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Emily S Klein on Twitter: "A really unsettling thing: American (I'm sure also European) scientists traveling to much lower income countries, doing science on sexy ecosystems and organisms, and then coming back to the States and publishing in high impact j
"A really unsettling thing: American (I'm sure also European) scientists traveling to much lower income countries, doing science on sexy ecosystems and organisms, and then coming back to the States and publishing in high impact journals.

Who is talking/thinking abt this?

I am asking the google who and where are we discussing this serious problem. Modern intellectual colonialism? Modern scientific colonialism? You know, where you head off somewhere and take their science, bring it back and publish/build your career.

The thing is, it looks to me like entire labs are built on this, without a thought on its implications. Students come out of these labs trained in this as a perfectly valid way of studying ecology - and they never have to think about those implications.

Sure, I get it, hire folks wherever you go, maybe do some advocating and some outreach and you make some friends and feel like you're helping. Maybe you even have someone as a co-author here and there.

But... it's still going somewhere else and taking their science.

I realized today another ramification of this I haven't had to even consider before now. Labs that operate this way turn out highly qualified scientists w/expertise in foreign ecosystems. These scientists are more likely to get jobs wrt science in those countries moving forward.

.@Drew_Lab kindly just reminded me this is called "parachute science" - but of course searching so far has provided me with many fun parachute experiment ideas to try with kids...

We can't make real change *globally* if we don't face the impacts of parachute science and the need to move beyond local hiring and minimal engagement. We have to find ways to lift up local science and scientific enterprises.

We need to partner, not lead.

"Advancing Biodiversity Research in Developing
Countries: The Need for Changing Paradigms": creating valuable partnerships esp wrt biodiversity. Touches briefly on parachute science,but overall highlights better ways forward in advancing science globally:

Another on mutually valuable international collaborations from @HarrisProgram in 2004: "One major point worth emphasizing is that true international partnerships require a huge investment of time from all participants—and are hugely rewarding in return"

.@HarrisProgram also notes lack of incentives to invest: "... teaching, mentorship &collaborations are not part of the institutional reward sys in developed &middle-income countries, bc tenure committees & funding agencies look only at PI of a grant & 1st or last author on a pub"

In my googling on parachute science, found this nice discussion from @NPRGoatsandSoda regarding language:

"Some people use the term "Majority World" - a reminder to those of us in the West that we are but a very small minority on the globe."

All of this should resonate even w/those of us who don't science overseas. Marginalized communities in the US will suffer the brunt of #ClimateChange, and we parachute in there, w/similar consequences domestically.

For example, as a field research intern before going to grad school in Hawai'i, the project routinely had field stations vandalized -- likely due to a lack of engaging w/local Hawaiian communities, in addition to, well, colonialism here at home, folks.

Also thinking abt this more:

1. Parachute or helicopter (better as describes leaving just as fast) science: scientists show up, science, take knowledge, no add’l actions. #kthxbai

2. White savior science: “We have to bc ‘they’ can’t/won’t by themselves and/or ‘in time’”.

Also whew! Thanks for all the responses and resources! I’ll be back on this tomorrow for sure! Yay science twitter!

I've started a thread summarizing resources +contacts, but pls note!! This should NOT be seen as an exhaustive list by any means, just what I could get from what the Twit would let me recover. PLEASE ADD others to this thread and I will cont to also! TY!!!

I also followed up w/some additional thoughts today..."

[multiple branches to follow in this thread]
science  colonialism  parachutescience  emilyklein  scienceimperialism  exploitation  academia  research  2019  ashadevos  access  diversity 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Sri Lankan Whale Researcher Calls for an End to ‘Parachute — Oceans Deeply
[via: ]

"Most of the planet’s coastlines are in the developing world. Western marine scientists and institutions could do better work by developing the scientific talents of the people who live there, says Asha de Vos, founder of Oceanswell."

"THERE’S NO HOPE to conserve the ocean’s biodiversity unless scientists look inward and improve diversity in their own ranks. That’s the message that Asha de Vos, a Sri Lankan marine biologist, delivered to an international meeting of marine mammalogists in Halifax, Canada, in October.

De Vos is founder of Oceanswell, an organization she launched this year to help students from underrepresented nations conduct and communicate marine science. She argues that the health of coastlines depends on local people, yet too often they are ignored or dismissed. The practice of “parachute science,” in which Western researchers drop into developing countries to collect data and leave without training or investing in the region, not only harms communities, it cripples conservation efforts, according to De Vos.

She has first-hand experience. From Sri Lanka, she made her research career by studying blue whales in the Indian Ocean, which she discovered to be the only population that stays in tropical waters year round. Few scientists had paid attention to the whales before.

Oceans Deeply spoke with De Vos about how marine research and conservation could be more effective by investing in scientists and communities around the world.

Oceans Deeply: You recently called on marine researchers to be better at sharing skills, knowledge and funding with people in developing countries. Can you describe what you meant by that?

Asha de Vos: Seventy percent of our planet is oceans. Seventy percent of our coastlines are in the developing world. But we have no representation at the global stage. I actually asked the audience to look at each other and look around the room, because there was hardly anybody from outside North America, some of the bigger European countries and Australia. We want to save the oceans. If that is what our drive is, then we need to have custodians on every coastline. We can’t save the oceans if all of the funds are being pumped into specific nations.

If you want to protect that coastline, you can’t have 10 people from one country going into different countries and trying to save entire coastlines. It doesn’t make any sense. Local people, they live on those coastlines. They speak the languages, and they see the problems every day. They may be part of the problem.

There is a community aspect to it – where they can communicate to the people who live next door to them better than people coming from outside and telling people what to do. That is really patronizing. As soon as you get people who come from within the system, who speak the same language and who are relatable, you will suddenly start to see change.

If we want to protect what is on all of these coastlines, we can’t have parachute science happening. We can’t have people from outside coming into our countries, doing work and leaving, because there is no sustainability in that model.

Oceans Deeply: In many Western countries, limited scientific funding often goes to a small number of people, largely based on experience and prestige. Are you also calling for a general reform of how science is done?

De Vos: Overall, I think that we do need general reform. Business as usual hasn’t worked, right? The oceans are not in a better state. They’re getting worse. We need to start thinking, “OK, how can we change what is happening? How can we invest in human capital in places that need it?”

Funding bodies should be more conscious about how they administer their funding. It is not just about having a local counterpart – you need to make that local counterpart a lead. You need to mentor them to write the grant. It is the big institutions and funding bodies that really control what happens in these fields. The reason people want to publish and publish is because their tenure track job depends on it. If institutions instead started saying, “Look, what is your actual impact? What are you actually doing on the ground? How does what you do translate?” Then people have an obligation to go beyond [publishing].

I can understand the plight of the scientist as well. I broke out of that system. I never believed in the system, so I couldn’t stay in academia because that just doesn’t work for me. I want to have impact.

Oceans Deeply: How did you end up in your career, and what challenges did you face because you’re from Sri Lanka?

De Vos: I was inspired by National Geographic as a kid. At 18, I told people that I wanted to be a marine biologist. I come from South Asia where the culture is: either you’re a doctor, lawyer, engineer, a business person or you’re wasting your time. Lucky for me I had parents who said, “Do what you love, you’ll do it well.”

I went to the University of St. Andrews, where I did my undergraduate. I needed field experience, but I couldn’t get it in Sri Lanka, so I saved a bunch of money – I dug potatoes in potato fields in Scotland. I managed to get myself to New Zealand, and while I was there I heard of a research vessel that was stopping in the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

I wrote to them every single day for three months – and this was back in the day of internet cafes. I was living in a tent, but I was using the little bit of money that I had to convince people to let me get on board. Eventually, I think that they got so tired of me that they said I could come on board for two weeks in the Maldives. They loved me, so they kept me on for six months in Sri Lanka as well.

I got this experience, and then I went off to do my master’s at Oxford. When I was working on the research vessel, the Odyssey, I had my eureka moment because I encountered an aggregation of blue whales. I realized that these whales were not like normal blue whales, as my textbooks and professors had [told me]. Blue whales usually go to cold waters to feed and warm waters to breed. The poo was evidence that they were actually feeding in these warm, tropical waters 5 degrees above the equator. I thought that was fascinating.

Oceans Deeply: How did these experiences help form your understanding of the need for diversity in marine science?

De Vos: It is a result of me being Sri Lankan and local that I have been able to pioneer blue whale research in the northern Indian Ocean. I launched the first long-term study of this population. Over 10 years we have unraveled all of these mysteries, because I am local and I am interested in engagement.

The more people that I can touch with the stories of these whales, the bigger the army [of conservationists] and that is what is going to make the difference. When I started working with these blue whales, People didn’t know that we had whales in our waters. Now, there are more [Sri Lankan] students than ever before wanting to become marine biologists. I just established Sri Lanka’s first marine conservation research and education organization, called Oceanswell.

Oceans Deeply: Have you seen progress in training and investing in local communities?

De Vos: Yes. After the Society of Marine Mammalogy talk, I had people lining up to give their cards. There are people who invest, and not just in the developing world. There are now Inuit communities who are able to run their own PCR machines because someone went in there and helped set up a lab, even if you don’t have all the right conditions.

There are people out there who are doing incredible work and that don’t get highlighted, which is unfortunate. Transfer of knowledge is not valued in our scientific system in the same way as research.

I have had people approach me and say, “Can you get me a research permit so that I can do research in your country?” and I say no. We have talent, so provide opportunity. You come and train our people and then have the confidence to leave and watch this project grow, and then this becomes your legacy because it continues to grow for generations. You are creating something that is sustainable rather than coming in and trying to drive your own agenda"
ashadevos  science  decolonization  parachutescience  academia  local  srilanka  2017  oceanswell  whales  bluewhales  research  marinebiology  maldives  oceans  indianocean  inclusivity  diversity  marineconservation  conservation  impact  training  access  accessibility  mentoring  mentorships 
29 days ago by robertogreco
On Quality Higher Education: An Essay in Three Installments, Part 1 | Howard Gardner
[Part 2:
Part 3:

Quotes below from various parts]

"Of the 1000 students whom we interviewed at length on ten disparate campuses, depressingly few report the experience of exploring new topics and acquiring new ways of thinking as central to their college experience."

"The principal purpose of a liberal arts education should be the achievement of academic and cognitive growth. Any other purpose needs to be deeply intertwined with these academic and cognitive priorities. By the conclusion of a four-year education in an institution that calls itself a liberal arts school, or that claims to infuse liberal arts significantly into a required curriculum, all graduates should have been exposed to a range of ways of thinking that scholars and other serious thinkers have developed over the decades, sometimes over centuries. Students should have ample practice in applying several ways of thinking; and they should be able to demonstrate, to a set of competent assessors, that they can analyze and apply these ways of thinking. Put specifically and succinctly, graduates should be able to read and critique literary, historical, and social scientific texts; exhibit mathematical, computational, and statistical analytic skills; and have significant practical “hands on” immersion in at least one scientific and one artistic area."

"When we began our own study some years ago, we were completely unprepared for two major findings across a deliberately disparate set of campuses. We found that challenges of mental health were encountered everywhere, and were, for whatever reasons, on the increase. And across campuses, we found as well (and presumably relatedly) that a large number of students reported their feeling that they did not belong; they felt alienated in one or another way—from the academic agenda, from their peers, from the overall institutions. And to our surprise, this alienation proved more prominent among graduating students than among incoming students!"

"When we began our own study some years ago, we were completely unprepared for two major findings across a deliberately disparate set of campuses. We found that challenges of mental health were encountered everywhere, and were, for whatever reasons, on the increase. And across campuses, we found as well (and presumably relatedly) that a large number of students reported their feeling that they did not belong; they felt alienated in one or another way—from the academic agenda, from their peers, from the overall institutions. And to our surprise, this alienation proved more prominent among graduating students than among incoming students!"

"Indeed, if non-academic goals—say, social or emotional development—are to be reached, they are likely to be reached as a result of the presence of appealing role models on campus and the way the institution itself is run and addresses challenges. If consistent modeling is ingrained in the culture of an institution, most students can be expected to live up to these high standards. To be sure, mental health and belonging issues may need to be specifically supported by trained professionals (either on or off campus)."

"At such times, institutions are tested as they have not been before. And higher education faces a clear choice: the sector can continue to claim, against the evidence and against plausibility, that it can repair the various fault lines in the society. Or it can reassert the major reason for its existence and strive to show that, in the present challenging climate, it can achieve what it was designed to achieve. If it fails, the whole sector is likely to be so fundamentally altered that the vision we’ve described will have disappeared—and perhaps for a very long time."
liberalarts  howardgardner  wendyfischman  highered  highereducation  mentalhealth  purpose  mission  belonging  criticalthinking  vocation  vocationaleducation  onboarding  missiondrift  cv  lcproject  openstudioproject  goals  meaning  meaningmaking  colleges  universities  economics  institutions  academia 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
In Conversation with Mahmood Mamdani | Warscapes
"MM: One night. They let you make one phone call, and I called the Ugandan Ambassador in Washington, DC, talked to him, and he said, “What are you doing interfering in the affairs of a foreign country?” I said, “What? We just got our independence! This is the same struggle. Have you forgotten?” Anyway, he got me out. Two or three weeks later, I was in my room. There was a knock at the door. Two gentlemen in trench coats and hats said, “FBI.” I thought, “Wow, just like on television.” They sat down. They were there to find out why I had gone – because this turned out to be big – it is after Montgomery that King organized his march on Selma. They wanted to know who had influenced me. After one hour of probing, the guy said, “Do you like Marx?” 

I said, “I haven’t met him.” 

Guy said, “No, no, he’s dead.” 

“Wow, what happened?” 

“No, no, he died long ago.” 

I thought the guy Marx had just died. So then, “Why are you asking me if he died long ago?”  

“No, he wrote a lot. He wrote that poor people should not be poor.”  

I said, “Sounds amazing.” 

I’m giving you a sense of how naïve I was. After they left, I went to the library to look for Marx. So that was my introduction to Karl Marx.

BS: The FBI. 

MM: The FBI. Then, of course, I took a class on Marx. Couldn’t just get Marx out of the library. But, basically, it is the US – the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement – which gave me a new take on my own experience, and on the Asian experience in east Africa. It gave me a way of rethinking my own experience of growing up in east Africa and growing up in an Africa with a lens crafted by the civil rights movement."
colonialism  academia  history  mahmoodmamdani  karlmarx  marxism  2013  interviews  fbi  radicalization  ideas  inequality  poverty  capitalism  unintendedconsequences 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
‘Liz Was a Diehard Conservative’ - POLITICO Magazine
"Warren herself says that in her early academic work she was merely following the dominant theory of the time, which emphasized the efficiency of free markets and unrestrained businesses, rather than holding strong conservative beliefs herself. Still, she acknowledged in our interview that she underwent a profound change in how she viewed public policy early in her academic career, describing the experience as “worse than disillusionment” and “like being shocked at a deep-down level.”

Her conversion was ideological before it turned partisan. The first shift came in the mid-’80s, as she traveled to bankruptcy courts across the country to review thousands of individual cases—a departure from the more theoretical academic approach—and saw that Americans filing for bankruptcy more closely resembled her own family, who struggled financially, rather than the irresponsible deadbeats she had expected.

It wasn’t until Warren was recruited onto a federal commission to help reform the bankruptcy code in the mid-1990s—and then fought for those reforms and lost that battle in 2005—that she became the unapologetic partisan brawler she was in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, serving in the Senate and, now, stumping on the 2020 campaign trail. “I realize nonpartisan just isn’t working,” she recalls of that second conversion moment. “By then it’s clear: The only allies I have are in the Democratic Party, and it’s not even the majority of Democrats.”

Some friends and colleagues say Warren became radicalized, equating her change to a religious experience, to being born again. “She really did have a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion when she saw the bankrupt consumers really were suffering—forced into bankruptcy by illness, firing or divorce—and not predators,” Johnson says. Other friends argue Warren’s shift has been more gradual, and that she is not the extremist her opponents have sought to portray her as. “It drives me crazy when she’s described as a radical left-winger. She moved from being moderately conservative to being moderately liberal,” says Warren’s co-author and longtime collaborator Jay Westbrook. “When you look at consumer debt and what happens to consumers in America, you begin to think the capitalist machine is out of line.”"

"What Warren’s Republican history means for her presidential prospects remains unclear. There’s a version of this story in which her politically mixed background makes her the ideal candidate to capture not just the the American left but also the center—a pugilistic populist vowing to take on corporations, a policy-savvy reformer who believes that markets are essential to the economy.

But that’s not the political landscape of 2019. Warren’s tough stance during the financial crisis got her tagged by Republicans and many Democrats as more Harvard liberal than an up-by-the-bootstraps working mom from Oklahoma. And her work on the CFPB alienated much of the financial services industry. Meanwhile, much of the left wing of the Democratic Party, for which she was the banner-carrier after the financial crisis, has found a new champion in the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. And members of the growing Democratic Socialists of America and the hosts of the popular leftist podcast Chapo Trap House have criticized Warren for her adherence to capitalism. As of this writing, she is generally polling fifth in the Democratic field, and her 2020 fundraising has fallen short of several other rivals’.

With some in the Democratic Party demanding purity, perhaps Warren thinks going back through her Republican history could hurt her. When I suggested near the end of our interview that she might consider talking more about that part of her biography, and her conversion, she was politely noncommittal.

“Sure, sure,” she said, before quickly pivoting back to another question."

[See also:

"A very good read. Warren's story is such a profound American story, and a very deep story about how ideology works, and what it takes to get free.

This is how you get free: You do the work, and embrace the learning.
Warren’s academic career soon took a turn that made her far less comfortable with unfettered free markets. Prompted in part by a surge in personal bankruptcy filings following the passage of new bankruptcy laws in 1978, Warren, Sullivan and Westbrook in 1982 decided to study bankruptcy in a way that was then considered novel in academia: by digging into the anecdotal evidence of individual filings and traveling to bankruptcy courts across the country, often rolling a small copy machine through airports along the way.

Whatever their take on "capitalism" or "socialism," I'm here for leaders who understand how American capitalism in its current form (since the late 1970s; "neoliberalism") has completely failed—both morally and technically.

In the presidential field, there are exactly two.

The intellectual damage of the 1980s is intense. It's immensely to Warren's credit that, as a young woman untenured professor then, she realized—through fieldwork—that she could not in conscience enforce the ideology.

And everyone who went to elite colleges in the US in the 1980s needs to be scrutinized. I remember intro economics in 1985-86. Martin Feldstein preaching the catechism to 1,000 young minds in Sanders Theatre. Midterms where you "proved" why rent control was bad. Deadweight loss!

Three years later those young minds were lining up for "recruiting" as Goldman, Morgan, McKinsey et al swarmed the campus to usher them into the golden cage. This shit happened quickly, people. It's a wonder anyone escaped.

People shaped in the 1990s, with the neoliberal foundation cushioned by Clintonite anesthesia, post-Cold War complacency, and the mystical arrival of the internet, are no better. Probably need even more deprogramming. That's why the arrival of the AOC generation is SUCH A RELIEF."
"Not everyone. A lot of college students in the 1980s were committed activists, from those involved in Divestment from Apartheid South Africa to ACT UP to activism against US policy in Central America."
"Indeed. I was one of them! But that doesn't mean we didn't get coated in the zeitgeist. We all need periodic cleansing."]
elizabethwarren  mindchanging  politics  research  listening  2019  berniesanders  siddharthamitter  billclinton  1990s  1980s  ronaldreagan  economics  martinfeldstein  neoliberalism  2000s  us  policy  bankruptcy  academia  jaywestbrook  highered  highereducation  ideology  fieldwork  rentcontrol  regulation  consumerprotection  democrats  republicans  finance  cfpb  banking  markets 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Editorial - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
"Syllabi are theory’s infrastructure. While they are not the same as the essays, lectures, books, case studies, films, and other media organized by them, they can and should be seen as theoretical contributions in their own right, and subjected to the same degree of critical reflection, scrutiny, and innovation. Syllabi set a program for study, give structure to vast networks of ideas, and define an interpretative stance on the world. Focusing attention on syllabi—which texts they include, and how they are organized and framed—offers a window into larger problems facing the field of architectural theory today.

Architectural theory went through an academic renaissance in the 1970s and 1980s, with scholars forging new links with groundbreaking theoretical movements of the time, from feminism and postcolonialism to semiotics, phenomenology, and deconstructivism. New syllabi were formed in architecture curricula that incorporated contemporary discursive practices, positions, and sensibilities. Yet the syllabi for such classes have not developed significantly since then. Architectural theory in academic curricula today is often addressed either through a history of theoretical concerns—from mimesis, analogy, beauty, honesty, and utopia to modernity, alienation, authenticity, regionalism, contextualism, autonomy, and postmodernity—a tabulation of theoretical frameworks—from structural linguistics, marxism, psychoanalysis, and phenomenology to feminism, deconstruction, and postcolonialism—or a roster of authors—from Vitruvius, Alberti, Laugier, Perrault, Boullée, Durand, and Ruskin to Le Corbusier, Loos, Meyer, Jacobs, Alexander, Banham, Venturi, Scott-Brown, Norberg-Schulz, Rowe, Rossi, Tafuri, Eisenman, Jencks, and Koolhaas.

Academic courses that address more urgent contemporary issues and diverse geographies are too often allocated to specialized fields, institutions, or spaces of study, such that they rarely come to challenge the canon of architectural theory’s increasingly standard model. Theory is one of the necessary ingredients for the maintenance of the discipline of architecture as a synthetic manifestation connecting history, criticism, and practice. Therefore, theory must overcome the institutional inertia of pedagogical reproduction, the neoliberalization of intellectual labor, and the disorientation of informational media, and rearticulate its necessary role. At an infrastructural level of knowledge production, theory must attend to the changing nature of cultural communication, globalization and calls for inclusivity within the social space of discourse, and the economic logics driving planetary collapse.

The starting point for any reformulation of architectural theory should be the ways we learn. The conditions of contemporary thought itself have been transformed over the past decades by new media platforms and the emergent practices of surveillance capitalism. The old attentional economy that once sustained reflective and critical thought has been replaced by an economy of distraction. The work of analyzing difficult texts has become alien to digital natives young and old, who are habituated to a culture of instant access, skimming, and the hypnotic rhythm of clicks, taps, and swipes. When video tutorials appear more engaging and specific than the seemingly dated writing styles of even a decade ago, the habits of reading, thinking, and writing common to theory’s past must be re-imagined.

This expanding space of communications has accompanied intensified intercultural exchanges brought about by global economic integration, migration, and the resultant pressing together of different peoples, cultures, and ways of life. Theory’s debt to a Western tradition of philosophical, historical, and critical reason has been brought into question. Architecture’s theoretical discourse needs to respond to the critique of Western-centrism and the calls for its provincialization. It must address the question of opening up to alternative epistemologies and broader methods of discourse production, be they poetic, practical, symbolic, moral, magical, or mythic as much as philosophical or metaphysical. Provincializing Western architectural theory is one way to address the social struggles and conflicts between identity groups that have intensified with the proverbial shrinking of the world. In this vein, theory must reflect on who constructs architecture’s theoretical canon, who speaks as a theorist, who theory speaks about, and who theory addresses as its audience. While embracing the concrete political gains in the social redistribution of power among different genders, races, sexualities, and class backgrounds, theory should also question the role of identity as an operator within discourses, institutions, and national politics, and critically reflect on both its essentializations and constructed nature.

The globalization of culture is, for better or worse, supported by global, transnational, and neoliberal economic practices and their consequent forms of ecological destruction. As much as the global can provincialize theory, the global can also further focus theory upon the new ethico-political demand created by the explicit awareness of technological convergence and impending planetary collapse. With the recent granting of a new geological epoch to our species, we have passed a threshold of irreversible awareness that modern dreams of progress, infinite economic growth, and unlimited consumerist self-expression produce the counter-effects that turn dreams into nightmares. Yet while causes remain global, their effects are often local and asymmetrical, demanding that we theorize both a new hermeneutics of our technological being and a new ethics and politics of the earth.

In challenging architectural theory, these historical factors hold the capacity to reenergize and rethink its relationship to its traditional concerns, frameworks, authors, organizations, and geographies that shape its curricula. They might even force the most basic of existential questions for architectural theory itself: what is it for, today? At its very minimum, we can understand theory to be an instrument for socializing architects into a shared vocabulary and tradition, both within and outside of the discipline, as well as a means for providing a forum for ideological debate between the many conflicting practices that compose the field of architecture. But should architectural theory seek to renew the projective avant-garde project which it was understood to be a couple of decades ago, one capable of challenging and reorienting studio culture and professional practice more widely? Or should it keep a critical distance from design, and instead focus its lens upon the formation of the subjectivity, critical consciousness, ethical comportment, and civic duty of the architect themselves?

Theory’s Curriculum is an extra-academic initiative that seeks to provide theory with a means to challenge its existing methods of pedagogical reproduction. It seeks to build a collaborative project that brings together isolated laborers to pool ideas and methods across dispersed institutions and geographies, to compare inherited models, to detect received assumptions, and to ask fundamental questions about what and how we should teach and learn when we teach and learn architectural theory.

Collaboration is inevitably a heuristic fiction, promising what is often difficult to sustain against the dominant structures of modern individuation, today’s entrepreneurialization of the self, and the semiotic capital of discourse. It inevitably cuts across the values of wage-labor and attribution, and blurs the boundaries between professional roles, friendship, and community spirit. Yet, as McKenzie Wark has argued, the conditions of intellectual laboring in the academy today necessitate that we adopt a more realist approach to theorizing as the cumulative task of many smaller efforts, rather than the great leaps forward once marked by grand philosophical systems or public intellectuals. With these syllabi, Theory’s Curriculum seeks to reconceptualize intellectual work as the function of a general intellect, an ecology of contributions on particular themes and ideas that, when exchanged and debated, evolve as a collective project.

These syllabi aim to indicate potential avenues for progress, and in so doing prompt a debate. They are far from exhaustive, yet are free to be used, recycled, hacked, and plundered. They are offered in the spirit of further collaboration, and with the hope that they will invite others to join this nascent enterprise in the rearticulation and teaching of architectural theory today. Ultimately, they suggest that pedagogy is not secondary to theory, but that rethinking how we teach and learn theory might be central to how we theorize anew."
syllabus  syllabi  curriculum  architecture  education  highered  deign  highereducation  academia  theory  nickaxel  josephbedford  nikolaushirsch  mckenziewark  collaboration  individuation  labor  progress  pedagogy  anthropocene  neoliberalism  globalization  economics  migration  thecanon 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
is everything an MLM
"When I tweeted out the piece, a fellow academic responded: “This sounds….familiar: ‘CorePower churns out thousands more “certified” teachers than the company offers to employ.’”

She’s referring to the overproduction of PhDs: too many people coming through grad school, and too few sustainable academic jobs. And as anyone in any field understands, when there’s way more qualified applicants than jobs, the existing jobs can demand more of applicants (more qualifications, less money) while applicants lower their own expectations (for compensation, for benefits, for job security, for course load and service, for location).

So why don’t academic departments just decrease the number of PhD students they accept? Because those students have become an integral cog in the contemporary university. A recent report by the National Research Council on"Addressing the Nation's Changing Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists" found that the number of new PhDs awarded every year “is well "is well above that needed to keep pace with growth in the U.S. economy and to replace those leaving the workforce as a result of retirement and death." The report suggests that there should be no increase in the number of PhDs, but does not call for a decrease: “to change suddenly the numbers of people could be very disruptive to the research that’s going on at the present time.”

Put differently, those PhD students are providing (cheap!) labor in labs; to decrease the flow of incoming students would necessitate a dramatic rethinking of the funding/viability of various labs. The Humanities don’t have labs, but they do have massive numbers of undergraduate courses that need teaching. In English programs, it’s some version of “comp,” or composition; in foreign language programs, it’s intro language classes; in communications, it’s public speaking. Many of these courses are mandated “core” in some capacity, ensuring an unwavering stream of students, and an unwavering demand for (again, very cheap) graduate student labor to serve them. To decrease the number of graduate students, again, would be to decrease the supply of cheap labor. To rectify the loss, you’d either have to hire adjuncts or more professors (both more expensive than graduate students) or decrease the number of admitted students (and a loss, to the university, of an income stream).

Some schools start PhD programs — even though they know that their institution is not prestigious enough to place its graduates in “good” jobs, unless they are truly stellar — as a sort of labor generator: lure students with the promise of tuition remission, and you’ve got at least four years of their labor. Some MA programs also provide tuition remission in exchange for TA’ing; others are simply “money makers,” with no opportunity to TA, just the opportunity for 10-40 students pay full tuition, even if the chances of moving on to a PhD program (or full-time employment in their field) is small.

We talk a lot about how “for-profit” colleges (Cappella, Phoenix, dozens of others) exploit students’ internalized belief that the only way to pull themselves and their families up through the capitalist system is a degree — no matter if they have to take out massive amounts of debt to do it, no matter if they’re steered towards degree programs (massage therapy) in which there’s little chance to find employment that will even cover your loan payment, let alone allow the student to pull themselves up the class ladder. (Of course, a degree can provide that route — but usually it can be obtained for much, much less at the local community college.)

For first generation college students with little or no inherited knowledge of how college or student loans work, for-profit colleges can be incredibly appealing. They target you; they tell you that you could have a different life, a secure life, a career, everything you’ve dreamed of, just by enrolling. (For the twentieth time, read Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Lower Ed for an in-depth account of how for profit colleges target, recruit, and exploit these populations)

But academia — specifically, higher ed — does something different. Like my yoga teacher, they affirm what so many of us wanted to believe about ourselves: that we’re good enough, smart enough, potential-filled enough, to go to grad school. Maybe it started when you wrote a paper you were particularly proud of, and your professor told you, off-handedly, “maybe you should think about grad school.” Maybe someone else in your life — the parent of a friend, someone you nannied for, your parent — told you the same. When my undergrad professor told me as much, it was like someone had unfogged the windshield of my life: oh, yes, there’s the road in front of me!

Everyone I met in grad school had some version of this story. Once the aptitude was discerned, in our minds, into something like destiny. You ask for letters of recommendation, and your professors write them. You apply to grad schools, and some accept you. Instead of thinking about should I go to grad school, it becomes which grad school should I go to? And because you’ve already made the decision, it’s difficult to divert when the road conditions become more and more difficult.

Bad funding situation? You’ll make it work. Too many MA and PhDs means you have to “professionalize” (go to many conferences, publish many peer-reviewed papers) on your own dime? You’ll make it work. Take out loans to cover that conference travel; take out loans to live over the summer because there’s no funding available; take out loans to finish your dissertation because your school ran out of it; take out loans to travel to MLA to be one of 15 people interviewing for a job you don’t want. Again: You’ll make it work. You’re already too far down the road.

Job market’s so tight that you have to move away from your partner for a year of a post doc, then another post-doc across the country, then a job in a place far from family that pays less than a high school teacher? Again, you’ll make it work. You get to do something you love, the refrain goes. All jobs are bad, someone will tell you.

To give up is shameful, but why? Where does that shame come from? We internalize the failure as our own, instead of a failure that was set up, save for a select few, from the start. Put differently, getting spit out by the contemporary academic establishment isn’t a mark of failure; it’s a sign that the system is working as intended. Those who aren’t spit out are absorbed into the pyramid — as adjuncts, as tenure track. And no matter how much they advocate for ethical treatment, no matter how much they support graduate unions, there’s only so much you can do when your university keeps admitting graduate students.

Which isn’t to say there’s nothing. I’ve always deeply admired the Communications program at the University of Wisconsin, which only accepts as many PhD students as it honestly believes it can place in jobs. That means incredible selectivity, but it also means keeping its numbers incredibly low. (I didn’t get accepted there, which maybe should have been a sign that I should’ve have kept going!) I know a number of professors who are increasingly working with graduate students, from the beginning, on how to “professionalize” towards career paths that may or may not lead outside of academia. I know tenured professors who fund graduate student travel to conferences, and who only publish in open-source journals, and who speak frankly to their undergrad students about the realities and debt and burnout incurred through the graduate school process.

There are so many good and ethical actors within the system. But it’s not enough to counter the absorbing, flattering, hope-igniting energy of contemporary academia, which subsists on the infinite stream of students so eager for someone to tell them that the thing they love to think about it, the thing that feels nourishing and explosive and electric, they can have that thing all the time. That’s how I used to talk about my path to grad school: I wanted a way to think about the things I was thinking about for the rest of my life. All I needed was that one teacher to tell me I could. What I didn’t realize is that there were, and are, so many paths, professional and otherwise, to think about those things for the rest of my life.

