions: On jews and Animals’

24 Jan – Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay

Tarde/Durkheim: ‘The Debate’ from “The Social After Gabriel Tarde”

31 Jan – Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay

Joyce: ‘The Social in Question’

7 Feb – Luciana Parisi

James: ‘The Stream of Thought’ from “Principles of Psychology”

Whitehead: ‘Expression’  from ‘Modes of Thought’

14 Feb – Luciana Parisi

Clarke: ‘Meat machines’ from ‘Mindware’

Bateson: ‘Criteria of Mental Processes’ from “Mind and Nature”

Churchland: ‘Introduction’ to “The Engine of Reason”

28 Feb - Bernard Stiegler

7 March – Bernard Stiegler

14 – March – from this date on – PhD student presentations each monday including into summer term….

Will pre course massive expansion be funded?

I haven’t been involved in this venture to offer year long fee paying access courses to potential international students. But still I am concerned as to how we can do this at Goldsmiths, how anyone could afford it, and when we would make our ‘expected’ contribution (course offerings and the like). CCS already works at optimum capacity plus some. Who could possibly consider spending any time on this?

The admin says this is largely an undergrad thing: “We are looking towards a suite of one-year International Foundation Certificates leading potentially to any of our undergraduate degree programmes”

Though the outline document does mention there will be a future postgrad component: “An important further consideration here is the role of (four-year) Extension Degrees and Integrated Degrees. There seems no imperative to change something that is working well, but we might want to review nomenclature and should certainly bring all the international routes under one heading for marketing and recruitment. We propose a similar suite of one-year Diplomas for pre-Masters students, but the extent to which we might want to customise these is up for discussion.”

No doubt quality will be assured by some quality review committee, but I have my doubts about its long term viability. Smells like a quick money grab to me.

Taking into account the imperative that a university provide for the greater uplift of all through education(!), do we even want to do this? I work in a research centre. I do not want to malign the job the LSC people do, or anyone else at Goldsmiths, but I wonder how long we can maintain standards with the potentially massive expansion this might bring – it would be so dodgy if we ended up with low quality hastily organised slapped together bits of courses, taught mostly by VTs I bet, with random samples of other courses haphazardly arranged, and no-one in the departments charged with (or paid for) oversight of quality, so no doubt leading eventually to constraints and stress, and in the end ripening us up for privatisation (all this eventually co-ordinated and taught by some unaccredited private company as was mooted but defeated two years back)?

Am I the only one who thinks this is a hostage to fortune scenario? at the very least, it does not seem to me to be something a research centre would want to do? We are hard pressed to get our own research done as it is. We need more time not less, we need space and staff. We are already over capacity, despite our successful ‘quality’ review.

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.”

ASA – From Post-Imperial Anthropology to Post-Anthropological Empire?

A cross post from the Association of Social Anthropology site, filed here (awaiting moderation), but check the original if interested.

As I cannot face reading the papers with War Hero Harry splattered (in the wrong way) across the front today, I visited the site of the Royal Anthropological Institute looking for comment, then landed on the ASA site. Predictable I guess, but a few comments in an otherwise interesting post have me queasy, as Subir Sinha writes on http://blog.theasa.org/?p=56:

“Over time, of course, anthropology began to exceed its imperial beginnings to become perhaps the most self-aware discipline in the academy…”
“Anthropology, consequently, has had little to do with the current imperial iteration. Deep knowledge has been replaced by ‘adequate’ knowledge …”
“Of course …geo-positioning satellites and allegedly ‘smart’ bombs made intimate knowledge of terrain unnecessary …”

[As if we should lament this latter missed opportunity and the consequent book sales, but my point is not this]…

Subir continues:

“In fact, much as knowledge was a constituent element of the previous iterations of empire, ignorance is a constituent element of this current imperial project…”

What provokes me to respond harshly here is that it is surely not a case of supplying the armed forces with a reading list or a manual for cultural exchange – though it seems that’s already underway from the anthropologists who brought us COIN – rather, the responsibility to combat the ignorance that fuels the current crusades is a much more active engagement with anti-war pedagogy.

Because I feel that anthropology, despite many well meaning and lovely-smart-critical people, has abandoned its responsibility in the face of total war, Subir is half correct to end with:

“Now that anthropology has become post-imperial, has empire itself not become post-anthropological? If so, what are the implications?”

For mine, I think the implications are grave if we accept this portrayal of anthropology. I can be sympathetic with the intent and the problematic, but I am somewhat amazed at the claim that anthropology is both the most self-aware of disciplines and somehow ‘in fact’ not implicated in the iteration of imperialism today. This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the workings of what I will call the Jedi Mind Trick of liberal-civilizational abstention.

I do not line up with Fukayama-Rumsfeld or the turn-coat Ignatieff, but I do think to ignore the profound role anthropology has had in providing ‘knowledgeable’ alibis and cultural awareness for the war effort is dangerous. Not intentional of course, but a failure of intent – publicly anthropology has become not much more than a code word for a smattering of relativism and the ability to manage a greeting in several languages: (namaste, namaskaar, sat sri akal). It is a false and limited cultural-literacy that appeals as a resource in our numerous graduates that enter paid employ of the state and commerce. The even more numerous non-graduates – those who might sit in on one or two courses, a few lectures or accidentally sign up to an interesting sounding conference, or even ‘heaven forbid’ read a work of a stray anthropologist-public intellectual – and who might gain their degrees or pursue their work in a mistaken belief that they do have some greater degree of self-awareness, knowledge of others and, at most, experience in cultural difference via the ‘rough travel’ auspices of Lonely Planet Guides…it is these people that we enabled to run the war of terror. In Subir’s post, how can the ideological role of liberal cultural expediency be so systematically ignored, and responsibility for this ignorance not placed at our departmental door?

Needless to say, in the circumstances I balk a little at Caroline’s expression of pleasure that someone is positive about anthropology (in this way), and find Mils comment that ‘there is almost no possibility of a policy-maker (junior and especially senior) reading an ethnography’ at least slightly reassuring – though in my experience it is patently wrong. Jonathan Spencer is wise as ever, and usefully takes us elsewhere. But that Mils ends his last comment with a plea to oust the experts strikes me as more productive:

“I know terrorism theorists who have spent approximately none of their academic lives worrying about terrorism. And it’s them who get approached to address classified seminars; produce research strategies and review policies and plans (formally and otherwise). That’s influence. It could be benign, could be malign – but such folk are not shy … why let them continue unchallenged?”

Well and good at one level (if you know these terrorist experts, list names and addresses, and the times of the next meeting), but the challenge is certainly not to buy into the alibi game, become the critical paid lackey (not handmaiden of colonialism but court jesters of globalization) for those who would like more cultural awareness for the troops, a little sexing up of the dossiers, an imprimatur of scholarly credibility for the business-as-usual bombing campaigns. A worrying scenario presents itself: it does not strike me as much good if some anthro gets themselves invited to speak on Marcel Mauss and the Gift Economy at a closed session of the Defence Procurement Budget Strategy Team in Whitehall – I don’t think anthropologists are self-aware enough for that just yet.

john

Mark has skillz

Doc Smith

Doc Smith. Congratulations.

Joins a motley crew – Saul, Howard, Nicola and Ji-Yeon. KUDOS-tastic.

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