January 12, 2009

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Committee on Revolutionizing the Academy: Call for Ideas A friend sent me this call for ideas: Reworking the University: Visions, Strategies, Demands April 24-26, 2009, University of Minnesota The current “financial meltdown” has exacerbated the ongoing crises within the university, resulting in even greater budget cuts, tuition hikes, hiring freezes and layoffs. Responses from university administrations have been predominantly reactive and have served to fortify the university as an institution of neoliberal capitalism. The administration and others have narrated this crisis as an external force that, while dramatic in the short run, can nonetheless be managed properly. It is clear to many, however, that the neoliberal logic that has been used to transform the university over the past few decades has failed at a systemic level; the neoliberal death spiral has come home to the university. In contrast to these reactionary responses, we seek to create a space for collective re-evaluation of the university in crisis as an opportunity for real transformation. Last year’s conference, “Rethinking the University: Labor, Knowledge, Value” (April 2008), sought to challenge the supposed inevitability of the neoliberal university. As a continuation of this project, “Reworking the University” seeks to draw together academics, artists, and activists, to share and produce political visions, strategies and demands for building an alternative university in common. “Reworking the University” seeks to generate a vibrant, political exchange by troubling the traditional format of the academic conference. To this end, we hope to produce spaces for individuals and groups from different backgrounds and across a variety of institutional boundaries to...
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Truth and consequences How often have we heard Republicans, Conservatives, and Christian fundamentalists preach about responsiblity? Everyone is supposed to take responsibility, personal responsibility. People are supposed to take responsibility for their drug and alcohol use (rehab? no! no! no!); for their obesity, lack of exercise, and failure of will power; for their credit card debt and excess expenditures; for their unprotected sex. Three strikes and you are out, out, out. Unwanted pregnancy? Responsibility means having that baby. The smaller and more personal the transgression, the greater your exposure to excessive punishment, all in the name of responsibility. We are small enough to be allowed to, even encouraged to, fail. If we don't fail and encounter the consequences, the system can't work--no incentives to be good (Reagan taught us this back in the 80s by making sure that we saw homeless people all over our cities; he called them welfare queens; the media called them bag ladies; we knew they were that the fate we had to avoid at all costs). We are all supposed to face the consequences of our actions. But this 'all' is actually pretty narrow. Who's left out? The rich and the privileged, especially if they are white and male. And they get extra dispensation if they are or have been employed in the finance sector or the Bush administration (sorta the same thing, if you think about it). So the finance sector doesn't have to face any consequences. And it looks like the Bush administration might escape the...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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