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January 11, 2009

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the vanishing mediator

It seems to me that if tenured faculty sincerely cared about the crucial issues involved, then there would be the possibility of an effective, nation-wide union for all faculty (including nontenured faculty like myself). Why is the American Association of University Professors not the starting point for developing something like this? Please enlighten me. I don't want to be entertained by performances and creative workshops, I just want to be able to provide for my family on an adjunct's pay.

Jodi

Good questions. I'm not the best person to answer these, but I'll give you my 2 cents. First, the AAUP is a good starting point for this. Second, in at least some states and in at least some institutions, the AAUP does not have a collective bargaining agreement. As I understand it, faculty (maybe only at private colleges and universities?) are not legally recognized as labor/workers but are viewed as management (I might have this wrong, but I don't think so). It may be the case that it is like this everywhere; I don't know.

I don't know the history of the AAUP but my sense is that the organization provides data to faculty regarding salaries and benefits, that it establishes standards of professional conduct, that it provides guidance on matters of tenure and promotion. I've wondered if it is weak as a union because most faculty negotiate their salaries as individuals.

But, it still can be a good starting point.

Mehmet Çagatay

Hello,

I noticed there is something missing among the possible topics that are listed and I think it is the most crucial one which may call attention to the organization of knowledge in regard to the truth process. It is a very difficult question since education, in Althusser’s words, is a practice of ensuring subjection to the ruling ideology or training of its mastery, it is difficult to find a way to re-organize knowledge in a form that enables us to encounter someone or something which hopefully will trigger the emergence of truth. This is the question that Alain Badiou indicated about education, I suppose, by the reason of the obvious situation of today that contemporary evil forms of this organization is determined to prevent any possible encounter. It is like those stupid dating tips: desperate souls read them and learn the proper rules of courting to find love, how to act like an ordinary normal person, how to avoid yourself to be perceived as a total jerk, etc. etc. But I presume these people end up in the same vicious circle as it is the very symbolic registration which actually interrupts the possibility to encounter someone.

My suggestion would be another topic about knowledge and truth.

Jodi

What about:

--how do particular knowledge structures prevent the emergence of truth?

--which truths does the neoliberal university encourage and support?

--which processes produce the most compliant, efficient, and employable graduates?

--what is the best way to prevent the emergence of critical questions?

--through what means can knowledge be construed as a narrow domain of questions and answers and held by a few to their benefit?

Mehmet Çagatay

I prefer something like this:

-The True Form of Knowledge is Which Pursues Its Own Disintegration. (I mean in the sense that the truth is the interruption in the regularity of knowledge)

In a more concrete way, for instance, how can we give an account of Leninist experience in a way that provide us a possibility of new forms of political participation but not in the idiotic fashion like, we should take these lessons, how can we built the vanguard Party without indulging the same little mistakes, etc.

Nate

hi Jodi,

Let me know if your coming to Mpls for that conference, please.

One comment re: the AAUP. I don't know the legal status of profs, I suspect it varies by state for public universities, I don't know about private ones. Either way, there's no particular reason why the NLRB (or its analogs for public employees in each state) gets to be the final arbiter of whether or not people can organize. Service workers at UNC are organizing as part of the UE despite a state law (I believe in contravention of international law) which says the state doesn't sign union contracts. Likewise there's a long history of domestics and farm workers organizing despite not being legally granted the right to collective bargaining. Profs could do the same.

I think you're dead on that individualized (so called "merit") pay is a big piece of why this stuff doesn't happen.

take care,
Nate

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