Academia Insurgent – AAG Call for Papers

Annual Association of American Geographers Meeting
Washington, DC, 14-18 April 2010

Academia Insurgent: Occupying and Communizing Universities // Militant Research and Organizing (below)
Academia Insurgent: Geography, universities and cognitive capitalism

CFP: Academia Insurgent: Geography, universities and cognitive capitalism

Organizer: Counter Cartographies Collective
(University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


Over the past few decades, the rising importance of what researchers have called ‘cognitive capitalism’, ‘knowledge economies’, or the ‘information society’ has accompanied significant developments in the role, function and governance of universities. New waves of scholarship and activism are attempting to understand these changes and their implications for the present-day conditions of labor on the university campus, as well as the future of universities in a global context. In this session, we explore recent work on the university and the global political economy of knowledge production, with a special focus on building connections between critical theory and current struggles. Submissions in formats outside the traditional conference paper are encouraged.

Possible topics include:

* Role of the university in a global knowledge economy and in the production of cognitive capitalism
* International and national competition for rankings, top students and research dollars
* Changes in the structures of university governance and the growth of an administrative apparatus
* Research funding and changing research priorities
* Patenting and privatization of university research and knowledge, the formation of spin-off corporations or other university-corporate partnerships
* Casualization and precaritization of university labor
* The effects of budget cuts and the recent economic crisis
* Struggles confronting these transformations and taking the university as a site of intervention
* Institutional writing of the university landscape and the exclusion of spaces of struggle from university narratives
* The relationship between these transformations and the university’s spatial organization and architecture

If interested, please send short proposals to liz.masondeese(@) or tim.stallmann(@)

Call for Papers and Presentations

Academia Insurgent: Occupying and Communizing Universities // Militant Research and Organizing

Session organizers: Elizabeth Johnson and Eli Meyerhoff (Univ. of Minnesota)

Human geography has long had a tradition of struggle–against capitalism, hierarchy, injustice; the list goes on. Looking outward from the center of the field, geographers have sought to critically engage the world through research, teaching, and activism.  In addition to Marxist, feminist, and post-colonial critiques, militant research that blends political struggle with investigation and analysis has often been a driving force within the discipline.  Yet, the institutions from within which these efforts emerge are far from unassailable, and our positions as critical scholars within them have become increasingly precarious:  as the university increasingly places a premium on products and profits, we struggle daily to maintain our roles as activists, researchers, and teachers. As individuals acting alone, the system tends to either crush or assimilate us in its mechanisms, endo-colonizing our autonomous space-times.  In the past two years many of us have witnessed and participated in a series of escalating resistances around the world that–looking inward–take the university itself as the target of critique and direct action.  A number of these struggles have involved the occupation of university spaces in attempts to interrupt and reclaim both the time and infrastructure of host institutions.  This panel/discussion seeks to ask how critical/radical geographers might continue and expand such occupations, both as direct actions and amid everyday operations, connecting with other forms of organizing.  It builds off of the conversations that were started at the ‘edu-factory’ roundtable in 2009 in Las Vegas to explore how graduate students and faculty might organize collectively across space to transform and create alternatives to the university.  It asks how we can approach such projects as the following…

* Strategies and tactics for university occupations

* Theorizing ‘occupation’ of academic spaces and times

* Militant research on universities

* Creating an “undercommons” that feeds us and feeds off of the university, enabling us to do radical work from *within* the institution without becoming *of* the institution

* Collectively preventing the alienating effects of leading such dual lives

* Valorizing our own work without submitting it to universities’ disciplinary metrics

* Maintaining our own invisibility (from capitalism/consumerism and from the university) while linking with one another and with common projects elsewhere

* Building “institutions of the common” across universities and across disciplines, as well as between academics, activists, artists, diverse economies, etc.

* Developing mutually supportive relationships for communities, movements, our teaching, and our activism without creating formal(izing) organizations

* Finding ways within the university’s walls to not only create “living communism” but also to “spread anarchy”

* Learning from university struggles around the world and across history

This session could combine formal paper presentations with shorter talks, followed by discussion. Please send expressions of interest and presentation abstracts (of 250 words or less) to Eli Meyerhoff – meye0781(@) and Elizabeth Johnson – joh01868(@) – by October 21st, 2009.