To suggest as much, though, feels subversive — or at least un-American in some weird way. Of course you should pursue your dream! But what if “my dream” was actually just a fear of other options + an addiction to compliments + a few well-written undergraduate papers?

When I first suggested that yoga teacher training was an MLM, someone rightly responded: “it feels like everything today is an MLM.” That’s what happens when an industry is fully enveloped by capitalism: When a hedge fund buys a yoga company — or when universities are figured as money-making businesses, with actual consultants hired to lead them. You can blame massive constructive initiatives intended to lure students, but the real problem is the one no one wants to talk about: the massive divestment of state funds, aka tax dollars, across the board. Over the last thirty years, our elected officials have decided that higher education isn’t a societal investment. It’s a capitalist business that must sustain itself. It doesn’t matter how much the head of a graduate department wants to increase graduate pay when the budget has been squeezed so tightly and tuition has already exponentially risen to counter it. There’s no there, there.

The fault with thinking of academia as a pyramid scheme is that there’s no one at the top — just the increasingly ambivalent structure, the ever-reproducing base. You could say administration profits, or football coaches profit. But it increasingly feels like a system in which no one wins: not the students, not their … [more]
capitalism  academia  annehelenpetersen  labor  work  markets  highered  pyramidschemes  ponzischemes  yoga  mlms  multi-levelmarketingschemes  exploitation  colleges  universities  srg  gradschool 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Luxury Interiors – Popula
"The question of “U.S.C. versus A.S.U.” in this piece was unclear to me; to what extent was Hess underwriting this hierarchy? I wrote to ask her, and she replied that she wished she’d had the space to elaborate in the piece. And for good reason:
I’m from a Sun Devil family. My mom worked at Arizona State… I don’t think any of the jokes about ASU are based on a real understanding of the kind of education you could receive there; it’s based on the number of people who can access that education […]

The same people who surely believe that every child should have access to a college education also make sure to rank some of those educations as enviable and others as embarrassing. The idea of an elite, high-class education must be hoarded by a select few, because if everybody had it, it would lose its value to the elite.

Which just begins to explain why someone like Mossimo Giannulli might want to be able to say, “my daughter is at U.S.C.”


When people are willing to drown themselves in debt and even commit literal crimes in order to obtain an elite college education for themselves or their kids, what, really, what exactly, do they they think they are buying?

Or selling. What are people thinking, who are selling an “education” that is actively harming a whole society; that wrecks the fabric of a city, that causes people to lose their grip on their conscience, their sanity; that makes them set so catastrophic an example, somehow both before, and on behalf of, their children. All this makes a mockery of the Enlightenment values—by which I mean the egalitarianism and erudition of Alexander Pope, and not Edmund Burke getting himself in a lather over Marie Antoinette—that a Western education was once imagined to represent.

Reaction to the admissions scandal has so far centered on these rich parents and their unworthy spawn, whose lawyers now prepare to spin a tale of misguided, but forgivable, parental devotion. No less a cultural authority than the playwright David Mamet wrote an “open letter” defending accused admissions cheat Felicity Huffman; according to him, “a parent’s zeal for her children’s future may have overcome her better judgment for a moment.” Except that the “moment” went on for months, according to court filings, and involved Huffman’s paying $15,000 to ensure that her daughter would have twice the time to complete her SAT exam that an ordinary, non-bribery-enabled kid would have. Also to hire a crooked proctor afterwards, who could change some of her daughter’s wrong answers to correct ones.

In any case, Hess is right: You can get an ultrafine education at A.S.U. That place is an R1 university, positively bristling with Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows. Walter V. Robinson, who led the famous “Spotlight” newsroom at the Boston Globe, teaches there. It’s wild to think anyone would be willing to blow half a million dollars to ensure an admission to U.S.C. over A.S.U.

Anyone who has been to (any) college can tell you that the proportion of enlightenment to hangovers varies greatly from customer to customer. It’s something else altogether that calls for the half-million bucks.


Coming from a quite different angle—and on March 27th, the very same day as Hess’s piece—Herb Childress, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, asked: “How did we decide that professors don’t deserve job security or a decent salary?” (“This is How You Kill a Profession.”) Childress is one of tens of thousands of Ph.D.s in the United States who failed to find a place on the tenure track, and who were slowly forced out of a professional academic career as their prospects faded year by year in the academic Hunger Games, as this brutal process is not uncommonly described.

You might assume that people like Childress just “didn’t make it” through some fault of their own, but you’d be wrong. Over the last fifty years academic work has come to look more and more like indentured servitude: Grad students and postdocs are a species of flexible workers in a gig economy, toiling in low-paying jobs waiting for their once-a-year chance to play the tenure track lottery.

Please note that these are the very people who work in the “good schools,” who are compelled to “teach,” for insanely low pay—like, a few thousand dollars per class—people like Mossimo Giannulli’s daughter Olivia Jade, a famous YouTube “Influencer.” This lady’s dad paid hundreds of thousands to put her in the orbit of hugely educated, committed, job-insecure people like Childress. She, meanwhile, impishly bragged to her legion of YouTube followers that she doesn’t really “care about school.”

And yet scholars like Childress can’t let go of their romantic notions of the academy, and their sense of vocation, which can easily be exploited; unfortunately they’ll agree to live the dream even at cut rates, as Childress himself openly admitted in the Chron.
The grief of not finding a home in higher ed—of having done everything as well as I was capable of doing, and having it not pan out; of being told over and over how well I was doing and how much my contributions mattered, even as the prize was withheld—consumed more than a decade. It affected my physical health. It affected my mental health. It ended my first marriage. […]

Like any addict, I have to be vigilant whenever higher ed calls again. I know what it means to be a member of that cult, to believe in the face of all evidence, to persevere, to serve. I know what it means to take a 50-percent pay cut and move across the country to be allowed back inside the academy as a postdoc after six years in the secular professions. To be grateful to give up a career, to give up economic comfort, in order to once again be a member.

Consider the benefits-free, pension-free pittance paid to the vast majority of people providing the elite education, who never saw a dime of all those millions in bribes, and a more complicated and larger picture than we’ve yet seen emerges."

"I wasn’t nearly as much of a paragon, but as a brown-trash “gifted” kid who came up poor and went to fancy schools I can easily understand how listening to this brilliant lecturer dazzled my friend, and changed the course of his life. This feeling comes to students anywhere, everywhere, in every school with a good teacher with time and attention to give us. There was and still is something vital, something good and real, to want out of an “education,” something quite beyond the ken of the kind of people who would pay an SAT proctor to cheat.

Then there’s this other angle. I first went off to college already inured to the idea that I was involved in an economy; that we were trading. Everything had been made easier for the rich kids, of course, and it wasn’t their fault, all had been bought and paid for by their parents and grandparents, but also—a crucial thing—they had also lacked our luck; they lacked certain desirable qualities, qualities as randomly distributed as wealth, things with which some of us had won a different lottery, had skipped grades with and been celebrated for: the sort of “intelligence” that made school easy. There seemed to be a natural symbiosis in this structure, crazy and shameful as the whole business of “meritocracy” appears to me now.

But also like all college kids we mainly didn’t give a fuck about any of that and just got to be friends for true reasons, just loved one another. The rich kids happened to be able to teach the poor ones what fork to use and how to ski, and the poor and/or brown kids of halfway reasonable intelligence gave them books, new kinds of food and family, music and art, a view of the other side of the tracks, new ways to have fun. We poor ones brought, say, a taste for Lester Bangs, arroz con pollo, Brian Eno and Virginia Woolf; they treated us to foie gras and Tahoe and big old California cabs on our 18th birthday. Gross, right? Really gross. But the (grotesquely mistaken) idea was that we were bringing each other into a better world, a different world, and a little at a time the true, good world would finally come.

This may sound a bit tinfoil but now I suspect that the problem may have been, all along, that all the college kids started to realize together (as I think they are still) that there was something sick at the roots of this tree of knowledge as it was then constituted. Strangely, dangerously healing, egalitarian ideas began to take hold; demographics changed, and the country began to move to the left. The 90s was the era of the tenured radical on campus, and the culture wars grew white-hot. Al Gore was elected president, and was prevented by the merest whisker from taking office. Even a barely left of center President Gore would have made things a little too parlous for the powers that be, who are on the same side as the Giannullis of the world.

Hess told me that some people think there’s one kind of education within the purview of everyone willing to work to get it, the “embarrassing” kind, and then there’s another kind that is luxury goods, strictly for “elites” from “elite” institutions—however corrupt the latter may be—served tableside by an underpaid servant class.

But the egalitarian view of education and the luxury view are mutually exclusive. Pulling up the drawbridge around your ivory tower only cuts it off from the global commons, which alone can provide the intellectual atmosphere in which a free society, and its academy, can breathe and thrive. Power wants its “meritocracy”: thus the eternal cake-having rhetoric around higher education, the queasy mingling of “exclusivity” and “diversity.”

Note too that the ruling class protects its interests as starkly on the fake left of the centrist Democrats as it does on the right, where the Koch brothers have long bought professors like they were so many cups of coffee. In Jacobin, Liza Featherstone’s … [more]
education  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  mariabustillos  culture  society  smartness  petebuttigieg  operationvaristyblues  meritocracy  us  capitalism  competition  scarcity  lizafeatherstone  donaldtrump  centrism  herbchildress  academia  colleges  universities  rankings  admissions 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
This Is How You Kill a Profession - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Like any addict, I have to be vigilant whenever higher ed calls again. I know what it means to be a member of that cult, to believe in the face of all evidence, to persevere, to serve. I know what it means to take a 50-percent pay cut and move across the country to be allowed back inside the academy as a postdoc after six years in the secular professions. To be grateful to give up a career, to give up economic comfort, in order to once again be a member.

Part of me still wants it. That kind of faith is in my bones, and reason can only bleach it away somewhat. The imprint is still there, faint, hauntingly imprecise, all the more venerable for its openness to dreams. I worked as a college administrator for seven years after that postdoc, because I couldn’t bear to be away from my beloved community even after it had set me aside. Because I couldn’t walk away.

All cults, all abusers, work the same way, taking us away from friends and family, demanding more effort and more sacrifice and more devotion, only to find that we remain the same tantalizing distance from the next promised level. And the sacrifice normalizes itself into more sacrifice, the devotion becomes its own reward, the burn of the hunger as good as the meal. "
herbchildress  academia  labor  work  cults  highereducation  highered  teaching  colleges  universities  health  inequality  tenure  competition  faith  abuse  adjuncts  service  class  precarity  capitalism  hungergames 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Evaluating scholarship, or why I won’t be teaching Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism | Blayne Haggart's Orangespace
"In his review, which is a wonder of careful thinking and contextualization, Morozov performs a couple of useful services. First, he highlights the extent to which Zuboff’s argument about how surveillance capitalism works rests on a tautology – “surveillance capitalists engage in surveillance capitalism because this is what the imperatives of surveillance capitalism demand” – that leaves they why of the matter unexamined. Second, he places her squarely within an intellectual tradition of “managerial capitalism” and a wider functionalist tradition in sociology associated with Talcott Parsons. Morozov argues that partly as a result of this (unacknowledged) mindset, Zuboff fails to understand the extent to which her critique of surveillance capitalism is actually a critique of capitalism, full stop. This inability to see anything outside the mindset of capitalism accounts for the way the book just kind of finishes without suggesting any real possible paths forward other than, we need a new social movement, and surveillance capitalism must be destroyed and replaced with a better form of (digital?) capitalism.

I hadn’t made those exact connections, and Morozov’s review does a great job in concisely summing up these intellectual frameworks. And if you didn’t know anything about managerial capitalism and Alfred Chandler, or the Italian Autonomists, you could also be forgiven for not making those connections either. I knew very little about managerial capitalism, nothing of Alfred Chandler. I am familiar with Parsons and my only exposure to the Italian Autonomists was by reading Hardt and Negri’s Empire during my PhD, which was enough to convince me that I wanted nothing to do with them.

Morozov’s final conclusion is both persuasive and damning from an academic perspective. The book, he says, could be politically powerful because it is a sharp broadside against two companies – Google and Facebook – that represent a clear and present danger to society. However, it “is a step backward in our understanding of the dynamics of the digital economy.”

I think that’s about right.

I am also pretty sure that, despite the acclaim it’s getting in non-Baffler circles, I’m not going to be teaching The Age of Surveillance Capitalism in my Global Political Economy of Knowledge course, but not because I disagree with Zuboff’s argument or feel threatened by her analysis. To the contrary, she’s pretty much telling me exactly what I want to hear. Or more to the point, what I want to believe.

I’m not going to be teaching it because as an academic work, it falls far short of the standards to which we should hold ourselves. It may be a politically effective polemic, but as scholarship that advances our understanding of the world, it is sorely lacking."

"Four tells of poor academic scholarship

1. Exaggerated claims to novelty"

"2. Absence of relevant literatures"

"So. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a study of the messy interactions between economic and social imperatives. (Actually, I’d argue it’s really two linked business case studies of Facebook and Google that wants to be a study of a larger system, but that’s another matter entirely.) This means that it is a study of political economy. Which means it has to engage with the political economy literature on surveillance (a specialized literature, but it does exist) and capitalism (its entire raison d’être). I expect it to engage with particular sources, like Srnicek, like Shawn Powers and Michael Jablonski’s The Real Cyber War. With, in other words, the books that can provide context and support for, and pushback against, its argument.

And if you’re talking about big trends in capitalism and society from a critical perspective, Hannah Arendt is not your go-to. You also need to go beyond the social-science founders – Durkheim, Marx, Weber. You need to engage with the likes of Susan Strange. Or Robert Cox. Or Michael Mann, people who are interested in exactly the same issues that you are dealing with. Karl Polanyi is great, and Zuboff grabs just the right concepts from him. But He. Is. Not. Enough.

(Polanyi was also much more than an “historian,” as Zuboff identifies him. As his Wikipedia entry makes clear, he was an “economic historian, economic anthropologist, economic sociologist, political economist, historical sociologist and social philosopher. Then again, the phrase “political economy” appears only four times in this book, and exclusively in the titles of cited books and articles in the endnotes.)

Finally, if one is talking about the dangers involved in a form of power that “knows and shapes human behaviour toward others’ ends” (page 8) and Antonio Gramsci’s conception of hegemony doesn’t rate a mention, I don’t even know. Especially if it’s presented as a completely new idea (in this case “instrumentarian power” – see: Exaggerated claims of novelty). The Gramscian concept of hegemony is all about how the powerful can get other groups to buy into ideologies that may not be in their best interests.

Much of the book is about how surveillance capitalists are working to change human nature so that human thinking more closely resembles that of machine learning. Absolutely correct, but not only is this not the first time that the powers that be have worked to reshape what we think of as human nature, it’s also kind of what it means to rule a society, any society. That’s what the whole concept of hegemony is all about, as any student of Gramscian thought could tell you. Or what someone like Susan Strange or Robert Cox (the two thinkers I’m using in my own work on these very subjects) would note. Knowing that this type of activity is simply how power works in human society puts a different spin on what Zuboff is arguing. It’s not so much that surveillance capitalists are rewiring human nature, but that their ideology is antithetical to a particular type of human nature, namely one in the liberal-democratic vein. Actually engaging with the voluminous work on hegemony and the social construction of knowledge, however, would have challenged Zuboff’s argument that the knowing and shaping of “human behavior toward others’ ends” is unique to surveillance capitalism.

(Maybe the problem is with capitalism itself? As Morozov noted in a follow-up tweet, “My critique of Zuboff’s new book boils down to a paraphrase of Horkheimer: ‘If you don’t want to talk about capitalism then you’d better keep quiet about surveillance capitalism’.”)

And it’s just a bit odd that Michel Foucault doesn’t get so much as a mention beyond a reference in a footnoted title about neoliberalism. In a book that’s all about the relationship between power and knowledge."

"3. Unclear framework"

"4. Use of hyperbole: These go to eleven"

"The final verdict: No go

To be honest, before reading Morozov’s critique, watching the glowing reviews come in, I started questioning my judgment. Sure, there were flaws in the book, some of which I would have called out immediately if committed by an undergraduate, but how much did they really matter?

Part of me, I’m embarrassed to say, was swayed by the identity of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’s author. A professor emerita. From Harvard. Who had done important previous work in the field. Even though I know better, I got inside my own head, internalizing the academic class system that places certain schools and scholars above others. The “important voices” whose work is guaranteed a respectful hearing merely by virtue of their pedigree or institution.

The saddest thing is, my receptiveness to this argument from authority says as much about where I see myself in the academic food chain as it does about a Harvard professor. Even though I have witnessed the most idiotic arguments and proposals made by scholars from top-ranked universities, endured recycled banalities from leading lights with nothing to say, and read the most embarrassing articles by celebrated Ivy-league academics. Even though I will put my Canadian Carleton University education up against anyone’s from Oxford or Yale or Harvard. I know this.

And yet, there was that part of me, whispering, But look at who she is. She’s an Authority. Look at all the praise she’s getting, the panels she’s on. Maybe you’re just being judgmental. Maybe you’re being too critical. Maybe you’re wrong.

Well, maybe I am wrong, but a failure to produce an honest critique because of our respective places in the academic food chain is the absolutely worst reason not to make the critique. One of my proudest moments as a teacher was when I heard that a second-year student had written a fantastic, well-researched and impeccably argued paper about how I’d been wrong about something I’d claimed in my Introduction to International Relations class. (And she was right.) We should expect all academics to live up to the same standards we set for our students.

So, no. After spending an entire work week reading this book, after taking over 100 pages of notes and thinking about it constantly for far too long afterwards, I do not believe that The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a good piece of scholarship. It is not careful in its presentation of evidence. It chooses hyperbole over accuracy. It fails to engage with the relevant literatures and critical voices that would challenge what ends up being a one-sided, almost existentially bleak argument.

Its lack of engagement with the relevant literatures makes possible the blind spots, trenchantly catalogued by Morozov, regarding surveillance capitalism’s relationship to capitalism, as well as those regarding the role of the state as something more than a bit player in this epic story. These impair the book’s value in terms of its analysis and, as Morozov’s comments about Zuboff’s failure to consider the “capitalism” part of “surveillance capitalism” suggest, its prescriptions. Why the book … [more]
blaynehaggart  shoshanazuboff  evgneymorozov  criticsm  surveillancecapitalism  mnagerialism  harvard  pedigree  academia  hierarchy  criticism  robertcox  highered  highereducation  michelfoucault  hannaharendt  hyperbole  2019  hegemony  technology  economics  politics  policy  scholarship  authority  elitism 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
What Makes a Fair College Admissions Process? | JSTOR Daily
"Move Away from Meritocracy
Nadirah Farah Foley

Especially in the wake of the recent news of a coordinated bribery scheme, many people seem to agree our selective college admissions process is broken. There is far less consensus, however, about why we think it’s broken, and what a better, fairer admissions process would look like. Some think that the process would be fair if it were conducted without special considerations for legacy students, development cases, or athletic recruitment. Others go further, focusing on the myriad mundane ways—aside from bribery and donations—that the system allows privileged people to leverage their resources to secure and perpetuate their advantages. But I contend the process is inherently unfair because it is based on meritocratic principles designed to produce unequal outcomes. A truly fair system would reject meritocratic logics and instead operate on the principle that high-quality education is not a reward for the few, but a right of the many.

Our current process, in which applicants are stratified into a hierarchical higher education landscape, takes a meritocratic ideology as its foundational premise. Meritocracy, the term popularized by British sociologist Michael Young’s 1958 The Rise of the Meritocracy, is typically imagined as a system in which all have equal opportunity to compete on a “level playing field” on the basis of “talent” and “ability,” and all are rewarded equitably based on their “merit.” While this system sounds fair at first blush, a meritocratic ideology poses two problems, either of which should be sufficient cause to critically question it, and perhaps abandon it entirely.

First, upholding meritocracy necessarily entails accepting and upholding inequality. In the case of college admissions, we currently have a system in which some schools have more resources, are more prestigious, and are deemed “better” than others, and those schools have limited seats. We try to allocate those seats “fairly,” on the basis of demonstrated past success and evaluations of future potential. It’s far from a perfect system, but we can rationalize it as ideologically consistent with a meritocratic ideal of equal opportunity and reward for individual talent, effort, and ability. But perhaps, rather than focusing on who “deserves” the “best” schooling, our societal commitment should be to making a high-quality education available to all. Such a commitment would require a rejection of the stratification and inequality presupposed by a meritocratic system and lead us to question whether a stratified society—and assignment to places in an unequal education system—could ever be just.

Second, even if one were inclined to find inequality and stratification acceptable, the reality is that we are so far from the ideals of equal opportunity and a level playing field that the unfairness is glaringly obvious. As sociologist Jonathan Mijs argues, opportunities for demonstrating merit are far from equally distributed. In the United States, where racial residential segregation and local control of schools combine to disproportionately relegate nonwhite (especially black) students to underfunded schools, the claim that anything approaching equal opportunity exists is laughable. Our emphasis on standardized tests, which have roots in racist, ableist, eugenicist science, evinces a narrow understanding of what intelligence is or could be. Holistic admissions evaluations, which provide necessary latitude to consider students’ contexts and lived experiences, also provide privileged applicants another opportunity to show off well-filled extracurricular profiles and essays carefully coached and edited by counselors and consultants. In sum, our current admissions process is—top to bottom—built to misrecognize privilege as “merit,” and thus advantage the already advantaged. To say wealthy white applicants are gaming the system belies the fact that they’re really just playing the game—a game in which only they have full access to the equipment. Perhaps the way to fix this is not to try to change the rules, but to stop playing the meritocratic game entirely.

If that seems a drastic proposal, let me try to convince you it’s a necessary one. We could try to work within the current system, striking the policies that are most obviously and egregiously unfair: legacy, donor admissions, early decision, recruitment of athletes in country club sports. While an improvement, this does nothing to address the fact that even with those components stripped out, the process still falls far short of fairness, because our very metrics of merit are skewed toward privilege. We could try to calibrate for disadvantage, but that’s essentially what holistic evaluation tries to do now—and it’s not enough. Meritocracy is an arms race, one in which the privileged are always better equipped.

We could, as many scholars have proposed, move toward a lottery, which would go a long way toward making explicit the role of luck in college admissions. But I’m concerned by the way some thinkers discuss a potential admissions lottery. Proponents of a lottery often suggest that there should be some baseline level of “merit” in order to enter the lottery. Such a formulation of the lottery doesn’t entail a rejection of our metrics of merit, meaning it would likely reproduce existing inequalities. To avoid that, a lottery would need to not use simple random selection, but instead be carefully calibrated to ensure the resulting class is not just representative of the pool (in which wealthy white students are overrepresented), but of graduating high school students. That could be achieved by assigning different weights to students depending on their background, or by using a form of stratified random selection, in which the applicant pool would be divided into smaller pools based on, for example, demographic factors, and a certain number of students would be accepted at random from each pool.

The lottery is an exciting idea, but one likely to run into legal challenges. And beyond that, it doesn’t do enough to address the unfairness inherent in our unequal education system. I think we need to go a step further than asking what constitutes a fair admissions process, and instead ask what constitutes a fair society. We should recognize that our college admissions process is merely holding a mirror up to our society, reflecting how competitive, individualistic, unequal, and unfair the United States is. A truly radical solution would require the reorganization of our entire class structure and the redistribution of resources, thus obviating the need for such a high-stakes college application process.

It seems that we cling to meritocracy as a way of clinging to some hope of a better life in an increasingly unequal world. But rather than investing our hope in a fairer admissions system, I think we should dream bigger, and invest our hope in a more just society—one in which we live in community rather than competition. That might look like taking up Harvard professor Lani Guinier’s call to emphasize “democratic merit,” or it might look like dispensing with merit—and its attendant acceptance of deserved inequality—entirely.

Everyone deserves access to education. A fair admissions system would have that as a core premise and reject ostensibly just, “meritocratic” inequalities."
juliepark  christineyano  nadirahfarahfoley  2019  admissions  colleges  universities  meritocracy  lottery  collegeadmissions  highered  highereducation  merit  inequality  academia  academics  education  school  schooling  us  firness  laniguinier  democracy  privilege  jonathanmills  race  racism  michaelyoung 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
An Honest Living – Steve Salaita
"There are lots of stories from Virginia Tech, the University of Illinois, and the American University of Beirut [AUB], but they all end with the same lesson: for all its self-congratulation, the academy’s loftiest mission is a fierce compulsion to eliminate any impediment to donations."

"Platitudes about faculty governance and student leadership notwithstanding, universities inhibit democracy in ways that would please any thin-skinned despot."

"But forward progress as material comfort is cultivated through the ubiquitous lie that upward mobility equals righteousness. Honest living is a nice story we tell ourselves to rationalize privation, but in the real world money procures all the honesty we need."

"You hear ex-professors say it all the time and I’ll add to the chorus: despite nagging precariousness, there’s something profoundly liberating about leaving academe, whereupon you are no longer obliged to give a shit about fashionable thinkers, network at the planet’s most boring parties, or quantify self-worth for scurrilous committees (and whereupon you are free to ignore the latest same-old controversy), for even when you know at the time that the place is toxic, only after you exit (spiritually, not physically) and write an essay or read a novel or complete some other task without considering its relevance to the fascist gods of assessment, or its irrelevance to a gang of cynical senior colleagues, do you realize exactly how insidious and pervasive is the industry’s culture of social control."
academia  highered  highereducation  2019  stevensalaita  purpose  meaning  corporatization  precariousness  precarity  assessment  socialcontrol  hierarchy  mobility  upwardmobility  society  dishonesty  honesty  democracy  hypocrisy  education  cv  privation  toxicity  committees  elitism  learning  howwelearn  compromise  canon 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
january 2019 by robertogreco
How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation
[some follow-up notes here: ]

[See also:

“Here’s What “Millennial Burnout” Is Like For 16 Different People: “My grandmother was a teacher and her mother was a slave. I was born burned out.””

“This Is What Black Burnout Feels Like: If the American dream isn’t possible for upwardly mobile white people anymore, then what am I even striving for?”

“Millennials Don’t Have a Monopoly on Burnout: This is a societal scourge, not a generational one. So how can we solve it?” ]

"We didn’t try to break the system, since that’s not how we’d been raised. We tried to win it.

I never thought the system was equitable. I knew it was winnable for only a small few. I just believed I could continue to optimize myself to become one of them. And it’s taken me years to understand the true ramifications of that mindset. I’d worked hard in college, but as an old millennial, the expectations for labor were tempered. We liked to say we worked hard, played hard — and there were clear boundaries around each of those activities. Grad school, then, is where I learned to work like a millennial, which is to say, all the time. My new watchword was “Everything that’s good is bad, everything that’s bad is good”: Things that should’ve felt good (leisure, not working) felt bad because I felt guilty for not working; things that should’ve felt “bad” (working all the time) felt good because I was doing what I thought I should and needed to be doing in order to succeed."

"The social media feed — and Instagram in particular — is thus evidence of the fruits of hard, rewarding labor and the labor itself. The photos and videos that induce the most jealousy are those that suggest a perfect equilibrium (work hard, play hard!) has been reached. But of course, for most of us, it hasn’t. Posting on social media, after all, is a means of narrativizing our own lives: What we’re telling ourselves our lives are like. And when we don’t feel the satisfaction that we’ve been told we should receive from a good job that’s “fulfilling,” balanced with a personal life that’s equally so, the best way to convince yourself you’re feeling it is to illustrate it for others.

For many millennials, a social media presence — on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter — has also become an integral part of obtaining and maintaining a job. The “purest” example is the social media influencer, whose entire income source is performing and mediating the self online. But social media is also the means through which many “knowledge workers” — that is, workers who handle, process, or make meaning of information — market and brand themselves. Journalists use Twitter to learn about other stories, but they also use it to develop a personal brand and following that can be leveraged; people use LinkedIn not just for résumés and networking, but to post articles that attest to their personality (their brand!) as a manager or entrepreneur. Millennials aren’t the only ones who do this, but we’re the ones who perfected and thus set the standards for those who do.

“Branding” is a fitting word for this work, as it underlines what the millennial self becomes: a product. And as in childhood, the work of optimizing that brand blurs whatever boundaries remained between work and play. There is no “off the clock” when at all hours you could be documenting your on-brand experiences or tweeting your on-brand observations. The rise of smartphones makes these behaviors frictionless and thus more pervasive, more standardized. In the early days of Facebook, you had to take pictures with your digital camera, upload them to your computer, and post them in albums. Now, your phone is a sophisticated camera, always ready to document every component of your life — in easily manipulated photos, in short video bursts, in constant updates to Instagram Stories — and to facilitate the labor of performing the self for public consumption.

But the phone is also, and just as essentially, a tether to the “real” workplace. Email and Slack make it so that employees are always accessible, always able to labor, even after they’ve left the physical workplace and the traditional 9-to-5 boundaries of paid labor. Attempts to discourage working “off the clock” misfire, as millennials read them not as permission to stop working, but a means to further distinguish themselves by being available anyway.

“We are encouraged to strategize and scheme to find places, times, and roles where we can be effectively put to work,” Harris, the Kids These Days author, writes. “Efficiency is our existential purpose, and we are a generation of finely honed tools, crafted from embryos to be lean, mean production machines.”

But as sociologist Arne L. Kalleberg points out, that efficiency was supposed to give us more job security, more pay, perhaps even more leisure. In short, better jobs.

Yet the more work we do, the more efficient we’ve proven ourselves to be, the worse our jobs become: lower pay, worse benefits, less job security. Our efficiency hasn’t bucked wage stagnation; our steadfastness hasn’t made us more valuable. If anything, our commitment to work, no matter how exploitative, has simply encouraged and facilitated our exploitation. We put up with companies treating us poorly because we don’t see another option. We don’t quit. We internalize that we’re not striving hard enough. And we get a second gig."

"That’s one of the most ineffable and frustrating expressions of burnout: It takes things that should be enjoyable and flattens them into a list of tasks, intermingled with other obligations that should either be easily or dutifully completed. The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance. Maybe my inability to get the knives sharpened is less about being lazy and more about being too good, for too long, at being a millennial.

That’s one of the most ineffable and frustrating expressions of burnout: It takes things that should be enjoyable and flattens them into a list of tasks, intermingled with other obligations that should either be easily or dutifully completed. The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance. Maybe my inability to get the knives sharpened is less about being lazy and more about being too good, for too long, at being a millennial."

"In his writing about burnout, the psychoanalyst Cohen describes a client who came to him with extreme burnout: He was the quintessential millennial child, optimized for perfect performance, which paid off when he got his job as a high-powered finance banker. He’d done everything right, and was continuing to do everything right in his job. One morning, he woke up, turned off his alarm, rolled over, and refused to go to work. He never went to work again. He was “intrigued to find the termination of his employment didn’t bother him.”

In the movie version of this story, this man moves to an island to rediscover the good life, or figures out he loves woodworking and opens a shop. But that’s the sort of fantasy solution that makes millennial burnout so pervasive. You don’t fix burnout by going on vacation. You don’t fix it through “life hacks,” like inbox zero, or by using a meditation app for five minutes in the morning, or doing Sunday meal prep for the entire family, or starting a bullet journal. You don’t fix it by reading a book on how to “unfu*k yourself.” You don’t fix it with vacation, or an adult coloring book, or “anxiety baking,” or the Pomodoro Technique, or overnight fucking oats.

The problem with holistic, all-consuming burnout is that there’s no solution to it. You can’t optimize it to make it end faster. You can’t see it coming like a cold and start taking the burnout-prevention version of Airborne. The best way to treat it is to first acknowledge it for what it is — not a passing ailment, but a chronic disease — and to understand its roots and its parameters. That’s why people I talked to felt such relief reading the “mental load” cartoon, and why reading Harris’s book felt so cathartic for me: They don’t excuse why we behave and feel the way we do. They just describe those feelings and behaviors — and the larger systems of capitalism and patriarchy that contribute to them — accurately.

To describe millennial burnout accurately is to acknowledge the multiplicity of our lived reality — that we’re not just high school graduates, or parents, or knowledge workers, but all of the above — while recognizing our status quo. We’re deeply in debt, working more hours and more jobs for less pay and less security, struggling to achieve the same standards of living as our parents, operating in psychological and physical precariousness, all while being told that if we just work harder, meritocracy will prevail, and we’ll begin thriving. The carrot dangling in front of us is the dream that the to-do list will end, or at least become far more manageable.

But individual action isn’t enough. Personal choices alone won’t keep the planet from dying, or get Facebook to quit violating our privacy. To do that, you need paradigm-shifting change. Which helps explain why so many millennials increasingly identify with democratic socialism and are embracing unions: We are beginning to understand what ails us, and it’s not something an oxygen facial or a treadmill desk can fix.

