Author Archives: countercartographies

On the Question of “Europe”

One of the things we have heard quite a few times since arriving here (and especially among some Italian circles) is that of tackling how to engage “Europe “. How should social movements, and especially autonomous groups in this case, act in the light of the transformations happening at the EU level- network with other groups, articulate demands etc.-? NO light matter and no easy answers. Just a couple of brief notes on this.
This is by no means the place to do an institutional or critical history of the EU, those are out there, and we’d recommend taking a look at the book by Ramon Fernandez Duran on the subject (upcoming in English) “La problematica construccion de la Europa Superopotencia. After the European Steel and Coal agreement and the formation of the WEU (Western European Union ), you have the Rome treaty in 1957 – the first major step at integration and still considered one of the most important docs- establishes the EEC. Zooming over other milestones to more recent stuff. It is with the final agreement, around 85, on the Single Market that the (proto) neoliberal shift becomes clear- a convergence of economies along the line of the increasingly hegemonic global paradigm and with the pressure of newly formed European level lobby groups (like the ERT (European RoundTable of Industry ). Maastricht treaty of 92 solidifies things even more but adds a new twist- this is the first treaty that begins to hint (timidly) toward more overtly political and military integration. Though this had been attempted (i.e. through the WEU) it had not been within the larger and deeper economic process. At the Lisbon summit of 2000 the goals of much more economic restructuring are honed- the idea of becoming the “most competitive knowledge economy” are placed on the table. ‘99 The Euro begins to circulate in markets and in 2002 it is the daily currency of 12 out of the then 15 countries. Prices jack up across the continent. 2004 10 new countries come in and 2 more in 2007. With such huge expansion and an increasingly strong currency that some suggest could work as a global reserve currency as the dollar does- the initiatives towards increased political and military integration speed up- a strong currency needs solid political and state power behind it after all- if you’re going to denominate your savings in that currency (or so the argument by IR folks goes). Enter the ECT (European Constitutional Treaty)- it passes in many countries but is nailed in France and Holland through referenda. A mini crisis emerges- but in the 2007 June summit the “Reform Treaty” is agreed upon which will replace the ECT while maintaining most of its features (it primarily ceded in symbolic terrain and in allowing some member states more maneuverability for the time being- it has yet to be passed by member states though). The story goes on and lots was overlooked there. Besides the initial stages of the political and military integration- the EU is now clearly an economic project oriented towards more competitiveness defined in corporate terms, a retreat of social police of the welfare era, privatization and neoliberal policies in many aspects, like any good wannabe imperial power its all about open markets as long as they work in the EU’s favor as understood by the EC and its different Directorate Generals.
Different critical understanding of the “European project” But it is also much more than a neoliberal project- or so it is hoped by many. There has been much confusion of what to make of it on the part of critical and left parties, as well as social movements, unions, and other actors as these-wasn’t the EU there to solidify the vision of a “warless” Europe? Given the horrors of WWI and II isn’t that a victory? How can we go against that?-for countries such as Spain, Greece Portugal and others- isn’t Europe equal to and development? Coming out of dictatorships shouldn’t we be running to embrace Europe as an idea and project? For much of the liberal left in those countries Europe (always a mythical other place yet to be achieved) was the land of human rights enlightenment, freedoms, and had to be emulated-wasn’t the confederal/federal structure at work something promising? That could bypass overly centralized nation-states? For minorities in EU countries (especially historic ones) wouldn’t the EU be a new promise of rights and a defense against overly nationalist central-states? couldn’t we use the integration of EU countries as a platform for struggling for more rights? In the same way that corporations were benchmarking market-friendly policies across the EU, couldn’t we look at the social policies of member states and push for the best policies to be implemented across the board via the mechanism of the EU (this was part of the argument of the “Social Europe” slogan as opposed to “the Europe of Capital”). What about institutions like the Euro Court of Human Rights, the EP (European Parlament) aren’t these incipient institutions helping solidify a new level of democracy and rights in the region? Isn’t the EU providing funding we need for our underdeveloped region (particularly in some rural regions of the EU)> Why would we want to bite the hand that feeds us? So quite a bit of hope has been laid into the EU project by many critical activists, politicians, intellectuals, etc. but this has also left them unable to attack and critique those aspects which were not so or has left any critical discussion and analysis of the EU in diapers. The positions above may or may not be correct or tenable positions but what has become clear is that they have contributed to a veneer of legitimacy of “Europe” that can sidestep potential critique before it’s even articulated. By no means has resistance been absent though. One could look at the anti NATO movement in Spain in 1985-86 as partly against a particular idea of “Europe” but more clearly by the early to mid-nineties explicit resistance to the UE became more and more visible. On the day following the Denmark referendum on the Maastricht treaty the roughest rioting in Danish post-war history occurred, rougher than anything in ‘68 and only approached by what has happened after the eviction of the Ungdomhouset this year. On that day in 93, 11 people were shot and even the police were pretty wounded after the intense rioting. By the mid-90’s EU summits rotating around the cities of the respective country holding that semesters presidency were sites of mass mobilizations and protest. By ‘99- the EU summits became clear targets of global resistance movements- the famous Gothenburg (2001) protest were at an EU summit, and the protests against the EU summits of Barcelona in 2002 were/are the largest- numerically speaking-, at a summit against a ‘global’ institution (around 500,000 people). The idea of coordinated protest across targets in Europe began to develop: the unemployed Euro-marches in the mid 90s; the Renault strike in the late 90’s; the farmers’ tractor caravans toward Brussels; in a more spontaneous way the fuel protests of 2000; etc. And more increasingly the emergence of European spaces of networking: the ECN (European Counter Network), PGA Europe (People’s Global Action), the ESF (European Social Forum), EuroMayday and other more sector related: migrants, unions, etc… And Now!…? This resistance has for the most part been oriented towards a particular protest- towards signaling that a critique of Europe is possible (and does not imply one is from the xenophobic right)- but these different efforts had not really deepened or engaged with the questions of how to deal differently with Europe.

