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: