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Following on from Thijs’s Show and Tell and Rik’s post on the really flipping cool work of Evoke (god, if I ever make it to teaching at university, my course is definitely going to be called Resilience Logistics 101, or perhaps just Thinking and Resilience or a version of this……!) I wanted to draw your attention to another link that I am pretty astounded by.

I was heartened weeks ago to read that the Encyclopedia Brittanica has more errors than Wikipedia. (Oddly, when I tried to find the said article I could only come up with a slightly more modest one….)

Naturally I allow myself to widely extrapolate on this fact to make sweeping statements about egalitarianism, collectivity, dispersed knowledges and so on and so forth…..

But I have just been even more delighted to discover another beacon of wiki resistance and communal intelligence called WikiLeaks which publishes government leaks and other sensitive information anonymously.

Wow?!

The global movement, from Seattle forward, appears as a battery that only half works: it accumulates energy without pause, but it does not know how or where to discharge it. (Paolo Virno, 2004)

The motives, resolutions and execution of the movements present at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in december of 2009 expand a majority of topics that relate to our musings on being-together. The organized resistance that was present at the summit expresses bio-politics, elicits exposure, frames globalization, critiques culture, utilizes networks and, of course, is movement in and by itself. Yet, one point requires immediate address: the matter of its definition. What do we mean when we talk about movements?

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Here is something I also posted on the cultural analysis blog, it is called Evoke, and it is an online game that attempts to utilize the gaming community to solve the worlds problems. However stupid this may sound, it becomes more interesting when we realize that people in developed countries between 12-21 spend just as much time playing games as they do in school. What creative potential! I am not at the point yet where I can analyze this phenomenon: at the moment I am in awe.

link to the website of evoke

At the moment I am thinking through a series of questions which I hope to produce proper, well thought through blog posts on. Here they are:

Why am I for re-thinking some aspects of the university? Why am I for thinking about autonomous spaces? Why am I slightly disillusioned with the university system? Why am I concerned about increasing bureaucracy at universities, why am I concerned about corporatisation of the universities?

These stem from other, broader questions which I am also grappling with at present:

How can we create dialogue that does not alienate or exclude? How can we communicate on shared terms whilst still being conceptually ambitious? Is there a reason that our academic study stays inside the university system? How can we expand or extend what might be called “intellectual” or “academic” practices? In our own practices as ponderers, writers, readers and cultural analysts, how can become creative, take wild risks and explore new terrain with verve and ambition, all the while producing precise, honest and incredibly discerning work of integrity?

I want to bring all of you into a conversation about alter-academic practices. I use the word alter-academic because I want to refer to creative ways of doing “academic” things that do not immediately depart from the connection to education and scholarship. I want to try and conceptualise innovative and alternative ways of catalysing some of the (already pretty damn wonderful, in my opinion) things that we do as members of the broad university community.

Last night Thijs and I attended a seminar at the splendiferous Schijnheilig, somewhat ambitiously titled “Toward a Global Autonomous University.” The evening was centred around a group called Edu-Factory; this is how they are described on the Schijnheilig website:

Edu-Factory is a transnational collective engaged with the transformations of the global university and conflicts in knowledge production.

Several issues regarding the university system and capabilities for effective student movements were discussed…..

  • For me what was most significant was the discussion about breaking down the false binary between anarchism and reform. One strategy which was mentioned, which I found quite thought-provoking, was to recognise that serious attempts to become completely autonomous might actually influence politics and law. What might initially seem like a perversion or contradiction (i.e. to link autonomous anarchist movements to legal reform is surely blasphemous) actually quite unexpectedly knits autonomous projects to a social fabric which is altered by these projects. This obviously involves complex questions about militancy and lobbying which I do not have the space to go into here.
  • How do student movements connect with the working class, precarious workers, activists in other parts of the community? There was also a lot of discussion about precarity that actually really opened up the concept for me.
  • What was also important was the remark (I cannot remember whose it was…) that in student movements and activism centred around the university there is often a nostalgia for something that never existed, or a project that we might think of as deeply problematic: an kind of Enlightenment institution producing rational, free-thinking beings. I certainly unwittingly subscribe to this Enlightenment rhetoric to uphold the university as a place of free thought and innovative education. What type of subject does the university produce and exclude? How does the university “construct” “free” thought? Is this bound up with a certain construction of authority, a certain type of “proper” academic practice? Do the two actually contradict each other? Does this combination of authority and free or analytical thought sever the university from its ties to community?
  • A few audience members also mentioned that the point of critique of the university is not to claim that the university is not a valuable knowledge centre, but that the structuring relationship between university and society means that there is a whole sphere of knowledge that is denied. In relation to this, another question was asked: “What happens when events outside the university render it the institution ineffective or meaningless?” Do we need to reconceptualise the university’s role in relation to knowledge and society in order for the institution to actually become important and effective?

