Militancy, Antagonism, and Power: Rethinking Intellectual Labor, Relocating the University

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Here is the expanded version of a co-written talk presented at the 2015 MLA Subconference. Thanks to the organizers, my wonderful co-panelists, and the incredibly vibrant follow-up conversation.

“What was once the factory is now the university.” This is the premise the opens the Edu-factory Collective’s Towards a Global Autonomous University–it is also the premise upon which the collective was formed. Co-founded by Gigi Roggero, the collective’s work functions as a road-block to the demands of academic labor. It critiques the foundations upon which academic labor is organized and opposes the hierarchy that commands academic publication. The collective’s conceptual work, forefronted by Roggero’s thought in particular, explains the importance of these interventions.

The number of ways in which in the university is now the factory are perhaps too many to list: increased demand for productivity, an increase in working hours without an increase in pay, the rapid proliferation of contingent positions, and the production of a highly skilled but also an under/unemployed population of workers are perhaps the most recognizable in this list. These and more are addressed in Towards a Global Autonomous University, but they are also enduring sites of struggle. Especially in the US, academics have yet to recognize and mobilize against these issues en masse. Continue reading “Militancy, Antagonism, and Power: Rethinking Intellectual Labor, Relocating the University”

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Politics Is Dangerous: Against Innocence

goodbyeinnocenceThe recent LIES: a journal of materialist feminism is an excellent collection of critical essays, reflections, communiques, and other writings. Despite its obvious roots in ‘zine culture, it rises above such classification; perhaps what I like best is that the collection presents things to disagree with. Many of these authors have certainly spent time in the world of the personal essay, which puts most writers in a position too vulnerable to propose anything worth disagreeing with your friends about – ‘recognize my experience or fuck you,’ – yet these authors reinvigorate the true meaning of the phrase “the personal is the political.” This isn’t a dumb boys club that starts the night with a good argument that is only to be forgotten  after a few slaps on the back at the bar. This is the lived realization that friendship is political, which is now understood as the politics of struggle built on intimacy but hidden by the seemingly-innocuous cover of “friendship as a way of life.” Yet friendship here is neither an underground network of subversive cells nor a support group turned family, it is the way we make it through our miserable lives by being political. They’re not looking for reform, rights, recognition – they’re laughing at Andy Warhol selling pictures of his mangled chest, they’re eagerly sharing diary entries about cheating the boss and getting back at bad boyfriends (aren’t they about the same?), and they’re trying not to gloat about having their finger on the pulse of the struggle way before everyone else.

But for me, the real gem of the journal is Jackie Wang’s “Against Innocence: race, gender, and the politics of safety.” Continue reading “Politics Is Dangerous: Against Innocence”

Militancy, Power, Antagonism: Two Meditations on the Space of Politics

Below is a piece I put together w/ MLA of Prodigies & Monsters for presentation at the Potentials of Performance symposium in October 26 – 27th in London by a group of Greeks who have occupied a closed-down theater owned by the Greek state since last November. Please enjoy.

Occupy speaks not only to the occupation of space, but to the politics of place. This piece offers two meditations on the space of power. The first offers a virtual topography that thinks the role of the intellectual within the university. The second is a working out of that theory that questions Occupy’s spatialization of autonomy. Together, the mediations propose a return to militancy, facilitated by topologies of power that circulate struggle in and through a political antagonism that refuses the totalizing and authoritarian tendencies of command.

Keywords: militancy/antagonism, the academy, cartography/spatialization of power, program/anti-command Continue reading “Militancy, Power, Antagonism: Two Meditations on the Space of Politics”