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robertogreco : undercommons   12

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… https://t.co/InSKAfPp
"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 https://twitter.com/zugenia/status/1050378780328497152
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
Fred Moten’s Radical Critique of the Present | The New Yorker
"He is drawn to in-between states: rather than accepting straightforward answers, he seeks out new dissonances."



"“I like to read, and I like to be involved in reading,” he said. “And for me, writing is part of what it is to be involved in reading.”"



"For Moten, blackness is something “fugitive,” as he puts it—an ongoing refusal of standards imposed from elsewhere. In “Stolen Life,” he writes, “Fugitivity, then, is a desire for and a spirit of escape and transgression of the proper and the proposed. It’s a desire for the outside, for a playing or being outside, an outlaw edge proper to the now always already improper voice or instrument.” In this spirit, Moten works to connect subjects that our preconceptions may have led us to think had little relation. One also finds a certain uncompromising attitude—a conviction that the truest engagement with a subject will overcome any difficulties of terminology. “I think that writing in general, you know, is a constant disruption of the means of semantic production, all the time,” he told me. “And I don’t see any reason to try to avoid that. I’d rather see a reason to try to accentuate that. But I try to accentuate that not in the interest of obfuscation but in the interest of precision.”"



"“The Undercommons” lays out a radical critique of the present. Hope, they write, “has been deployed against us in ever more perverted and reduced form by the Clinton-Obama axis for much of the last twenty years.” One essay considers our lives as a flawed system of credit and debit, another explores a kind of technocratic coercion that Moten and Harney simply call “policy.” “The Undercommons” has become well known, especially, for its criticism of academia. “It cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment,” Moten and Harney write. They lament the focus on grading and other deadening forms of regulation, asking, in effect: Why is it so hard to have new discussions in a place that is ostensibly designed to foster them?

They suggest alternatives: to gather with friends and talk about whatever you want to talk about, to have a barbecue or a dance—all forms of unrestricted sociality that they slyly call “study.”"



"Moten’s poetry, which was a finalist for a National Book Award, in 2014, has a good deal in common with his critical work. In it, he gathers the sources running through his head and transforms them into something musical, driven by the material of language itself. "



"And he’s still trying to figure out how to teach a good class, he said. He wasn’t sure that it was possible under the current conditions. “You just have to get together with people and try to do something different,” he said. “You know, I really believe that. But I also recognize how truly difficult that is to do.”"
2018  fredmoten  davidwallace  poetry  fugitivity  betweenness  liminality  dissonance  reading  howweread  fugitives  blackness  undercommons  education  highereducation  highered  stefanoharney  sociality  study  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  pedagogy  criticalpedagogy  grades  grading  conversation  discussion 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Hapticality in the Undercommons, or From Operations Management to Black Ops | Stefano Harney - Academia.edu
"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
Zarina Bhimji: Yellow Patch
"A film installation entitled "Yellow Patch". This film was shot in India.

I am interested in the spaces, micro details and the light of these distant interiors. The location of light is an element of my composition and becomes just as intricate and important as having a figure in my work. The stillness has a suspension of everyday life and yet narrative is deferred by mood and mystery and incompleteness. So that atmosphere is tactile, moist light. But as I worked further I kept coming back to disconnection and belatedness."

[See also: "Zarina Bhimji's world without people"
http://www.phaidon.com/agenda/art/picture-galleries/2012/january/18/zarina-bhimjis-world-without-people/ ]

[via: "Hapticality in the Undercommons, or From Operations Management to Black Ops," by Stefano Harney https://www.academia.edu/6934195/Hapticality_in_the_Undercommons_or_From_Operations_Management_to_Black_Ops

"I want to take just two examples, very different. The first is the performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga. The second is photographer and filmmaker Zarina Bhimji. I don’t intend to read these artists nor to place them in a school or tradition. I want to say instead that they inspire me to think about the line today and its killing rhythm, and to think about the ways this line runs through us, and how it bypasses subject formation at work. But most of all I want to look at their work to think about what Fred calls Black Ops, and the undercommons their work invites us to feel around us.



Empty but not unoccupied, rooms, buildings, and fields, the access in Zarina Bhimji’s aesthetically gorgeous film Yellow Patch at first might seem to be about memory. But memory for the line is a matter of metrics, of not making the same mistake twice. It is useful for improvement. And Bhimji’s camera resists the application of memory to the present for purposes of improvement. Her sound rumbles with labour and logistics, above the empty buildings, echoing in the rooms. But with her we enter a militant preservation, not keeping up, not improving, not looking for productive variance. I would say that old administrative papers stacked on the aging wooden office bookcases, or the yellow shutters cut by blocks of light from outside are aestheticised not to make memory useful through nostalgia, where it can be preserved and sold, or judgement where it can be used for improvement. Instead her film displays a calmness, peace, rest, in history, in contemporary history. Not the de-historicised rest of the meditation industry nor the preservation of the history industry, but a militant rest for history, in history, in struggle, right now. Her rooms, ships, fields, and bays do not leave history to give us preservation or provide us with rest in the struggle. Other lines are right here, the film suggests to me, the undercommons is never elsewhere, its touch is also a reach. Its touch is a rest, a caress. Hapticality occupies these rooms with a tap, tap, stroke rhythm of love."]
zarinabhimji  film  towatch  belatedness  disconnection  2011  haptic  hapticality  tactile  everyday  undercommons  stefanoharney  art  artists  uganda  india 
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
Toykit – Undercommoning
“You can either talk about it as having a kind of toolbox or also talk about it as having a kind of toy- box. With my kids, most of what they do with toys is turn them into props. They are constantly involved in this massive project of pretending. And the toys that they have are props for their pretending. They don’t play with them the right way – a sword is what you hit a ball with and a bat is what you make music with. I feel that way about [conceptual and theoretical] terms. In the end what’s most important is that the thing is put in play. What’s most important about play is the interaction… If you pick them up you can move into some new thinking and into a new set of relations, a new way of being together, thinking together. In the end, it’s the new way of being together and thinking together that’s important, and not the tool, not the prop. Or, the prop is important only insofar as it allows you to enter; but once you’re there, it’s the relation and the activity that’s really what you want to emphasize.” – Fred Moten
fredmoten  toolboxtheory  toolkits  toykits  toys  play  thinking  howwethink  interaction  relationships  relations  undercommons  pretending 
december 2017 by robertogreco
ROAR Magazine: Undercommoning within, against and beyond the university-as-such
[Also at: http://undercommoning.org/undercommoning-within-against-and-beyond/ ]

"Undercommons (n.): The networks of rebellious solidarity that interlace within, against and beyond dominant institutions and power structures

Undercommoning (v.): The conscious and unconscious labors and process of interlacing the undercommons

The Undercommoning Project (n.): A network of radical organizers working in the shadow of the university.

The university-as-such (n.): Their dream, our nightmare.

Beyond the university-as-such (n.): Our dream, their nightmare.

THE UNIVERSITY IS A THIEF
No specter is haunting the university; the university is haunting us.

While we are accustomed to imagining “the university” as an enlightening institution that works in the public interest, we, The Undercommoning Project, hold that: in an age of skyrocketing tuition prices, soaring student debt, the hyperexploitation of precarious service workers, the proliferation of highly-paid senior administrative positions and the increased commercialization and corporatization of higher education, universities today are anything but a public good.

Indeed, we insist the university-as-such has never been a bastion of progress, learning, and fairness; it has always excluded individuals and communities on the basis of race, class, gender, sexuality, citizenship and politics. Indeed, it is implicated in the past and present of slavery and colonial genocide in North America.

Worse, the university has always been a thief, stealing people’s labor, time and energy. We charge that the university-as-such is a criminal institution. Along with the Edu-Factory Collective we understand the university today as a key institution of an emerging form of global, racial capitalism, one that is a laboratory for new forms of oppression and exploitation, rather than an innocent institution for the common good.

From its pirating of Indigenous biomedical knowledge to the marginalization and containment of non-traditional inquiry, from the training of corporate kleptocrats to the cronyistic production of private patents, from the university’s role in gentrification and urban enclosures to the actions and implications of its investments and endowments, from the white-supremacist and eurocentric knowledge it exalts to its dark collaborations with the military-industrial complex, the university thrives on its thievery.