How do you engage this amorphous thing?

Some Italians are saying: “come on let’s do it! This is some of the most important potential stuff going on!” Others folks in Spain are saying: “it’s still to distant, doesn’t relate well to the everyday” “realities are still lived within the state and movements still operate within that framework- but more and more is resonating in common: policies enacted in one country are also enacted in a slightly different form in another, policy trends are moving in the same direction, etc.” “What if we don’t have a Euro wide network when we really need on?” The PrecarityWebRing project in its general and in its current phase is to engage in a research/mapping project that could inhabit/take advantage of that “European” space. Currently many participants feel there is a crisis of EU-wide networks: such as the ESF, EuroMayDay Euromovements? How are movements to inhabit space and interact with, fight, different processes? like: Bologna; particular EU policies; common strategies of struggles (maybe for fighting similar policies being enacted in different countries); etc… There are different ideas on how to deal with this though not too much that seems to be working over a period of time- language and travel issues are a factor- difficulty of maintaining communication outside of a specific action calendar, etc. But this was the goal of a project like PWR a way to grow and politically mature the EuroMayDay process.

3Cs to host Community Cartographies Convergence and exhibition this fall

In September and October of 2008, 3Cs is helping to bring the traveling exhibition An Atlas of Radical Cartography to the Triangle. Local map-makers are also organizing a Community Cartographies Convergence, including exhibitions of local work to hang alongside the 10 maps from the Atlas exhibit, workshops and presentations by map-makers from the Triangle and across the country. Stay tuned, and contact if you’re interested in taking part!

3Cs in the Indy

“What Google Earth doesn’t show you: A small movement of alternative mapmakers seek to revolutionize our understanding of the Triangle and the world”

In Chapel Hill, an innovative group of mapmakers is exploring ways to make visual narratives out of the dynamic forces that shape a modern research university. The Counter Cartographies Collective (3Cs), a group operating out of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Cultural Studies department, refuses to see mapping as a passive process. Says spokesperson Tim Stallman, “We’re less interested in making maps that describe the world as it is and more interested in making maps that develop your understanding of the world.” Since its inception in the spring of 2005, 3Cs has been using maps to show how the Triangle’s major biotech and medical research centers and its universities are taking control of North Carolina’s economy, and the effects of these changes on local communities.

See the full article here

Battling the Neoliberalization of University Life: A List of Strategies

Battling the Neoliberalization of University Life: A List of Strategies

On Unions and Organizing:

* The No. 1 way is faculty unionization. Unionize tenure-track faculty, adjunct faculty and graduate students who teach. Your efforts will not be effective if adjunct and graduate teaching staff are not organized.

* Resist the destruction of solidarities (e.g. see David Harvey, The History of Neoliberalism).

* Support unity. As an adjunct instructor and a graduate student, I can tell you that management is WELL AWARE of the contempt that most full-time faculty has toward us part-timers. During contract negotiations, Ive also heard GA’s and adjuncts undercut the contracts of the full-timers. Management disciplines full-timers with the knowledge that they can be replaced instantly by the army of the underemployed.

* Invite part-time and adjunct faculty, as well as support staff and research staff, to departmental meetings. Make the minutes available to the entire community.

* Join professional organizations that will lobby in opposition to the lobbyists for privatization: NEA higher education organizations, AAUP, AFT. Pay your dues or be prepared to be sold out.

* Participate in faculty governance and advocate strongly for resolutions and policies that promote an academic community built on shared values and scholarship instead of a corporatized institution built on entrepreneurship and external overhead.

* Form parallel autonomous institutions that meet people’s needs in a collective, non-hierarchical fashion. At my old school, SUNY-Binghamton, the campus was served by an excellent bus system that was owned and run by a collective of the drivers, funded by student fees.

On Faculty Rank:

* Reject the implementation of “benchmarks” or any other form of “standards” for merit raises or promotions that are predicated on quantified output. Rather, draw upon such ideas as those of Ernest Boyer (Scholarship Reconsidered) []

* Reject merit raises all together and rather spread the total raises due the entire faculty of a department evenly to all faculty. * When 65% of the professoriate is part-time, why have tenured positions at all?

* Refuse to sell ourselves as “stars” to highest bidding institutions. This reproduces the neoliberal self-made “man,” reinforcing gender and class hierarchies within the academy.

* Don’t refer to enthusiastic younger members of faculty as “junior” scholars. It annoys them intensely and makes them feel small.

* Allow complete transparency, re: salaries paid to all faculty in all departments.

* Identify and monitor the behavior all ‘frumps’ (formerly radical upwardly mobile professors).

* Use the growing ‘sustainability consensus’ discourse to push for a democratization of academia – as sustainability centrally implies participation.

On Bureaucracy and Governance:

* Expose and oppose corporate control of academia.

* Resist the process of turning universities into institutions of management rather than places of “higher learning” by refusing to accept administrative positions that are newly created and not really necessary for “learning.”

* The university can be run by the faculty, but the faculty must organize in constant vigilance. Professors could collectively attend administration meetings and repeat the demand, week after week, to stop the metastasized growth of bureaucratic bosses. Use the saved funds to create more professor positions, course offerings, and library books, and to establish student scholarships grants. The heart of the university is here, not in creating ever more layers of office managers to govern this and that for a bottom line value that is set by the new MBA bosses.

* Rip up parking lots. Implode student housing. Stop all construction projects not related to safety. Make students get gym memberships elsewhere.

* Demand accountability for the university practices in hiring faculty, labor, etc. in the construction of new campuses abroad ( i.e. NYU’s global expansion to Abu Dhabi).

* Resist the temptation to outsource to private companies, especially big non-local multinationals, tasks which the university could do by itself.

On Curriculum:

* Resist the neoliberal transformation of the curriculum (there is an excellent article–chapter 6–by Aihwa Ong in Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006.)

* Restore a system whereby intellectual inquiry is valued for its own sake, and not just seen as a means toward increasing capitalist productivity. If the government’s current proposal to fund all research on the basis of “relevance” were carried out, it would be the end of virtually all Humanities research as we know it.

* Resist the homogenization of university studies that is taking place all over Europe. Anthropology, in order to survive, is being asked to demonstrate demand from the job market. And its courses are oriented towards market demands.

* Avoid strict degree completion deadlines. Returning students bring valuable professional experience, but they also need the time to balance professional, work and personal responsibilities.

* Make research findings and publications freely and publicly accessible on the web.

On Teaching:

* Teach students about neoliberalization (its history, its impacts on individuals, etc.). They are the ones who can stop it.

* As teachers, we have a unique opportunity to relate the material we teach to the everyday lives of our students. Hold seminars on campus on the impact of neoliberalism on campus life and learning. Use critical pedagogy – encourage critical thinking

* Create a course that studies the University as an anthropological project.

* Link with activists, community groups, etc., beyond the academy. Carry out critical (including participatory) research. Develop more experience based learning courses, including internships and community service learning programs.

* Make the world your classroom. Teach in parks, bars, restaurants, homes, online.

* Offer courses on weekends, evenings, and on-line, so that working students and students with child and eldercare responsibilities can take courses/make progress on degrees.

* Encourage team-teaching.

* Conduct and assess instructor evaluations in a manner that reflects that students are scholars, not consumers.

* Avoid grade inflation. In a context of grade inflation, instructors that seek to honestly assess performance find themselves at a disadvantage, especially if they are adjunct staff.

* Develop undergraduate programs that pay particular attention to non-anthropology majors, since they are the ones that fill your large classes. Increase the pressure for small classes for introductory courses.

* Make classes last as long as they need to be. Stop with the micronization and fetishization of time. Some days I have a lot to say, some days not so much. Some days students need to practice and drill, and other times one profound sentence might do it.

* Quit giving standardized tests and grades. Pass/Fail. Get rid of students who don’t want to be there. Tell
them to come back when they know what they are there for. If we stop treating students like cash cows, maybe they will actually appreciate learning.

* Assign primary texts instead of textbooks.

* Make your students do the work – have them explain concepts to each other. Have them create materials they think are useful. Grade them for effort rather than results – they are there to learn.

* Spend less time preparing, and more time getting to know your students and their individual needs.

On Student Tuition, Fees and Support:

* Don’t use standardized testing as a measure to determine student admissions or funding.

