Counter-Mapping Universities

Good to see Ex-Zeppelin and new Hamburg students take up the QM Counter Map:

From the QM collective interview:

What has been the reception to this project, as best you can tell. Have there been unexpected or unintended responses? Has it inspired kindred projects/mobilizations?
The reception has been good, and quite diverse. Some people like the map, some the game, and people stress different aspects of both. In general people really appreciate the fact that it looks very different from most activist and political material. A staff member at Queen Mary in the International Student Admissions Office asked for copies to help her explain to her British colleagues the issues faced by many international students. A presentation to a group of professors highlighted how little our own lecturers knew about the difficulties faced by their own international students.

The game has worked very well as a tool that forces people to discuss their own and others’ experiences of education and border crossings. We specifically designed it as a relational device to get the players to share their experiences and frustrations, and to imagine alternatives. The colourfulness and playfulness of the map has brightened up many a grey bureaucratic political meeting, and inspired others to invent similar tools of mapping, acting and organising in relation to other institutions. We’ve had requests for people to use our InDesign files for making their own maps (the ‘code’ of the map is open and free), and given workshops to other groups making their own maps of the university.

Meeting tomorrow morning (22nd) near Hamburg hafen:

During this meeting we will be focusing on counter mapping using a map project that John Hutnyk presented to us developed by Queen Mary University PhD students a couple of years ago. He has recommended us the following ‘literature’, which we would kindly ask you to prepare for Sunday in case you are interested in taking part.




Afterwards we are planning a small walk through the Hamburg Hafen with the focus on ‘contested spaces’ in order to link the breakfast session with Hamburg.

Capital lectures in Spring term at Goldsmiths starting January 14

Marx Capital lecture course at Goldsmiths ✪

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

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 weekly course reading guide is here: Cap and cult studs outline013 *************

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 of 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!)

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:

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)

Participation in Museums: Trinketizing the Audience.

Notes for Museum ‘debate’ in Liverpool on November 11.

There is much talk of participation and much effort to remodel foyers, and to an extent interiors, plus toilets, cafes, bookshops and websites, to enable easy access. Asked to be curmudgeon-esque, it seems clear to me that this participation-talk is pseudo-participation. Every participation seems the same, everything alike, repeated patterns, even colour schemes – so many pastels, and fluorescent red plastic chairs. Some of the chairs are little, for kids, or for breaking dad’s back.

How did it get to be that pseudo-participation rules? The dominant culture has no anxiety about having people walk past the exhibits, but do not let them touch you. File on by, stop perhaps for a second, for an hour, but only in a standardized way. Check the visit off on a list. Culture 101.

Nothing without regulation – aims and outcomes carefully calibrated on a planning form that no-one reads, inside a system dominated by the same malignant and parasitic bureaucracy that has overtaken health and education in the hyper-administration. The bureaucracy does not even administer anything today, just keeps the forms in circulation, and the school groups filing through the doors.

And it is this pseudo-routine that must be thoroughly tested. We must know our audience, using the very latest in dumbed-down questionnaires that even newspaper-selling leftist street-vendors would disavow except as props. This is not even market research – so long as the school groups keep on marching past in tight formation. Participation in the most bland formal sameness – Adorno pointed to a sexual lozenge at the heart of the culture industry, and for sure he also meant the museum as pseudo-education. Where everything should be clean. ‘Nothing should be moist’.

We are so far from education here except education as reinforced class privilege. Education is not a two-hour visit – give them 20 hours, even 20 weeks – and they must read in advance. Here cultural exposure is not instruction but packaged ‘culture’ – and education is not a social good, but ‘education’ as national programming. An articulated system for inculcating national ideology and the flat flat flat dissemination of British identity and imaginary pasts. Books in the bookshop on popular themes – tea, crockery, swords. The empty materials that can be rearranged for some groups to dominate others.

Because commodification is the new rule, just like the old one. Different levels according to price, knick-knacks or bespoke jewelry, a café and a bistro, a members room. The collection is sacrificed to the expansion of the foyer, the t-shirts and tote bags carry the branded museum like a picture on a mug. There is no room for the collection, but room aplenty for postcard reproductions. The collection is not a collection, not a research effort, not a scholarly project, but a beauty contest.


Three props – a toy wooden horse, my gilt-edged copy of Arabian Nights, and a carved wooden Ganesh idol.

Participation cannot be a Trojan Horse, smuggling the old kings of the elite cloister into the pockets of a population plundered and left to rue the day. Participation is not a flash mob.

Neither should we rest with the admirable storytelling device of Scheherazade from the epic One Thousand and One Nights. She tells stories every night – Sinbad, Ali Baba, Aladdin – to ward off the threat of the despotic ruler Shahryar, and through her stories eventually she turns him to good. But insofar as this leaves the storyteller as the one with power, and the king in place, the population remains a distant audience, titillated, but fundamentally untouched. Great stories they are, but the structure of interrogation remains, she could be telling her stories to the despotic king, or in Guantanamo today to the CIA interrogators, or the national press. What she needs to do is teach others to tell stories, and this also takes time – perhaps 1001 nights, sometimes more, different in each case and not a blanket solution. Democracy is not an occasionally vote.

What if it were Ganesh that ran the museum. Tasked with writing down the epic Mahabharata – 100 thousand verses – as it was told by the sage Vyasa, Ganesh’s pencil wears down and in order to keep transcribing he snaps off his tusk and dips it in ink to continue. He is the patron of all studious soles, dedicated to a popular scholarship, unending. He is not an occasional visitor on a joy ride.

What we need perhaps is the best of all three of these figures. Enticement into the museum, by horse if need be, then good stories that undo the games of dominant power, and a celebration of scholarship that is not just a two-hour visit, but a lifelong commitment. Museums might be this. With these patrons.


VC Gherao Kolkata

On the day that I received a copy of my chapter in the book, Television at Large in South Asia (see here) this news from Kolkata seemed highly apposite.


After Jadavpur, Calcutta University students gherao VC

Last Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013, 23:48

Kolkata: Close on the heels of gherao of the Jadavpur University vice chancellor by students for 51-hours, B-Tech students of a college of Calcutta University on Monday gheroed the varsity’s VC and pro-VC alleging that the authorities were not taking any steps for their placement. Calcutta University VC Suranjan Das and Pro-VC (academic) Dhrubajyoti Chatterjee continue to remain gheraoed at the Raja Bazar Science College campus of the university by B-Tech students till late in the night, university sources said. The B-Tech students first gheraoed the principal of the Raja Bazar Science College at 2.30 pm, the sources said.

Hearing the news of the gherao of the principal, Das sent the pro-vc (academic) to talk to the students but they gheraoed him as well. The VC, who reached the campus around 7 pm, was gheraoed too and gates were locked from outside. “Gherao is a democratic right. But this locking of door and gates from outside is not acceptable because if there is fire of any such incident then there may be serious loss,” the VC said over the phone from inside the college. The VC said “that there is a placement cell in the Raja Bazar Science College. However, there is no placement officer at present but a professor of the college is officiating additionally as the placement officer.” “If companies reject the candidates (send for placement) then why should the college authorities be blamed,” he added. The gherao of the VC, pro-VC (academic) and principal of the college was still continuing till 11 pm, the sources said. On September 20, engineering students of Jadavpur University lifted their 51-hour gherao of the vice- chancellor, pro vice-chancellor and registrar, demanding the revocation of the suspensions of two fourth-year students on ragging charges. PTI

First Published: Monday, September 23, 2013, 23:48