Until or in lieu of a … [more]
capitalism  neoliberalism  millennials  burnout  chores  work  parenting  2019  annehelenpetersen  cv  society  us  performance  meritocracy  inequality  competition  labor  leisure  perfectionism  success  schooliness  helicopterparenting  children  academia  economics  genx  genz  generations  generationx  socialmedia  instagram  balance  life  living  gigeconomy  passion  self-care  self-optimization  exhaustion  anxiety  decisionmaking  congnitiveload  insecurity  precarity  poverty  steadiness  laziness  procrastination  helicopterparents  work-lifebalance  canon  malcolmharris  joshcohen  hustling  hustle  overwork  arnekalleberg  efficiency  productivity  workplace  email  adulting  personalbranding  linkedin  facebook  consumption  homelessness  context  behavior 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Contra* podcast — Mapping Access
"a podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, or play from our website."

[See also:

"In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Show notes and transcription



Critical Design

Theory of critical design revised by disability

Writing as/part of critical design

Disability politics in relation to design

Translational work and science communication; critical design as a “friendly Trojan horse”

Things as an index of ideas

STEAM, knowledge, and power


Sara Hendren (

Abler blog (

Adaptation and Ability Lab (

Wendy Jacob and Temple Grandin, Squeeze Chair (

Sketch Model project at Olin College (

Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality (

Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (

Aimi Hamraie, Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (


Introduction Description:

The podcast introductory segment is composed to evoke friction. It begins with sounds of a wheelchair rhythmically banging down metal steps, the putter of an elevator arriving at a person’s level, and an elevator voice saying “Floor two, Floor three.” Voices begin to define Contra*. Layered voices say “Contra is friction…Contra is…Contra is nuanced…Contra is transgressive…Contra is good trouble…Contra is collaborative…Contra is a podcast!…Contra is a space for thinking about design critically…Contra is subversive…Contra is texture…”

An electric guitar plays a single note to blend out the sound.

The rhythmic beat of an electronic drum begins and fades into the podcast introduction.


Episode Introduction:

Welcome to Contra*: the podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. This show is about the politics of accessible and critical design—broadly conceived—and how accessibility can be more than just functional or assistive. It can be conceptual, artful, and world-changing.

I’m your host, Aimi Hamraie .  I am a professor at Vanderbilt University, a designer and design researcher, and the director of the Critical Design Lab, a multi-institution collaborative focused on disability, technology, and critical theory.  Members of the lab collaborate on a number of projects focused on hacking ableism, speaking back to inaccessible public infrastructures, and redesigning the methods of participatory design—all using a disability culture framework. This podcast provides a window into the kinds of discussions we have within the lab, as well as the conversations we are hoping to put into motion. So in coming episodes, you’ll also hear from myself and the other designers and researchers in the lab, and we encourage you to get in touch with us via our website, or on Twitter at @criticaldesignl

In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Sara and I talk about her work in the fields of critical design and assistive technology, including how she came to this work, how she is thinking about strategy and practice, and also her current work on bridging the humanities with STEM education."]
accessibility  disability  aimihamraie  ableism  podcasts  disabilitystudies  criticaldesign  olincollege  assistivetechnology  technology  poeticcreation  creativity  sarahendren  ivanillich  toolsforconviviality  wendyjacob  templegrandin  stem  knowledge  power  karenbarad  adaptation  materialculture  socialimagination  art  design  thinking  inclusivity  capitalism  howwewrite  howwethink  making  communication  academia  scholarship  ethics  politics  difference  jargon  language 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Laziness Does Not Exist – Devon Price – Medium
"I’ve been a psychology professor since 2012. In the past six years, I’ve witnessed students of all ages procrastinate on papers, skip presentation days, miss assignments, and let due dates fly by. I’ve seen promising prospective grad students fail to get applications in on time; I’ve watched PhD candidates take months or years revising a single dissertation draft; I once had a student who enrolled in the same class of mine two semesters in a row, and never turned in anything either time.

I don’t think laziness was ever at fault.


In fact, I don’t believe that laziness exists.

I’m a social psychologist, so I’m interested primarily in the situational and contextual factors that drive human behavior. When you’re seeking to predict or explain a person’s actions, looking at the social norms, and the person’s context, is usually a pretty safe bet. Situational constraints typically predict behavior far better than personality, intelligence, or other individual-level traits.

So when I see a student failing to complete assignments, missing deadlines, or not delivering results in other aspects of their life, I’m moved to ask: what are the situational factors holding this student back? What needs are currently not being met? And, when it comes to behavioral “laziness”, I’m especially moved to ask: what are the barriers to action that I can’t see?

There are always barriers. Recognizing those barriers— and viewing them as legitimate — is often the first step to breaking “lazy” behavior patterns.

It’s really helpful to respond to a person’s ineffective behavior with curiosity rather than judgment. I learned this from a friend of mine, the writer and activist Kimberly Longhofer (who publishes under Mik Everett). Kim is passionate about the acceptance and accommodation of disabled people and homeless people. Their writing about both subjects is some of the most illuminating, bias-busting work I’ve ever encountered. Part of that is because Kim is brilliant, but it’s also because at various points in their life, Kim has been both disabled and homeless.

Kim is the person who taught me that judging a homeless person for wanting to buy alcohol or cigarettes is utter folly. When you’re homeless, the nights are cold, the world is unfriendly, and everything is painfully uncomfortable. Whether you’re sleeping under a bridge, in a tent, or at a shelter, it’s hard to rest easy. You are likely to have injuries or chronic conditions that bother you persistently, and little access to medical care to deal with it. You probably don’t have much healthy food.

In that chronically uncomfortable, over-stimulating context, needing a drink or some cigarettes makes fucking sense. As Kim explained to me, if you’re laying out in the freezing cold, drinking some alcohol may be the only way to warm up and get to sleep. If you’re under-nourished, a few smokes may be the only thing that kills the hunger pangs. And if you’re dealing with all this while also fighting an addiction, then yes, sometimes you just need to score whatever will make the withdrawal symptoms go away, so you can survive.

[image of cover of "Self-Published Kindling: The Memoirs of a Homeless Bookstore Owner," by Mik Everett with caption "Kim’s incredible book about their experiences being homeless while running a bookstore."]

Few people who haven’t been homeless think this way. They want to moralize the decisions of poor people, perhaps to comfort themselves about the injustices of the world. For many, it’s easier to think homeless people are, in part, responsible for their suffering than it is to acknowledge the situational factors.

And when you don’t fully understand a person’s context — what it feels like to be them every day, all the small annoyances and major traumas that define their life — it’s easy to impose abstract, rigid expectations on a person’s behavior. All homeless people should put down the bottle and get to work. Never mind that most of them have mental health symptoms and physical ailments, and are fighting constantly to be recognized as human. Never mind that they are unable to get a good night’s rest or a nourishing meal for weeks or months on end. Never mind that even in my comfortable, easy life, I can’t go a few days without craving a drink or making an irresponsible purchase. They have to do better.

But they’re already doing the best they can. I’ve known homeless people who worked full-time jobs, and who devoted themselves to the care of other people in their communities. A lot of homeless people have to navigate bureaucracies constantly, interfacing with social workers, case workers, police officers, shelter staff, Medicaid staff, and a slew of charities both well-meaning and condescending. It’s a lot of fucking work to be homeless. And when a homeless or poor person runs out of steam and makes a “bad decision”, there’s a damn good reason for it.

If a person’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you are missing a part of their context. It’s that simple. I’m so grateful to Kim and their writing for making me aware of this fact. No psychology class, at any level, taught me that. But now that it is a lens that I have, I find myself applying it to all kinds of behaviors that are mistaken for signs of moral failure — and I’ve yet to find one that can’t be explained and empathized with.

Let’s look at a sign of academic “laziness” that I believe is anything but: procrastination.

People love to blame procrastinators for their behavior. Putting off work sure looks lazy, to an untrained eye. Even the people who are actively doing the procrastinating can mistake their behavior for laziness. You’re supposed to be doing something, and you’re not doing it — that’s a moral failure right? That means you’re weak-willed, unmotivated, and lazy, doesn’t it?

For decades, psychological research has been able to explain procrastination as a functioning problem, not a consequence of laziness. When a person fails to begin a project that they care about, it’s typically due to either a) anxiety about their attempts not being “good enough” or b) confusion about what the first steps of the task are. Not laziness. In fact, procrastination is more likely when the task is meaningful and the individual cares about doing it well.

When you’re paralyzed with fear of failure, or you don’t even know how to begin a massive, complicated undertaking, it’s damn hard to get shit done. It has nothing to do with desire, motivation, or moral upstandingness. Procastinators can will themselves to work for hours; they can sit in front of a blank word document, doing nothing else, and torture themselves; they can pile on the guilt again and again — none of it makes initiating the task any easier. In fact, their desire to get the damn thing done may worsen their stress and make starting the task harder.

The solution, instead, is to look for what is holding the procrastinator back. If anxiety is the major barrier, the procrastinator actually needs to walk away from the computer/book/word document and engage in a relaxing activity. Being branded “lazy” by other people is likely to lead to the exact opposite behavior.

Often, though, the barrier is that procrastinators have executive functioning challenges — they struggle to divide a large responsibility into a series of discrete, specific, and ordered tasks. Here’s an example of executive functioning in action: I completed my dissertation (from proposal to data collection to final defense) in a little over a year. I was able to write my dissertation pretty easily and quickly because I knew that I had to a) compile research on the topic, b) outline the paper, c) schedule regular writing periods, and d) chip away at the paper, section by section, day by day, according to a schedule I had pre-determined.

Nobody had to teach me to slice up tasks like that. And nobody had to force me to adhere to my schedule. Accomplishing tasks like this is consistent with how my analytical, hyper-focused, Autistic little brain works. Most people don’t have that ease. They need an external structure to keep them writing — regular writing group meetings with friends, for example — and deadlines set by someone else. When faced with a major, massive project, most people want advice for how to divide it into smaller tasks, and a timeline for completion. In order to track progress, most people require organizational tools, such as a to-do list, calendar, datebook, or syllabus.

Needing or benefiting from such things doesn’t make a person lazy. It just means they have needs. The more we embrace that, the more we can help people thrive.

I had a student who was skipping class. Sometimes I’d see her lingering near the building, right before class was about to start, looking tired. Class would start, and she wouldn’t show up. When she was present in class, she was a bit withdrawn; she sat in the back of the room, eyes down, energy low. She contributed during small group work, but never talked during larger class discussions.

A lot of my colleagues would look at this student and think she was lazy, disorganized, or apathetic. I know this because I’ve heard how they talk about under-performing students. There’s often rage and resentment in their words and tone — why won’t this student take my class seriously? Why won’t they make me feel important, interesting, smart?

But my class had a unit on mental health stigma. It’s a passion of mine, because I’m a neuroatypical psychologist. I know how unfair my field is to people like me. The class & I talked about the unfair judgments people levy against those with mental illness; how depression is interpreted as laziness, how mood swings are framed as manipulative, how people with “severe” mental illnesses are … [more]
devonprice  2018  laziness  procrastination  psychology  mikeverett  kimberlylonghofer  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  mentalhealth  executivefunctioning  neurodiversity  discrimination  stress  anxiety  trauma  colleges  universities  academia  unschooling  deschooling  depression  mentalillness 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | The Misguided Priorities of Our Educational System - The New York Times
"Consider two high school seniors — one who exhibits strong academic talent and one who does not. For one, December marks the homestretch of a yearslong effort, intensively supported by his school, to prepare the perfect college application. For the other, December is just another month on the path to, well, whatever might come after graduation. The former will likely proceed steadily toward a bachelor’s degree; the latter is unlikely to finish college if he enrolls at all. To whom does our education system owe what?

That second student, to be clear, has done nothing wrong. He probably clawed his way through his town’s standard college-oriented curriculum, though it neither targeted his interests and abilities nor prepared him for work force success. Looking ahead, he faces a labor market in which he may need to work harder than his college-bound counterpart for lower pay, with fewer options and slower advancement. Yet we celebrate the first student and lavish taxpayer funds on his education. To the second student, we offer little beyond a sympathetic “Sorry.” Our education system has become one of our nation’s most regressive institutions.

After high school graduation, the first student can access more than $10,000 annually in public funds to support his college experience. Federal funding for higher education has grown by 133 percent in the past 30 years; combined with tax breaks, loan subsidies and state-level funding, the annual total exceeds $150 billion. That funding will cover not only genuine instructional costs, but also state-of-the-art gyms, psychiatric and career counseling services, and whatever social programming the student-life bureaucracy can conceive. At Ohio State, students living off campus get free fire alarms.

The second graduate likely gets nothing. Annual federal funding for a non-college, vocational pathway, at both the high school and postsecondary levels, totals $1 billion. Certainly, he will need to buy his own fire alarm.

One explanation for this bizarre state of affairs, in which society invests heavily in those headed for economic success while ignoring those falling behind, is the widespread belief that everyone can be a college graduate. If that were true, the shove toward the college pipeline might make sense.

But most young Americans do not achieve even a community-college degree. Federal data show that fewer than one in five students smoothly navigate the high school to college to career pathway. More students fail to complete high school on time, more fail to move on from high school to college, and more drop out of college. Forty years of reform, accompanied by a doubling of per pupil spending, has failed to improve this picture. Standardized test scores haven’t budged. SAT scores have declined. More students enroll in college, but the share of 25-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree did not increase from 1995 to 2015, and it stands barely above the 1975 level.

A second explanation is the widespread belief that a college diploma is a necessary and sufficient “ticket to the middle class.” If that were true, even a small chance at escaping the supposedly sad fate of inadequate education is better than ever admitting defeat.

But while the median college graduate earns more than the median high school graduate, those workers are not the same person — indeed, they are likely people with very different academic prospects. Look instead at the wage distributions for more comparable samples: those with earnings toward the high end for workers with only high school degrees and those at the low end among college graduates. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that high school grads with above-average earnings (50th to 90th percentile) earn $34,000 to $70,000 annually. College grads with below-average earnings (10th to 50th percentile) earn $28,000 to $58,000.

Pushing people from the former category to attend college and land in the latter category does them few favors. And remember, that assumes they graduate; people in their position typically will not. Remember also, those are the outcomes before we attempt to create an attractive non-college pathway that they might prefer and that might equip them for success.

What might such a pathway look like? For the roughly $100,000 that the public spends to carry many students through high school and college today, we could offer instead two years of traditional high school, a third year that splits time between a sophisticated vocational program and a subsidized internship, two more years split between subsidized work and employer-sponsored training, and a savings account with $25,000, perhaps for future training. Any American could have, at age 20, three years of work experience, an industry credential and earnings in the bank.

To reverse the system’s regressive nature, we should shift our college subsidies toward funding this new pathway. The burden of financing a college education remains manageable for those who actually graduate and use their degrees. They will still be the economy’s winners, even while paying off loans. That some young Americans assume unaffordable debts is not an argument for yet more spending on college, but rather a reminder that its value proposition can prove to be a poor one.

For student borrowers unlikely to graduate, the current subsidies succeed mainly in luring them toward a substantial investment of time and money that is both high-risk and low-return. If a good alternative existed, they would be well served to take it. Certainly, the choice should remain theirs. But to decide wisely whether college is worth the cost, they need to actually face the cost.

People often applaud vocational education in theory, provided it is “for someone else’s kids.” Those kids are most kids, and a false promise of college success does more harm than good. We owe them our focus and the best pathway that we can construct — one that carries them as close as possible to the destination their college-bound peers will reach, and sometimes beyond."
orencass  education  vocational  colleges  collegprep  universities  schooliness  academia  inequality  advising  youth  children  economics  training  income  highered  highereducation  risk  careers  unschooling  deschooling  studentloans  society 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | What Straight-A Students Get Wrong - The New York Times
"A decade ago, at the end of my first semester teaching at Wharton, a student stopped by for office hours. He sat down and burst into tears. My mind started cycling through a list of events that could make a college junior cry: His girlfriend had dumped him; he had been accused of plagiarism. “I just got my first A-minus,” he said, his voice shaking.

Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers.

I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed. But I was wrong.

The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)

Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.

In a classic 1962 study, a team of psychologists tracked down America’s most creative architects and compared them with their technically skilled but less original peers. One of the factors that distinguished the creative architects was a record of spiky grades. “In college our creative architects earned about a B average,” Donald MacKinnon wrote. “In work and courses which caught their interest they could turn in an A performance, but in courses that failed to strike their imagination, they were quite willing to do no work at all.” They paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating — which ultimately served them well in their careers.

Getting straight A’s requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality. In a study of students who graduated at the top of their class, the education researcher Karen Arnold found that although they usually had successful careers, they rarely reached the upper echelons. “Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries,” Dr. Arnold explained. “They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.”

This might explain why Steve Jobs finished high school with a 2.65 G.P.A., J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter with roughly a C average, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got only one A in his four years at Morehouse.

If your goal is to graduate without a blemish on your transcript, you end up taking easier classes and staying within your comfort zone. If you’re willing to tolerate the occasional B, you can learn to program in Python while struggling to decipher “Finnegans Wake.” You gain experience coping with failures and setbacks, which builds resilience.

Straight-A students also miss out socially. More time studying in the library means less time to start lifelong friendships, join new clubs or volunteer. I know from experience. I didn’t meet my 4.0 goal; I graduated with a 3.78. (This is the first time I’ve shared my G.P.A. since applying to graduate school 16 years ago. Really, no one cares.) Looking back, I don’t wish my grades had been higher. If I could do it over again, I’d study less. The hours I wasted memorizing the inner workings of the eye would have been better spent trying out improv comedy and having more midnight conversations about the meaning of life.

So universities: Make it easier for students to take some intellectual risks. Graduate schools can be clear that they don’t care about the difference between a 3.7 and a 3.9. Colleges could just report letter grades without pluses and minuses, so that any G.P.A. above a 3.7 appears on transcripts as an A. It might also help to stop the madness of grade inflation, which creates an academic arms race that encourages too many students to strive for meaningless perfection. And why not let students wait until the end of the semester to declare a class pass-fail, instead of forcing them to decide in the first month?

Employers: Make it clear you value skills over straight A’s. Some recruiters are already on board: In a 2003 study of over 500 job postings, nearly 15 percent of recruiters actively selected against students with high G.P.A.s (perhaps questioning their priorities and life skills), while more than 40 percent put no weight on grades in initial screening.

Straight-A students: Recognize that underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life. So maybe it’s time to apply your grit to a new goal — getting at least one B before you graduate."
education  grades  grading  colleges  universities  academia  2018  adamgrant  psychology  gpa  assessment  criticalthinking  anxiety  stress  learning  howwelearn  motivation  gradschool  jkrowling  stevejobs  martinlutherkingjr  perfectionism  srg  edg  mlk 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Does It Matter Where You Go to College? - The Atlantic
"Research suggests that elite colleges don’t really help rich white guys. But they can have a big effect if you’re not rich, not white, or not a guy."

"These findings send three different messages to three different parties.

First, to high-strung affluent parents, well-compensated counselors, and other members of the elite-admissions industrial complex: Just relax, okay? You are inflicting on American teenagers a ludicrous amount of pointless anxiety. Even if you subscribe to the dubious idea that young people ought to maximize for vocational prestige and income, the research suggests that elite colleges are not critical to achieving those ends. In the aggregate, individual characteristics swamp institutional characteristics. It’s more important to be hardworking and curious than to receive a certain thick envelope.

Second, to academics researching the benefits of college: Keep working. The robust debate over the benefits of attending an elite college lives concentrically within a larger conversation about whether college is worth it in the first place. It’s critical—to not only the country’s economic future, but hundreds of millions of individual Americans’ futures—that we learn more about how and why college matters, so that it can help the right people.

Third, to admissions officers of elite colleges: Do better. America’s most selective colleges can, it seems, change the lives of minorities and low-income students. But they’re still bastions of privilege. They enroll more students from the top 1 percent of the income scale than the entire bottom 60 percent. In this way, elite institutions are like factories of social mobility being used as storage facilities for privilege; they have the potential to use their space to manufacture opportunity at scale, but mostly they clear out real estate for the already rich, who are going to be fine, anyway. In America today, high-income parents are desperate to find the right colleges for their kids. It should be the opposite: The highest-income colleges should be desperate to find the right kids for their seats."
derekthompson  colleges  universities  data  education  highered  highereducation  admissions  addedvalue  anxiety  parenting  competition  inequality  academia 
december 2018 by robertogreco
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mac  oscx  windows  linux  ios  android  research  software  writing  srg  education  academia  applications 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Scott Richmond on Twitter: "Are any academic organizations thinking about or planning for the replacement for "1,000+ people all fly to the same city" model for a conference? If we do this fighting climate change thing right, flying will get massively mor
"Are any academic organizations thinking about or planning for the replacement for "1,000+ people all fly to the same city" model for a conference? If we do this fighting climate change thing right, flying will get massively more expensive. And I like intellectual community.

I'm flying to St. Louis this upcoming weekend to give a 15-minute paper. I'm staying a single night. This feels untenable.

If I had more followers I'd do a poll: Why do you go to an academic conference? But I don't have enough for it to be meaningful. It would have answers like (a) hear new scholarship (b) give a paper and impress folx (c) meet new people (d) see my friends and drink.

My intuitive sense (but I could be wrong!) is that (c) and (d) are the most important, depending on how old you are and how quickly you alienate your friends.

Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer):
What I’d love to see is more distributed communities, with regional nodes simultaneously meeting in person and using digital tools to connect with a bigger international community. I think we’d have to build this around things broader than single disciplines.

Scott Richmond:
That's a thing I have a vague, warm, fuzzy fantasy about. Basically, that sounds & feels right, but I can think of at least a dozen deal-breaking objections to work through, from disciplinary integrity to scholars in further-flung places remaining isolated to funding models.

Which is to say, there's a lot of devil in them there details, and actual execution will be both difficult & important. I'd love to know if any organizations have been working on practical & practicable models for this kind of thing. Canada's Congress might actually be a start.

Shannon Mattern (@shannonmattern):
The Society for Cultural Anthro hosted a distributed virtual conference in April!

Scott Richmond:
Thanks, Shannon! This, too, looks like a v. interesting model. i worry about how to foster things that aren't the talks at conferences—schmoozing, dinners, parties, Q&A, chance encounters, etc. If you can do it alone at your computer, it's not really a conference..."

Susan Potter (@specksofthings):
Following. There's also the UCSB guide … Myself and colleagues in a smaller scholarly community, Women and Film History International, are thinking about this. @Jennife24950218

Scott Richmond:
Wow. Thank you very much for this link.

I have reservations about any version of a conference that takes the form of sitting alone at a computer, but this is rich & obviously very well thought through.

Susan Potter:
I have the same reservations. I wonder if shorter (carbon neutral) trips to conference nodes might be the answer. Someone else in this thread mentioned that. I've been thinking about the (no doubt) fanciful idea of of cruise ship conferences ;-)

Scott Richmond:
.@Jessifer had a substantially similar idea: train trip conferences! I like fanciful. I think we need fancy & whimsy & not mere technocracy and tech fetishism to work this out. We have to expand our imaginations about our ways of being & thinking & working together.

V21 Collective (@V21collective):
Caroline Levine is very invested in this. there was a big virtual endeavor at usb

Scott Richmond:
Thanks!!! I knew I couldn't be the only person thinking about this.

This is v. interesting, but also gives up the thing about conferences—being together, the conviviality of thinking. (I mean, in the humanities, we just read at one another; why not just post papers online?)

V21 Collective:
conviviality and collective collaborative thinking are huge; giving them up would be devastating. but drastic changes are necessary. preferably starting with fossil fuel producers! tho some advocate starting w consumers."
displacement  displacements  #displace18  conferences  sustainability  academia  highered  highereducation  scottrichmond  jesestommel  distributed  decentralization  climatechange  events  susanpotter  2018  v21collective  education 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Reflections on #displace18 — Cultural Anthropology
"In the spring of 2018, the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) organized an international conference in the form of a virtual and distributed event, to our knowledge the first of its kind in anthropology. Displacements was the 2018 iteration of the SCA biennial meeting, cosponsored by the Society for Visual Anthropology. SCA biennials had hitherto taken place in cities around the United States, most recently Ithaca, Detroit, Providence, and Santa Fe. This year, the conference instead took place as a hybrid virtual and in-person gathering. Taking place in this manner, the meeting was meant to focus anthropological attention on contemporary forms of displacement, but also to displace the conventional conference format. The meeting was anchored by a dedicated website ( that hosted and streamed over one hundred prerecorded multimedia presentations. Participants were invited to watch these on their own or to gather with others to take in the conference experience collectively at one of dozens of nodes around the world. The conference thus unfolded as a distributed happening; people were invited to participate wherever they were.

Planning and organizing an event of this kind, we had many rationales in mind. Conference travel carries one of the most significant carbon footprints for scholars and academics, sometimes involving millions of miles of carbon-fueled travel for everyone to reach one place. We were also thinking about equitable access—the fact that many people can’t afford such travel, including students and scholars working in precarious circumstances, and that many others can’t do it at a time of travel bans and visa restrictions, especially here in the United States. Finally, we had been thinking about the odd experience that one often has as an anthropologist, trying to give some immersive and evocative sense of a distant place while standing in the midst of an ornate hotel ballroom or bland corporate conference center. If we gave presenters the chance to craft their presentations as audiovisual artifacts, could this mode of presentation actually be more immersive and engaging than a conference talk rather than less so?

The conference was an experiment, one that was charged with a tremendous degree of uncertainty. It was exciting to visualize and plan, but frankly also rather nerve-wracking. Ultimately, Displacements proved an unexpected success. In the past, SCA biennials have typically drawn around 200 participants, most of whom come from somewhere in the United States. In 2018, with Displacements, over 1,300 people participated from over 40 countries, more than half from outside the United States. The conference provided a way to pursue an internationalization of access to anthropological knowledge on a shoestring budget, in a format that was also much more financially accessible to those without formal and secure employment in the field. And all this through what one attendee described enthusiastically as “one of the best binge-watching experiences”: not a bad verdict in this era of streaming video!

In the years ahead, we hope to see more experiments of this kind, especially as the discipline wrestles with the difficult work conditions under which ever more anthropologists pursue the vocation. Such experiments can serve as crucial ways of responding to the geopolitical, professional, and institutional hierarchies that still organize the production and dissemination of knowledge in the field. With an eye to such future possibilities, we present here a few lessons from our own pursuit of this endeavor, with the hope that they might be useful to others thinking of going down this road. What follows is derived from the experiences of the conference planning team; analytics from the various technical interfaces we used; survey data gleaned from conference presenters, attendees, and node organizers; and social media reportage on the event. Those of us most closely involved in this effort believe that it poses a viable alternative to the in-person megaconference model, and we hope that these findings will substantiate why."
anandpandian  2018  displacements  events  conferences  eventplanning  academica  sustainability  climatechange  distributed  decentralization  #displace18  highered  highereducation  academia  education 
november 2018 by robertogreco
cameron tonkinwise on Twitter: "How long is the list of things you have learned from attending a conference (that you could not have learned by reading a blogpost/article [versus: would not have learned because TL;DR/‘pivot to video’]?"
"How long is the list of things you have learned from attending a conference (that you could not have learned by reading a blogpost/article [versus: would not have learned because TL;DR/‘pivot to video’]?

Of those things you did learn, how many did you put into (your) practice [without reading further to get more detail]?"

[my response, in a way:

"@jarrettfuller I fell asleep thinking about this"

@jarrettfuller and I woke up thinking about how your look into video essays … +

@jarrettfuller might go very well with the idea of the zero(/low)-carbon conference … (first three bookmarks) + [no longer the fist three, but more than that]

@jarrettfuller and now I am wondering about what that would mean for teaching writing (video essay producing) and also what this all means now that we have seen the pivot-to-video debacle /fin ]
conferences  events  videoessays  jarrettfuller  sustainability  academia  climatechange  highered  highereducation  globalwarming  emissions  displacements  writing  howwewrite  teaching  teachingwriting  education  learning  howwelearn  camerontonkinwise  #displace18 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Dr Fish Philosopher🐟 on Twitter: "1. #AmAnth2018 is taking place in the midst of one of the deadliest fires in California history. If breathing in the smoke of burning trees, homes, cities doesn't convince us that we need radically different ways to en
"1. #AmAnth2018 is taking place in the midst of one of the deadliest fires in California history. If breathing in the smoke of burning trees, homes, cities doesn't convince us that we need radically different ways to engage beyond conference center model...I don't know what will

2. I have deep respect for labour that goes into planning these events. I know folks are doing their best+striving to make spaces for connection. I hope we can build on that spirit+find ways to support relationality while tending to the disasters (thinking with @hystericalblkns )

3. Things I am thinking about after the #RefuseHAU #HAUTalk panel is: how do we ensure those who are most marginalized within anthro (and beyond) are seen, heard, cited while also disrupting the structures that operate to exclude myriad voices. What can we salvage from anthro?

4. This year, with the smoke, #AmAnth2018 really feels like a salvage operation (thinking here with Anna Tsing). What can we take from the existing structures -- what can we reconfigure to make these more capacious spaces at the end of certain worlds?

5. It may very well be that the environment refuses these spaces for us -- makes it that much harder to operate as 'normal'. What ethical imaginations can we mobilize to maintain and foster connection while considering our nonhuman kin literally burning/vaporizing as we meet."

[See also:
"Two takeaways from #AmAnth18: ‘the smoke is telling us something’ @ZoeSTodd | ‘anti-capitalism is the only sane position - the alternative is just f*cking ridiculous’ @profdavidharvey"
"One utopian vision after smoky #AmAnth2018. Make the megaconference a biennial. Imagine instead, every other year, dozens of simultaneous regional gatherings, each streaming sessions online and holding virtual meetups. Gather with folks in person & tune in elsewhere. Speculating."
"Here's a description of the distributed model we used at @culanth for #displace18 this spring. Registration for $10, less than 1% of typical carbon emissions, and an average panel audience of 125 people. An alternative to the empty conference center room. "
"Reading this, I also realized I was able to attend more talks at Displacements by tuning in from home (cost: $10), than I was able to attend at #AmAnth2018 by actually flying to San Jose for two days with two days of travel on either end to present my paper (cost: over $900)."
"I like this, although for those of us at small teaching colleges with little intellectual community, conferences are a welcome (though exhausting and expensive) change."
"I have this problem. There are universities close by who could be more welcoming to those of us not working at research institutions. I am thrilled that this conversation is happening."
"Probably the most expensive academic conference I have ever participated/presented in coming from the Global South. My university covered me but what about those scholars who will never get an opportunity because AAA provides no bursaries or lower rates for membership. Ripoff."
"I'm trying to imagine how to salvage the promise of connection & kinship without binging so much on carbon & vaporizing life. No simple answer. Building & deepening regional intellectual communities as an alternative? A social foundation for a distributed conference model."
"Yes, the conversation today has given me lots to think about. How do we balance need for meaningful opportunities to engage while also addressing the visceral environmental, economic issues that come any professional organization converging on a city."
"I would also love to see develop a virtual platform for alternative access to the @AmericanAnthro annual meeting, not to substitute, but to supplement. Those who can't afford to attend in person, or can't stomach the carbon burden, shouldn't have to fly this far in a digital era."
"There's an obsession with attending all annual meetings. It's not necessary, exhausting and takes time from regional networking that could emphasize not just presenting but working with each other. Also, AAA could alternate between virtual and in-person (+virtual) meetings."]
zoetodd  conferences  sustainability  climatechange  2018  labor  accessibility  environment  anticapitalism  capitalism  davidharvey  lysalcayna-stevens    anandpandian  displacements  displacement  events  regional  distributed  decentralization  economics  academia  highered  culturalanthropology  anthropology  emissions  audience  virtual  digital  annalowenhaupttsing  nehavora  michaeloman-reagan  kristinwilson  nausheenanwar  #displace18  highereducation  education 
november 2018 by robertogreco
“No devices” policies and accessibilty – You're the Teacher
"I have had a couple of conversations here and there with faculty and graduate students about students using electronic devices in the classroom, and about policies that some instructors have saying that students aren’t allowed to use them at all (or that there are periods during a class where they must be put away, but other times when they can be used). I knew that sometimes students really need devices to succeed, particularly if they have certain kinds of disabilities; but I sometimes struggled to give good examples of when that might be the case, to help others see why electronic devices are critical for some students. In this post I’ll be giving a number of examples."
academia  highered  highereducation  policy  technology  accessibility  learning  howwelearn  paternalism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
College campuses are far from radical | The Outline
"If you have considerable time on your hands and wish to see just what kind of leftists run universities, go to the graduate school and propose unionizing Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants, and other itinerant quasi-employees. You’ll discover quickly that senior faculty — the same ones who can’t wait to show you their picture with Tom Hayden or some other talisman of progressive cred — turn into staunch capitalists in a hurry.

