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) [ http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/10/02/wcu]

* 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:

Genealogies of recent autonomous movements in Spain just prior to the emergence of global movements

Talking to one of the vets of these autonomous movements in Iberia, during our visit to Terrassa and Ateneu Candela. Through a great conversation late at night about his personal itineraries, we learned lot. The end of the Transition: During the transition period there was a strong radical Left. Many of the organizations of that period continue on well into the 80’s and early 90’s (a few still exist though heavily transformed or reduced in number) Two principal organizations fuse some time in the mid-80’s to form “iberacion”. This and other like organizations immerse themselves in social movements struggles- they aren’t really electoral structures though may be organized as a rad left party. It was in particular at the end of the 80’s that Herreros puts the transformation. The non-submission/antimilitary movement was going on (draft dodging, direct action, etc) and university struggles were still quite strong (coming out of the strikes of ’86-’87). Due to some failures in achieving a victory or some other sort of analysis, many of the leaders of Liberacion make the decision basically abandon a lot of the more streety movement stuff and integrate as part of Izquierda Unida (United Left party- the main leftist party in the Spanish state- which it should be mentioned interestingly was born originally as way to give voice to and strengthen forms of popular struggle [at least some saw it that way], in particular it was born after the powerful anti-NATO movement that organized across the country. IU incorporated the PCE [Spanish Communist Party].

Many of the younger militants at that time disagree with the strategy of abandoning the street. They think there is something innovative and potent going on in the movements afoot at the time- and continue to struggle with these. Early 90’s: Another Transition (for movements): ’92 mobilizations occur around the Olympics in Barcelona- not huge but some networks are formed. In ’92-93 a book by Ramon Fernandez Duran called something like “Nuevo Desorden Mundial” (New World Disorder) comes out that talks about things like networked struggle, new technologies, global economy, etc.- a huge eye-opener for young militants in Barcelona (and the country it seems)

It should be mentioned that Duran seems to be something of a key intellectual of social movements in the country- his stuff circulates well and has been read by many militants there- it’s kind of hard to miss his stuff.

Right around that time, as unemployment is thrashing the society (20% overall during those years), platforms and networks of the unemployed are forming all over- some of which will become one of the first non-party or union based European militant networks- the Marches of the Unemployed. A march is launched from Valencia to Madrid of unemployed and other movements in solidarity (this may have coincided with an EC/EU summit in Madrid). During that march, the Barcelona folks come into contact with people from Valencia and Madrid, who had founded some of the first recent squatted social centers. Squats had existed previously but those two (Madrid and Valencia) were some of the first in recent memory to have the explicit goal of being a social center. Upon returning from these mobilizations- the Barcelona group says we’ve got to get our act together! The plans for squatting a social center get under way and soon they’ve got one- though then the problem is eviction

Around the same time as this, and only a year or so after the book of Duran and the rest-, emerges the Zapatista rebellion. Very quickly the Collectiu en Solidaritat amb la Revolucio Zapatista forms in Barcelona- and this collective picks up on the innovativeness of the revolt and provides lots of info for people locally as well as organizing some of the first delegations to go to Chiapas. This was another key moment in the development of current autonomy in Iberia- the idea of rejecting state power too was a smack in the face to the radical left from the transition period, but was very appealing to the new generations. In ’94 is also the meeting of the IMF-WB in Madrid.

Protests are launched and well-attended- but more significantly it was probably the first time that there was mass exposure to the use of internet as an activist tool. The Nodo50 network is formed (as the network fighting the 50 years of the Bank) and becomes and internet portal for social movements since then- still going strong 13 years later. This is the first opening of a new form of mass activist communication. A powerful squatting movement begins (mid-late 90’s throughout the area of the province of Barcelona- an unclear but large number of squats and social centers are opened. A very vibrant counterculture begins that is very extensive- large marches in the tens of thousands come out to defend squatted social spaces; even in a small city like Terrasa pro-squatting demonstrations could number 3-4-5,000 people. New ideas of politics- zapatismo, autonomy are running amok. But by the end of the 90’s-2000 things are changing and the focus is heading elsewhere.

As the squatting movement is getting bogged down in a repression cycle, a new effort on cancellation of third world debt takes off. Coming out of a radicalization of the 0,7% movements (to get 0,7% of the public budget dedicated towards development or something like that)- a new movement asks directly for debt cancellation- but they are also very influenced by the Zapatistas- and use network forms of mobilizing, autonomous actions, disobedience etc.

The RCADE organize the popular consulta in Catalunya (and elsewhere) modeled on the Zapatista consultation in Mexico. This popular referendum was on debt cancellation and was organized parallel to an official election- often with activist running with their tables as police chased them away form election stations. This consulta has enormous reach and impact and teaches the squat scene (or some of them) once and for all that the ideas they were working on are out in the open and they need to listen to other organizing efforts going on out there.

At this point the global movement is starting to land in Spain- preparations for Prague and Nice, and especially the mobilizing for the Barcelona summit of the WB ABCDE. This was a new phase of confluence- multiplication of groups and analyses and an approach marked by what our ‘conversation companion’ called as “listening”, especially on the part of his crowd (though sometimes he asks if they listened so much and every opinion was sooo ok that no one dared answer back maybe they should’ve spoken as well).

And so – 9-11, the EU campaign, anti-war mobilizing- Aznar and 11-M, lots of powerful mobilizing was going on- but the creativity and initiative seemed to be on the wane. There was a search for new tools- ideas- how to mobilize in a new context, etc. Precarity became one of the main foci- and a new turn in the idea of social center was under way— and thus the Ateneu Candela (not squatted) a much more open and interactive space- less countercultural, less identitarian. Precarity became a new focus in order to mobilize around these new figures (temp work, youth migrants, etc.) that were not being addressed by other (whether public institutions, unions, parties, or other activists). EuroMayday, the precWebring, and now the ODS (Oficinas de Derechos Sociales)- a new “political hypothesis that needs to be tested”.

Fifteen Ironies of Research work and Militancy

Fifteen Ironies of Research work and Militancy

Who is the object? Who is the subject?

Many of us have been trying to escape from the objectivist basis of mainstream scientific research. We have encountered allies in some literatures going from feminist epistemology to critical ethnography ( and possibly actor network theory) to more extra-academic traditions such as militant research.

But somehow there is always an institutional and social expectation that a researcher is the subject of knowledge, the one who looks for data, who ask questions; and the rest of mortals are objects, passive and spatially circumscribed, limited to answering queries coming from nowhere in order to justify researchers’ hypothesis.

In dealing with some social movements though, this standard notion of research can get turned upside down. We would like to offer a brief recollection of our fieldwork experience in Spain thus far. We have been funded to do research on the current changes in the European Union and responses by civil society, specifically focusing on cartographic and research initiatives undertaken by social movements. As PhD students we are supposed to arrive to a far-away place –the more exotic the better- and start a one-year search for data; however, what happens when the research comes to you? Here are some instances where the subject/object simplification gets ridiculed and substituted by a more fractal experience of multiple roles taken by both parties and its consequent richer relationship and research work.

Irony n.1: The object is the one who poses the questions

Irony n.2: The object invites you to speak at their conferences

Irony n.3: The researched explains Deleuze, Negri and other social theorists to the researchers

Irony 4: The object asks you to edit their work; work that will become primary research material for the researcher

Irony 5: The object asks you to translate material you will need for your research into English, and pays you for it!

Irony 6:The object/researched asks you to write about your research trips and pays you for it

Irony 7: The researched organized a conference where the speakers are many of the authors you had/have to read for your doctoral degree

Irony 8: The researched ask you to write about your organizing work and publish it.

Irony 9: The researched translate the researcher’s work and publish it.

Irony 10: The researched contact and converse with the researcher after having read the researcher’s work, work that the researcher had been paid to write by other researched

Irony 11: The object corrects the subject

Irony 12: The researched uses the reseacher’s material to teach in their class

Irony 13: The researched thanks the researchers for quoting them

Irony 14: The researched comes and lectures at the researcher’s university with the researhcer’s PhD supervisor in the audience and has dinner at a PhD committee member’s house

Irony 15: The objects offer the possibility to join a research project of their own. The researched asks the researcher to do research with them.

We proceed with our investigation by embracing these ironic instances where assumed notions ascribed to the figure of the researcher were reversed (the one that ask the questions, organizes and attends conferences, that publishes, that reads big books, etc.). We are sure that many of these instances are not unique to our fieldwork experience, but are often ignored as legitimate research experiences (especially in writings and publications) in order to follow the expected standard procedures. By writing these notes, we don’t want to call attention to the exceptionality of this research, but to give importance to these growing moments in the practice of research as epistemological fractures from which to re-invent modes of inquiry attuned to current conditions and political commitments. Could these moments be points upon which to construct networks of political affinity?

After all, what are we to do? Should we force the “subjects” into a regular research paradigm and assume we share little or nothing with “them”? Should we tell “them” not to pay “us”; not to correct “us”? What if the supposed to be objects accept a more “traditional” framework for discussion (rigid formal interview-questionnaire), would that lead to better research results due to its form? How would those results be better if they lead to more enmity with the researched and a lack of access for the researcher? Should we even be thinking in terms of “us” and “them”? So after this experience couldn’t we conclude that we’re all subjects and objects to some extent? Or should we even think of ourselves as singular nodes relating to each other in a broader network of affinities?