January 09, 2012

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Undressing the Academy Just received a couple of intriguing Minor Compositions books from the excellent Stevphen Shukaitis. Hope to read 19 & 20 Notes for a New Social Protagonism (as well another Minor Compositions book I recently got, Ben Noys' Communization and Its Discontents) soon. Did have a chance to read (well, skim) Undressing the Academy, or The Student Handjob a collective product of the University for Strategic Optimism. Gotta say--my first reaction is that the optimism is hard to find; it's being deployed so strategically as to be barely apparent at all. I think for the authors--students--and likely readers--students the optimism might come out of a combination of the expressions of rage and despair in the book and the emphasis on responding collectively, whether through writing, squatting, or protesting--although the book is not naive about the efficacy of protests: it notes the failure of the last decades biggest protests (February 15 2003, globally, and March 26 2011 in the UK). That said, I love the book as a rejoinder and anecdote to the stream of educational propaganda shoveled through my college's listserv. We are constantly being told how to engage students, help them be responsive learners, how we should be co-learners, what skills we need them to develop so that they will become leaders ("leadership" is the new buzzword--but really? who is it kidding? as an object of pedagogical practice it's another vehicle for extend corporate logics more deeply into society, grasping people at younger ages, and disciplining the curriculum). The cynicism...
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Ford closes Minnesota truck assembly plant On December 16, Ford Motor Company shut down production at its St. Paul, Minnesota, truck plant that assembles the lightweight Ranger pickup for the American market. The closure wiped out some 800 jobs and left many of the affected workers looking for new employment in the middle of the worst economic recession since the 1930s. The decision to shutter the St. Paul facility first emerged back in 2006 when Ford’s new president and CEO Alan Mulally announced a new plan called “The Way Forward.” It targeted the closure of 16 plants and the elimination of 30,000 workers, reducing the company’s North American workforce by 29 percent. Ford plans on making the new Ranger in Thailand and South Africa. According to several St. Paul Ford workers, the Ranger will also be assembled in Brazil. But those vehicles will not be sold in the US market. Instead, Ford will concentrate on its more profitable and heavier F-Series trucks. One Ford worker with 12 years at the plant said, “We’re out of the parts loop. We’re the farthest away from the other plants. The shareholders want to see their money right now. They don’t want to retool and wait five years to see a profit.” In 2006, Ford said it would close the St. Paul plant in 2008. The 1,800 workers who worked there at that time were offered buyouts that changed the status of workers so the company would not be responsible for retiree benefits such as pensions. Curtis, an 11-year veteran...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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