For the less adventurous, skip grad school and read up on the last two decades in which universities have been forced into the same “run it like a business” model that ruins every public good in this country. This is usually, if not exclusively, driven by GOP political appointees (as trustees) or vengeful GOP state legislative majorities looking to cut spending and score cheap political points with their constituents by showin’ them college boys the what-for.

Administrative bloat — the plague of Dean-lets with highly-paid, nebulous titles like “Associate Dean of Library Engagement” that materialize out of nowhere — is real, and decision-making has become increasingly autocratic. Higher ups push for short-term results like CEOs trying to juice a quarterly earnings report, long-term consequences be damned. “Consultants” making twice faculty salaries for a few weeks of work appear and disappear mysteriously. Constant campaigns for “retention” — a code word for keeping students enrolled and paying tuition at all costs — push faculty toward grade inflation and dumbing-down. Expenses (read: labor costs) are forever squeezed, and demonstrably inferior products like online courses taught by some adjunct paid $2000 per semester are offered to Student-Customers happy to have them so long as they’re easy. More money is spent on administration and less is spent on instruction.

Not quite the organizing principles of an egalitarian commune. Sounds more like the business model of any mundane corporation in America.

Which brings us to the creep of corporate money into every aspect of university research and administration in the 21st Century — a fact that deals the Campus Commies premise a fatal blow. Nothing says “leftist hotbed” quite like Department of Biology, a Proud Partner of Monsanto. The cause for alarm, in fact, is that the direction of university teaching and research increasingly is dictated by donations from politically motivated billionaires and big corporations. If you believe that billions in donations from the Koch Brothers, Silicon Valley tech billionaires, and petrochemical companies is turning campuses ultra-liberal, you are beyond help. I don’t think Marx listed “aligning with corporate interests” as the final ideological step toward communism. None of this is to suggest that professors as a group should be more or less liberal, or that universities should be run more or less like businesses with corporate partners. The point is simply to illustrate the stupidity of the caricature of universities, faculty, and students as a barely-controlled gang of wild-eyed leftists. Were any of the incessant accusations from the right about the Ivory Tower true, campuses would be very different places to work and study. It is a febrile fantasy peddled to people who really enjoy yelling about things they don’t understand and who believe Kevin Sorbo films are documentaries."
edburmila  2018  colleges  universities  academia  highered  highereducation  labor  politics  liberalism  capitalism  corporatism  leftists  conservatism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff - YouTube
"Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more."
richardwolff  karlmarx  academia  academics  capitalism  accounting  us  inequality  communism  socialism  marxism  berniesanders  labor  idealism  materialism  radicalism  philosophy  dialecticalmaterialism  humans  systems  change  friedrichengels  slavery  automation  credit  finance  studentdebt  poverty  unions  organization  systemschange  china  russia  ussr  growth  2016  power  democracy  collectives  collectivism  meansofproduction  society  climatechange  environment  sustainability  rosaluxemburg  militaryindustrialcomplex  pollution  ethics  morality  immorality  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  corruption 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Dodie Bellany: Academonia
"In this lively, entertaining collection of essays, Dodie Bellamy has written not only a helpful pedagogical tool, but an epic narrative of survival against institutional deadening and the proscriptiveness that shoots the young writer like poison darts from all sides. By the 90s funding for the arts had dwindled and graduate writing programs—“cash cows”—had risen to fill the slack. Simultaneously, literary production moved from an unstable, at times frightening street culture where experiment was privileged beyond all else, to an institutionalized realm—Academonia!—that enforces, or tends to enforce, conservative aesthetic values.

Among the questions Bellamy raises: how does the writer figure out how to write? How will she claim her content among censorious voices? Can the avant-garde create forms that speak to political and spiritual crisis? Can desire exist in a world of networking structures? To the keepers of the status quo, what is so goddamned scary about experimental writing? Bellamy’s textual body morphs through sex, ravenous hunger, aging, displacement, cuddling with animals. Along the way she invokes Levi Strauss, Kurosawa, Marvin Gaye, Christiane (the faceless daughter in Georges Franju’s 1959 horror classic Eyes Without a Face), Alice Munro, Michael Moore, Quan Yin, Cinderella, and the beheaded heroine Lady Jane Grey. On Foucault’s grid of invisible assumptions, Academonia casts a blacklight vision, making it glow in giddy FX splendor.


There are the institutions that are created without our input and the institutions that we create with others. Both sorts of institutions define us without our consent. Dodie Bellamy’s Academonia explores the prickly intersection among these spaces as it moves through institutions such as the academy, the experimental writing communities of the Bay Area, feminist and sexual identities, and group therapy. Continuing the work that she began in The Letters of Mina Harker pushing memoir and confession out of its safety zones and into its difficulties, this book provokes as it critiques and yet at the same time manages to delight with its hope.

--Juliana Spahr

Way back in the seventies, and before Bellamy, pastiche and bricolage as applied to literature made me yawn. Smug attacks on linear narrative through the use of tired language games aroused my contempt. As far as I was concerned, theory had ruined fiction by making critic and artist too intimate. Then Bellamy’s pioneering graftings of storytelling, theory and fractured metaphor changed all that, giving birth to a new avant-garde. Her writing sweeps from one mode of thought to another in absolute freedom, eviscerating hackneyed constructs about desire and language and stuffing them with a fascinating hodgepodge of sparkling sensory fragments. The result is true postmodernism, not the shallow dilettantism of the “postmodern palette.” She sustains it on page after page, weaving together sex and philosophy, fusing trash with high culture, injecting theory with the pathos of biography and accomplishing nothing less than a fresh and sustained lyricism. What is more, her transfiguration of the trivial details of life by the mechanisms of irony, fantasy, disjunction, nostalgia and perverse point of view prove that it’s not the life you live that matters, but how you tell it.

--Bruce Benderson"
writing  howwewrite  books  dodiebellany  institutions  proscriptiveness  academonia  academia  highered  highereducation  akirakurosawa  levistrauss  marvingaye  alicemonroe  michaelmoore  quanyin  cinderella  ladyjanegrey  foucault  institutionalization  julianaspahr  brucebenderson  bricolage  literature  linearity  form  feedom  structure  language  senses  sensory  postmodernism  dilettantism  culture  bayarea  experimental  experimentation  art  arts  funding  streetculture  2006 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black on Twitter: "I'm sorry, but this is delusional. If you don't read the book the first time for rhythm and flow, just *read* it, you haven't read the book. You have dissected it. This is like the vivisection of literature. There is no author ali
"I'm sorry, but this is delusional. If you don't read the book the first time for rhythm and flow, just *read* it, you haven't read the book. You have dissected it. This is like the vivisection of literature. There is no author alive who would want their book read this way."

"Look, the reality is that most people do not want to analyze literature. It's a specialty interest, a niche thing. There is absolutely no reason all people should have to do this. By forcing it we just create an aversion to books.

[@SOLEatHome "Would you consider someone re-reading a book they love and noticing things they missed the first time analysis? It at least fits what has come to be known as "close reading""]

Kids who become writers (or filmmakers, or musicians) re-read, re-watch, re-listen to their favorite things repetitively, obsessively. They internalize structure, rhythm, characterization, language, vocabulary, dialogue, intuitively, instinctively.

Close reading & analysis is a separate activity, it requires a whole different stance / attitude toward the book. It can enhance this deeper intuitive understanding or it can shut it down, turn it into something mechanical & disengaged.

I think it's a huge mistake to push this analytical stance on children when they are too young. I was an English major, & I don't think I benefited from it until college. Younger kids should just find things they love & process them in ways that make sense to them.

This is one of the many delusional things about the way literature is taught in HS. The reality is you have to read a book at the *bare minimum* twice in order to do meaningful analysis. But there is never time for this. So we just club the thing to death on the first reading.

One of the principal things a writer does is to work incredibly hard at refining the way one sentence flows into the next, one chapter springboards off the last. To experience this as a reader you have to immerse yourself, turn off the analytical brain, just *read* the damn book.

To insert analysis into this process on a first reading is like watching a film by pausing every couple of minutes to make notes before continuing. It's fine to do that in later study, but if you do it the first time through you've destroyed everything the filmmaker worked for."

[@irasocol: How a teacher destroys not just reading but culture. Can we let kids experience an author's work without dissection? How I tried to address this in 2012... "]

[This was in repsonse to a thread that began with:

"This thread details a real school assignment that was asked of a high school student to do while reading a book they hadn't read before. I assure you this is is not something isolated to one school:


Inside front cover: major character with space for...

...character summaries, page reference for key scenes or moments of character development. Evidently these are enormous books.

Inside Back Cover: list of themes, allusions, images, motifs, key scenes, plot line, epiphanies, etc. Add pg. references or notes. List vocab words...

...if there's still room. (big books or small writing?)

Start of each chapter: do a quick summary of the chapter. Title each chapter as soon as you finish it, esp. if the chapters don't have titles.

Top margins: plot notes/words phrases that summarize. Then go back...

...and mark the chapter carefully (more on these marks to come)

Bottom and side margins: interpretive notes, questions, remarks that refer to the meaning of the page (???). Notes to tie in w/ notes on inside back cover

Header: Interpretive notes and symbols to be used...

...underline or highlight key words, phrases, sentences that are important to understanding the work
questions/comments in the margins--your conversation with the text
bracket important ideas/passages
use vertical lines at the margin to emphasize what's been already marked...

...connect ideas with lines or arrows
use numbers in the margin to indicate the sequence of points the author makes in developing a single argument
use a star, asterisk, or other doo-dad at the margin--use a consistent symbol--(presumably to not mix up your doo-dads?) to... used sparingly to emphasize the ten or twenty most important statements in the book.
Use ???for sections/ideas you don't understand
circle words you don't know. Define them in the margins (How many margins does a page have?)
A checkmark means "I understand"...

...use !!! when you come across something new, interesting or surprising
And other literary devices (see below)

You may want to mark:
Use and S for Symbols: a symbol is a literal thing that stands for something else which help to discover new layers of thinking...

Use an I for Imagery, which includes words that appeal to the five senses. Imagery is important for understanding an authors message and attitudes
Use an F for Figurative Language like similes, metaphors, etc., which often reveal deeper layers of meaning...

Use a T for Tone, which is the overall mood of the piece. Tone can carry as much meaning as the plot does.
Use a Th for Theme: timeless universal ideas or a message about life, society, etc.
Plot elements (setting, mood, conflict)
Diction (word choice)

The end. ::sighs::"]
carolblack  irasocol  howweread  reading  literature  closereading  2018  school  schooliness  education  absurdity  literaryanalysis  writers  writing  howwewrite  filmmaking  howwelearn  academia  academics  schools  unschooling  deschooling  analysis  understanding  repetition  experience  structure  rhythm  characterization  language  vocabulary  dialogue  noticing  intuition  instinct  film  flow 
october 2018 by robertogreco
"In this lecture performance Grada Kilomba explores forms of Decolonizing Knowledge using printed work, writing exercises, performative narrative, and visual art, as forms of alternative knowledge production. Kilomba raises questions concerning the concepts of knowledge, race and gender: “What is acknowledged as knowledge? Whose knowledge is this? Who is acknowledged to produce knowledge?” This project exposes not only the violence of classic knowledge production, but also how this violence is performed in academic, cultural and artistic spaces, which determine both who can speak and what we can speak about.To touch this colonial wound, she creates a hybrid space where the boundaries between the academic and the artistic languages confine, transforming the configurations of knowledge and power. Using a collage of her literary and visual work, Grada Kilomba initiates a dialogue of multiple narratives who speak, interrupt, and appropriate the ‘normal’ and continuous coloniality in which we reside. The audience is invited to participate, and to re-imagine the concept of knowledge anew, by opening new spaces for decolonial thinking."

[See also: ]
gradakilomba  performance  decolonization  speaking  listening  2015  knowledge  narrative  art  knowledgeproduction  unschooling  deschooling  colonialism  academia  highered  highereducation  storytelling  bellhooks  participation  participatory  theory  thinking  howwethink  africa  slavery  frantzfanon  audrelorde  knowing  portugal 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Jonathan Rosa on Twitter: "When decolonial perspectives ground your research, they completely transform questions, methods, analyses, modes of representation, proposed interventions, and political commitments. A thread..."
"When decolonial perspectives ground your research, they completely transform questions, methods, analyses, modes of representation, proposed interventions, and political commitments. A thread...

Decolonial perspectives transform research questions by centering longstanding power relations in analyses of contemporary challenges, including racial inequity, poverty, labor exploitation, misogyny, heteronormativity, transphobia, trauma, migration, & ecological instability.

A normative research question vs. one framed from a decolonial perspective: What are the causes of educational achievement gaps? vs. How can “achievement gaps” be understood in relation to modes of accumulation & dispossession mainstream schools were designed to facilitate?

Methodologically, decolonial perspectives challenge positivist approaches to data collection that legitimate colonially constituted categories, boundaries, modes of governance, ways of knowing, and societal hierarchies.

As compared to normative Western scholarly methodologies, approaches informed by decolonial perspectives include collaborating with members of colonially marginalized communities as co-theorists to analyze & respond to the historically constituted challenges they face.

Whereas normative analytical logics narrowly frame what counts as legitimate evidence to make particular kinds of claims, decolonial analyses question conceptions of truth that have parsed the world in service of toxic modes of accumulation & dispossession.

While an analysis that presumes the legitimacy of normative scientific truth might seek to use evidence to disprove racial inferiority, a decolonial approach rejects such debates, instead investing in imagining and enacting forms of racial redress and reparation.

Whereas normative scholarly work adheres to rigidly defined representational genres & is often restricted to paywalled journals, decolonial approaches seek to fashion new modes of representation & strategies/platforms for circulation that redefine & redistribute knowledge.

Canonical anthropological uses of “thick description” often result in exoticizing & pathologizing representations of race, gender, & class; decolonial approaches enact a politics of refusal, challenging the demand for ethnographic disclosure, particularly in Indigenous contexts.

Normative scholarship often proposes interventions that focus on modifying individual behaviors rather than transforming institutions; decolonial scholarship challenges the fundamental legitimacy of prevailing societal structures that have led to the misdiagnosis of problems.

Normative scholarship might propose interventions encouraging civic participation to strengthen US institutions in the face of perceived threats to democracy; decolonial scholarship seeks to reimagine governance because the US never was nor could ever be a legitimate democracy.

Normative scholarship often seeks to establish objective facts & eschews explicit political commitments, thereby explicitly committing to political reproduction; decolonial scholarship owns its politics & engages in knowledge production to imagine & enact sustainable worlds.

Normative scholarship might seek to document, analyze, & even revitalize Indigenous languages; decolonial scholarship engages in Indigenous language revitalization as part of broader political struggles over sovereignty, historical trauma, dispossession, & sustainable ecologies.

In short, whereas normative scholarship invites you to accept, reproduce, or slightly modify the existing world, decolonial scholarship insists that otherwise worlds have always existed & demands a radical reimagining of possible pasts, presents, & futures."
jonathanrosa  2018  decolonization  norms  academia  highereducation  highered  dispossession  indigeneity  reproduction  colonization  form  writing  labor  work  convention  conventions  method  accumulaltion  sustainability  knoweldgeproduction 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Eugenia Zuroski on Twitter: "Doing antiracist/anti-imperialist work within existing institutions is good but it is not decolonizing work. Decolonizing Turtle Island means restitution of land and Indigenous sovereignty. Making colonial institutions better
"Doing antiracist/anti-imperialist work within existing institutions is good but it is not decolonizing work. Decolonizing Turtle Island means restitution of land and Indigenous sovereignty. Making colonial institutions better is at odds with removing them. We have to see this.
[@apihtawikosisan:] Just stop using the word decolonize. Stop it. You don't know what the fuck it means, and it's ridiculous to throw it into every sentence. You cannot "decolonize education" by showing people a few pictures. "Decolonize minds" but keep all the same structures, as if.

Tuck and Yang’s “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor” is not the only piece of writing that addresses this but it makes the case very clearly and directly and should therefore be mandatory reading for everyone pursuing social justice projects in North America.

Listening to that article, like listening to all the Indigenous voices that generously share their knowledge on this problem, has been humbling and it should be. Before reading it, I often elided the difference between decolonizing and anti-colonial work in my own speech.

I recognize that I was trying to think through the relationships between anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, antiracist, anti-patriarchal, and decolonizing work. We should think long and hard about these relationships. But the first four can (I think) be practiced within

existing institutional structures, at least to some extent, and if we allow them to be called “decolonization,” we provide colonial institutions and social structures cover that absolves them of actually being decolonized.

As Tuck and Yang point out, decolonizing movements and social justice movements may have good work to do alongside each other, in relation to one another. They may also reach a point at which their objectives part ways. These relations are what we should be working on.

And paying attention to our language as our Indigenous colleagues keep. Asking. Us. To. Do is important because Canadian institutions are trying to incentivize Decolonization *As* a Metaphor, and we don’t want our work to be co-opted by this latest maneuver of colonial power.

Link to the article: "
eugeniazuroski  2018  decolonization  indigeneity  evetuck  kwayneyang  settlercolonialism  colonization  education  highered  highereducation  academia  power  unschooling  deschooling  antiimperialism  institutions  patriarchy  control  socialjustice 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Eugenia Zuroski on Twitter: "In yesterday’s #CSECS18 roundtable on “Decolonizing ... Practices from the Perspective of C18 Studies,” @ashleycmorford pointed out that decolonization cannot happen within the university, but /1…
"In yesterday’s #CSECS18 roundtable on “Decolonizing ... Practices from the Perspective of C18 Studies,” @ashleycmorford pointed out that decolonization cannot happen within the university, but /1
Doing antiracist/anti-imperialist work within existing institutions is good but it is not decolonizing work. Decolonizing Turtle Island means restitution of land and Indigenous sovereignty. Making colonial institutions better is at odds with removing them. We have to see this. …

a commitment to unsettling, anticolonial pedagogy could teach the people who will go forward and take up decolonization. This morning I’m thinking about this alongside Moten and Harney’s “The University and the Undercommons”—of teaching toward a “fugitive enlightenment” /2

that must steal knowledge from the institution and take it away from there, out of there, so as to put it toward something that doesn’t reproduce the institution/profession, but that thinks collectively toward what would replace the institution’s mode of organizing power. /3

Anticolonial pedagogies that are practiced in relation to decolonization must therefore inhabit, as Tuck and Yang point out, a particular temporality—one that doesn’t just reject the kind of constant clocking in for quantified “marks” that prove the labor of learning is /4

already being translated into wealth for someone (else), but that commits to Indigenous futurities over the future of “the profession,” and locates the value of teaching in preparing students for a better world than the institution either represents or materializes. /5

The university has an important role to play, in other words, but it can’t fulfil its obligations without committing away from itself—without giving up what it holds and regenerates to those who will “waste” it (Moten and Harney) on not becoming “Enlightened” subjects. /6

Anyway, my thanks to @ashleycmorford and the other people who contributed to yesterday’s conversation, which has helped me think about teaching not as “decolonizing” practice but as the (de)forming of subjects capable, in various ways, of decolonization. /6

Also thanks to @morganevanek for her comments on university teaching as a form of “hospicing work” (I didn’t write down the citation for this—?) on bad culture, and for this reminder, which it seems to me is one pragmatic thing we should all do immediately: [image: some notes including "ABOLISH GRADING"]

I’ll be on a roundtable this afternoon (Friday, 4:45, Niagara Room), where I’ll speak about collectives and #BIPOC18 and venture some thoughts on Twitter as an “Undercommons of Enlightenment” that will likely be messy and wrong, should be fun, you should come #CSECS18

I want to clarify that working toward these ends, as an academic, does not mean divesting from the university. It is still the site of our work and we have to fight to maintain/create better structures for doing that work effectively, non-exploitatively.

I will continue to advocate for resources for researchers, teachers, editors, for more hires of BIPOC, queer, disabled, trans scholars, for fair working conditions and best practices toward just institutional co-existence. Absolutely.

But I am beginning to understand these commitments—which are likely lifetime ones for me—as “harm reduction measures” (Tuck and Yang) along the long path toward a future that is not mine or my profession’s."
decolonization  highered  highereducation  eugeniazuroski  2018  fredmoten  stefanoharney  undercommons  messiness  academia  education  grades  grading  colonialism  colonization  fugitives  hospice  pedagogy  unschooling  deschooling  impericalism  sovereignty  institutions  ashleymorford  power  control  future  enlightenment  fugitiveenlightenment  indigeneity  anti-colonialism 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Displacements – The 2018 Biennial Meeting of the Society for Cultural Anthropology
[somehow never bookmarked this, but reminded by this thread:

"Are any academic organizations thinking about or planning for the replacement for "1,000+ people all fly to the same city" model for a conference? If we do this fighting climate change thing right, flying will get massively more expensive. And I like intellectual community."

agree with Jesse Stommel:
"What I’d love to see is more distributed communities, with regional nodes simultaneously meeting in person and using digital tools to connect with a bigger international community. I think we’d have to build this around things broader than single disciplines." ]

"Displacements are in the air: episodes of profound political upheaval, intensified crises of migration and expulsion, the disturbing specter of climatic and environmental instability, countless virtual shadows cast over the here and now by ubiquitous media technologies. What does it mean to live and strive in the face of such movements? What social and historical coordinates are at stake with these challenges? And what kind of understanding can anthropology contribute to the displacements of this time—given, especially, that our most essential techniques like ethnography are themselves predicated on the heuristic value of displacement, on what can be gleaned from the experience of unfamiliar circumstances?

Exclusionary politics of spatial displacement always depend on rhetorical and imaginative displacements of various kinds: a person for a category, or a population for a problem. In the face of such moves, the critical task of ethnography is often to muster contrary displacements of thought, attention, imagination, and sensation. What forms of social and political possibility might be kindled by anthropological efforts to broach unexpected places, situations, and stories? This conference invites such prospects in tangible form, as experiences of what is elsewhere and otherwise. This is a meeting that will itself displace the conventional modes of gathering, taking place wherever its participants individually and collectively tune in.

For the first time, in 2018, the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Cultural Anthropology will take place as a virtual event. Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and one of the chief ways that an academic livelihood contributes to carbon pollution. We are exploring the virtual conference format with the ideal of carbon-conscious activity in mind, taking inspiration from prior such efforts. This format will also enable broader geographical participation, most especially against the backdrop of a political climate of unequal restrictions on international travel. We hope, too, that the web-based media platform we are developing for the conference will allow for novel explorations of expressive form in anthropology.

One of the chief values of the academic conference no doubt lies in face-to-face conversations and interactions. With this in mind, the conference encourages the formation of local “nodes,” decentralized, affinity-based forms of collaboration and exchange, in the spirit of experimentation that SCA and our partners in the Society for Visual Anthropology have long encouraged. The aim of this virtual conference is to extend access to anthropological knowledge and dialogue in as many ways as possible, and to invite other such experiments of this kind."
conferences  sustainability  distributed  culturalanthropology  displacement  displacements  environment  virtual  climatechange  globalwarming  waste  academia  highered  highereducation  education  #displace18 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Coddling of the American Mind review – how elite US liberals have turned rightwards | Books | The Guardian
"The style that does befit an expert, apparently, is the style of TED talks, thinktanks and fellow Atlantic writers and psychologists. The citations in this book draw a circle around a closed world. In offering a definition of “identity politics”, a term coined by the black socialist lesbians of the Combahee River Collective (and the subject of a recent book edited by Yamahtta-Taylor), Lukianoff and Haidt quote “Jonathan Rauch, a scholar at the Brookings Institution”. They tell their readers to read Pinker, whose fulsome blurb appears on their book jacket.

The book ends with a list of recommendations for fixing young people and universities. “We think that things will improve, and may do so quite suddenly at some point in the next few years,” they conclude, suddenly cheery. Why? “As far as we can tell from private conversations, many and perhaps most university presidents reject the culture of safetyism,” even if “they find it politically difficult to say so publicly”. Based on conversations with high school and college students, the authors believe that most of them “despise call-out culture”.

“Private conversations” that they cannot describe seem like thin evidence from a social scientist and a lawyer whose motto is “Carpe datum!” A few chapters earlier, they bewail the ethos of “customer service” that has led universities to coddle students, but here they are confident that “if a small group of universities is able to develop a different sort of academic culture … market forces will take care of the rest”.

Who will fix the crisis? The people who are already in charge. How? Simply by being open about what they already secretly believe. The rhetorical appeal, here, shares a structure with the appeal that carried the enemy in chief of political correctness to the White House: “That’s just common sense.”

Lukianoff and Haidt go out of their way to reassure us: “Neither of us has ever voted for a Republican for Congress or the presidency.” Like Mark Lilla, Pinker and Francis Fukuyama, who have all condemned identity politics in recent books, they are careful to distinguish themselves from the unwashed masses – those who also hate identity politics and supposedly brought us Donald Trump. In fact, the data shows that it was precisely the better-off people in poor places, perhaps not so unlike these famous professors in the struggling academy, who elected Trump; but never mind. I believe that these pundits, like the white suburban Dad in the horror film Get Out, would have voted for Barack Obama a third time.

Still, they may protest too much. In the midst of what Fukuyama, citing his colleague Larry Diamond, calls a “democratic recession”, the consensus that has ruled liberal institutions for the past two decades is cracking up. The media has made much of the leftward surge lifting Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But as this new left-liberalism gains strength, a growing number of white men who hold power in historically liberal institutions seem to be breaking right.

As more and more Americans, especially young Americans, express enthusiasm for democratic socialism, a new right-liberalism answers. Its emerging canon first defined itself in reaction to new social movements highlighting the structural or systemic elements of identity-based oppression. By deriding those movements as “clicktivism” or mere “hashtags”, right-liberal pundits also, implicitly, expressed frustration at how web platforms were breaking up their monopoly on discourse. In January 2015, weeks after a wave of massive Black Lives Matter protests, Jonathan Chait decried Twitter as the launch pad of a “new pc movement”. In the conclusion of The Once and Future Liberal, Lilla singled out Black Lives Matter for special condemnation, calling it “a textbook example of how not to build solidarity”. Andrew Sullivan has criticised “the excesses of #MeToo”. Just last week, Harper’s and the New York Review of Books published long personal essays in which men accused of serial sexual harassment and assault defended themselves and described their sense of persecution by online “mobs”.

Lukianoff and Haidt share some benefactors and allies with the well-established right that funded Bloom and D’Souza. (Lukianoff works at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit group that receives funding from the Scaife and Olin families.) But, reading The Coddling of the American Mind, I was more struck by their points of proximity to the newer Trumpist right.

Like Trump, the authors romanticise a past before “identity” but get fuzzy and impatient when history itself comes up. “Most of these schools once excluded women and people of colour,” they reflect. “But does that mean that women and people of colour should think of themselves as ‘colonised populations’ today?” You could approach this question by looking at data on racialised inequality in the US, access to universities, or gendered violence. They don’t. They leave it as a rhetorical question for “common sense” to answer.

Their narrow perception of history severely limits the explanations Lukianoff and Haidt can offer for the real problems they identify. Can you understand the “paranoia” middle-class parents have about college admissions without considering how many of their children are now downwardly mobile? How are college teachers supposed to confidently court controversy when so many of them have zero security in jobs that barely pay above poverty wages?

Just as they appear to lack a clear explanation of why the “terrible ideas” that are “harming students” have taken hold, they don’t seem to have a theory of how good ideas cause change. At one point, they note that Pauli Murray, one of their exemplars of “common humanity identity politics”, recently had a college at Yale named after her, as if this proved that in an unregulated market, the right ideas do win in the end. But Yale did not just happen to remember this law school graduate, half a century later; Yale named Pauli Murray College following countless student protests around Black Lives Matter – and after a cafeteria worker named Corey Menafee, who got sick of looking at pictures of happy slaves in Yale’s Calhoun College, put his broom through a stained glass window, and his union came to his defence.

For all their self-conscious reasonableness, and their promises that CBT can master negative emotion, Lukianoff and Haidt often seem slightly hurt. They argue that intersectionality theory divides people into good and bad. But the scholars they quote do not use this moral language; those scholars talk about privilege and power. Bad is how these men feel when someone suggests they have had it relatively easy – and that others have had to lose the game that was made for men like them to win. Their problem with “microaggressions” is this framework emphasises impact over intentions, a perspective that they dismiss as clearly ludicrous. Can’t these women and minorities see we mean well? This is the incredulity of people who have never feared being stereotyped. It can turn to indignation, fast.

If there is a new right-liberal dispensation, the two-step from shame to rage about shame may be what brings it closest to the Trumpists. Hints of elective affinities between elite liberalism and the “alt-right” have been evident for a while now. The famous essay that Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos wrote in 2016, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right”, cites Haidt approvingly. At one point Lukianoff and Haidt rehearse a narrative about Herbert Marcuse that has been a staple of white nationalist conspiracy theories about “cultural Marxism” for decades. Nassim Taleb, whose book Antifragile Haidt and Lukianoff credit with one of their core beliefs and cite repeatedly as inspiration, is a fixture of the far right “manosphere” that gathers on Reddit/pol and

The commonality raises questions about the proximity of their enthusiasm for CBT to the vogue for “Stoic” self-help in the Red Pill community, founded on the principle that it is men, rather than women, who are oppressed by society. So, too, does it raise questions about the discipline of psychology – how cognitive and data-driven turns in that field formed Haidt and his colleagues Pinker and Jordan Peterson. Lilla admits to envying the effectiveness of the “right-wing media complex”. It is hard to imagine that Haidt does not feel some such stirrings about Peterson, who is, after all, selling more copies of self-help books marketed as civilisational critique. Lukianoff and Haidt quote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago as an epigraph and key inspiration; Peterson, who frequently lectures on the book, wrote the introduction to the 50th-anniversary edition Penguin will publish in November.

Predictably, Lukianoff and Haidt cite Martin Luther King as a spokesperson for “good” identity politics – the kind that focuses on common humanity rather than differences. But there was a reason the speech they quote was called “I Have a Dream” and addressed to people marching for jobs. Keeping faith with the ideal that all humans are created equal means working to create conditions under which we might, in fact, thrive equally. In the absence of this commitment to making the dream come true, insisting that everyone must act as if we are already in the promised land can feel a lot like trolling. Why are you making such a big deal about identity, Lukianoff and Haidt ask again and again, of people whose identities, fixed to their bodies by centuries of law and bureaucracy and custom make them vastly more likely to be poor or raped, or killed by the police, or deep in debt. Seize the data! But not all kinds of data.

In his book, The Reactionary Mind, the political theorist Corey Robin paraphrases Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: since Edmund Burke, effective reactionaries … [more]
moiraweigel  liberalism  neoliberalism  2018  greglukianoff  jonathanhaidt  allanbloom  rogerkimball  dineshd'souza  stevenpinker  jonathanauch  brookingsinstitution  marklilla  francisfukuyama  academia  blacklivesmatter  coreyrobin  giuseppetomasidilampedusa  edmundburke  davidreminck  stevebannon  identitypolitics  politics  society  change  progress 
october 2018 by robertogreco
▶ The Jet Set Breakfast, 1 Sep INTERVIEW - UNSCHOOLING · SAfm -
"Further to our previous conversation regarding unschooling and homeschooling, we spoke to Zakiyya Ismael to get a better understanding of this"
zakiyyaismael  2018  unschooling  deschooling  homeschool  johnholt  history  india  southafrica  learning  informallearning  intentionallearning  unintentionallearning  petergray  academia 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Dr. Lucia Lorenzi on Twitter: "I have two academic articles currently under consideration, and hope that they'll be accepted. I'm proud of them. But after those two, I am not going to write for academic journals anymore. I feel this visceral, skin-splitti
"I have two academic articles currently under consideration, and hope that they'll be accepted. I'm proud of them. But after those two, I am not going to write for academic journals anymore. I feel this visceral, skin-splitting need to write differently about my research.

It just doesn't FEEL right. When I think about the projects I'm interested in (and I have things I want desperately to write about), but I think about writing them for an academic journal, I feel anxious and trapped. I've published academic work. It's not a matter of capability.

I think I've interpreted my building anxiety as some sort of "maybe I can't really do it, I'm not good at this" kind of impostor syndrome. But I know in my bones it's not that, because I'm a very capable academic writer. I know how to do that work. I've been trained to do it.

This is a question of form. It is a question of audience, too. The "what" and the "why" of my research has always been clear to me. The "how," the "where," and the "who," much less so. Or at the very least, I've been pushing aside the how/where/who I think best honours the work.