* Make applying for college more affordable. Applying to graduate programs is increasingly expensive. Transcripts (often in duplicate) are required from each school. The cost of transcripts is inflated (averaging $5-$10 per order, for regular mail). Applications fees are $50-$95 per school. GRE fees increase by roughly $10 per year (and this test should be banned, anyway, since it only tests your ability to learn test-taking strategies, not true knowledge or ability to succeed in a program).

* Use course packets, blackboard pdfs and next-to-last edition textbooks in introductory courses to decrease student book costs.

* Fund all students who are admitted into your program equally. Since Thatcher (and Reagan), efforts to turn higher education into a vocational finishing school for industry have been much more systematic and blatant. Under this model, if you’re funded you get money to live off, to pay fees, and to attend conferences etc. If you’re not funded, you get nothing and you have to pay fees. So one person has masses of help, while another is hindered and must struggle. This is one of the central ideological maxims of capitalism.

* Organize student mutual aid networks.

* Do not permit university programs to let graduate student instructors teach without compensation, merely for the experience of it or for credit.

* Do not burden Ph.D. candidates and recent Ph.D.s with the heaviest teaching loads. The abusive practice of using younger scholars as workhorses keeps a new generation from reaching its potential, in scholarship and as practioners.

* Pay health care benefits and tuition fees for graduate students, if possible.

General Advice:

* Be a happy person. Stop with the bitterness.

The following list of strategies for battling the neoliberalization of the university was compiled on a couple of listservs after Angela Jancius asked for ideas. Please circulate widely. Best, -jenna

My sincere thanks to all who responded to my query. The tips that you sent were wonderful, and really quite inspiring. Below is an initial compilation, divided under the six subheadings of: “On Unions and Organizing,” “On Faculty Rank,” “On Bureaucracy and Governance,” “On Teaching,” “On Student Tuition, Fees and Support,” and “General Advice.” A shorter top ten list will be published in the January 2008 edition of Anthropology News. I can already imagine that it will be difficult to edit down the expanded list of strategies that are included below. The below list has no copyright or individual authorship and you should feel free to distribute it widely, to post it to wiki sites and blogs, to invite your friends and students to expand upon it, and of course to encourage your departments and colleagues to implement its contents. – Angela Jancius 11/20/07

Jenna M. Loyd
Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow in the Humanities
Department of Geography
Syracuse University
318 Tolley Building
Syracuse, NY 13244 USA
Office: 315-443-8941
Cell: 310-490-9166

CFP: Rethinking the University – Labor, Knowledge, Value

Rethinking the University: Labor, Knowledge, Value
April 11-13, 2008
University of Minnesota
Deadline for Submissions: January 15, 2008

The university is in crisis. This crisis, evident in
the everyday transformations of higher education, is
made most visible during moments of labor struggle.
Like universities across the world, the University of
Minnesota has recently experienced an explosion of
labor struggles, themselves symptomatic of the
tendencies existing in this increasingly neo-liberal
institution. Unfortunately, our struggles have been
hampered by an intellectual and organizational lag,
which has made it difficult for us to adequately
respond to these crises. As a result, at key moments
we have been unable to rethink fundamental assumptions
about the university and, as a result, have fallen
back on idealist notions of a university somehow
removed from the world, have reproduced the language
of an already existing "public university," and have
sought comfort in legislative and institutional
It is because of the need to radically rethink our
political strategy that we invite you to join us in
the project of rethinking the University of Minnesota
as well as the concept of "the university" itself. It
is our belief that a militant struggle over higher
education requires a militant rethinking of the
languages, organizations, and foundational assumptions
upon which the battle over higher education takes
place. To this end, we want to collectively think
about questions such as: What is the role of the
university in the production of value within
contemporary capitalism? What is the relationship
between academic labor and various other forms of
labor at the university? How can we reconsider the
status of academic knowledge, research, and pedagogy
in this context? How can we remake universities as
agents for changing this context? What forms of
university governance, collectives, and subjectivities
would best facilitate projects for constituting the
common world that we desire?
The purpose of this inquiry is not only to produce
critique, but also to generate sites of resistance and
viable alternatives to the corporate university. As
such, we invite diverse responses to these questions
including collaborative works, workshop presentations,
and art (e.g. photo-essays, performance art, and
film/video pieces), as well as traditional essay
presentations. In addition to presentations that
engage the problem of the university in late
capitalism more generally, we also invite
presentations that treat the specific case of
University of Minnesota. We hope to put into
conversation workers of all types: university staff,
artists, lecturers, union organizers, students,
professors, and community activists, all of whom have
a stake in shaping the future of the university.

Potential topics might include (but are not limited
radical pedagogy
corporate funding, branding
labor organizing in the university
students as consumers
intellectual property
immaterial labor
student  and faculty activism
issues of access
class, gender, and race
casualization of labor
histories of the university

Please send questions and submissions (up to 500 word
abstracts, workshop, or project proposals) to: