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3Cs in Chicago (part 2)

Liz and Tim presented at the College Art Association Conference on the panel “Occupations: Labor, Activism, Art, and the Academy in Crisis”, sponsored by the Radical Art Caucus. The other presenters including Therese Quinn, professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and member of the AAUP and Aaron Hughes of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

We talked about 3 senses of ‘occupation’ –

  1. Our occupation as workers in the university
  2. Occupation as a struggle for university movements around the world
  3. How we use mapping to ‘re-occupy’ the university.

Therese spoke about contingent faculty organizing and ended with the following proposals,

  1. One faculty (full and part time faculty)
  2. Equal pay for equal work
  3. Job security for all
  4. Free and emancipatory education for all

Aaron discussed the relationship between education and militarization, the increasing militarization of our schools (starting at the elementary school level) and made a call for us to recognize our radical vulnerability. This relates very directly to some of the stuff we’ve been thinking about care and also opened up a whole other series of questions about the relationship between the military and the university, in terms of the class composition of the university, the relationship with immigration and research & funding.

Some of the questions we got concerned the public vs. private distinction (what does it mean that ‘public’ universities get less than a quarter of their funding from their local states?)  How can we understand and deal with what is tempting/pleasurable about ‘the private’? What do we mean by autonomous university? What is the relationship between the autonomous university and the state? How to work within the institution of the university in order to get paid, to receive course credits, and other resources?

Struggles over knowledge production

Reading list on Struggles over Knowledge Production

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3cs in Chicago (part 1)

Liz and Tim are in Chicago giving a series of mapping workshops and making contact with some of our collaborators up there…

Thursday night (Feb. 11) we trudged through the cold and ice through Pilsen neighborhood to a community center called Biblioteca Popular (formerly Lichen). We talked to a crowd of 20-30 map-makers and activists about our work as 3Cs and about the newly-released edu-factory book, and gave a mini mapping tutorial with an intro to free GIS data-sources and software.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for our work and for map-making in general, and it was neat to hear all the different projects folks were involved in (sound maps of Chicago neighborhoods, mapping the displacement of poor folk through gentrification, folks from Area Chicago and their web-mapping ideas, mapping anti-militarization and the university). Folks also asked some really useful critical questions:

  • One big point of discussion was how to deal with the embedded biopolitics behind data sources like US Census data that we use in our maps — as 3Cs, we often talk about how we ‘queer’ data or statistics by pulling map stories out of them that they weren’t intended for. But data sources often come so tightly bound up with state politics, white supremacist racial policies, definitions of family structure, etc., that queering them might require more conscious work than we always put in.
  • Some folks also asked whether we’ve engaged with historical examples of indigeneous counter-mapping, suggesting that we might find some useful inspirations and ideas there
  • There was also a long discussion of the idea of “using the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house”, and whether we were also focusing enough on spreading knowledge of map-making to communities that haven’t had access to the tools. It made us realize that we should actually do some grassroots map-making workshops (something we’ve talked about doing for a long time but never actually organized…)

Here are some of the links to online mapping services we showed:

  • City of Chicago GIS — great source for property data, also for mapping police stations, parks, water mains, etc.
  • Geocommons Finder and Maker — Geocommons finder is  searchable online library of GIS data that anyone can upload to. Then you can bring layers into Geocommons Maker and design your own maps (here’s the sample one we showed at the workshop).
  • Trulia hindsight ( and for more generalized real estate data
  • National Atlas and OpenStreetMaps for basic physical/infrastructure data
  • USDA Food environment atlas
  • Chicago region GIS clearinghouse
  • for open-source GIS tools. Particularly recommend JUMP, uDig and QuantumGIS

Map of Occupied Universities in Europe

Comrades in Germany are trying to map the protests and occupations going on in universities across Europe… (there are a lot!)

It is getting a bit hard to keep a list on which university is occupied by its students and which is not. I am trying to map the international protests for a free and better education. Please feel free to comment on the blogpost if you have further information and I will update the map.


Esto es una mapa de las universidades ocupadas en europa. Los estudiantes protestan para una educacíon libre, para condiciones mejores a los escuelas y universidades y para el afianzamiento de la democracia a los universidades. Contacta a @schaffertom via Twitter o escribe un comentario antes del texto, cuando quieres contribuir algo a la carta.

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!