In my SSHRC proposal, I even said that I wanted to write for publications like The Walrus or The Atlantic or GUTS Magazine, etc. because this work feels like it needs to be very public-facing right now, so that's what I'm going to do. No more academic journal articles for now.

With all the immobilizing anxiety I've felt about "zomg my CV! zomg academic cred!" do you know how many stories I could have pitched in the past year alone? SO MANY. How much research and thinking I could have distilled into creative non-fiction or long-form journalistic pieces?

It's not like I haven't also been very clear about the fact that I probably won't continue in academia, so why spend the last year of my postdoc doing the MOST and feeling the WORST doing my research in a certain way just for what...a job I might not get or even want? Nah.

Whew. I feel better having typed all that out, and also for having made the decision to do the work in the way I originally wanted to do it, because I have been struggling so much that every single day for months I've wanted to just quit the postdoc entirely. Just up and leave.

In the end, I don't think my work will shift THAT much, you know? And I've learned and am learning SO much from fellow academics who are doing and thinking and writing differently. But I think that "no more scholarly journal submissions" is a big step for me.

I also feel like this might actually make me feel less terrified of reading academic work. Not wanting to WRITE academic articles/books has made me equally afraid of reading them, which, uh, isn't helpful. But now I can read them and just write in my own way.

I don't want to not have the great joy of sitting down and reading brilliant work because I'm so caught up in my own fears of my response having to replicate or mirror those forms. That ain't a conversation. I'm not listening if I'm already lost in thinking about how to answer.

That's what's so shitty about thinking as a process that is taught in academia. We teach everyone to be so hyper-focused on what they have to say that we don't let people just sit back and listen for a goddamn moment without feeling like they need to produce a certain response.

And we wonder why our students get anxious about their assignments? The idea that the only valid form of learning is having something to say in response, and in this way that is so limited, and so performative, is, quite frankly, coercive and gross.

As John Cage said, "I have nothing to say and I am saying it." When it comes to academic publications, I am saying that no longer have anything to say. I do, however, have things to say in other places to say them.

My dissertation was on silence. In the conclusion, I pointed out that the text didn't necessarily show all the silences/gaps I had in my years of thinking. I'd wanted to put in lots of blank space between paragraphs, sections, to make those silences visible, audible.

According to the formatting standards for theses at UBC, you cannot have any blank pages in your dissertation. You cannot just breathe or pause. Our C.V.s are also meant not to have any breaths or pauses in them, no turns away, no changes in course.

I am making a course change!"
form  academia  cvs  dissertations  johncage  pause  silence  reading  howweead  howwewrite  writing  2018  lucialorenzi  anxiety  coercion  response  performance  conversation 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein - Fields of Cosmological Dreams - YouTube
"The discovery of the Higgs boson reinforces the possibility that similar, scalar particles may exist in nature and could drive cosmological inflation. This talk describes scientific research in theoretical cosmology through the lens of the experience of a Black, Jewish, queer and femme physicist."
higgsboson  chandaprescod-weinstein  physics  2017  cosmology  race  gender  science  academia 
may 2018 by robertogreco
An Upsurge of Questioning and Critique: toward a Community of Critical Pedagogy
"There has been, of late, a lot of talk about centers of teaching and learning, digital innovation centers, and efforts to grapple with the emergent nature of the educational profession and practice. Academics of a certain shade are padding down desire lines toward a future where learning and progressive digital education might leave its paddock and find its space upon the wider pasture of higher education. Many of these efforts, though, look and feel like paddocks themselves, circumscribed around professionalism, administrative power or vision, closed by the choice of their constituency even in their testament of openness.

If leaders choose groups of leaders, if those groups publish upon their pedigree in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Times Higher Ed, &c, then they will be hard put to magnify their purpose through an allegiance with education’s lesser privileged: students, adjuncts, “drop outs,” instructional designers—those without access, without committees, without the funding to network, without the key cards necessary to open certain doors. Change kept at high levels—change which doesn’t include, but makes obsequious gestures towards, those who lack the privilege to debate change—cannot be productive except to elevate higher the privileged and further disenchant those who most need change to occur.

Change, in other words, cannot be accomplished with a coffee klatsch, no matter how well-funded by a Mellon grant.

Maxine Greene writes that conscientization—that critical consciousness that alerts us to our agency, and that spurs us to intervene in the world—to make change— “is only available to those capable of reflecting on their own situationality” (102). If we find ourselves finally capable of that reflection only when or if we clear a certain pay band, or are granted a certain title, or are invited into the right rooms (rooms too often unlocked by respectability politics), then what of those who remain outside those rooms, who cannot—or refuse to—participate in respectability, those without the titles, those underpaid?

Doesn’t leadership in education also include the adjunct who offers their time to an online community college student? Doesn’t leadership include a student who conscientiously objects to Turnitin? If leadership in education has to include a 3D printer, an Oculus Rift, a budget to hold “summits” and attend conferences, then I fear there are too many leaders being left out.

Quoting Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Greene writes:
Praxis cannot be the viewed as the project of any single individual. Rather, it is “the cluster of relations of an ideology, a technique, and a movement of productive forces, each involving the others and receiving support from them, each, in its time, playing a directive role that is never exclusive, and all, together, producing a qualified phase of social development.” (99)

In other words, change requires movement across many lives, the weaving together of multiple and unexpected intelligences, and a radical inclusivity that is bound to make uncomfortable those who issue the call, that disrupts the disruptors, that leaves humbled leadership. It’s not that a community formed around inclusion must aim to unsettle and unseat, but rather that the myriad diversity that answers the call will necessarily yield the unexpected. A multitude will never be of a single mind; but it is a multitude, by Merleau-Ponty’s accounting, which is the only means toward change.

Similarly, Jesse Stommel has written about critical digital pedagogy, that praxis:
must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices.

Cultivating these many voices to realize a praxis is an ongoing project. I wrote recently to a friend affected by the recent UCU strike in England:
There are times when a critical pedagogy refuses to be merely theoretical. It is a tradition that comes out of a concern for labor, for the agency of those doing labor, and the perspicacity inherent behind that agency. The imagination is not an impractical facility at all, not a dreamer’s tool only, but a precision instrument that delivers a certainty that things can be otherwise; and in the face of circumstances that are unfair, the imagination gives us insight into what is just.

Similarly, though, the imagination asks us to consider justice an evolutionary project, if not an asymptote we will never quite reach, a process more than a destination. “The role of the imagination,” Greene tells us, “is not to resolve, not to point the way, not to improve. It is to awaken, to disclose the ordinary unseen, unheard, and unexpected.” Each new dialogue around justice leads to new insights, new confrontations, new inventions, and each new dialogue necessarily also uncovers old hurts, systemic injustices, and offenses nested within un-inspected assumptions and behaviors.

It is with this in mind that I find myself so often blinking into a teacher’s or administrator’s assertions about grading, or plagiarism, or taking attendance, or just “making sure they do it.” There are undetected injustices riding under our teaching policies, the teaching we received, and the teaching we deliver.

There are likewise injustices riding under so many attempts to gather in our circles of prestige. To enact a just agency, we must step outside those circles into unexpected places. “An upsurge of questioning and critique must first occur,” Greene insists, “experiences of shock are necessary if the limits or the horizons are to be breached” (101)."

"It’s my belief that the Lab must be a place where a cacophony of voices can be heard, where an upsurge of questioning and critique is the mode of the day. And to make this happen, no door is left unopened. If praxis “signifies a thinking about and an action on reality” (98), then Digital Pedagogy Lab seeks to be praxis, and to make change through the movement of productive forces, new insights, new confrontations, new inventions. All gathered together in matching tee-shirts."
seanmichaelmorris  criticalpedagogy  lcproject  openstudioproject  pedagogy  inclusivity  2018  digitalpedagogylab  mauricemerleau-ponty  maxinegreene  jessestommel  praxis  inclusion  justice  vision  administration  hierarchy  injustice  professionalism  power  openness  open  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  privilege  change  respectabilitypolitics  respectability  conferences  labs  ideology  diversity  highered  highereducation  academia  education 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Holding Patterns: On Academic Knowledge and Labor – Eugenia Zuroski – Medium
"One of white liberalism’s most cherished fantasies is the cultural capital of “color.” Only from a platform of quotidian white privilege could someone earnestly imagine racial difference as a kind of “value added.” I think white people really think this way.

It’s not just wrong; it’s a way of disavowing racial difference as a site of critical knowledge. This neoliberal fallacy is hardwired into the structure of institutional “diversity” schemes: it’s what allows their architects to celebrate the presence of nonwhite people until the moment those people share what they understand about how the institution operates.

In academia, many early career BIPOC scholars have been advised, according to the logic of diversity, that their nonwhiteness will open doors to interviews, fellowships, job offers. I understand that mentors are struggling to guide students through brutal competitions for opportunity, support, and stable employment. And there’s this myth in academia that while permanent, fairly compensated jobs in general are disappearing, BIPOC scholars are somehow in “high demand.” (They are not.) But telling nonwhite graduates that their race is the key to professional success contradicts what they know from years of experience: that structural disenfranchisement is not a form of power.

A tenet for better mentoring: Against the white mythology of racial cachet, we must justly represent the particularly full expertise these scholars have gathered by pursuing their work without the privilege of whiteness.

A tenet for revaluing the bonds of collegiality: If we want to build solidarity within hostile institutional conditions, we must do better at respecting all knowledge formed at particular distances from power, especially when it addresses us directly.

Dear colleague: here are some things I’ve learned from my position as a mixed-race she/her Asian American scholar who appears, in the eyes of the institution, promisingly racially ambiguous — a poster child, you might say, for corporate diversity schemes to bring a few of us in and keep us busy."
eugeniazuroski  academia  highered  highereducation  diversity  knowledge  labor  race  racism  difference  2018  institutions  whiteness  nonwhiteness  opportunity  bias  disenfranchisement  power  colonialism  mentoring  collegiality  solidarity  privilege  expertise  imperialism  patriarchy  transphobia  homophobia  alienation  class  ableism  sexism  rinaldowalcott  evetuck  decolonization 
april 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 67. Carl Abrahamsson & Mitch Horowitz in “Occulture (Meta)” // Anton LaVey, Real Magic & the Nature of the Mind
"Look, I’m not gonna lie to you - we have a pretty badass show this time around. Carl Abrahamsson and Mitch Horowitz are in the house.

Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish freelance writer, lecturer, filmmaker and photographer specializing in material about the arts & entertainment, esoteric history and occulture. Carl is the author of several books, including a forthcoming title from Inner Traditions called Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; Occult America, which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence; and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce. Mitch has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon,, and Politico. Mitch is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on Medium called "Real Magic".

And it is that series paired with Carl’s book that lays the foundation for our conversation here."
carlabrahamsson  mitchhorowitz  occult  culture  occulture  magic  belief  mind  ouijaboard  astrology  mindfulness  buddhism  religion  academia  antonlavey  materialism  mainstream  intellectualism  elitism  mindbodyspirit  2018  esotericism  authority  norms  nuance  change  enlightenment  popculture  science  humanities  socialsciences  medicine  conservatism  churches  newage  cosmology  migration  california  hippies  meaning  psychology  siliconvalley  ingenuity  human  humans  humannature  spirituality  openmindedness  nature  urbanization  urban  nyc  us  society  santería  vodou  voodoo  voudoun  climate  light  davidlynch  innovation  population  environment  meaningmaking  mikenesmith  californianideology  thought  thinking  philosophy  hoodoo  blackmetal  norway  beauty  survival  wholeperson  churchofsatan  satanism  agency  ambition  mysticism  self  stories  storytelling  mythology  humanism  beinghuman  surrealism  cv  repetition  radicalism  myths  history  renaissance  fiction  fantasy  reenchantment  counterculture  consciousness  highered  highereducation  cynicism  inquiry  realitytele 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’ - The New York Times
"It seems that the pressure to assess student learning outcomes has grown most quickly at poorly funded regional universities that have absorbed a large proportion of financially disadvantaged students, where profound deficits in preparation and resources hamper achievement. Research indicates that the more selective a university, the less likely it is to embrace assessment. Learning outcomes assessment has become one way to answer the question, “If you get unprepared students in your class and they don’t do well, how does that get explained?” Mr. Eubanks at Furman University told me.

When Erik Gilbert, a professor of history at Arkansas State University, reached the end of his World Civilization course last fall, he dutifully imposed the required assessment: an extra question on the final exam that asked students to read a document about Samurai culture and answer questions using knowledge of Japanese history. Yet his course focused on “cross-cultural connections, trade, travel, empire, migration and bigger-scale questions, rather than area studies,” Mr. Gilbert told me. His students had not studied Japanese domestic history. “We do it this way because it satisfies what the assessment office wants, not because it addresses concerns that we as a department have.”

Mr. Gilbert became an outspoken assessment skeptic after years of watching the process fail to capture what happens in his classes — and seeing it miss the real reasons students struggle. “Maybe all your students have full-time jobs, but that’s something you can’t fix, even though that’s really the core problem,” he said. “Instead, you’re expected to find some small problem, like students don’t understand historical chronology, so you might add a reading to address that. You’re supposed to make something up every semester, then write up a narrative” explaining your solution to administrators.

Here is the second irony: Learning assessment has not spurred discussion of the deep structural problems that send so many students to college unprepared to succeed. Instead, it lets politicians and accreditors ignore these problems as long as bureaucratic mechanisms appear to be holding someone — usually a professor — accountable for student performance.

All professors could benefit from serious conversations about what is and is not working in their classes. But instead they end up preoccupied with feeding the bureaucratic beast. “It’s a bit like the old Soviet Union. You speak two languages,” said Frank Furedi, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Britain, which has a booming assessment culture. “You do a performance for the sake of the auditors, but in reality, you carry on.”

Yet bureaucratic jargon subtly shapes the expectations of students and teachers alike. On the first day of class, my colleagues and I — especially in the humanities, where professors are perpetually anxious about falling enrollment — find ourselves rattling off the skills our courses offer (“Critical thinking! Clear writing!”), hyping our products like Apple Store clerks.

I teach intellectual history. Of course that includes skills: learning to read a historical source, interpret evidence and build an argument. But cultivating historical consciousness is more than that: It means helping students immerse themselves in a body of knowledge, question assumptions about memory and orient themselves toward current events in a new way.

If we describe college courses as mainly delivery mechanisms for skills to please a future employer, if we imply that history, literature and linguistics are more or less interchangeable “content” that convey the same mental tools, we oversimplify the intellectual complexity that makes a university education worthwhile in the first place. We end up using the language of the capitalist marketplace and speak to our students as customers rather than fellow thinkers. They deserve better.

“When kids come from backgrounds where they’re the first in their families to go to college, we have to take them seriously, and not flatter them and give them third-rate ideas,” Mr. Furedi told me. “They need to be challenged and inspired by the idea of our disciplines.” Assessment culture is dumbing down universities, he said: “One of the horrible things is that many universities think that giving access to nontraditional students means turning a university into a high school. That’s not giving them access to higher education.”

Here is the third irony: The value of universities to a capitalist society depends on their ability to resist capitalism, to carve out space for intellectual endeavors that don’t have obvious metrics or market value.

Consider that holy grail of learning outcomes, critical thinking — what the philosopher John Dewey called the ability “to maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry.” Teaching it is not a cheap or efficient process. It does not come from trying to educate the most students at the lowest possible cost or from emphasizing short, quantifiable, standardized assignments at the expense of meandering, creative and difficult investigation.

Producing thoughtful, talented graduates is not a matter of focusing on market-ready skills. It’s about giving students an opportunity that most of them will never have again in their lives: the chance for serious exploration of complicated intellectual problems, the gift of time in an institution where curiosity and discovery are the source of meaning.

That’s how we produce the critical thinkers American employers want to hire. And there’s just no app for that."
learning  learningoutcomes  outcomes  academia  assessment  evaluation  quantification  measurement  accountability  highered  highereducation  2018  mollywhorthen  criticalthinking  johndewey  metrics  inquiry  efficiency  standardization  standardizedtesting  capitalism  content  complexity  howwelearn  howwethink  knowledge  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  schools  pedagogy  teaching  skepticism  bureaucracy  corporatism  corporatization  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
General Vagaries. • winchysteria: ossacordis: crockpotcauldron: ...
"there’s something endlessly hilarious to me about the phrase “hotly debated” in an academic context. like i just picture a bunch of nerds at podiums & one’s like “of course there was a paleolithic bear cult in Northern Eurasia” and another one just looks him in the eye and says “i’l kill you in real life, kevin”



"The Milton scholars screamed and argued about how the serpent was supposed to move before it crawled on its belly. Dr. Matthews, enraged that Dr. Goldstein could believe the serpent bounced around on the coiled end of its tail, flipped over the conference table. "Satan is not a fucking pogo stick!" he howled."]


I heard a story once about two microbiologists at a conference who took it out into the parking lot to have a literal fistfight over taxonomy.


have i told this story yet? idk but it’s good. The Orangutan Story:

my american lit professor went to this poe conference. like to be clear this is a man who has a doctorate in being a book nerd. he reads moby dick to his four-year-old son. and poe is one of the cornerstones of american literature, right, so this should be right up his alley?

wrong. apparently poe scholars are like, advanced. there is a branch of edgar allen poe scholarship that specifically looks for coded messages based on the number of words per line and letters per word poe uses. my professor, who has a phd in american literature, realizes he is totally out of his depth. but he already committed his day to this so he thinks fuck it! and goes to a panel on racism in poe’s works, because that’s relevant to his interests.

background info: edgar allen poe was a broke white alcoholic from virginia who wrote horror in the first half of the 19th century. rule 1 of Horror Academia is that horror reflects the cultural anxieties of its time (see: my other professor’s sermon abt how zombie stories are popular when people are scared of immigrants, or that purge movie that was literally abt the election). since poe’s shit is a product of 1800s white southern culture, you can safely assume it’s at least a little about race. but the racial subtext is very open to interpretation, and scholars believe all kinds of different things about what poe says about race (if he says anything), and the poe stans get extremely tense about it.

so my professor sits down to watch this panel and within like five minutes a bunch of crusty academics get super heated about poe’s theoretical racism. because it’s academia, though, this is limited to poorly concealed passive aggression and forceful tones of inside voice. one professor is like “this isn’t even about race!” and another professor is like “this proves he’s a racist!” people are interrupting each other. tensions are rising. a panelist starts saying that poe is like writing a critique of how racist society was, and the racist stuff is there to prove that racism is stupid, and that on a metaphorical level the racist philosophy always loses—

then my professor, perhaps in a bid to prove that he too is a smart literature person, loudly calls: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ORANGUTAN?”

some more background: in poe’s well-known short story “the murder in the rue morgue,” two single ladies—a lovely old woman and her lovely daughter who takes care of her, aka super vulnerable and respectable people—are violently killed. the murderer turns out to be not a person, but an orangutan brought back by a sailor who went to like burma or something. and it’s pretty goddamn racially coded, like they reeeeally focus on all this stuff about coarse hairs and big hands and superhuman strength and chattering that sounds like people talking but isn’t actually. if that’s intentional, then he’s literally written an analogy about how black people are a threat to vulnerable white women, which is classic white supremacist shit. BUT if he really only meant for it to be an orangutan, then it’s a whole other metaphor about how colonialism pillages other countries and brings their wealth back to europe and that’s REALLY gonna bite them in the ass one day. klansman or komrade? it all hangs on this.

so the place goes dead fucking silent as every giant ass poe stan in the room is immediately thrust into a series of war flashbacks: the orangutan argument, violently carried out over seminar tables, in literary journals, at graduate student house parties, the spittle flying, the wine and coffee spilled, the friendships torn—the red faces and bulging veins—curses thrown and teaching posts abandoned—panels just like this one fallen into chaos—distant sirens, skies falling, the dog-eared norton critical editions slicing through the air like sabres—the textual support! o, the quotes! they gaze at this madman in numb disbelief, but he could not have known. nay, he was a literary theorist, a 17th-century man, only a visitor to their haunted land. he had never heard the whistle of the mortars overhead. he had never felt the cold earth under his cheek as he prayed for god’s deliverance. and yet he would have broken their fragile peace and brought them all back into the trenches.

much later, when my professor told this story to a poe nerd friend, the guy said the orangutan thing was a one of the biggest landmines in their field. he said it was a reliable discussion ruiner that had started so many shouting matches that some conferences had an actual ban on bringing it up.

so my professor sits there for a second, still totally clueless. then out of the dead silence, the panel moderator stands up in his tweed jacket and yells, with the raw panic of a once-broken man:

conferences  via:robinsonmeyer  2018  academia  arguments  debate  humor  orangutans  racism  disagreement  rules  taxonomy  johnmilton  edgarallanpoe  serpents  highered  highereducation  education 
february 2018 by robertogreco
In an era of climate change, our ethics code is clear: We need to end the AAA annual meeting – anthro{dendum}
"I remember when the AAA shifted from the old printed program to the new default paperless version. It was part of a noble effort to “green” the meetings, and of course we all welcomed it. But I couldn’t help but think it was all a bit quaint given that the annual meeting itself is so obviously an enormous carbon bomb. The programs are barely a drop in the bucket.

Each year some 6,000 anthropologists descend on a North American city for five days. The vast majority fly to get there, covering distances that average (I estimate) about 3,000 miles round trip, emitting 900 kgs of CO2 per person in the process. For perspective, 900 kgs of CO2 more than twice what the average citizen of Bangladesh emits in a whole year.

In an age of dangerous climate change, is this morally justifiable?

Our ethics code suggests not. It states: “Anthropological researchers must do everything in their power to ensure that their research does not harm the safety of the people with whom they work.”

We know that the effects of climate change are most acute in the global South – where most anthropologists work – and particularly among the poorest communities. Climate change claims some 400,000 lives in the South each year, and inflicts damages up to $600 billion annually. And this is just the beginning. If we continue on our present trajectory and exceed 2C of warming, the South is likely to see mass famine and human displacement on a scale unlike anything we can imagine.

In order to avoid this catastrophic future, rich nations need to cut their emissions by around 10% per year, starting in 2015. At the level of organizations like the AAA, by far the easiest way to do this is to cut out unnecessary flights. And given our professional code of ethics, this is really less an option than an obligation. It’s time to rethink the annual meeting.

There are lots of ways we could do this:

1. We could start by holding the meeting every other year, or even every third or fifth year. I can imagine that this would make them even more exciting and useful than they already are. More bang for our carbon buck, so to speak.

2. We could devolve the meeting to regional centers that can be reached by train or carpool. Washington DC for the East Coasters, San Francisco for the West Coasters, Chicago for the Midwesterners, etc. They would be smaller, more intimate, more engaging meetings. Decentralizing knowledge production would make our knowledge more diverse, and hopefully more egalitarian.

3. We could shift the meeting online. Webinar technology has made extraordinary advances in recent years. Presenters could post their presentations as videos, accompanied by text and slides, and open them to comment and dialogue. This would make it easier for us to engage with all the presentations we want without scurrying half-mad between meeting rooms.

Or we could do some permutation of the above.

Will this somehow cripple our discipline intellectually? I don’t think so. I’ve attended my fair share of AAA meetings, and I can’t say that they’ve been so vital to my research that I couldn’t manage without them in their present form. I think most would agree. Plus, even if the meeting was essential to our intellectual project, our ethics code is clear that the obligation to do no harm “can supersede the goal of seeking new knowledge.”

But what about the job center? The pre-interviews to select for campus visits? Good riddance, I say. It’s just not necessary, and it generates immense amounts of needless angst. The UK seems to manage just fine without it. In fact, they manage without the whole campus-visit game altogether: they interview all finalists in a single day, and use video-link for those who can’t make it easily by train.

The important thing to remember about climate change is that the carbon budget is a zero-sum thing. Every unnecessary ton of CO2 that we in rich nations emit is a ton that people in poor nations cannot emit in order to meet their basic needs. This introduces a stark moral calculus. By insisting on our carbon-intensive annual meeting, we’re effectively saying that our surplus pleasure (if it can be called that) is ultimately worth more than the survival of the very people we claim to care so much about. This is not a morally tenable stance.

During the 20th century we established ourselves as the moral discipline – the discipline with a political conscience and a truly global perspective. We leveraged the insights of our work to fight against racism and colonialism in its many forms. If we want to maintain this stance into the 21st century, we have no choice but to take climate justice seriously. After all, what’s at stake here is nothing short of carbon colonialism, shot through with violent disparities of race, class, and geography.

The US government will not help us toward this end – certainly not under Trump. As cities around the country are now pointing out, we cannot wait for Congress to impose the necessary emissions reductions to keep us within our 2C budget, for by then it will be too late. We have to take matters into our own hands, and quickly.

We as anthropologists – we as the AAA – have the opportunity to lead on this front, just as we led on anti-racism and anti-colonialism in the past. We can set an example that other disciplines and professional associations will follow. Climate scientists are already taking this step. We should be right behind them.

The ethical imperative is clear: it’s time to end the annual meetings in their present form and come up with a safe, just, and sustainable alternative. Paperless programs simply aren’t going to cut it – not in the face of climate emergency. I have no doubt that this shift would attract landslide support among anthropologists eager to help usher in a better world. Let’s make it happen, starting in 2018. We have little time to lose."
events  conferences  2018  ethics  climatechange  academia  anthropology  jasonhickel  sustainability  highered  education  highereducation  racism  colonialism  anti-colonialism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
What the Arete Project stands for
"1. We offer a higher vision for higher education. Current academic culture values achievement over learning, knowledge over wisdom, research over teaching, and frills over substance. The Arete Project provides an education in the liberal arts and sciences that helps students become thoughtful, responsible, and virtuous human beings. Students are invested with responsibilities that extend far beyond their GPAs; instructors are valued first as teachers and mentors and second as scholars; and education takes place as a communal enterprise in a setting of rustic simplicity.

2. We educate for service and leadership – with real stakes. Many leadership programs are little more than simulations. Many service-work programs are guilty of “voluntourism.” But at the Arete Project, students must create, sustain, and govern their own educational community, as well as work towards the wellbeing of the institution itself. Student self-governance is real. If the cow isn’t milked, she may sicken, leaving the kitchen without dairy products. If recruitment emails aren’t sent, we may have no applicants the next year. Students must take real responsibility for these critical and other functions of the organization.

3. We provide an educational antidote to social fragmentation. It is no secret that our world has fractured deeply along lines of income, identity, and ideology. Our programs require students to step outside of their comfort zones and to build and share an educational space with people from very different backgrounds. The intimacy of the community (including students, staff, and faculty) allows trust and real relationships to flourish; these relationships, in turn, enable the difficult conversations that our society so badly needs to have.

4. We train thoughtful stewards of the natural world. Though we are all ultimately dependent on the ecosystems around us, few of us feel that dependence in our daily lives. The Arete Project asks students to live for extended periods of time in rustic accommodations within rural and wilderness settings, and much work and recreation is out of doors. The labor program in particular – by having students grow their own food and build their own shelter – provides a chance to think deeply about humans' relationship to nature."
education  areteproject  lauramarcus  highered  highereducation  learning  knowledge  wisdom  teching  research  substance  frills  liberalarts  mentoring  responsibility  service  leadership  voluntourism  servicelearning  self-governance  governance  fragmentation  society  inequality  inclusivity  inclusion  lcproject  openstudioproject  relationships  conversation  stewardship  nature  ecosystems  ecology  sustainability  interdependence  labor  work  ideology  criticalthinking  pedagogy  academia  colleges  universities 
january 2018 by robertogreco
And so I am grateful too
"In return for believing in me, I offer belief in others. This is my currency, my economy: trust and belief. I said once about my role as managing editor at Hybrid Pedagogy that “I prowl the gates of this journal, I do—but to keep them open, not closed; to invite in rather than keep out.” But this is not work restricted to that of a journal editor: it is work we can all do in whatever role we occupy. It is the work of teachers, scholars, administrators, provosts, executive directors, instructional designers, technologists, writers, and more. For myself, I will always keep an eye open for new voices, voices that education and academia might not take seriously for whatever reason, I will listen carefully to what they have to say and I will offer them whatever platform I may.

In part, this means not speaking. Not writing Twitter threads. Not occupying any stage alone. The work others have done to give me opportunities must turn into work I can do to give others opportunities. I can be silent and listen. I can retweet. Hold the door so someone else might walk through, just as the door was held for me. And I hope, in my silence, I inspire silence in those who have the privilege—the leaders of the critical pedagogy and digital pedagogy conversation—to make way for other leaders. Because that is leadership in critical pedagogy.

Because critical pedagogy, digital pedagogy, #digped—none of these is our community. Increasingly, I recognize that there is no “us” when “us” means “our.” Should we find ourselves saying that someone is a good fit for our community, we are also saying that someone else is not. Some have seen me as a poor fit for their communities; and so how could I turn around and guard the gate in that fashion? Generosity of spirit, generosity of dialogue, generosity of justice, cannot be exclusive.

In the end, our only legacy will be the people we have loved, the voices we have amplified, the kindnesses we have offered and which echo out ongoingly. A published paper will be forgotten. A hashtag will disappear even more readily. A MOOC, a community, a conference… These all have end points when they disappear or disintegrate. But if in that published paper we cite a student or an adjunct; if across that hashtag we promote lovingkindness and encourage people to speak and listen; if in that MOOC, that community, or at that conference, we meet humans where they are and give them whatever doorways to discovery we can build—then something sustainable, something lasting might come of it.

If I have a wish for the new year, it is not for my life to improve. It is that, through whatever power I have, I might improve the lives of others. This is what Digital Pedagogy Lab is for. This is why I write. This is why I teach. My voice pales in comparison to the cacophony of voices waiting to be heard. I want to hear them. And I believe we all will be better off if we let that cacophony rise."
seanmichaelmorris  criticalpedagogy  ladders  academia  inclusivity  inclusion  education  2017  pedagogy  digitalpedagogy  community  payitforward  punchingup  exposure  generosity  justice  socialjustice  dialogue  privilege  interconnected  interdependence  listening  interconnectedness  interconnectivity 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Hapticality in the Undercommons, or From Operations Management to Black Ops | Stefano Harney -
"Fanon begins his conclusion by calling for the rejection of what he calls the ‘European model’ in the coming post-colonial world:

When I search for Man in the technique and the style of Europe, I see only a succession of negations of man, and an avalanche of murders.

But what is this European model, what is at the heart of this model, why the negations, the unending blood-soaked dawns? Here is Fanon’s answer:
But let us be clear: what matters is to stop talking about output, and intensification, and the rhythm of work.

The coming post-colonial nations must break not only with the negations of history, culture, and personality wrought by colonialism but with the ‘rhythm of work’ imposed by the European model. And he clarifies:
No, there is no question of a return to Nature. It is simply a very concrete question of not dragging men towards mutilation, of not imposing upon the brain rhythms that very quickly obliterate it and wreck it. The pretext of catching up must not be used to push man around, to tear him away from himself or from his privacy, to break and kill him.

Here is that word ‘rhythm’ again. ‘Rhythms imposed on the brain’ this time, imposed by a drive to ‘catch up.’ Catching up was a phrase much circulated in the takeoff theories of capitalist development pushed by the United States in the Cold War. But, Fanon points out, this catching up institutes a rhythm that ‘breaks’ and ‘kills’ man. This is a rhythm that ‘tears man away from himself’, that ‘obliterates’ and ‘wrecks’ his brain. Fanon uses the metaphor of the ‘caravan’ for a system that tears man away from himself."

"Fanon feared post-colonial nations would keep the regime and merely erect the outside, with flags, anthems, and new ruling classes. Who can say he was wrong? But Fanon’s warning was more than a post-colonial critique of the idea of the outside. It was an analysis of the European model and its tendency towards producing this rhythm without an outside. Indeed Fanon saw the colony as the first social factory, where worker replaces subject in society as a whole. In the colony, in the first social factory any move to other social being was, as it is today, criminal, conspiratorial. The only sound in the social factory is the rhythm of work because that is what takes place in a factory."

"This is our work today. We take inventories of ourselves for components not the whole. We produce lean efforts to transconduct. We look to overcome constraints. We define values through metrics. These are all terms from operations management but they describe work far better than recourse to the discourse of subject formation. Creativity itself, supposedly at the heart of the battle for the subject today, is nothing but what operations management calls variance in the line, a variance that may lead to what is in turn called a kaizen event, an improvement, and is then assimilated back into an even more sophisticated line. Today ours is primarily the labour of adapting and translating, being commensurate and flexible, being a conduit and receptacle, a port for information but also a conductor of information, a wire, a travel plug. We channel affect toward new connections. We do not just keep the flow of meaning, information, attention, taste, desire, and fear moving, we improve this flow continuously. We must remain open and attuned to the rhythm of the line, to its merciless variances in rhythm. This is primarily a neurological labour, a synaptic labour of making contact to keep the line flowing, and creating innovations that help it flow in new directions and at new speeds. The worker operates like a synapse, sparking new lines of assembly in life. And she does so anywhere and everywhere because the rhythm of the line is anywhere and everywhere. The worker extends synaptic rhythms in every direction, every circumstance. With synaptic work, it is access not subjects that the line wants, an access, as Denise Ferreira da Silva reminds us, that was long at the heart of the abuse of the affected ones, the ones who granted access out of love, out of necessity, out of the consent not to be one, even before that granting was abused."
stefanoharney  frantzfanon  labor  work  leisure  blackops  fredmoten  rhythm  deniseferreiradasilva  information  haptics  hapticality  art  academia  flow  athi-patraruga  zarinabhimji  creativity  flexibility  latecapitalism  capitalism  neoliberalism  society  colonialism  colonization  decolonization  nature  undercommons 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Stefano Harney (part 1) | Full Stop
"He is perhaps best known for The Undercommons, an absolutely essential work on the contemporary university (and much, much more) co-written with Fred Moten. But an Internet search will show interests pushing in all kinds of exciting directions — from study to infrastructure, from cultures of finance to leisure, from public administration to the metroversity."

"There is as little point in demanding something of this president as of the last. Not only because we will not get it, but because it is probably not what we want. We get sucked into policy. But the university, the NEA and the NEH, these institutions are just the enervating compromise, the residue of a past battle. Preserving them has the perverse effect of weakening us. These are just settlements we have to reject in our ongoing war against democratic despotism, which is of course the ongoing war against us.

W.E.B. Du Bois wrote about democratic despotism in ‘The African Roots of War,’ published in 1915. The current US regime could be said to be the realization of this trajectory of democratic despotism. Du Bois was very specific about democratic despotism. He observed capitalists in the United States and Europe offering a compact with their white working classes, offering a share, however meager, in the nation’s wealth. This share would be extracted from black and brown peoples living in the nation, but excluded from this pact, and through imperialism, shares would be extracted from what Du Bois called the black, brown, and yellow peoples throughout the globe. Democratic despotism was a cross-class alliance based on the color line. Through this agreement, governments could function as ‘democracies.’ Indeed participation in a white democracy was part of what being offered as part of the stabilization package. The modern university is a phenomenon of this agreement sealed along the color line. Thus I would say the undercommons remains the moving violation of that agreement.

I have a friend called Jonathan Pincus. He’s a very smart Marxist development economist, and recently he turned his attention to the development and future of universities around the world. He points out that the deal between the capitalist classes and the nation-state is fraying. One effect of this is that the capitalist classes do not want to pay for universities that serve a national purpose anymore, whether that purpose is producing research, training labour, or preserving national culture and identity. They only want to pay for universities to educate their children — that is, teach them the etiquette of the capitalist classes — and their children go to Princeton or Oxford, or wherever. But their children certainly do not go to Rutgers-Newark nor UC-Riverside, never mind state colleges, small private colleges, and numerous other regional universities. As Jonathan notes universities like Princeton already cater to a global, not national, capitalist class. They are flourishing. The question this raises for me is not whether the vast number of colleges and universities outside the attention of the global capitalist classes will continue to be funded. They won’t, except where vestiges of the white middle class can effectively threaten legislatures to give their kids and not Latino, Black, Asian, and Indigenous kids, the remaining bits of this system. But what can we do, together with the rest of these kids, with these abandoned factories of knowledge? That’s what interests me. How can we occupy them once they are discarded?"

" Fred and I work under the influence of Denise Ferreira Da Silva here, as elsewhere. She speaks about difference without separability and about entanglement in a way that becomes most available through this nautical event, through blackness. She adds that without separability, our ideas and practices of determinacy and sequentiality, which I’ve reduced to time and space here, also get called into question. Her work is rich and deep and I am still finding my way through this entangled world with her help. Shipping and the Shipped, the show at the Bergen triennial, owes much to her thought."

"And so, to shift registers slightly from our thing to theirs, if you think about recent political battles coming out of the United States and its imperial decline, they could all be seen as logistical. So, I agree with you Michael that logistics can be a capacious category for understanding what they are doing, as well as what we are trying to do. The Black Snake winding through Dakota lands, the wall along the current border with Mexico, the ban directed at the seven Islamic countries the US has strategised to destroy and dominate, these are all about the movement of energy, goods, and labour, about ensuring control of the flows. So too the South China Sea ‘stand-off’ is a reaction to China’s ‘belt and road’ strategy — the Silk Road Belt and the Maritime Silk Road — China’s plan for connectivity, shipping, logistics across vast territory. The Maritime Silk Road is to run from Papua New Guinea to East Africa and the Silk Road Belt from the ports of Southern Italy and Greece through Turkey to Siberia. China is building this infrastructure as we write, all along these routes, in massive undertakings. Infrastructure is however only one aspect of logistics, or one dimension might be a better way to put it.

Another dimension of logistics is its unconscious. The dream of logistics, and you can find this in the academic journals, is the elimination of human time, the elimination of the slowness and error of human decision-making, actions, and indeed mere bodily presence. Now you might think this means replacing truck drivers with self-driving trucks running automated routes where algorithms recalculate constantly and link to fuel prices and inventory signals, all without people having to intervene, and you would be right. But interestingly the jobs that have already been replaced by the most important machine in logistics — the algorithm — are management jobs."

"Finally, one might object that logistics does not have much to say about something like police brutality, or as my friend Dylan Rodriguez would correct me, police, since police brutality is, as he says, redundant. But what Fred and I tried to suggest in our piece ‘Leave Our Mikes Alone’ is that the demand for access — intensified by logistical capitalism — also identifies the inaccessible as sabotage. Anyone who does not immediately open oneself fully to the police upon demand for access is a saboteur. But anti-black racism means it is impossible for black people to comply with this order for access since black people are by definition opaque to the police and to white supremacist society. Access kills, but not indiscriminately."

"I think students who study business are in a sense very logistical. Whereas a student studying music or history must say how can I fit what I like to do into this economy, a business student says how can I fit the economy into me. The business student is immediately ready for interoperability, for being accessed, plugged in, traversed by flows, modulated, wherever necessary. These students are unmediated by an interest, such as anthropology, that has to be converted into the economic in an extra step of logistical effort. Now, the curious other side to this is that the business student is also often ‘the last Fordist.’ Even when Fordism ‘never was’ for that particular student or her family. By this I mean because it is impossible to be interested, really, in Human Organisation and Development (the way it is inevitably taught as an extension of logistical capitalism), students place their interests elsewhere, in a non-work sphere. Now this is not true for those upper middle class business students who are convinced business can deliver meaning for them (including through green business, social entrepreneurship and all the rest of the more sophisticated delusions). But amongst the average student taking business courses, I have found little illusion about why they are doing it, or what it is going to be like, even if they have hopes. I say all this to say the student taking philosophy in your class is probably there to take philosophy, as if in an old-fashioned division between work and leisure. I am personally happy to make my classes into places of leisure under these circumstances (or any). The real question I want to ask with you both is this: outside of the places Jonathan is talking about — the global universities responding to a global capitalist class — students are struggling. They are over-worked, over-taught, piled with requirements and internships, plagued by debt and psychological distress, and they are often the new welfare state for grandparents, kids, and disabled relatives. In other words, leisure is being made impossible for them and I think this means it is hard to ask them to take our classes with a kind of leisure. How can we organize with the students for leisure as a first step toward study?"

"But I wanted to ask an unrelated, slightly inarticulate question. I mentioned at one point in our initial email conversation that I’m genuinely curious about the co-author phenomenon (Adorno & Horkheimer, Mouffe & Laclau, Hardt & Negri, etc.). I’m still curious about this, like the phenomenology of it versus any crude craft or process question, but I’m not quite sure how to ask it.

Actually, Michael, I also like to ask the question of how people write together. I always ask it when I find people writing together. In our case, we hung out together for fifteen years before we wrote anything down! But for us the transition to writing things down had two impulses. On the one hand, we were trying to understand our workplace, and we wrote a couple of early pieces about conditions of academic labour, one called the Academic Speed-Up, and another called Doing Academic Work. There was not much to them, but they did make us realize we could not consume … [more]
stefanoharney  fredmoten  2017  education  highered  undercommons  highereducation  colleges  universities  labor  work  capitalism  webdubois  jonathanpincus  denisederreiradasilva  frankwilderson  omise'eketinsley  nourbesephillip  christinasharpe  refusal  resistance  blackness  whiteness  michaelbron  bodies  neoliberalism  study  jessemontgomery  michalschapira  ayreenanastas  renegabri  valntinadesideri  stevphenshukaitis  norasternfeld  edouardglissant  consent  blackstudies  academia  body 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Undercommoning – Revolution within, against, and beyond the University
"No nostalgia for the past | No nostalgia for the future

Undercommoning is building a North American network of radical organizers within, against, and beyond the (neo)liberal, (neo)colonial university.

We host critical discussions and engagements to build solidarity around radical and marginalized forms of knowledge and undercommons-centred power. We aspire to create heterogenous networks that will link disparate geographic locations while also facilitating meaningful relationships around local, place-based organizing.

Undercommoning is an evolving network of radical organizers within, against, and beyond the neoliberal, (neo)colonial university in North America. We seek to experiment with and broadcast new ways of working together, new forms of study, and new pathways to solidarity."

"What is the Undercommoning Project?

We participate in and affirm those activist projects that oppose and seek alternatives to gentrification, commercialization, rising student debt and tuition, low wages for university staff and contract labor, and the academy’s attempts to hold a monopoly on the production of knowledge.

We host occasional critical online discussions called “encounters,” broadcast and publish interviews with activists, and otherwise solicit and disseminate texts and projects that build solidarity around radical and marginalized forms of knowledge and to sustain and amplify the undercommons: those networks of struggle, study and creativity that exist within, outside and in spite of the university.

We aim to create platforms to connect those struggling in the shadows of the university: not only workers and students within the institution, but those for free education, autonomous learning, and collective study outside of the university’s walls. The Undercommoning project provides a framework to link diverse local struggles so that they can gain strength and insight from one another’s efforts and visions.

What does Undercommoning mean?
We discuss the project and its goals in more detail in this article:

Who we are
The Undercommoning Project is an alliance of outcasts and fugitive knowledge workers struggling in the margins and on the edges of the universities that wrought us.

As a network, we aim to connect to one another both continentally and locally, appropriating where we can the new technologies of digital communication and meeting in person when possible.

The network is maintained by a rotating “Collective” of 10-15 people, most of whom are precarious academic or university workers, some of whom have exited the university. We work semi-anonymously to avoid the recuperative and repressive forces of academic capitalism.

We reject the artificial hierarchies of knowledge and prestige that are the weapons of the university. As such, we are open to anyone onto whom the university casts its shadow, from custodial workers to dropouts, from adjunct faculty to administrative support staff, from students to food servers, from trade unionists to activists building alternative institutions.

We work in the tradition of militant inquiry: bottom-up collective learning dedicated to building community capacities for radical social change. Our project seeks to amplify everyday forms of resistance. The online forum is a place to share radical critiques and strategies for overturning a system where education is a transaction. Further, we recognize the education many of us have received owes an unpayable debt to oppression in the forms of colonialism, slavery, and dispossession of indigenous communities.

What we do?

While we are just getting off the ground now, as a collective, we aim to……

• Host regular online meet-ups for organizers and thinkers to learn about one another’s struggles and build solidarity and capacity.
• Publish interviews, transcripts, essays, news and examples from struggles around the world
• Organize local events where organizers can gather and make common cause.
• Act as a network for organizers and activists within, against, and beyond the university.
• Reveal and challenge the North American university as a site working at the junction of settler-colonialism, neoliberal capitalism, hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy and other systems of domination and exploitation. We also diagnose the university as a key institution of power that works in concert with police, prisons, the financial system, the ‘lower’ education system, punitive state bureaucracies, culture industries and other means of oppression.
• Catalyze intersectional solidarity between and beyond laborers of the university, including: precarious academic workers; clerical, technical, food service, maintenance, and other support workers; subcontracted workers; exploited student laborers; international learners’ and those ejected from or refused by the university.
• Valorize the labor of the “undercommons”, promoting the autonomy of these forms of bottom-up refusal, collaboration, solidarity and mass intellectuality that the university at once subjugates and requires for its survival.
How can I find out more?

Our hallmarks
• Anti-colonial: towards the reclamation and revalourization of Indigenous, non-white and proletarian forms of learning/study/community-building/praxis.
• Anti-racist: Towards a politics of liberation, against the afterlives of slavery and ongoing forms of racial capitalism which universities sustain and reproduce
• Anticapitalist: against the university as an Edu-factory and against schools as reproducers of class relations
• No nostalgia: for the public education or Keynesian university-that-never-was
• Feminist: for dismantling patriarchy and hetero-and-cis-sexism
• Trans-&-Queer-Liberationist: Towards a queer rebellion, against homonormative forms of capture and the valo(u)rization of new capitalist demographics
• Autonomist: grassroots self-organization, extraparliamentary, non-sectarian
• Accomplices: beyond allyship, strategizing with, not for, and ready to betray academic institutions
• Undercommoning: radical networks, resource redirection, subversion, non-participation
• Experimentation/exodus: radical creativity and courage
• Solidarity: learning/study in league with communities, struggles, etc.
• Strategic optimism: not just a pity party or a social club"
highered  highereducation  undercommons  stefanohaney  fredmoten  academia  gentrification  learning  neoliberalism  capitalism  colonialism  decolonization  praxis  feminism  networks  allyship  solidarity  optimism  strategicoptimism  education  anicapitalism  antiracism  indigenous  indigeneity  colleges  universities 
december 2017 by robertogreco
How to build a book: Notes from an editorial bricoleuse | HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory: Vol 7, No 3
"This piece offers an editor’s reflections on the ethos and craft of writing. General suggestions, words of encouragement, and detailed tips emerge through a discussion of unexpected affinities between writing and building. An annotated list of further readings accompanies the text.

Ce texte offre les réflexions d’une éditrice sur l’ethos et l’art de l’écriture. Des suggestions générales, des encouragements, et quelques conseils précis se dégagent d’une discussion sur les affinités inattendues entre l’écriture et la construction. Une liste annotée de lectures complémentaires accompagne ce texte."

"The inevitable risk in writing a document like this one is that authors will interpret my advice as an example of editorial fascism that is appeased only when others subsume their ambition to conformity. I would hate for that to be the lesson of this meditation (which is, in itself, something of an oddity).

Times change, architectural styles go through inevitable change and recombination, and books change too. No intelligent person would demand that every room conform perfectly to a single model or that every book do the same. Variation is one cornerstone of beauty. So, please, surprise me. But do so from a position of intimate understanding. Mastery of tradition, in writing as in other crafts, is the first condition for innovation."


"Some nice, not obvious advice in this piece on writing academic books (aimed at anthro, but more broadly relevant), from @priyasnelson: … (I especially like the “finding the center” metaphor.)

Not that anthropologists are unique snowflakes, but I wish we had more writing advice like this aimed at us particularly: we have some particular strengths and weaknesses that generic academic writing advice doesn’t appreciate."]
writing  editing  craft  2017  priyanelson  variation  conformity  innovation  citation  anthropology  srg  neologisms  socialsciences  academia  revision  publishing  serendipity  details  planning 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The Black Outdoors: Fred Moten & Saidiya Hartman at Duke University - YouTube
"The Black Outdoors: Humanities Futures after Property and Possession seeks to interrogate the relation between race, sexuality, and juridical and theological ideas of self-possession, often evidenced by the couplet of land-ownership and self-regulation, a couplet predicated on settler colonialism and historically racist, sexist, homophobic and classist ideas of bodies fit for (self-) governance.

The title of the working group and speaker series points up the ways blackness figures as always outside the state, unsettled, unhomed, and unmoored from sovereignty in its doubled-form of aggressively white discourses on legitimate citizenship on one hand and the public/private divide itself on the other. The project will address questions of the "black outdoors" in relationship to literary, legal, theological, philosophical, and artistic works, especially poetry and visual arts.

Co-convened by J. Kameron Carter (Duke Divinity School/Black Church Studies) and Sarah Jane Cervenak (African American and African Diaspora Studies, UNC-G)"

[Fred Moten (31:00)]

"Sometimes I feel like I just haven't been able to… well, y'all must feel this… somehow I just can't quite figure out a good way to make myself clear when it comes to certain things. But I really feel like it's probably not my fault. I don't know that it's possible to be clear when it comes to these kinds of things. I get scared about saying certain kinds of stuff because I feel like sometimes it can seem really callous, and I don't want to seem that way because it's not because I don't feel shit or because I don't care. But let's talk about it in terms of what it would mean to live in a way that would reveal or to show no signs of human habitation.

Obviously there's a field or a space or a constraint, a container, a bounded space. Because every time you were saying unbounded, J., I kept thinking, "Is that right?" I mean I always remember Chomsky used to make this really interesting distinction that I don' think I ever fully understood between that which was bounded, but infinite and that which was unbounded, but finite. So another way to put it, if it's unbounded, it's still finite. And there's a quite specific and often quite brutal finitude that structures whatever is going on within the general, if we can speak of whatever it is to be within the general framework of the unbounded.

The whole point about escape is that it's an activity. It's not an achievement. You don't ever get escaped. And what that means is whatever you're escaping from is always after you. It's always on you, like white on rice, so to speak. But the thing about it is that I've been interested in, but it's hard to think about and talk about, would be that we can recognize the absolute horror, the unspeakable, incalculable terror and horror that accompanies the necessity of not leaving a trace of human inhabitation. And then there's the whole question of what would a life be that wasn't interested in leaving a trace of human habitation? So, in church, just because my friend Ken requested it, fuck the human. Fuck human inhabitation.

It's this necessity… The phrase I use sometimes and I always think about specifically in relation to Fannie Lou Hamer — because I feel like it's me just giving a spin on a theoretical formulation that she made in practice — is "to refuse that which has been refused to you." That's what I'm interested in. And that doesn't mean that what's at stake is some kind of blind, happy, celebratory attitude towards all of the beautiful stuff we have made under constraint. I love all the beautiful stuff we've made under constraint, but I'm pretty sure I would all the beautiful stuff we'd make out from under constraint better.

But there's no way to get to that except through this. We can't go around this. We gotta fight through this. And that means that anybody who thinks that they can understand how terrible the terror has been without understanding how beautiful the beauty has been against the grain of that terror is wrong. there is no calculus of the terror that can make a proper calculation without reference to that which resists it. It's just not possible."
fredmoten  saidiyahartman  blackness  2016  jkameroncarter  fredricjameson  webdubois  sarahjanecervenak  unhomed  unsettled  legibility  statelessness  illegibility  sovereignty  citizenship  governance  escape  achievement  life  living  fannielouhamer  resistance  refusal  terror  beauty  cornelwest  fugitives  captives  captivity  academia  education  grades  grading  degrading  fugitivity  language  fellowship  conviviality  outdoors  anarchy  anarchism  constraints  slavery  oppression  race  racism  confidence  poverty  privilege  place  time  bodies  body  humans  mobility  possessions 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Critic and poet Fred Moten is profiled by Jesse McCarthy | Harvard Magazine
"IN 2013, a manifesto entitled The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study began making the rounds among the growing pool of nervous graduate students, harried adjuncts, un-tenured professors, and postdocs whirling through the nation’s faculty lounges. The Undercommons was published by the small anarchist press Autonomedia and made freely available for download; in practice, however, it circulated by word of mouth, copies of the PDF forwarded like samizdat literature for those in the know. On the surface, the text is an analysis of alienated academic labor at the contemporary American university. But it’s also more radical than that: it is a manual for free thinking, a defiant call to dissent within educational institutions that betray their liberal credos, filling their coffers even as they prepare students, armed with liberal arts degrees and “critical thinking” skills, to helm a social and economic order in which, “to work…is to be asked, more and more, to do without thinking, to feel without emotion, to move without friction, to adapt without question, to translate without pause, to desire without purpose, to connect without interruption.”

For those with little or no knowledge of black studies, the text’s deployment of terms like “fugitivity” and “undercommons” may seem baffling. To those in the circle, however, this lexicon of continental philosophy, remixed with a poetic and prophetic fire resembling Amiri Baraka’s, bears the signature of one of the most brilliant practitioners of black studies working today: the scholar and poet Fred Moten ’84."

"This past fall, Moten took up a new position in the department of performance studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, arriving from Los Angeles and a teaching appointment at the University of California at Riverside. In early September, his office was still a bare room with a single high window looking out over Broadway. He hadn’t had a chance to unpack his library, but already a small stack of books on jazz theory, performance, and quantum mechanics rested in a pile near his desk. It soon became clear, however, that he is the kind of thinker who keeps all his favorite books in his head, anyway. His Paul Laurence Dunbar is always at his fingertips, and he weaves passages from Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant, or Hortense Spillers into his conversation with equal facility.

In someone else this learnedness could come off as intimidating, but in Moten it’s just the opposite. Something about his composure, his relaxed attentiveness, the way he shakes his head with knowing laughter as he pauses over the direction he’s about to take with a question, instantly erases any stuffiness: one can imagine the exact same conversation taking place on the sidelines of a cookout. And then there’s his voice: warm, low, and propelled by a mellow cadence that breaks complex clauses into neat segments, their hushed, conspiratorial air approaching aphorism. At one point, Moten asked about my dissertation, which I confessed, sheepishly, was kind of a mess. His eyes lit up. He leaned back with a wide grin, his hands spreading out in front of him. “You know what a mess is?” He said. “In Arkansas, a mess is a unit of measure. Like of vegetables. Where my people come from folks might say: ‘You want a bushel?’ And you’ll say, ‘Nah, I want a mess.’ You know, like that great James Brown line: ‘Nobody can tell me how to use my mess.’ It’s a good thing to have. A mess is enough for a meal.”"

"One difficulty for outside readers encountering Moten’s work is that he tends to engage more with the avant-garde than with pop. It’s easy to see why the art world has embraced him: his taste gravitates toward the free-jazz end of the spectrum so strongly it’s as if he were on a mission, striving to experience all of creation at once—to play (as the title of a favorite Cecil Taylor album puts it) All the Notes. This spring, Moten is teaching a graduate course based on the works of choreographer Ralph Lemon and artist Glenn Ligon. In recent years he has collaborated with the artist Wu Tsang on installation and video art pieces, where they do things like practice the (slightly nostalgic) art of leaving voicemail messages for each other every day for two weeks without ever connecting, just riffing off snippets from each other’s notes. In another video short directed by Tsang, Moten—wearing a caftan and looking Sun Ra-ish—is filmed in “drag-frame” slow motion dancing to an a cappella rendition of the jazz standard “Girl Talk.”

By way of explanation, Moten recalls his old neighborhood. “I grew up around people who were weird. No one’s blackness was compromised by their weirdness, and by the same token,” he adds, “nobody’s weirdness was compromised by their blackness.” The current buzz (and sometimes backlash) over the cultural ascendancy of so-called black nerds, or “blerds,” allegedly incarnated by celebrities like Donald Glover, Neil deGrasse Tyson, or Issa Rae, leaves him somewhat annoyed. “In my mind I have this image of Sonny Boy Williamson wearing one of those harlequin suits he liked to wear. These dudes were strange, and I always felt that’s just essential to black culture. George Clinton is weird. Anybody that we care about, that we still pay attention to, they were weird.”

Weirdness for Moten can refer to cultural practices, but it also describes the willful idiosyncracy of his own work, which draws freely from tributaries of all kinds. In Black and Blur, the first book of his new three-volume collection, consent not to be a single being (published by Duke University Press), one finds essays on the Congolese painter Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu and C.L.R. James, François Girard’s Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, a comparison between Trinidadian calypso and Charles Mingus records composed in response to the Little Rock Nine, David Hammon’s art installation Concerto in Black and Blue, Wittgenstein and the science fiction of Samuel Delany, a deconstruction of Theodor Adorno’s writings on music and a reconstruction of Saidiya Hartman’s arguments on violence. Sometimes the collision can happen within a single sentence: “Emily Dickinson and Harriet Jacobs, in their upper rooms, are beautiful,” he writes. “They renovate sequestration.”

Taken together, Moten’s writings feel like a Charlie Parker solo, or a Basquiat painting, in their gleeful yet deadly serious attempt to capture the profusion of ideas in flight. For him this fugitive quality is the point. We are not supposed to be satisfied with clear understanding, but instead motivated to continue improvising and imagining a utopian destination where a black cosmopolitanism—one created from below, rather than imposed from above—brings folks together.

For Moten, this flight of ideas begins in the flight of bodies: in the experience of slavery and the Middle Passage, which plays a crucial role in his thinking. “Who is more cosmopolitan than Equiano?” he asks rhetorically, citing the Igbo sailor and merchant who purchased his own freedom, joined the abolitionist movement in England, and published his famous autobiography in 1789. “People think cosmopolitanism is about having a business-class seat. The hold of the ship, among other things, produces a kind of cosmopolitanism, and it’s not just about contact with Europeans and transatlantic travel. When you put Fulani and Igbo together and they have to learn how to speak to each other, that’s also a language lab. The historical production of blackness is cosmopolitanism.”

What can one learn from the expression of people who refuse to be commodities, but also once were commodities? What does history look like, or the present, or the future, from the point of view of those who refuse the norms produced by systems of violence: who consent not to be a single being? These key concerns course through the entirety of Moten’s dazzling new trilogy, which assembles all his theoretical writings since In the Break. At a time of surging reactionary politics, ill feeling, and bad community, few thinkers seem so unburdened and unbeholden, so confident in their reading of the historical moment. Indeed, when faced with the inevitable question of the state of U.S. politics, Moten remains unfazed. “The thing I can’t stand is the Trump exceptionalism. Remember when Goldwater was embarrassing. And Reagan. And Bush. Trump is nothing new. This is what empire on the decline looks like. When each emperor is worse than the last.”

* * *

A THESIS that has often been attractive to black intellectuals (held dear, for example, by both W.E.B. Du Bois and Ralph Ellison) was that the United States without black people is too terrifying to contemplate; that all the evidence, on balance, suggests that blackness has actually been the single most humanizing—one could even say, slyly, the only “civilizing”—force in America. Moten takes strong exception. “The work of black culture was never to civilize America—it’s about the ongoing production of the alternative. At this point it’s about the preservation of the earth. To the extent that black culture has a historic mission, and I believe that it does—its mission is to uncivilize, to de-civilize, this country. Yes, this brutal structure was built on our backs; but if that was the case, it was so that when we stood up it would crumble.”

Despite these freighted words, Moten isn’t the brooding type. He’s pleased to be back in New York City, where he’ll be able to walk, instead of drive, his kids to school. He’s hopeful about new opportunities for travel, and excited to engage with local artists and poets. His wife, cultural studies scholar Laura Harris, is working on a study of the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica, who is currently being “re-discovered” by American artists and critics. “I circulate babylon and translate for the new times,” opens another poem in The Feel Trio, … [more]
fredmoten  2017  2013  highereducation  highered  work  labor  anarchism  race  slavery  blackstudies  dissent  radicalism  via:javierarbona  resistance  blackness  bodies  aesthetics  amiribaraka  dukeellington  adrianpiper  billieholiday  nathanielmackey  poetry  scholarship  academia  rebellion  subversion  karlmarx  marxism  hortensespillers  kant  paullaurencedunbar  attentiveness  messes  messiness  johnashbery  ralphellison  webdubois  everyday  writing  undercommons  margins  liminality  betweenness  alternative  preservation  uncivilization  decivilization  consent  empire  imperialism  body  objects  cosmopolitanism  charlieparker  basquiat  weirdness  donaldglover  neildegrassetyson  issarae  georgeclinton  tshibumbakanda-matulu  charlesmingus  samueldelany  saidiyahartman  clrjames  françoisgirard  davidhammon  héliooiticica  lauraharris  charlesolson  susanhowe  criticism  art  stefanoharney  jacquesderrida  jean-michelbasquiat  theodoradorno 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The Touch of Madness - Pacific Standard
"So Jones grew alarmed when, soon after starting at DePaul in the fall of 2007, at age 27, she began having trouble retaining things she had just read. She also struggled to memorize the new characters she was learning in her advanced Chinese class. She had experienced milder versions of these cognitive and memory blips a couple times before, most recently as she’d finished her undergraduate studies earlier that year. These new mental glitches were worse. She would study and draw the new logograms one night, then come up short when she tried to draw them again the next morning.

These failures felt vaguely neurological. As if her synapses had clogged. She initially blamed them on the sleepless, near-manic excitement of finally being where she wanted to be. She had wished for exactly this, serious philosophy and nothing but, for half her life. Now her mind seemed to be failing. Words started to look strange. She began experiencing "inarticulable atmospheric changes," as she put it—not hallucinations, really, but alterations of temporality, spatiality, depth perception, kinesthetics. Shimmerings in reality's fabric. Sidewalks would feel soft and porous. Audio and visual input would fall out of sync, creating a lag between the movement of a speaker's lips and the words' arrival at Jones' ears. Something was off.

"You look at your hand," as she described it to me later, holding hers up and examining it front and back, "and it looks the same as always. But it's not. It's yours—but it's not. Nothing has changed"—she let her hand drop to her knee—"yet it's different. And that's what gets you. There's nothing to notice; but you can't help but notice."

Another time she found herself staring at the stone wall of a building on campus and realizing that the wall's thick stone possessed two contradictory states. She recognized that the wall was immovable and that, if she punched it, she'd break her hand. Yet she also perceived that the stone was merely a constellation of atomic particles so tenuously bound that, if she blew on it, it would come apart. She experienced this viscerally. She felt the emptiness within the stone.

Initially she found these anomalies less threatening than weird. But as they intensified, the gap between what she was perceiving and what she could understand rationally generated an unbearable cognitive dissonance. How could something feel so wrong but she couldn't say what? She had read up the wazoo about perception, phenomenology, subjectivity, consciousness. She of all people should be able to articulate what she was experiencing. Yet she could not. "Language had betrayed me," she says. "There was nothing you could point to and say, 'This looks different about the world.' There were no terms. I had no fucking idea."

Too much space was opening within and around and below her. She worried she was going mad. She had seen what madness looked like from the outside. When Jones was in her teens, one of her close relatives, an adult she'd always seen frequently, and whom we'll call Alex for privacy reasons, had in early middle age fallen into a state of almost relentless schizophrenia. It transformed Alex from a warm, caring, and open person who was fully engaged with the world into somebody who was isolated from it—somebody who seemed remote, behaved in confusing and alarming ways, and periodically required hospitalization. Jones now started to worry this might be happening to her."

"Reading philosophy helped Jones think. It helped order the disorderly. Yet later, in college, she lit up when she discovered the writers who laid the philosophical foundation for late 20-century critical psychiatry and madness studies: Michel Foucault, for instance, who wrote about how Western culture, by medicalizing madness, brands the mad as strangers to human nature. Foucault described both the process and the alienating effect of this exclusion-by-definition, or "othering," as it soon came to be known, and how the mad were cut out and cast away, flung into pits of despair and confusion, leaving ghosts of their presence behind.

To Jones, philosophy, not medicine, best explained the reverberations from the madness that had touched her family: the disappearance of the ex-husband; the alienation of Alex, who at times seemed "there but not there," unreachable. Jones today describes the madness in and around her family as a koan, a puzzle that teaches by its resistance to solution, and which forces upon her the question of how to speak for those who may not be able to speak for themselves.

Jones has since made a larger version of this question—of how we think of and treat the mad, and why in the West we usually shunt them aside—her life's work. Most of this work radiates from a single idea: Culture shapes the experience, expression, and outcome of madness. The idea is not that culture makes one mad. It's that culture profoundly influences every aspect about how madness develops and expresses itself, from its onset to its full-blown state, from how the afflicted experience it to how others respond to it, whether it destroys you or leaves you whole.

This idea is not original to Jones. It rose from the observation, first made at least a century ago and well-documented now, that Western cultures tend to send the afflicted into a downward spiral rarely seen in less modernized cultures. Schizophrenia actually has a poorer prognosis for people in the West than for those in less urbanized, non-Eurocentric societies. When the director of the World Health Organization's mental-health unit, Shekhar Saxena, was asked last year where he'd prefer to be if he were diagnosed with schizophrenia, he said for big cities he'd prefer a city in Ethiopia or Sri Lanka, like Colombo or Addis Ababa, rather than New York or London, because in the former he could expect to be seen as a productive if eccentric citizen rather than a reject and an outcast.