So when we say the university-as-such is criminal, we mean criminal like the police: a force of racialized and class-based figures of authority, enforcement, and violence that guards, incarcerates, entraps, on the one hand, and on the other, punishes freedom, solidarity, and communal potential.

You may accuse us of losing faith in the university; it never had faith in us. Long ago it transformed us, as it had others before us, into overwhelmed debtors, precarious adjuncts, and exploited service sector workers. We were only the latest in a long line of its waste products.

You may accuse us of devaluing study, learning and research; far from it — we value them so greatly that we know they must be liberated from the structures of the university-as-such, which today already lie in ruins. The university-as-such can be the occasion for the joys of study, of solidarity, of poetic play, of learning and honing our powers. We refuse to relinquish these pleasures. But we will insist that these are gifts we give one another, not tokens of the university’s affection for its subjects.

We dream of the thing to come after the university.

WITHIN, AGAINST, BEYOND
Therefore, when we say that we organize in the shadow of the university, we mean that we organize with those who have been used and abused by the university-as-such: students and workers of color who endure institutional racism while having their images used in the name of diversity; precariously employed adjunct faculty who must rely on social or communal assistance for survival; exploited graduate teaching fellows still urged to play the rigged academic game; custodial and food services staff who are treated as disposable in patriarchal and racist divisions of labor; so-called “dropouts” who’ve been ejected from the university because they can’t stand its discipline; students and former students who will be haunted by debt for decades; and organizers who educate, study, and research outside and in spite of the university’s present configurations.

We want to experiment, explore and enjoy building solidarity between these outcasts onto whom the university-as-such casts its shadow, in order to create conditions where something monstrously new can grow amidst the rubble. And so our study must be molded in the traditions of freedom schools and oral histories, of fugitive campfires and underground reading groups. We value autonomous study as an exercise in cultivating collective, transformative liberation.

We have no nostalgia for the fabled university of the past, the mythical ivory tower of meritocracy, civility and white collegiality: that supposedly utopian place never existed, at least not for anyone outside the raced, classed and gendered elite.

We also have no nostalgia for the future long promised by advocates of the university-as-such. We do not believe access to present universities merely needs to be widened or brought into the virtual world, nor do we believe that the mission of the public university merely needs to be redeemed from the forces of managerialism or commercialization. We believe the university-as-such must be abolished.

Of course we believe in the value of high-caliber research. Of course we believe everyone should be able to study to develop their skills and knowledge. Of course we believe in debate, freedom of expression and rigorous critical thinking. Of course we believe in communal intellectual joy. We believe in them so fiercely we refuse to continue to see them enclosed, warped, choked, defined by and destroyed in the university-as-such.

Does this sound entitled? It should. The undercommons deserves to enjoy and reinvent all that it produces, which is to say everything. It is our collective labor and knowledge that university-as-such prepares, consumes, digests and uses to reproduce itself: we are mobilizing to reclaim that labor and knowledge, within, against and beyond the university-as-such, in the name of producing something monstrous.

KNOWING/PRACTICING OUR VALUE
Thus we advocate grassroots study groups and collective research projects within, against and beyond the university as we know it. We advocate the creation of new networks of study, theory, knowledge and collaborative learning outside the system of credit(s) and of debt. We see the university-as-such not as an alma mater (“giving mother”) but as a parasite. It feeds off its students’ future earnings via their debt, and off its increasingly precarious employees via their labor; it thrives on the good intentions, the tragic idealism, and the betrayed hopes of those over whom it casts its shadow.

Undercommoning is the process of discovering and practicing our value within, against and beyond the university’s measures. We refuse to suffer silently the depression and anxieties the university-as-such and its constant crises instill, trigger and exploit. We will not relinquish the senses of radical wonder, passionate curiosity, and critical integrity we create together. We insist that the splendor of the university is not to be found in the mahogany or the oak of its aristocratic chambers but in the tapestry and grain of insurgent collaborations.