I also wanted to draw your attention to a program of lectures and events that I think is pretty interesting. A group that flies under the banner of The Usual Suspects: the Art of the Non-Lecture organise somewhat unorthodox sessions where the advertised plenary speaker [deliberately] never arrives, but a discussion is facilitated nonetheless. I think what these seminars try to “re-mix” is the somewhat false divide between speaker and audience in these kind of events – often the audience are as well-informed as the speaker, and have equally valuable perspectives and contributions. What happens when this is the case? Does the “Art of the Non-Lecture” program go some ways towards answering this question?

I think that we each have unique perspectives on the university generally, and on what we do at the Uva, or at ASCA, in Amsterdam. I would love to hear your perspectives and your thoughts on change, ideas for new possibilities, events, or research or education practices.

Ok, so I thought it would be fun to start a ‘rubriekje’ in which we can share photos, movie clips or images that we have made ourselves. My first object: a snapshot I took during my recent trip to Brussels. I have thoughts about it (precarious ones!), but I first would like to know what you think!

What kind of community does the depicted image-text express? What kind of community does my framing of this picture suggest? What concept of spatiality can we use to grapple the ‘message’ that the image-text with its particular emplacement posits?

Note: we should perhaps channel my show and tell object through the fact that Brussels is the city where the EU parliament settles. And that, ironically, Brussels is the dubious winner of Europe’s most delapitated public parks and residential areas prize (I can show you a pictures of that as well…)

MICROPOLITICS

I thought I would draw your attention to the Micropolitics Research Group.  I think “micropolitics” might present a possible modus operandi for drawing connections between art and politics, and more specifically the possible formations and structures of community that might occur or come into being through ruptures in the “distribution of the sensible.” As a concept, “micropolitics” works as an identification of a sphere or process of articulation between community and artistic work. What is particularly interesting is that the Micropolitics Research Group seems to work at the intersections between theory and practice – analysing and interacting with current “creative production” and investigating how this production might carry a disruptive agency rather than being subsumed by the “system.”

What is Micropolitics?

A term that comes (originally?) from Deleuze or Foucault – I have not yet traced its proper theoretical genealogy. It is the way in which affect or emotion becomes resonant (I guess largely through artistic or creative praxis in this instance) on the level of subjectivity or subjectivation, generating the “surplus creativity” that the Micropolitics Research Group identifies as contributing to cognitive capitalism as well as modes of resistance, refusal, or exodus.

See the group’s own definition on their blog.

What is Militant Theory?

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the Micropolitics Research Group is their engagement with the idea of militant theory. I wonder if militant theory might be a lively and productive way to drive our own writings and theorisations about community into (dialogue, exchange, relevancy, political relation to) community. Here is the Micropolitics Research Group’s definition of militant research:

Related to practices of co-research and institutional analysis, militant research proposes that all new knowledge production affects and modifies the bodies and subjectivities of those who have participated. Rather than use research as a tool to categorise and separate knowledge from practice, militant research operates transversally, becoming part of the process that organises relationships between bodies, knowledge, social practices and fields of action.

Interview between Peter Hallward and Jacques Rancière, august 2003.

Peter Hallward: Isn’t there a quasi-transcendental or at least transhistorical aspect to your idea that the political actor, the universal actor, is always to be found on the side of those who aren’t accounted for in the organisation of society?

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