Over the past 25 years or so, the study of culture's effect on schizophrenia has received increasing attention from philosophers, historians, psychiatrists, anthropologists, and epidemiologists, and it is now edging into the mainstream. In the past five years, Nev Jones has made herself one of this view's most forceful proponents and one of the most effective advocates for changing how Western culture and psychiatry respond to people with psychosis. While still a graduate student at DePaul she founded three different groups to help students with psychosis continue their studies. After graduating in 2014, she expanded her reach first into the highest halls of academe, as a scholar at Stanford University, and then into policy, working with state and private agencies in California and elsewhere on programs for people with psychosis, and with federal agencies to produce toolkits for universities, students, and families about dealing with psychosis emerging during college or graduate study. Now in a new position as an assistant professor at the University of South Florida, she continues to examine—and ask the rest of us to see—how culture shapes madness.

In the United States, the culture's initial reaction to a person's first psychotic episode, embedded most officially in a medical system that sees psychosis and schizophrenia as essentially biological, tends to cut the person off instantly from friends, social networks, work, and their sense of identity. This harm can be greatly reduced, however, when a person's first care comes from the kind of comprehensive, early intervention programs, or EIPs, that Jones works on. These programs emphasize truly early intervention, rather than the usual months-long lag between first symptoms and any help; high, sustained levels of social, educational, and vocational support; and building on the person's experience, ambitions, and strengths to keep them as functional and engaged as possible. Compared to treatment as usual, EIPs lead to markedly better outcomes across the board, create more independence, and seem to create far less trauma for patients and their family and social circles."

"Once his eye was caught, Kraepelin started seeing culture's effects everywhere. In his native Germany, for instance, schizophrenic Saxons were more likely to kill themselves than were Bavarians, who were, in turn, more apt to do violence to others. In a 1925 trip to North America, Kraepelin found that Native Americans with schizophrenia, like Indonesians, didn't build in their heads the elaborate delusional worlds that schizophrenic Europeans did, and hallucinated less.

Kraepelin died in 1926, before he could publish a scholarly version of those findings. Late in his life, he embraced some widely held but horrific ideas about scientific racism and eugenics. Yet he had clearly seen that culture exerted a powerful, even fundamental, effect on the intensity, nature, and duration of symptoms in schizophrenia, and in bipolar disorder and depression. He urged psychiatrists to explore just how culture created such changes.

Even today, few in medicine have heeded this call. Anthropologists, on the other hand, have answered it vigorously over the last couple of decades. To a cultural anthropologist, culture includes the things most of us would expect—movies, music, literature, law, tools, technologies, institutions, and traditions. It also includes a society's predominant ideas, values, stories, interpretations, beliefs, symbols, and framings—everything from how we should dress, greet one another, and prepare and eat food, to what it means to be insane. Madness, in other words, is just one more thing about which a culture constructs and applies ideas that guide thought and behavior.

But what connects these layers of culture to something so seemingly internal as a person's state of mind? The biocultural anthropologist Daniel Lende says that it helps here to think of culture as a series of concentric circles surrounding each of us. For simplicity's sake, let's keep it to two circles around a core, with each circle … [more]
2017  daviddobbs  mentalhealth  psychology  health  culture  madness  nevjones  japan  ethiopia  colombo  addisababa  schizophrenia  society  srilanka  shekharsaxena  philosophy  perception  treatment  medicine  psychosis  media  academia  anthropology  daniellende  pauleugenbleuler  emilkraepelin  danielpaulschreber  edwadsapir  relationships  therapy  tinachanter  namitagoswami  irenehurford  richardnoll  ethanwatters  wolfgangjilek  wolfgangpfeiffer  stigma  banishment  hallucinations  really  but  alterations  of  temporality  time  spatiality  depthperception  kinesthetics  memory  memories  reality  phenomenology  subjectivity  consciousness  donaldwinnicott  alienation  kinship  isolation  tanyaluhrmann 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Dr. Nev Jones on Vimeo
[found after reading:

"The Tough of Madness: Culture profoundly shapes our ideas about mental illness, which is something psychologist Nev Jones knows all too well." ]
nevjones  academia  psychology  psychosis  schizophrenia  2017  mentalhealth  healthcare  health  ptsd  immigration  support  culture  society  risk 
october 2017 by robertogreco
k'eguro on Twitter: "Proposals for radical ideas in strict academic forms. Radical thinking requires radical forms. It's an elementary lesson."
"Proposals for radical ideas in strict academic forms.

Radical thinking requires radical forms.

It's an elementary lesson.

Perhaps more academically inclined people should co-edit with poets. Figure out *why* form matters.

I am most blocked when I resist the forms ideas need to emerge."

[three tweets: ]
keguromacharia  radicalism  form  format  academia  poetry  2017  containers  thinking  structure  alternative  cv 
september 2017 by robertogreco
recalibrating your sites – the ANOVA
"Not too long ago, I felt the need to change the stream of personalities and attitudes that were pouring into my head, and it’s been remarkable.

This was really the product of idiosyncratic personal conditions, but it’s ended up being a good intellectual exercise too. I had to rearrange a few things in my digital social life. And concurrently I had realized that my sense of the world was being distorted by the flow of information that was being deposited into my brain via the internet. I hadn’t really lost a sense of what the “other side” thinks politically; I’m still one of those geezers who forces himself to read Reason and the Wall Street Journal op/ed page and, god help me, National Review. But I had definitely lost a sense of the mental lives of people who did not occupy my various weird interests.

What were other people thinking about, at least as far as could be gleaned by what they shared online? What appeared to be a big deal to them and what didn’t? I had lost my sense of social proportion. I couldn’t tell if the things my friends were obsessing about were things that the rest of the world was obsessing about. Talking to IRL friends that don’t post much or at all online helped give me a sense that I was missing something. But I didn’t know what.

No, I had to use the tools available to me to dramatically change the opinions and ideas and attitudes that were coming flowing into my mental life. And it had become clear that, though I have an RSS feed and I peruse certain websites and publications regularly, though I still read lots of books and physical journals and magazines, the opinions I was receiving were coming overwhelmingly through social media. People shared things and commented on what they shared on Facebook and Twitter, they made clear what ideas were permissible and what weren’t on Facebook and Twitter, they defined the shared mental world on Facebook and Twitter. They created a language that, if you weren’t paying attention, looked like the lingua franca. I’m sure there are people out there who can take all of this in with the proper perspective and not allow it to subtly shape your perception of social attitudes writ large. But I can’t.

It’s all particularly disturbing because a lot of what you see and don’t online is the product of algorithms that are blunt instruments at best.

So I set about disconnecting, temporarily, from certain people, groups, publications, and conversations. I found voices that popped up in my feeds a lot and muted them. I unfollowed groups and pages. I looked out for certain markers of status and social belonging and used them as guides for what to avoid. I was less interested in avoiding certain subjects than I was in avoiding certain perspectives, the social frames that we all use to understand the world. The news cycle was what it was; I could not avoid Trump, as wonderful as that sounds. But I could avoid a certain way of looking at Trump, and at the broader world. In particular I wanted to look past what we once called ideology: I wanted to see the ways in which my internet-mediated intellectual life was dominated by assumptions that did not recognize themselves as assumptions, to understand how the perspective that did not understand itself to be a perspective had distorted my vision of the world. I wanted to better see the water in which my school of fish swims.

Now this can be touchy – mutually connecting with people on social media has become a loaded thing in IRL relationships, for better or worse. Luckily both Facebook and Twitter give you ways to not see someone’s posts without them knowing and without severing the connection. Just make a list of people, pages, and publications that you want to take a diet from, and after a month or two of seeing how different things look, go back to following them. (Alternatively: don’t.) Really do it! The tools are there, and you can always revert back. Just keep a record of what you’re doing.

I was prepared for this to result in a markedly different online experience for me, and for it to somewhat change my perception of what “everyone” thinks, of what people are reading, watching, and listening to, etc. But even so, I’ve been floored by how dramatically different the online world looks with a little manipulation of the feeds. A few subjects dropped out entirely; the Twin Peaks reboot went from being everywhere to being nowhere, for example. But what really changed was the affect through which the world was presenting itself to me.

You would not be surprised by what my lenses appear to have been (and still largely to be): very college educated, very left-leaing, very New York, very media-savvy, very middlebrow, and for lack of a better word, very “cool.” That is, the perspective that I had tried to wean myself off of was made up of people whose online self-presentation is ostentatiously ironic, in-joke heavy, filled with cultural references that are designed to hit just the right level of obscurity, and generally oriented towards impressing people through being performatively not impressed by anything. It was made up of people who are passionately invested in not appearing to be passionately invested in anything. It’s a sensibility that you can trace back to Gawker and Spy magazine and much, much further back than that, if you care to.

Perhaps most dramatic was the changes to what – and who – was perceived as a Big Deal. By cutting out a hundred voices or fewer, things and people that everybody talks about became things and people that nobody talks about. The internet is a technology for creating small ponds for us to all be big fish in. But you change your perspective just slightly, move over just an inch, and suddenly you get a sense of just how few people know about you or could possibly care. It’s oddly comforting, to be reminded that even if you enjoy a little internet notoriety, the average person on the street could not care less who you are or what you do. I recommend it.

Of course, there are profound limits to this. My feeds are still dominantly coming from a few overlapping social cultures. Trimming who I’m following hasn’t meant that I’m suddenly connected to more high school dropouts, orthodox Jews, senior citizens, or people who don’t speak English. I would never pretend that this little exercise has given me a truly broad perspective. The point has just been to see how dramatically a few changes to my digital life could alter my perception of “the conversation.” And it’s done that. More than ever, I worry that our sense of shared political assumptions and the perceived immorality of the status quo is the result of systems that exclude a large mass of people, whose opinions will surely matter in the political wars ahead.

I am now adding some of what I cut back in to my digital life. The point was never really to avoid particular publications or people. I like some of what and who I had cut out very much. The point is to remain alive to how arbitrary and idiosyncratic changes in the constant flow of information can alter our perception of the human race. It’s something I intend to do once a year or so, to jolt myself back into understanding how limiting my perspective really is.

Everyone knows, these days, that we’re living in digitally-enabled bubbles. The trouble is that our instincts are naturally to believe that everyone else is in a bubble, or at least that their bubbles are smaller and with thicker walls. But people like me – college educated, living in an urban enclave, at least socially liberal, tuned in to arts and culture news and criticism, possessed of the vocabulary of media and the academy, “savvy” – you face unique temptations in this regard. No, I don’t think that this kind of bubble is the same as someone who only gets their news from InfoWars and Breitbart. But the fact that so many people like me write the professional internet, the fact that the creators of the idioms and attitudes of our newsmedia and cultural industry almost universally come from a very thin slice of the American populace, is genuinely dangerous.

To regain perspective takes effort, and I encourage you all to expend that effort, particularly if you are an academic or journalist. Your world is small, and our world is big."
freddiedeboer  2017  internet  twitter  facebook  filterbubbles  socialmedia  relationships  algorithms  echochambers  academia  journalism  culture  society  diversity  perspective  listening  web  media  feeds 
august 2017 by robertogreco
How a (nearly) zero-carbon conference can be a better conference | University of California
"A conference wrapped up recently at UC Santa Barbara, but this was not a typical academic conference. There was no mess to clean up at the end: no coffee-stained tablecloths and muffin crumbs. The attendees were from campuses all across California, but no one had to rush to catch a flight home. The cost of the conference: essentially free. The carbon footprint of the conference: nearly zero.

John Foran, professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at UC Santa Barbara, was part of the team that put on the recent UC-CSU Knowledge Action Network Conference as part of UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative.

Given the topic of the conference — developing resources for teaching sustainability, climate change, climate justice and climate neutrality to all California students from kindergarten through college — the idea of having people fly in, and contribute greenhouse gases in the process, seemed sadly ironic, if not "morally bankrupt," in Foran's words.

In fact, air travel to conferences, talks and meetings accounts for about a third of the carbon footprint for a typical university. For many professors who travel to multiple conferences and meetings per year, air travel can easily make up over half of their annual carbon footprint.

“Knowing what we know now, it’s just not responsible to fly to conferences all over the world,” said Foran.

For universities concerned about trying to reduce — or even eliminate — their carbon footprints, the problem of air travel is especially acute. Both the carbon footprint and the cost of air travel and honoraria have pushed many institutions to support virtual meetings, but traditional teleconferencing has proved a largely unsatisfying alternative. Dropped connections, inadequate bandwidth and other technological issues have made live video conferences a poor substitute for in-person attendance."

[See also: ]

[See also:

"UC-CSU KAN Conference
a nearly carbon-neutral conference

Interested in staging a nearly carbon-neutral (NCN) conference? For the rationale behind this approach & details on how to coordinate such events, see our White Paper / Practical Guide.
[ ]

“Building a UC/CSU Climate Knowledge Action Network”
Spring 2017 Nearly Carbon-Neutral Conference

The UC-CSU Knowledge Action Network
Transformative Climate and Sustainability Education and Action


We are delighted to host this virtual space and welcome you to our community – We’re all in for an adventure, if this goes as we hope! This conference opened on Monday, June 12, 2017, and we now invite all participants to please view and comment on the talks for the next three weeks! On Monday, July 3, the conference and the Q&A will close. After that, the website will remain open to the public and continue to invite participation in the building of this Knowledge Action Network.

Guiding Principles

We affirm the essential roles social scientists, humanists, educators, and arts and culture play in advancing transformative climate action. We affirm the roles of California faculty in supporting younger generations to act on climate and in reaching beyond the campus to engage various publics to accelerate the shifts. We affirm the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 4.7: “To ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”


Over the course of the 2016-17 academic year, a network of 32 University of California and California State University teachers has been building a Knowledge Action Network (KAN) around issues of teaching sustainability, climate change, climate justice, and climate neutrality to all California students, from kindergarten to the graduate university level.

The purpose of this knowledge action network is to begin to take the steps necessary to provide California educators a collaborative framework to facilitate highly integrative sustainability and climate education and action. The KAN will accelerate California educators’ abilities to offer climate neutrality, climate change, climate justice,[1] and sustainability education to all Californian students in ways that are culturally contextualized, responsive and sustaining, as well as actionable and relevant to their futures. The network will also enable California educators to engage across and beyond our educational institutions for transformative climate action over time.

In the spring of 2017, we came together in four regional workshops, and spent one and a half days together at each site getting to know each other, identifying the current state of climate change and climate justice education in California, envisioning what we hope to see in the future, and then beginning to identify ways to get there. In doing so, we explored the facilitation process of “emergent strategy,” based on the book by Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds.

The present “nearly carbon-neutral conference” is the next step in that process. Each participant was asked to make a video of approximately fifteen minutes on one of the following themes:

Option 1:

What is one of your best practices in teaching climate change, climate justice, carbon neutrality/greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and/or sustainability in a culturally responsive and sustaining way?

What makes it work?

How does/can it scale?

[If appropriate] What obstacles and barriers have you encountered? Where are you stuck? What would you need to go forward?

Option 2:

What vision, proposal, or idea do you have for achieving the goals of the KAN in teaching climate change, climate justice, carbon neutrality/greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and/or sustainability in a culturally responsive and sustaining way?

What is exciting about it?

How does/can it scale?

[If appropriate] What obstacles and barriers have you already or might you encounter? Where are you stuck? What would you need or what would need to happen to make it a reality?


This conference was unusual because of its format, as we took a digital approach. Because the conference talks and Q&A sessions reside on this website (the talks are prerecorded; the Q&As interactive), travel was unnecessary. By 2050, the aviation sector could consume as much as 27% of the global carbon budget (more). We need to immediately take steps to keep this from happening. This conference approach, which completely eschews flying, is one such effort (more).


UCSB’s Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI) is hosting this conference on the EHI website. While here, please feel free to explore the EHI site, perhaps starting with our Intro and Home pages."]
conferences  carbonneutrality  events  planning  2017  johnforan  virtual  environment  sustainability  teaching  pedagogy  sfsh  airtravel  climatechange  climate  climatejustice  climateneutrality  carbonfootprint  kenhiltner  internet  web  online  access  accesibility  community  howto  ucsb  highered  education  highereducation  academia 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Book Review: Academic Conferences as Neoliberal Commodities by Donald J. Nicolson | LSE Review of Books
"What role do academic conferences play in the construction of an academic career? In Academic Conferences as Neoliberal Commodities, Donald J. Nicolson examines the link between the value attributed to participation in academic conferences and the broader neoliberalisation of the academy. Fawzia Haeri Mazanderani welcomes this short book for beginning a meaningful conversation about the significance of this aspect of academic life.


While rarely interrogated for the role that they play, academic conferences form a significant part in the construction of an academic career. Any aspiring, or indeed expiring, academic has at some point presented at, or attended, a conference. How many researchers have sat sleepily in a stuffy room, listening to the chap who ate all the egg-and-cress sandwiches at lunch drone on about something that they suspect might be interesting and important, but which they can’t quite pay attention to because they are too distracted with thoughts of their own impending presentation? How many researchers have made obligatory nods to a slideshow that could have been in a different language for all they understood, and then bit their lip in silence when someone asked a ten-minute question that was not really a question but instead sounded suspiciously like self-aggrandisement?

If such ponderings resonate with you, then you have probably found yourself like Donald J. Nicolson, speculating on the value and purpose of attending an academic conference. Nicolson’s book Academic Conferences as Neoliberal Commodities provides an exploratory study into conferences in the social sciences, looking explicitly at the link between conferences and the neoliberalism of academia itself. In this strikingly original work, the author draws upon an assortment of methods, including an analysis of five conference case studies, notes made at conferences he personally attended, conference records, abstract booklets and interviews with people from a range of backgrounds. The novel layout of the book starts each chapter as though a conference presentation, with an abstract and keywords. Opening with a ‘Welcome’, the reader moves through several ‘parallel’ sessions before the ‘Closing Keynote’. Nicolson, a freelance writer with a background in academic research, writes independently of any university or funding body and employs a lucid writing style that makes for an accessible and enjoyable read.

After reflecting upon the difficulties of defining ‘neoliberal’, he argues that, ultimately, the neoliberalisation of the university has resulted in changes whereby in place of the traditional professional culture of open intellectual enquiry and debate, there is now an institutional stress on measurable performance. By seeing knowledge as a product that can arise from a conference, Nicolson considers such events as having a role in the ‘knowledge enterprise’ industry that by promoting a method, data set or research cause as a commodity, becomes the product and marketplace itself. The academic culture of conferences themselves may vary: a point noted by Les Back when he characterises Australian ones as ‘vicious and boozy’, US conferences as ‘status conscious and networking-obsessed’ and British equivalents as ‘polite and consensual’. While recognising that reasons for attending conferences are also variable, the book nonetheless demonstrates how the overarching function of the conference lies in its premise of promoting intellectual communication.

Acknowledging that academia plays out differently across contexts, the book alludes to what conferences of our increasingly neoliberal future may look like. Nicolson makes brief references to the rise of ‘5 minute presentations’ and ‘posters’, and relays the potential role of Twitter as well as variants on the academic conference, such as TED Talks. While his own study is not extensive, this raises the need for further exploration of the different directions in which academic conferences could be heading and the ways in which technology is changing the traditional structure of the conference.

Appreciating that ‘the Helsinki Conference would not have been the same had it been conducted as a group email’ (17), the author also considers the constraints of conference attendance where travel plays a pertinent role. He raises concerns about the environmental impact of carbon emissions from airplanes and money wasted on conferences. While academics from universities in the northern hemisphere may enjoy generous travel budgets and mobility, this is generally not the case for researchers coming from the Global South. Nicolson reflects upon how last year, at the biannual conference of the African Studies Association of the United Kingdom, an unconfirmed number of delegates were unable to attend due to visa refusals. Where a conference is hosted inevitably influences who can attend, and as such has implications for knowledge sharing and development: a pressing concern in a world of increasing walls. Nicolson importantly points out that while conferences are often labelled ‘international’ and ‘global’, the reality is that they often have a homogenising effect given that the intellectual environment within which they are held largely celebrates Anglo-American, English-speaking academic culture.

The book notes that a key reason for people to go to conferences is to engage with colleagues in their field and establish networks. As such, conferences can help prevent the isolation often associated with academia. In reality, however, conferences can themselves be potentially alienating, and such socialising may not come naturally to everyone. This is particularly the case given the ambiguous nature of ‘professional socialisation’, whereby one partakes in the awkward juggling act of grasping at something intelligent to say, while at the same time not too intelligent, lest you come across as if you aren’t a well-rounded person who has no interests beyond the article that is currently keeping you up at night. This socialisation may be traditionally performed over the conference dinner, a seemingly cordial opportunity for delegates to make new acquaintances or catch up with colleagues. Some of Nicolson’s respondents reflected upon how the ‘real work’ at a conference happens at the bar (53). While this point is not merely about enjoying an alcoholic beverage but rather the significance of face-to-face interaction, it again reflects the Eurocentric manner by which professional socialisation often takes place within academia. This is a point that Nicolson unfortunately does not reflect upon, but which might have bearing for scholars who do not drink alcohol for personal reasons or due to religious practices. Another limitation of the book, which the author duly acknowledges, is that the research reported does not provide a representative sample of conferences or interviewees.

Nonetheless, while narrow in its scope, Academic Conferences as Neoliberal Commodities represents the start of a meaningful conversation, and is highly recommended to anyone working within the social sciences who aspires to make the most out of this unexplored yet integral part of performing and producing academia. The lingering impression for me is that while calls for abstracts at conferences often express ambitious aims and desires to transform the face of a field, there is little evidence that conferences in themselves have led to ground-breaking change. Yet, as noted by Nicolson, the very notion of conferences having a measurable impact is in itself a reflection of neoliberal thinking whereby everything has a cost and a value. The examples in the book highlight how the impact of a conference need not be that it is paradigm-defining, but can be experienced at a personal level. This might just be through the strategic rationale of fluffing out one’s CV or through the way in which, if the conference is a good one, it could make the attendee feel excited and enthused about research, triggering new ideas. While demonstrating that the individual gain of conferences fits with neoliberal ideology, there is room to explore how conferences could serve as spaces for collaboration, and indeed, for resistance of the same structures that perpetuate their existence."

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via:javierarbona  books  conferences  events  economics  2017  academia  scholarship  highered  highereducation  fawziahaerimazanderani  donaldnicolson  lesback  education 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Ethnographies of Conferences and Trade Fairs - Shaping | Hege Høyer Leivestad | Springer
"This anthology is an attempt to make sense of conferences and trade fairs as phenomena in contemporary society. The authors describe how these large-scale professional gatherings have become key sites for making and negotiating both industries and individual professions. In fact, during the past few decades, conferences and trade fairs have become a significant global industry in their own right. The editors assert that large-scale professional gatherings are remarkable events that require deeper analysis and scholarly attention."

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ethnography  conferences  tradefairs  economics  via:javierarbona  books  attention  academia  scholarship  professionalization  highered  highereducation 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Zizek’s Least Favorite Job | Submitted For Your Perusal
"When asked “What is the worst job you’ve done?” by the Guardian recently, Slavoj Zizek, in typical Zizek fashion, answered, “Teaching. I hate students, they are (as all people) mostly stupid and boring.”

Now, he might be right about most students being stupid and boring (though copping such an attitude displays a tremendous amount of arrogance), but, oddly enough, therein lies one of the pleasures of teaching. To paraphrase something designer Milton Glaser once said, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing a student go from a condition of inertness and inattentiveness to showing an interest in learning new things.

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mattthomas  2008  zizek  teaching  howweteach  academia  education  learning  miltonglaser 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Fair Use Too Often Goes Unused - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"When you are writing a book analyzing images from Kurosawa’s Rashomon, you should include images from the classic 1950 film. The logic behind that seems straightforward — but the logistics can be less so.

For Blair Davis, an assistant professor of communications at DePaul University who edited Rashomon Effects: Kurosawa, Rashomon and their Legacies, published in 2015 by Routledge, getting permission to use the stills in the book turned out to be almost as difficult as ferreting out the truth in the film itself.

"I spent at least a year dealing with the Japanese corporation Kodansha, which owns the rights," Davis told me by email. He had to "hire someone who spoke Japanese to conduct face-to-face negotiations in Japan." Worse, in the end, Davis wasn’t even allowed to use the images he had asked for. Kodansha insisted he choose from a small selection of publicity photos, rather than the scenes actually analyzed in the text.

Davis’s acquisition process was more arduous than most, but the general predicament will be familiar to many academics who work with film, art, comics, or other visual materials. Many academic presses and journals require permission for the reprint of any images. For instance, Julia Round, a principal lecturer at Bournemouth University and editor of the journal Studies in Comics, told me that, at the request of its publisher (Intellect Books), "we always seek image permissions." Only if authors can’t track down permissions holders, Round said, does the journal consider printing small images under the legal doctrine of fair use.

But while publishers want authors to get permission, the law often does not require it. According to Kyle K. Courtney, copyright adviser for Harvard University in its Office for Scholarly Communication, copyright holders have certain rights — for instance, if you hold rights for a comic book, you determine when and by whom it can be reprinted, which is why I can’t just go out and create my own edition of the first Wonder Woman comic. But notwithstanding those rights, fair use gives others the right to reprint materials in certain situations without consulting the author — or even, in some cases, if the author has refused permission.

Courtney explained that courts have used a four-factor test to decide whether or not the reproduction of artwork, or other elements, falls under fair use. Judges look first at the purpose of the use; then at the nature of the copyrighted work itself; then the amount of the work reproduced; and finally at the effect of the use upon the market. Thus, when you publish — for scholarly purposes — a single image from a feature-length film that will not affect the market of the film, you have a good chance of being covered under fair use.

In the last decade, courts have also used the concept of transformative use, Courtney said. If you are using an image for a different purpose than it was originally intended, and thereby transforming it, you have a strong fair-use argument. "So if a comic book at the time period was to entertain, but you’re doing a critical/social analysis of what the comic means today," he said, "you’re applying a new meaning, a new message — you’re transforming the original for a new purpose."

In some recent court cases, judges have upheld fair use after the copyright holder had explicitly denied permission. In the early 2000s, DK publishing was refused permission to reprint Grateful Dead posters for an illustrated history of the band. The publisher reproduced the images anyway, and then defeated the lawsuit in court. Asking a copyright holder for permission does not mean that you vitiate your fair-use rights. (Courtney has created a handy explanatory comic about the case, available here.)

Betsy Phillips, sales and marketing manager at Vanderbilt University Press, said that it evaluates fair-use questions on a "case by case basis." In particular, Vanderbilt treats marketing images very differently from reproductions inside the book. "There’s a difference between a film still on the inside of a book that’s discussed in that book, and a page from a comic book on the cover," she said. The amount of material reproduced is also important: A black or white thumbnail of a detail of a painting would probably be fine, but a high-resolution, full-color image of an entire work might require permission.

Phillips also emphasized that the press tried to keep a clear paper trail of its use of images, including discussions about the rationale for fair use of each image, and why permission did or did not need to be sought. She noted that professional societies often have useful guidelines. For instance, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies discusses fair-use policies on its website.

Of course, some publishers may still prefer to ask for permission each and every time you want your book to reprint an image — it seems safer. If you get permission, you know for sure that you won’t have legal struggles. Why mess about with fair use, where there is at least a small risk of unpleasantness?

Seeking permission may seem safe, but it can have serious ethical and practical downsides.

Consider the case of David W. Stowe, a professor at Michigan State University who wrote Swing Changes: Big-Band Jazz in New Deal America, a 1994 book about the cultural milieu of big-band jazz. Stowe wanted to reproduce cartoons from Down Beat magazine to illustrate the racism and sexism of the era. Down Beat had approved reprint requests for such materials from other scholars. In this instance, however, according to a 2000 account by Lydia Pallas Loren in Open Spaces Quarterly, the magazine refused because "the drawings made the magazine ‘look bad.’" Stowe feared a lawsuit, and so did not use the images. Asking for permission gave the magazine a chance to stifle criticism.

Copyright holders may also try to force a press or an author to cough up exorbitant fees for reprints. That can be a financial hardship for a scholar, or simply make it impossible to use the images — which isn’t censorship per se but does damage scholarship.

As Julia Round explained, "Having to describe an image wastes so many words! And it simply doesn’t substitute for seeing the image itself. It’s so complicated trying to talk about complex page layouts, or attempting to explain a particular effect, or describing the idiosyncrasies of a font, or a precise shade of color."

Omitting the image also prevents readers from analyzing it for themselves. If a critic says a particular shade of green in the image is sickly and disturbing, the reader has no choice but to take the writer’s word for it, unless the image is reproduced. Of course many images today are online and can be easily Googled, but many other comics, film stills, and paintings remain offline and inaccessible. If you can’t show the image right in the text, Round concludes, "it makes it hard for any reader to fully understand and critically engage with what is being said."

Books and journal articles about visual culture need to be able to engage with, analyze, and share visual culture. Fair use makes that possible — but only if authors and presses are willing to assert their rights. Presses may take on a small risk in asserting fair use. But in return they give readers an invaluable opportunity to see what scholars are talking about."
copyright  fairuse  publishing  film  academia  2017  noahberlatsky  rashomon  blairdavis  juliaround  images  kylecourtney  transformativeuse  betsyphillips  cinema  media  davidstowe  lydiapallasloren  illustration 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Education Gurus | the édu flâneuse
"Knowledge and advice for schools and about education often seem to exist in a world of commodification and memeification. There is plenty of disagreement and debate in education, and plenty of competition on bookshelves and in conference programs. Educators and academics position themselves as brands via bios, photographs, and certification badges. As an educator and a researcher I have those whose work I follow closely; academics, for instance, whose presence affects me when I meet them because their reputation and body of work precede them.

In education, we have perceived gurus. These are people who have become ubiquitous in education circles, at education conferences, and in education literature. Teachers and school leaders scramble to get tickets to their sessions and to get photographic evidence of having met them. Their words are tweeted out in soundbites ad infinitum (or is that ad nauseum?), and made into internet memes. Sometimes these individuals partner with publishers or education corporates, and so the visibility and reach of their work grows. They become the scholars or experts most cited in staff rooms, at professional learning water coolers, and in job interviews when asked how research informs practice.

Sometimes, these gurus are teachers or principals who have gained a large following on social media and subsequently a monolithic profile. Often, they are academics who have built up bodies of work over many years, becoming more and more well-known along the way, and eventually being perceived as celebrities or gurus. Yesterday I had the pleasure of learning from Dylan Wiliam, firstly at a day long seminar, and then at my school. At one point the seminar organisers apologised for running out of Wiliam’s books, acknowledging the desire of delegates to have the book signed.

Marten Koomen has traced networks of influencers in Australian education organisations. In his new paper ‘School leadership and the cult of the guru: the neo-Taylorism of Hattie’, Scott Eacott challenges the rise of the edu guru, those academics whose work is ubiquitous and influential to the point of being uncritically accepted and canonised. Eacott pushes back against the ‘what works’ mentality in education, in which educators are sold ‘what works’ and encouraged to slavishly apply it to their own contexts. Jon Andrews, too, questions the unquestioning way in which the loudest and most prominent voices become the accepted voices. Meta-analysis and meta-meta-analysis, often translated into league tables of ‘what works’ in education, have been the subject of criticism. George Lilley and Gary Jones have both questioned meta-analysis on their blogs. I’ve written about cautions surrounding the use of meta-analysis in education, especially when it drives clickbait headlines and a silver-bullet mentality of having the answers without having to ask any questions. Yesterday Wiliam made his oft-repeated points: that everything works somewhere, nothing works everywhere, and context matters. A guru cannot provide easy answers in education, as education is too complex and contextual for that.

Much of this conversation around the rise of the edu guru has surrounded John Hattie, although he is by no means the only globally renowned education expert likely to make conference delegates weak at the knees. I was personally uncomfortable when he was beamed in via video link to last year’s ACEL conference and began to give an ‘I have a dream’ speech about education. As an English and Literature teacher I understand the power of rhetoric and analogy to persuade and inspire, but appropriating the legacy and words of Dr Martin Luther King Junior seemed a way to gospelise a personal brand of education reform.

I don’t think that education experts, no matter how influential they become, should encourage the uncritical acceptance of their ideas as dogma, or present themselves as the bringers of the One True Thing To Rule All Things of and for education. As Dylan Wiliam, channelling Ben Goldacre, repeatedly said yesterday, “I think you’ll find it’s a little more complicated than that.”

I wonder how perceived gurus feel about being guru-ised by the education masses. In part the famous and the infamous in education are so because of their actions: accepting more and more speaking gigs, performing the game of publishing and promoting their work. Most, I would guess, do this for the same reason someone like me speaks and publishes. To contribute to education narratives and change those narratives, hopefully for the better. To be of service to the profession and the field. To explore and wrestle with ideas, trying to find ways to make sense of the complexity of education in order to improve the learning of students and the lives of teachers and school leaders.

