Author Archives: countercartographies

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.

Who owns Franklin St?

Tim has a map in this week’s Indy. The map shows who owns the properties on Franklin Street. Many of the properties are owned by out of town landowners, while the University continues buying up more land across Chapel Hill. Despite the University efforts to buy up everything, there are still quite a few vacant lots. Is another Franklin Street possible?

franklin st. map temp.indd

read the whole story here

happy labor day

It’s 3Cs (unofficial) 4 year anniversary!

4 years ago, we conducted a ‘stationary drift‘ investigating labor on our university campus. that Labor Day, students & faculty worked as normal, while the ‘real workers’ had the day off.

labor day pic

our drifts led us to explore the other sites of knowledge work in the ‘Triangle‘ and back to UNC.

4 years later, putting the finishing touches on a new disorientation guide, many of the same questions are still relevant. Who works on campus? Where? Why are some forms of labor acknowledged while others are not? Where do we find precarious labor on campus?

Today, the precarity of our own situations is ever more apparent, as graduate students, teaching assistants, freelance cartographers, parents, immigrants… In a state where workers are denied the right to collectively bargain, precarity hits twice as hard.

While it may seem like not that much has changed in 4 years, we are excited by a new wave of university struggles, deepened critical thought on the nature of the university, and a growing number of examples of students taking the university into their own hands. And we continue to be inspired by a history of struggle on our own campus.

so happy labor day to all and thanks to all and please keep waiting patiently for the next disorientation guide!

the wave cannot be arrested

The Anomalous Wave cannot be arrested! Let’s support the students against the repression of the italian governement!
Please sign and circulate the call in solidarity with the students arrested (add also your affiliation):

At dawn this morning, in the framework of an investigation ordered by Torino’s Public Prosecutor office, Italian police made dozens of unwarranted house searches against students and activists. 21 of them are under arrest: 15 in prison, 6 under house-arrest.

This is the unjust response of the government and the Public Prosecutor Giancarlo Caselli to the mass demonstrations in Torino on 18-19 May against the G8. This is a clear suspension of any form of democratic right: the charges don’t justify remands after two months. Therefore, we are facing a direct attempt of intimidation against the Wave just a few days before the G8 in L’Aquila, a forum which clearly no longer has any democratic legitimacy now.

The answer of the Wave is instant. Immediately, students from all Italian cities have organized demonstrations, occupations, city blockades and meetings against the police’s heavy-handed operation. The slogan is one: freedom for all now! In the Wave there are no good or bad students: it’s one huge movement that expresses the main form of social opposition in this country in the last months.

We demand an immediate, clear and unequivocal statement by the university institutions against these arrests. Otherwise, deans and their offices will be under remand by the Wave. For this reason we have begun to occupy the dean’s offices of our universities and we’ll not stop until the last student is released.

Let’s generalize the Wave, generalize freedom! Freedom for all now!

Anomalous Wave

3Cs pizza party

Pizza parties are a key part of building any radical collective. From Colectivo Situaciones, to the Non-Stop Liberal Arts Institute, to the Community Economies Collective.


Pizza parties are about more than just having fun together and recognizing that we think/work better when we are well-fed. They are a conscious attempt to establish an ethics of care – to support and care for one another and to create alternatives through our own practices.

a letter in the N&O on the university in crisis

A 3Cs member has a letter to the editor in today’s News & Observer on the crisis in the university:

The controversy surrounding Mary Easley’s appointment is indicative of a much deeper problem in higher education today. Universities are spending increasingly more funds on administrative and managerial costs, while proportionally much less money is spent on teaching and learning, the supposed objectives of higher education.

At UNC-CH, for example, lecturers, often responsible for three courses a semester, receive less than $40,000 a year with little job security and few benefits, and graduate students, responsible for much of the teaching and direct interaction with undergraduates, receive less than $20,000. Class sizes are rising, students’ tuition is increasing and adjunct faculty are often forced to teach at multiple schools to make ends meet. Yet our universities continue to pay administrators hundreds of thousands of dollars despite the budget crisis.

This is not a problem that can be rectified by a handful of resignations, but rather a problem that requires systematic change in the way our universities operate. Universities must be run transparently and democratically by those who make them up: the students and faculty. As long as universities are run as businesses, controlled by politicians and the corporate elite to generate profit and prestige, we will continue to see these conflicts on our campuses.

See it in the N&O here