Reworking/Rethinking the University

Two Conferences at the University of Minnesota, April 11-13th, 2008; April 24-26, 2009

Conference – Beneath the University, the Commons

Call for Papers/Ideas

“Beneath the University, the Commons”
A conference at the University of Minnesota

April 8-11, 2010

// Antioch 05.08 // Rome 10.08 // Athens 12.08 // New York City 12.08
// Helsinki 03.09 // Zagreb 05.09 // Heidelberg 06.09 // London 06.09
//Santa Cruz 09.09// … //

Seemingly discrete struggles over the conditions of university life
have erupted around the world within the past year. These struggles
share certain commonalities: outrage over precarious and exploitative
conditions, the occupation of university spaces, and goals of
reclaiming education from state and corporate interests.  It is
becoming increasingly apparent that recent struggles over the
university are not merely discrete events. They express a wider
collective desire for direct control over the means of production and
forms of life; a desire to create relationships of learning,
collaboration, and innovation beyond the university’s attempts to
quantify and discipline them.

Although the modern university has served the interests of the state
and capital since its inception, the past thirty years have witnessed
tightened ties with corporate, financial, and geopolitical interests.
The subsumption of higher education under capital-driven business
models has intensified the expropriation of the products of
cooperative labor.  With the proliferation of student-consumer and
scholar-manager subjectivities, we increasingly find ourselves
uncomfortably and often unwittingly occupying the role of active
participants in these trends.  As the global struggles over the past
year have illustrated, however, opposition to these mechanisms of
capture is mounting, as are creative strategies for alternatives and
exodus.  Struggles against the corporate university are linking up
across borders; the slogan of the International Student Movement, “One
World – One Struggle : Education is Not for Sale,” and the slogan of
the Anomalous Wave, “We Won’t Pay for Your Crisis,” appear in actions
across Europe, the Americas, and South Asia.

“Beneath the University, the Commons” builds on the work accomplished
by activists, organizers, artists, and academics at the “Re-thinking”
and “Re-working” the University Conferences of 2008 and 2009
(, while expanding the scope of our discussions
and bringing together more international scholars in order to address
an increasingly volatile global situation.  Our goal is to aggregate
and accelerate our knowledge of university conditions and our
collective acts of resistance to them, including alternative forms of
engaging with each other and with the world.  To this end, the 2010
conference will draw together a diverse set of people committed to
exploring how we can understand, create, and experiment with the
commons beneath the university.  Our questions include but are not
limited to:

//How do we enact and sustain occupations of the university in the
exceptional times and spaces of the everyday?

//How do we generate an international “undercommons,” maintaining
subversive positions as actors within, rather than of, the spaces of
the university?

//How can unionization projects and occupation struggles learn from
and collaborate with one another?

//How do we negotiate the line between stability and revolutionary

//How do we open up sustainable and livable spaces for radical
research, education, and scholarship without being subsumed by the
publish-or-perish disciplinary apparatus?

//How can we collaboratively map and share research, information,
tactics, and cultures?

//In recognition that our conditions are a part of a larger set of
global occupations and injustices, how do we link with social
movements outside of and across the university?

This four-day event will consist of two days of conference sessions
bracketed by two days of workshops, writing collaborations, skill
shares, and plenty of time for sustained conversations among
participants.  We are accepting proposals both for formal papers and
for non-conventional forms of participation.

— If you would like to present a paper, please submit an abstract and
a CV or brief biographical statement.

— If you would like to participate in another way (by leading a
workshop, facilitating a roundtable, presenting media, etc), please
submit a brief (1-2 pages) description of the proposed activity and
include what kind of resources we would need to provide, along with a
CV or brief biographical statement.

All proposals should be addressed to conference [at-n0spam], and
must be received by January 1, 2010.

November 17, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Sir/Madam
    I am a professor from the University of Madras. I am also a social activist. I have been part of an initiative to develop an alternative university. I am interested in knowing/hearing more about your work. Please keep me posted about your activities/reports.

    Best wishes!
    Ramu Manivannan

    Comment by Ramu Manivannan | June 16, 2010

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