I wondered about the rise to gurudom and the moral obligation of the academic celebrity figure last year when at AERA I saw a panel in which four educational heavy hitters—Andy Hargreaves, Michael Fullan, Linda Darling-Hammond and Diane Ravitch—all advocating for the moral imperative of educational research and practice. They spoke of lifetime journeys of work intended to make the world a better and more just place. I wondered at the time about how much an early career academic can be brave and resistant in their work, as they try to build a career via the performative pressures of the academe. Can only the guru, free from institutional performativities and the financial pressures often associated with early career academia, say what they really want to say and do the work and writing they really want to do?

I don’t think experts in education are dangerous. We need expertise and people willing to commit their lives and work to making sense of and making better the world of education and learning. But in a world where teachers and school leaders are busy racing on the mouse wheels of their own performative pressures, we need to figure out ways to support and facilitate sceptical and critical engagement with research. Even those who are highly influential and highly admired need to have their work engaged with closely and critically. The danger comes when experts become so guru-fied that the words they use become part of an unthinking professional vernacular, used by educators who haven’t looked behind the curtain or beneath the book cover."
cultofpersonality  edugurus  education  australia  newzealand  2017  deborahnetolicky  learning  research  andyhargreaves  michaelfullan  lindadarling-hammond  dianeravitch  academia  dylanwiliam  bengoldacre  scotteacott  matenkoomen  influence  leadership  thoughtleaders  neo-taylorism  schools  georgelilley  garyjones  jonandrews  bestpractices  echochambers  expertise  experts 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Why do we Talk about Cities as Laboratories? – Andrew R. Schrock – Medium
"In many ways, cities are quite unlike laboratories. Scientific laboratories are carefully controlled environments. Cities are unruly spaces that resist measurement and management. Where did this vision of come from, and what are the implications of its rise?"

"Latour and Woolgar were interested in the idea of border crossing, but were even more concerned about how laboratories held a particular power in society."

"The prevailing wisdom of the day was that cities were harmful and dehumanizing. Park, by contrast, situated cities as beneficial ecosystems. Cities could be mapped and studied much an oceanographer would research a coral reef or a forester would approach a forest. The empirical “bottom-up” approach to social research Park and his collaborator Eve Burgess suggested was enormously influential on urban sociology."

"Approaching cities as laboratories provided insight into human collectivity and made social problems visible, but also controllable."

"Latour would warn us that scientific authority is the true power structures that undergirds more formalized Politics. Vague but persuasive combinations of mobile media, “civic tech,” and urban design are starting to be taken seriously by academia, political institutions and funding agencies.

It is not yet clear how these new players will achieve their most audacious hope. This hope is often not about a new mobile app, or even technology itself. City-lab hybrids don’t want to just work around cities and city government. They want to change how they function. They are never just tinkering."
cities  laboratories  2017  andrewschrock  brunolatour  stevewoolgar  collectivism  collectivity  ecosystems  sociology  politics  scientism  academia  policy  government  governance  robertpark 
may 2017 by robertogreco
On Being Broken, and the Kindness of Others – The Tattooed Professor
"We’re not sending graduates “out into the real world”–they’ve been there for their entire lives, and most of them know at least implicitly how the deck is stacked against people regardless of how hard they’re bootstrapping. We have given our students a wide array of tools, and tried to prepare them to use those tools well for themselves and for their communities. We teach in the hopes of a better, more compassionate, and more just world. But then we tell a graduation-day story that assumes our graduates will go out into a broken world riven by hate, fear, and inequality but also that it’s their fault if that world beats them down. I don’t think we do this on purpose, but the myth is no less insidious for being unintentional. Consider this: as the college student population increases, so to has the incidence and significance of mental health concerns for our students. Substance abuse among college students exhibits several worrisome trends. The scale and scope of the sexual assault epidemic on our campuses is horrifying. The uncertainty of the post-2008 job market and the increasingly contingent and precarious nature of work in our neoliberal world present a post-graduation outlook that is bleaker for this generation than it was for any of their predecessors (to say nothing of the victim-blaming from those very forebears).

These are interrelated and telling concerns; they describe a significant portion of our students’ reality. Yet we’re telling them that effort and pluckiness will suffice to change the world, just like that effort and pluckiness got them to graduation. But it wasn’t just effort and pluckiness. For many of our students, the path to graduation was strewn with detours, interruptions, even crises like the ones detailed above–perhaps the way forward for them will be littered with similar obstacles. We celebrate the triumph over adversity, as well we should, but I wish we would give ourselves permission to recognize that adversity as something more than the thing we get over and never speak of again. If we don’t sit with the rough edges of our journey, we forget how we made it. Our students make it through like we did: sometimes through individual effort, but more often from the support, compassion, and vital companionship and affirmation of those around us. I don’t think we pay nearly enough attention to that fact. Nobody does it all by themselves, but I worry that we’re telling our students they have to do exactly that, rather than giving them permission to fail, to fall short, to admit they need help. Because those lessons are hard ones to learn, all the more so if there aren’t examples or encouragement for us to follow. Believe me, I know."

"I was afraid of other people, and afraid of what I’d learn from them. I believed asking for help was an admission of defeat. I’m in a career field that places a high value upon the appearance of professionalism; I’m expected to have it together, to know what I’m doing. To admit that wasn’t the case was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can see now that I wouldn’t have done it were it not for the people around me who helped me feel safe and supported when I was at my most raw and wounded. I didn’t want to talk about my past, what I’d done, or what had been done to me, but those around me helped me realize that if I didn’t, I would continue to carry it with me. Doctors, nurses, counselors, clergy, spouse, parents, siblings, co-workers, others in recovery, random strangers, Vin Scully, my pets–it was their voice, their connection, and their freely-given kindness that sustained me.

It was not the smoothest or easiest road from there to here; don’t cue the happy closing music yet. I still struggle. I still need lots of help. I still act like a jerk to the people who are helping. But I have learned this truth: there are times when life will break me. The problem isn’t being broken, it’s in not letting others help put me back together. When I graduated, I went out into the world, and the world beat me up while I sat and watched. I thought fighting back was a solo project, so I failed. Only when I gave others the chance to help me, and accepted that support and affirmation honestly and without begrudging it, did I stop getting beaten up.

That’s my advice, then, to you graduates. You will go forth and hopefully forge many successes for you and your loved ones. But you will also fall short. There will be failures. There will be wounds inflicted by yourself and by others. You will find yourself in places you did not plan to be. You may even find yourself broken. And when that happens, remember that you are neither the first nor the last to end up there. Others have, too, and they can help. It is no defeat to ask for others to help you, and to depend upon that assistance. It’s a victory over fear and anger, that’s what it is. As a society, we tell ourselves that the individual reigns supreme. But it does serious damage when we take that ethos too seriously. Not every problem can be solved by an individual. Not every success is the product of an individual. There is no shame in recognizing those facts as they operate in our lives."
via:audreywatters  kevingannon  2017  resilience  pluckiness  grit  education  realworld  highered  highereducation  adversity  mentalhealth  well-being  uncertainty  expectations  kindness  compassion  companionship  substanceabuse  academia  colleges  universities  brokenness  professionalism  help  helplessness  success  individualism  support  assistance 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Deeply Aggrieved
"Van Jones, whom Bruni quotes, offers to students that “I want you to be offended every single day on this campus. I want you to be deeply aggrieved and offended and upset, and then to learn how to speak back.” And I wonder: Does Jones, does Bruni, think that students aren’t offended—deeply aggrieved and offended and upset—everywhere every single day? How dare we presume that students live idle lives when we’re not watching? How dare we believe it is our responsibility to forge their character through intellectual adversity?

C’mon, really? Among undergraduate women, 23.4% will be or have been raped. Upwards of 24% of students are food insecure, even though 63% of them are working. And that’s just for starters. Hate crime, domestic abuse, fears about the stability and reliability of health care, concerns about the environment—all the things that plague working adults with advanced degrees also plague students. The difference is that those “working adults” don’t have professors telling them to “put on some boots and learn how to deal with adversity.”

But what does all of this have to do with a dyslexic student who found herself unable to use the device on which she relied in—ahem—a computer science class?

Academia has long touted its own brand without paying attention to whether or not its product works. Universities and colleges not only stand on tradition, they promote a propaganda of tradition, a dogged effort to raise the quality of human character through intellectualism, rationality, and expertise supported by relentless surveillance and punishment of plagiarism, sloth, and student agency, and a tireless resistance to cultural change, technology, and diversity. The Student is the weak link in the academy, the wild horse that needs breaking, or the lazy scissorbill who must be taught discipline and integrity...and more recently, the privileged Millennial whose character can only be built through an unforgiving exposure to adversity.

But the academy and its students see the world very differently. Devices are not distractions. And adversity is something carried on the back into class. While academics enact social justice through diatribes, literary analysis, and social get-togethers, students are finding themselves on the front lines. They are dealing with their disabilities, they are confronting racism, they are walking out of classrooms to join protests, they are standing up for their undocumented colleagues. They are taking risks. And even if the only thing they’re doing is attending our classes, that is risk enough.

Your students have fought, your students have hidden from bullies, your students have been hungry, they have passed for straight, they have held their tongues, and they have been broken.
In many cases, the students you work with have had to subvert a system that sought to oppress them in order to make it to your classroom.
Institutions that refuse to move—not into the future, but into the present—are enacting a masochistic nostalgia. Things are not the way they were, and to isolate our philosophies in an historic moment is to condemn their practicality. Just as perilous is to assume the academy exists in a safe vacuum, where political tensions that light the nation on fire will not penetrate the halls of ivy-grown intellectualism and rationality. Universities hope to be environments for stable inquiry, where research and dialogue trump matters more visceral. But the students are restless y'all. These upon whose shoulders our futures will be built are staring down an apocalypse—of government, of environment, of justice, and of common sense.

In a world run by people who take the low road, taking the high road is not practical. We need people who will meet others on the low road if we are to cease this downward spiral. I am not advocating for violence—that the Middlebury protest ended in violence muted its usefulness. Instead, I am advocating for a Zen-like honesty about the state of things. The academy will not solve the crises its students face. But the students themselves may.

We do not do what we do so that students can be like us. We do what we do precisely because they can't be. We cannot afford for them to carry on our traditions. And for that reason, I encourage the academy, and all of those who advocate for its primacy, to consider the ways in which it has sheltered itself from the world, and to put on some boots, become deeply aggrieved, and be strong."
seanmichaelmorris  2017  vanjones  frankbruni  highered  highereducation  tradtion  academia  adversity  privilege  technology  education  middleburycollege  charlesmurray  bootstraps  distraction  assistivetechnology  dyslexia  socialjustice  disability  bullying  oppression  nostlagia  masochism  lowroad  highroad  disabilities 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Van Jones’ Excellent Metaphors About the Dangers of Ideological Safety |
[via: (with critique) ]

"Last week Van Jones offered the most perfect combination of strong reasons and intuitively compelling metaphors I have ever seen to explain why current campus trends regarding political diversity are bad for students and bad for the American left more generally.

Jones was a guest at David Axelrod’s Institute of Politics, at the University of Chicago. During their 80 minute discussion, with S. E. Cupp, Axelrod mentioned that he had hosted Corey Lewandowski (Trump’s former campaign manager) the previous week, which had led many students to protest the event, arguing that merely to have him on the Chicago campus would “normalize” the Trump administration. Axelrod noted that he disagrees with that thinking, and then asked Jones for his own thoughts on the question: what is the proper response when someone associated with Trump or supportive of Trump is brought onto a college campus and given an opportunity to speak publicly? What should college students do?

You have to watch Jones’ response to get the full power and passion of his remarks. But afterward you might want to see them written out, in order to quote them or tweet them or just meditate on their brilliance. I was not able to find a full and neat transcript online, so I had the staff at Heterodox Academy transcribe the clip and I post it below the video, with a closing comment.

[video: ]


David Axelrod: We had Corey Lewandowski here last week. That engendered a protest outside the meeting—also part of our democracy. There’s a lot of anger and a lot of rage about what this administration is doing and the sense that [you should not have] anybody associated with him because then you’re normalizing the [Trump] administration. I have a different view but I am interested in yours.

Van Jones: I don’t like bigots and bullies. I just want to point that out… But I got tough talk for my liberal colleagues on these campuses. They don’t tend to like it but I think they like me so I get away with it. I want to push this.

There are two ideas about safe spaces: One is a very good idea and one is a terrible idea. The idea of being physically safe on a campus—not being subjected to sexual harassment and physical abuse, or being targeted specifically, personally, for some kind of hate speech—“you are an n-word,” or whatever—I am perfectly fine with that.

But there’s another view that is now I think ascendant, which I think is just a horrible view, which is that “I need to be safe ideologically. I need to be safe emotionally I just need to feel good all the time, and if someone says something that I don’t like, that’s a problem for everybody else including the administration.”

I think that is a terrible idea for the following reason: I don’t want you to be safe, ideologically. I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different.

I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots, and learn how to deal with adversity. I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. This is the gym. You can’t live on a campus where people say stuff you don’t like?! And these people can’t fire you, they can’t arrest you, they can’t beat you up, they can just say stuff you don’t like- and you get to say stuff back- and this you cannot bear?! [audience applause]

This is ridiculous BS liberals! My parents, and Monica Elizabeth Peak’s parents [points to someone in the audience and greets her] were marched, they dealt with fire hoses! They dealt with dogs! They dealt with beatings! You can’t deal with a mean tweet?! You are creating a kind of liberalism that the minute it crosses the street into the real world is not just useless, but obnoxious and dangerous. I want you to be offended every single day on this campus. I want you to be deeply aggrieved and offended and upset, and then to learn how to speak back. Because that is what we need from you in these communities. [applause]

David Axelrod: You should see him when he gets passionate!

My Comment: Jones’ argument and his metaphors are based on the idea that young people are “anti-fragile.” They need exposure to challenges, irritants, and stressors in order to grow strong. If you treat them as though they are fragile by “paving the jungle” for them, or “taking the weights out of the gym,” you may think you are helping them, but you are harming them. You are actually making them fragile, which will set them up for lives of increased anxiety and decreased political effectiveness once they leave campus and encounter a jungle of ideological diversity, much of it far more threatening than anything Lewandowsky would say. (Granted, the Chicago students were talking about “normalization” rather than “safety.” Chicago students are tougher than most. But the net effect of banning politically unpopular views from campus is the same regardless of the motive.)

The idea of “anti-fragility” is developed at length, and with a great deal of evidence, in Nassim Taleb’s book Antifragile. This idea was at the core of my essay with Greg Lukianoff, The Coddling of the American Mind. Jones adds the argument that many universities, by granting demands for ideological safety and purity on campus, are doing things that strengthen the political right (by creating a kind of liberalism that offends many people beyond the campus) and that weaken the future leaders and activists of left.

Jones thereby makes the strongest case I have yet seen for why–in the wake of the unexpected Trump victory–progressive students should be asking for more exposure to political diversity (as Harvard students have), and for why progressive professors should join Heterodox Academy to improve the educational effectiveness and intellectual vibrancy of universities."
highered  highereducation  safespaces  academia  progressivism  discourse  2017  jonathanhaidt  vanjones  davidaxelrod  ideology 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Monstrous, Duplicated, Potent | Issue 28 | n+1
"On first read, I was dazzled and bewildered. Desperate to impress the organizer, who I thought brilliant, I strained over it line by line in hopes of insight. In the end, I mumbled through our meeting. I didn’t understand the Manifesto until I’d read it three more times. In truth, I probably still don’t. But for a young woman struggling to understand the world after Hurricane Katrina and a global financial crisis, Haraway beckoned. She offered a way to make sense of the things that seemed absent from politics as I knew it: science, nature, feminism.

The Manifesto proclaims itself to be against origin stories, but its own is hard to resist. In 1982, the Marxist journal Socialist Review — a bicoastal publication originally titled Socialist Revolution, whose insurrectionary name was moderated in the late 1970s as politics soured — asked Haraway to write five pages on the priorities of socialist feminism in the Reagan era. Haraway responded with thirty. It was the first piece, she claimed, she had ever written on a computer (a Hewlett-Packard-86). The submission caused controversy at the journal, with disagreement breaking down along geographic lines. As Haraway later recalled in an interview, “The East Coast Collective truly disapproved of it politically and did not want it published.” The more catholic West Coast won out, and the Manifesto was published in 1985 as “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s,” though it has been known colloquially as the Cyborg Manifesto ever since.

In one sense, Haraway did what she was asked: she outlined the contemporary state of political economy from a socialist-feminist perspective. Her reading of the shift to post-Fordism was loose but lucid. The rise of communications technologies made it possible to disperse labor globally while still controlling it, she noted, scattering once-unionized factory jobs across the continents. The gender of industrial work was changing too: there were more women assembling computer chips in East Asia than men slapping together cars in the American Midwest. Automation was lighter and brighter: in place of hulking industrial machinery, our “machines are made of sunshine” — but this light, invisible power nevertheless caused “immense human pain in Detroit and Singapore.” Family structures were changing: mothers increasingly worked outside the home and headed up the household. The result was what Haraway, drawing on Richard Gordon, called the homework economy — a pointed term for what’s euphemistically and blandly called the service economy.

The Manifesto offered a new politics for this new economy. Prescient about the need to organize the feminized, if not always female, sectors, Haraway explicitly called leftists to support SEIU District 925, a prominent campaign to unionize office workers. She also criticized the idea of a universal subject, whether held up by Marxists (the proletarian) or radical feminists (the woman). A new politics had to be constructed not around a singular agent but on the basis of a patchwork of identities and affinities. How, then, to find unity across difference, make political subjects in a postmodern era, and build power without presuming consensus? “One is too few, but two are too many,” she wrote cryptically. “One is too few, and two is only one possibility.” Acting as isolated individuals leads nowhere, but the effort to act collectively cannot leave difference aside. Women of color, Haraway suggested, following Chela Sandoval, could not rely on the stability of either category; they might lead the way in forging a new, nonessentialist unity based on affinity rather than identity.

This is where the metaphor of the cyborg comes in. For Haraway, the cyborg is a hybrid figure that crosses boundaries: between human and machine, human and animal, organism and machine, reality and fiction. As a political subject, it is expansive enough to encompass the range of human experience in all its permutations. A hybrid, it is more than one, but less than two.

In place of old political formations, Haraway imagined new cyborgian ones. She hoped that “the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita Jail” would together “guide effective oppositional strategies.” Her paradigmatic “cyborg society” was the Livermore Action Group, an antinuclear activist group targeting the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons-research facility in Northern California. The group, she thought, was “committed to building a political form that actually manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state.”

What set the Manifesto apart from other reconceptions of feminism was its embrace of science. The cyborg was a figure that only a feminist biologist — herself an unlikely figure — could imagine. While by the 1980s many feminists were wary of biological claims about sexual difference, evading charges of essentialism by separating sex from gender (biology might give you a certain body, but society conditioned how you lived in it), Haraway argued that failing to take a position on biology was to “lose too much” — to surrender the notion of the body itself as anything more than a “blank page for social inscriptions.” Distinguishing her attachment to the body from the usual Earth Mother connotations was its famous closing line: “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

Who wouldn’t? The cyborg’s popularity was no doubt fueled in part by the vision of a bionic babe it suggested — a Furiosa or the Terminator — though it couldn’t be further from her meaning. Asked what she considered a true moment of cyborgness in 1999, Haraway responded, “the sense of the intricacy, interest, and pleasure — as well as the intensity — of how I have imagined how like a leaf I am.” The point was not that she shared some biological commonality with a leaf, or that she felt leaves to be kindred spirits (though she very well might have). What made her giddy was the thought of all the work that had gone into producing the knowledge that she was like a leaf — how incredible it was to be able to know such a thing — and the kinds of relationship to a leaf that such knowledge made possible.

Despite her frequent reminders that it was written as a “mostly sober” intervention into socialist-feminist politics rather than “the ramblings of a blissed-out, techno-bunny fembot,” many still read it as the latter. Wired profiled her enthusiastically in 1997. “To boho twentysomethings,” they wrote, “her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.” (More recently, the entrepreneurial synthetic biologist Drew Endy deployed the Manifesto in support of his bid to label synthetic biological products as “natural” under federal guidelines to increase their appeal to cautious consumers.)

Its Reagan-era coordinates may have changed, but the Manifesto remains Haraway’s most widely read work. The cyborg became a celebrity, as did Haraway herself, both serving as signifiers of a queer, savvy, self-aware feminism. Yet she has grown weary of its success, admonishing readers that “cyborgs are critters in a queer litter, not the Chief Figure of Our Times.”

Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s Haraway herself who sometimes seems the Chief Figure. There’s no Harawavian school, though she has many acolytes. She does not belong to any particular school herself, though many have attempted to place her. You can’t really do a Harawavian analysis of the economy or the laboratory; other than the cyborg, she’s produced few portable concepts or frameworks. Her own individual prominence runs counter to her view of intellectual work as collectively produced. Yet for thirty years she’s been ahead of intellectual trends, not by virtue of building foundational frameworks but by inspiring others to spawn and spur entire fields, from feminist science studies to multispecies ethics. Her work tends to emerge from problems she sees in the world rather than from engagement with literatures, thinkers, or trends, yet it manages to transcend mere timeliness.

Her new book, Staying with the Trouble, is a commentary on the most pressing threat of our era: catastrophic climate change. It’s hard to think of someone better suited to the task. Climate change requires ways of thinking capable of confronting the closely bound future of countless humans and nonhumans, the basis for certainty in scientific findings, the political consequences of such knowledge, and the kinds of political action that such consequences call for. If Haraway has long practiced such hybrid thinking, that also means the problem best suited to challenging her thought — to testing its mettle, and its usefulness to our political future — has decisively arrived."

"Under Hutchinson’s supervision, she wrote a dissertation heavily influenced by Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 landmark The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn had caused an uproar with his argument that rather than steadily progressing toward truth, the production of scientific knowledge was marked by conflict and upheaval. What scientists had once been certain was true would eventually be considered wrong. Each emerging framework was often incommensurable with what had come before. Kuhn called this phenomenon a “paradigm shift.” A classic example was the transition from Newtonian physics to Einsteinian relativity."

[See also: "Cthulhu plays no role for me" ]
donnaharaway  2017  science  scientism  feminism  cyborgs  serviceeconomy  economics  academia  philosophy  1982  1985  california  ucsantacruz  queerness  biology  nancyhartstock  marxism  fredericjameson  hueynewton  angeladavis  historyofconsciousness  teresadelauretis  climatechange  anthropocene  naomiklein  blockadia  rustenhogness  kinstanleyrobinson  cyborgmanifesto  jamesclifford  histcon  alyssabattistoni  blackpantherparty  bobbyseale  jayemiller  historyofscience  radicalism  radicalscience  multispecies  animals  praxis  gregorybateson  systemsthinking  language  storytelling  politics  intersectionality  situatedknowledge  solidarity  perspective  thomaskuhn  epistemology  reality  consciousness  primatology  theory  empiricism  octaviabutler  sciencefiction  scifi  patriarchy  colonialism  racism  ignorance  objectivity  curiosity  technology  biotechnology  technofuturism  companionspecies  dogs  ethics  chthulucene  capitalocene  ursulaleguin  utopia  mundane  kinship  families  unity  friendship  work  labor  hope  sophielewis  blackpanthers 
may 2017 by robertogreco
of course, there’s the backchannel – Freddie deBoer – Medium
"My position was unpopular, but I was right then, and I’m right now. The situation made no sense. And while I appreciated that people were willing to reach out privately, the failure to speak up publicly can have high stakes. Increasingly I am concerned, in various worlds, with the distance between the public and private. Increasingly I wish that people were willing to say publicly what they now reserve only for all the backchannels out there."

"And that all comes down to a broader reality: on campus and off, even many or most of those who are deeply committed to the cause of social justice and its expression in feminism, anti-racism, and the fight for LGBTQ rights recognize that the culture of social justice is deeply unhealthy. You’ve heard all that from me before. I have been attempting to address that simple fact for years: that there is a difference between a commitment to fighting bigotry and accepting uncritically every argument that is made in the name of that fight. Many people join me in feeling that something has gone deeply wrong in how we prosecute the movement for social justice, but precisely because of the unhealthy conditions of that movement, they feel they can’t say so publicly.


This seems like another one of those moments where what I’m saying is completely obvious, and would be barely worth mentioning if people didn’t react so negatively to actually spelling it out. (All it takes to be a media critic is a willingness to state the obvious.) I mean, it’s not exactly breaking news, right: people say different things privately than they are willing to say publicly. But the very nature of the backchannel makes it impossible to draw out these threads. Some will respond to this post by saying I’m making it all up, and they will be right to object to talking about a phenomenon for which I can’t present specific examples and proof. That’s a constraint I operate under because my very position as a locus of the backchannel requires me to honor the commitment to privacy. (And I always will, don’t worry.) But if you’re in my position, how do you help convince a bunch of disparate, disconnected voices to speak out, when the consequences seem so dire?

The fact remains that I am not making this up. And it remains even if you think I am personally an asshole. What good, progressive, feminist, antiracist people need to be willing to do, if they want to grow this movement so that we can stop losing elections and start acquiring the power to actually make tangible change, is to be willing to say when you think that movement has gone wrong. You must be willing to say, publicly, I am with the cause, but I am not with this. You have to be willing to say, yes, the world is full of offensive things, and yes, I stand with you when someone does something offensive, but this particular claim to offense is not credible. You have to be willing to fight for social justice loudly and passionately and then, when someone takes the language of social justice applies it to ridiculous and illegitimate ends, be one of the people willing to say “enough.”"

"I’ve said it for years: there’s a backlash brewing, against these tactics. People are fed up. Those who live and operate in left discursive spaces are numb and exhausted from living in the constant fear of saying the wrong thing and stepping on a landmine. Over-the-top wokeness is now obligatory in media and academia, which means that much of it is performed in bad faith, with the cynical and the opportunistic now adopting that language and those tactics for their own selfish ends. Meanwhile, decent people who are sincerely committed to the actual ideals that underlie that language are forced to self-censor or else to drop out entirely. This is no way to advance the cause."
freddiedeboer  backchannel  socialjustice  left  2017  progressive  progressivism  academia  debate  wokeness 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Ph.D program vs. Time-Life book |
"…I attended a political theory Ph.D. program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Something happened there. One day I was reading a Time-Life book about the painter Goya. I forget who the king was at the time, but he was one of the few enlightened kings of Spain. In the capital, there was a lot of crime. Men wore these big capes and hats, which made for a great disguise. The king was mad about all the crime, so he made that outfit illegal, but then there was a riot because me were so attached to the capes and hats. So the king repealed the law. He found a new adviser and said, Look, youve got to stop all this thieving. The new guy said, Don’t worry, Your Majesty, I got it covered. And the next day, he made the cape and hat the uniform of the executioner, who worked out in the open every day. People stopped wearing them just like that. Nobody wanted to be identified with the executioner. And I thought, I’ve learned more in reading this one stupid page in this Time-Life book about Goya than I have in my Ph.D. program. So I quit."

– Walter Mosley, interviewed in The Paris Review.
waltermosley  academia  learning  howwelearn  everyday 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Breaking Down the Father on BBC Being Interrupted by His Children – Medium
"Here’s the deal: the male ego is both remarkably fragile and remarkably easy to satiate. Tell said ego he will be featured as an expert in front of a national or global audience and he will do whatever it takes — including 12 years of academia and wearing a suit at home—to ensure it is so.

The flipside of said ego-soothing, though, is a potential level of embarassment that is hard to fathom. In this case Kelly is fulfilling his self-selected destiny: he is appearing as an expert across the world on the BBC. But it’s not going well! His daughter has appeared, and while he certainly loves her, he must, MUST, keep up appearances. Thus the hand, and not the overt affection."
parenting  children  agesegregation  2017  appearances  gender  viralvideo  bbc  academia  experts  television  tv  internet 
march 2017 by robertogreco
The Slow Professor movement: reclaiming the intellectual life of the university - Home | The Sunday Edition | CBC Radio
"You have heard of the slow food, there's a "slow professor" movement.

Two university professors say they feel time-crunched, exhausted and demoralised. They say they are being asked to be more efficient at the expense of more thoughtful teaching.
"Really, we're being encouraged to stay away from the really big questions because they're going to take too long to think through. You want to pump out as much stuff as quickly as you can. That's going to have a consequence for how thoughtful things are." — Barbara K. Seeber

Maggie Berg, a professor of English at Queen's University, and Barbara K. Seeber, a professor of English at Brock University, are co-authors of The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy.

Berg and Seeger argue universities squeeze as much intellectual capital out of professors as possible, and closely monitor the output of their mental exertions.

They spoke to Michael about their book and their mission to "reclaim the intellectual life of the university.""

[Update: See also: "We need a “slow food” movement for higher education" ]
slow  highereducation  highered  education  academia  reflection  2017  barbaraseeber  maggieberg  deliberation  slowprofessor  productivity  standardization  speed  homogeneity  slowfood  knowledgeproduction  universities  corporatism  corporatization  competition  economics  fastknowledge  research  adminstrativebloat  teaching  howweteach  wisdom  faculty  howwelearn  friendship  benjaminginsberg  management  power  labor  work  casualization  adjuncts  busyness  time  anxiety  stress  davidposen  credentials  credentialization  joy  beauty  transferableskills 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Experiment | Crowdfunding Platform for Scientific Research
"Experiment is an online platform for discovering, funding, and sharing scientific research.

We're based in New York City. We're a team of scientists, designers, and technologists passionate about helping ideas grow. Our mission is to democratize science.

Where does the most impactful science come from? What makes science beautiful? What if anyone could be a scientist? There are a lot of big questions in science, but these are the ones we ask."
science  crowdfunding  funding  research  crowdsourcing  academia 
february 2017 by robertogreco
first book! | Abler.
"Friends, I’m so happy to say that my first book is under contract with Riverhead/Penguin! I’m just thrilled—I can’t even tell you.

The book is about the unexpected places where disability is at the heart of design, from everyday household objects to architecture, street and city planning, pointing to larger systems design questions at the end. It grows in scale from wearables and products to environments and ecologies, building momentum to ask some compelling and hard questions: Where else might the experience of disability be a site of creativity and invention? And what design opportunities are missed because those experiences are overlooked? I’ll be citing the work of so many scholars I admire, looping together histories—little-known origin stories of everyday things—with more contemporary advances in design for human difference. I’m thinking of it as a kind of travel writing—deeply reported throughout, taking the reader with me to understand the stories of people and cultures behind all our designed objects and environments. I’m deep into it already, and it’s the most excited I’ve ever been about a project.

I’m lucky that Olin College is a place where I could say to my dean: I want to write a book, but I want it to be a trade book for the general reader, and he said immediately—fantastic, do it. I wanted to write a trade book for the same reasons that I’ve written in the mode of journalist before: it matters to me that the radical, complex, and exciting ideas in disability studies reach people outside academia, and that the non-fiction reader see the designed world anew, re-enchanted with the universality of disability in its very fibers and structures. I want the reader to locate all bodies in that built world, regardless of capacity—to see all of us on a human continuum of abilities and needs, holding shared stakes in the designed future. Olin is a college without departments or traditional tenure, so I’m free to pursue this project as my research with the full support of my institution.

This whole web site will look different so soon; I’m working on finishing the three-part site that started with aplusa’s birth. More soon!"
sarahendren  2017  disability  disabilitystudies  continuums  academia  olincollege  diversity  books  writing  audience  everyday  objects  design  creativity  invention  disabilities 
january 2017 by robertogreco
From a sociology for meritocracy to a sociology for democracy | Work in Progress
"Our professional class bias blinds us from problematizing meritocracy and from addressing “The Social Question”— how does our current socio-economic system fail to provide decent living and human dignity for the majority?

We need to acknowledge that a full meritocracy is not a sufficient condition for a just society.

The time is right for us to move from a sociology for meritocracy to a sociology for democracy and inclusion. Instead of focusing solely on the between-group disparities (while controlling for X, Y, and Z), we should pay particular attention to the individuals within each group that are excluded from the opportunity of having a decent life. Instead of recycling the same axes of inequality, we should be creative in identifying hidden categories that are extremely privileged or vulnerable (see David Pedulla’s work on nonstandard employment). Instead of pushing more people into colleges or job training programs, we should ask why a high school graduates can make a good life in Germany but not in the United States.

It is time for us to listen to the “deplorables,” since we have long dismissed them."
sociology  meritocracy  2016  ken-houlin  socialjustice  society  inclusion  inclusivity  democracy  privilege  academia  economics  davidpedulla  highered  highereducation 
october 2016 by robertogreco