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AAG 2009 Report Back: Anarchism & Autonomia

Craig and Liz’s first AAG presentation was part of a series of sessions on “Anarchism, Autonomia, and the Spatiality of Revolutionary Politics and Theory”.

Our paper focused on mapping as militant investigation. Here’s our abstract:

Since its founding in 2004, the Counter Cartographies Collective at UNC-Chapel Hill has used different forms of mapping to plot, understand, and prompt alternative ways of seeing and producing spaces and knowledges in the NC Research Triangle Area. This paper lays out the theoretical foundations of the collective and highlights a series of cases that were instructive to the direction of the group. The cartographic intervention we propose constructs mappings in ways that render, through sight, action and communication, a multiplicity of alternative worlds. These ideas stem from the ‘new cartography’ of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, as well as recent cases of activist-mapping in Europe and the United States. Among others, we draw on the work of Precarias a la Deriva in Spain, Bureau d’Etudes in France, Colectivo Situaciones in Argentina – all groups consciously challenging the boundaries between academic research and political action, through their research methods and the products they produce. In our work, we aim to employ miltiant research methodologies that have ranged from a version of the derive to direct action or interventions. In the past four years, the collective worked on a number of different mapping projects, including the “disOrientations” map/guide to UNC-Chapel Hill and investigations of the spaces and organization of knowledge production at Research Triangle Park and UNC-Chapel Hill.

Other presentators discussed their research on anarchist movements/groups, autonomous experiences within/around the university (like the New School occupation!), and anarchist/autonomist theory in general and how it might be applied to geography.

It is exciting to see geographers engaging these concepts and we hope this can become part of a larger conversation about autonomy in the university.

3Cs participates in rally around UNC budget cuts

Demanding transparency and community accountability, members of 3Cs joined 40-50 other students, faculty and staff of UNC as we marched on the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday morning, March 26. A truly transnational rally — drawing chants and slogans from both Thatcherite era struggles (“They say cut back, we say fight back!”), and the current anomalous wave movement (“We won’t pay for your crisis” was the lead banner). Photos below:

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marching_down_columbia

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3Cs chats with Marc Bousquet

Marc Bousquet was recently in town to give the keynote address at the NC AAUP conference. 3Cs had the chane to chance to chat with Marc a bit before his talk. Unfortunately we don’t have audio of the conversation but here are some of the key themes of the conversation:

  • How to research the university – there’s no clear answer except for hard work, patience and some creative thinking (and remember – somethings people give you information if you just ask politely!)
  • The university is leading the way for the development of new corporate organization and management methods (meaning the university is not just following the corporate model but creating it!)
  • Exciting organizing going on around the country by grad students and contingent faculty, through unions and organizations that act like unions, to demand recognition of their status of workers and for increased rights and benefits as workers (hopefully this will be the topic of a longer post at some point)
  • Undergrads are workers too – Marc tends to focus on work-study programs which are not as big at UNC as some other schools, but we can think of many ways that undergrads are workers. The point is: undergrads are not only training to become workers but are already workers and that the part-time, flexible (precarious) labor of undergrads (I think this can be expanded across the university community) is a central part of the economy and highly exploited by capital.
  • Students produce value for the university even in their free time, especially through the branding of the university, – whenever we wear university apparel, hold events for charity, win sports events, or even protest, anything to increase the university’s publicity and popularity.

The good news of all this is that students have enormous amount of power, especially if we recognize our positions as workers. In his address to the AAUP, Marc discussed student labor more, along with the trend toward an ever more contingent teaching staff. You can read more of Marc’s work on his blog