We recognize that the university as it currently exists is part of an archipelago of social institutions of neoliberal, free-market racial capitalism. It includes the for-profit prison and the non-for-profit agency, the offshore army base and the offshore tax haven, the underfunded public and the elite private school, the migrant-worker staffed shop floor and the Wall Street trading floor, the factory and the factory farm. All are organs for sorting, exalting, exploiting, drilling, controlling and/or wasting what they call “human capital” and that we call our lives.

We are well aware of how much privilege and comfort the university-as-such affords many of its inhabitants, employees and clients. But the privileges of this university life are less evidence of institutional largesse than they are how the university-as-such sustains and reproduces the reigning social order. If this university appears to provide a greater latitude of freedom for independent thought and action, and if it bears within it resources unlike any other, we can nevertheless only advocate, along with Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, who coined the term “the undercommons,” that the only appropriate relation to the university today is a criminal one.

To resist the university-as-such from within is to recognize that it has already turned us into criminals in its own image. If the university is, today, already a criminal institution, one built on the theft of the time and the resources of those it overshadows, we who enjoy its bitter embrace must refuse its codes and values of ownership and propriety.

Don’t just steal a piece of chalk and write on the sidewalk. We advocate forming autonomous study and affinity groups that build alliances between students, faculty, workers, families, insiders and outsiders. We advocate using the university’s classrooms, spaces, libraries, databases and infrastructure as resources for abolitionist organizing. We advocate repurposing trade unions and student associations as platforms for developing new forms of mutual aid and solidarity within and beyond the university-as-such. We advocate taking time with and taking pleasure in our evolving collective powers. We advocate revolt.

You may accuse us of abandoning the university. Far from it; we would be loath to give the university-as-such the satisfaction. Rather, we recognize the centrality of the university-as-such in the … [more]
undercommons  universities  colleges  highereducation  neoliberalism  2016  education  labor  work  capitalism  marginalization  containment  whitesupremacy  militaryindustrialcomplex  solidarity  freedom  study  studies  fredmoten  stefanoharney  racism  liberation 
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: http://undercommoning.org/undercommoning-within-against-and-beyond/

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
Stefano Harney and Fred Moten – Propositions for Non-Fascist Living – video statement – October 2017 on Vimeo
"Within the long-term research itinerary Propositions for Non-Fascist Living, BAK asks artists, philosophers, scholars, and activists from multiple (political) geographies facing contemporary fascisms how they engage with the question of what constitutes non-fascist living. The responses are 1–5 minute video statements recorded with technology at hand: mobile phones, voice recorders, Skype. Throughout Propositions, these diverse perspectives are published online and screened at performative conferences. Online and offline, they become part of a growing constellation of reflections on ways to think, act, and bring about non-fascist living."



"I used to get embarrassed about the fact that I always thought about the university and the plantation in the same thought. And then the older I get and the more I read, the more I realize I need to stop being embarrassed about that…" —Fred Moten (3:38)
fredmoten  stefanoharvey  2017  universities  highered  highereducation  fascism  unschooling  deschooling  plantations  freedom  liberation  interpersonal  relationships  war  interpersonalrelationships  undercommons 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Stefano Harney on Study (Interview July 2011, Part 5) - YouTube
"we’re talking about getting together with others and determining what needs to be learned together and spending time with that material and spending time with each other without any objective, without any endpoint"



"[Study] almost always happens against the university. It almost always happens in the university, but under the university, in its undercommons, in those places that are not recognized, not legitimate…"

[See also Margaret Edson: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:181e6f50825b ]
2011  stefanoharney  study  studies  highered  highereducation  resistance  unschooling  deschooling  labor  work  informal  community  interdependence  cv  credit  credentialism  accreditation  slavery  blackness  debt  capitalism  fredmoten  universities  undercommons  freedom  practice  praxis  learning  communities  objectives  messiness  howwelearn  productivity  production  product  circumstance  producing  nothing  nothingness  idleness  relationships  imperatives  competition  howestudy  self-development  sharing  subversion  education  baddebt  studentdebt  completion  unfinished  margaretedson 
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

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