Since the last Attack the Headquarters I have been thinking about the nature of work… especially with all the discussions about theory, practice, vocational and educational issues.
To start with a provocation: When Stanley Aronowitz spoke a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he saw part of his role as an academic as finding his students jobs. Perhaps if this happened here, students would be less likely to be bought out by Unilever…… how about it John?!
On a more realistic (?) note I was excited by the idea that the workers enquiries that have been written through the MA’s Marx module be published in some form, and I would be very happy to be involved with this.
Over the last year I have also been slowly producing some art works that are loosely connected to the theme of ‘work’, and at the back of my mind, have wondered about organising an exhibition in order to show them.
Thinking about collective activity, it occurred to me that these two projects might fit well together. Perhaps an exhibition somewhere in the local area could provide a platform for distributing a newspaper type publication of workers enquiries, films, discussions and debates (about the nature of work in a wide sense from meaningful activity to wage labour?) and workshops with local community groups. Local working history of the area could be explored, or people excluded from working such as asylum seekers be involved. Perhaps this would in some way be connected to the mapping of Goldsmiths and the local area that we have been talking about or just be a parallel event…..
I wanted to add some thoughts after the session on Tuesday. I’ve been a bit slow due to recovering from post-traumatic exam disorder. I perhaps had a slightly more traumatic experience than most, being in the Assistive Technology Centre where the Technology wasn’t at all assistive. (Is it really hopeless to call for the abolition of the exam?)
Hopefulness/ hopelessness is perhaps a key point as it seems very easy to feel hopeless about the general current crisis out there in the outside world/inside the institution. I share spectropoetics hope about collective thinking/action, but notice how quickly this can slip into hopelessness about the current world/educational situation.
I would like to respond to Tom’s talk in which he made a distinction between political practice and the production of culture as “inherently vocational”. Is it possible to separate creative (artistic, filmic etc.) practice from the vocational? They are not necessarily the same thing, although they can and often do overlap. Perhaps it is naive to think that experimental creative practice can exist without being market driven, and certainly it is true that this kind of practice can be more easily subsumed into the vocational than theory. It is also good to remember that the distinction between the vocational and theoretical in education is an artificial one that was initially drawn along class lines. It is therefore important to try to clarify where the overlaps are, how they happen, and whether it is possible to use, resist or subvert them especially if part of the aim of CCS is to develop critical cultural practitioners. As Tom suggests, cultural studies is itself a cultural product.
Responding to an earlier discussion, politics is certainly where we are, particularly in terms of being part of the educational establishment and the current political drive towards training rather than education. It was also good to be reminded by Tom that although there is this present drive at the moment to make education into vocational training, this trend has existed since Marx and the sausage factory. This instrumentalisation of education is what needs to be resisted through learning to think. Creative practice can offer other modes of thinking alongside the purely theoretical.
- Thanks to Jennifer john [! ed :)] for the posting of the UCU conference as being relevant here. I think this also leads to a wider discussion about the more general difficulty of negotiating/resisting compromises when being paid for doing something that most of us will have to face at some point.
Returning to the difficulty and importance of collective action, it has been good to start thinking with other MA students about the possibility of starting reading groups during the dissertation writing period even though this isn’t a long time. As a part time student I realise I have assumed that my involvement in the MA would pause until October but now realise that this doesn’t have to be the case.
On a last note about Tuesday’s session, I enjoyed the suggestion of a mapping of Goldsmiths as a possible/impossible project.