Summary: Reflecting on her activist research with a people’s movement in India, Richa Nagar (Professor of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, co-author of Playing With Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism Through Seven Lives in India) shares stories about the importance of developing ethical relationships of trust and affect. Within and against the politics of NGOization and caste divisions, she highlights the roles of imagination, desiring, and translation in intersectional alliance work. From experiencing tensions between her positions as an activist and an academic, she notes common problems of institutionalization in both social movements and the university, and offers guidance for engaging with contradictions while maintaining some sense of security in the margins.
Summary: Drawing on experiences with Occupy CUNY, the Adjunct Project, and teaching an ‘Occupy Class’ at Brooklyn College, Steve M. shares insights into the conditions for organizing around universities today. In the face of the challenges of divisions of race and class between students and workers, and across the segregated city, Steve highlights the potentials for bringing militant co-research into coalitions and into classrooms themselves.
An interview with, Jennifer, a militant student-worker in Seattle on: revolutionary study groups with the Black Orchid Collective, organizing against union bureaucracy and non-profit recuperation, & creating a solidarity network across the university for worker, student, and community control.
The recent backlash against MOOCs has tended to romanticize an ideal of public higher education. Yet, education has always been tied up with systems of domination, and MOOCs present an opportunity to reveal the contradictions of higher education—to expose the emperor’s dirty secrets. Instead of ‘re-clothing the emperor’ with appeals to a lost ideal of public higher ed, through eight propositions I argue that we should seize the ‘MOOC moment’ as a start for breaking the capitalist, colonial chains of global higher education.Continue reading →
Summary: Drawing on organizing experiences in Seattle and the University of Washington, Ariel speaks of tensions in horizontalist movements. Within the university, she reflects on an anti-capitalist approach to service learning, organizing within and against a graduate student union, and creating a student-worker coalition. Across the university-city boundaries, she analyzes Occupy Seattle and resistance to both the non-profit- and academic-industrial complexes.
In this interview, Matthew Evsky* speaks on ways that the education system is bound up with policing, mass incarceration, and settler colonialism. How can we integrate education struggles with abolitionist, decolonial approaches? For resistant alternatives, we can look to Liberation Schools and free, cooperative universities embedded in communities. Facing major barriers to these from racism, we must call on white people to renege on their racist bargain with the state and capital. How can we popularize such an abolitionist politics with narratives that convince people to be for annihilating the very system that gives them privileges?
Drawing on first-hand experience, Matthew Evsky* shares a recent history of student and labor organizing at and around the City University of New York (CUNY), including the Adjunct Project, Campus Equity Week, the CUNY Time Zine, Occupy CUNY, and the Free University of NYC. He delves into the complex relationships between students, contingent faculty, the broader faculty union, and the confusing processes of university exploitation. The emergence of Occupy CUNY burst into a week of action with a student sit-in that was violently repressed by campus security. Although seeing undergraduate organizing as the driving force behind a revival of campus activism, Occupy CUNY connected radicals with each other and built supportive direct relationships across divisions of workers and students. Emerging from a working group on radical pedagogy, the Free University of NYC has enabled people to transform classrooms into spaces of radicalization.
An adjunct discusses her experiences with using ‘service learning’ in classes to engage students in militant co-research and community organizing. Such projects can build radical relationships across universities, public schools, and marginalized communities, but require a lot of work – the challenge of building ‘the urban commons.’ Such work must also grapple with the dangers of recuperation in academia. Beyond the university, she discusses her engagement with urban commons in neighborhoods, such as through co-operatives. What kind of advantages and disadvantages does the flexibility of adjunct labor offer? From the position of precarious work and life, how can we organize for mutual aid across our workplaces and communities? Continue reading →
Stefano Harney and Fred Moten have collaborated on various projects over the past fifteen years, including a number of essays on the conditions of academic labor. Drawing from the black radical tradition, autonomist and postcolonial theory, they have elaborated an approach to politics that is more concerned with the less socially visible aspects of organization and interaction. Currently they are working on a book entitled the undercommons: fugitive planning & black studythat will be released by Minor Compositions / Autonomedia in Spring 2013 [Update: it was released and you can read it here]. As part of that project Stevphen Shukaitis conducted several interviews with them to give an overview of their work and approach. This interview is an excerpt for ClassWarU from their conversation.
In this interview, Joe Grim Feinberg shares his experiences with a radically democratic union, Graduate Students United at the University of Chicago. Rather than waiting for recognition from the state, they have thrived by getting together as workers, declaring themselves to be a union, and organizing to improve their working conditions. Joe praises the IWW’s strategy of organizing a union for all workers that, if followed consistently, de facto leads to an anti-capitalist approach. Such a strategy faces many limits, as grad students are habituated into academic professionalism, which goes against the idea of industrial unionism. Instead of professionalizing for individual insertion into the capitalist rat race, academics can take pride in what they do through organizing and taking control of the production process.Continue reading →