CFP: [Theory] Rethinking the University: Labor, Knowledge, Value

full name / name of organization: 
Morgan Adamson
contact email: 

Rethinking the University: Labor, Knowledge, Value
April 11-13, 2008
University of Minnesota
Deadline for Submissions: January 15, 2008

        The university is in crisis. This crisis, evident in the everyday transformations of higher
education, is made most visible during moments of labor struggle. Like universities across the
world, the University of Minnesota has recently experienced an explosion of labor struggles,
themselves symptomatic of the tendencies existing in this increasingly neo-liberal institution.
Unfortunately, our struggles have been hampered by an intellectual and organizational lag, which
has made it difficult for us to adequately respond to these crises. As a result, at key moments we
have been unable to rethink fundamental assumptions about the university and, as a result, have
fallen back on idealist notions of a university somehow removed from the world, have
reproduced the language of an already existing "public university," and have sought comfort in
legislative and institutional remedies.
        It is because of the need to radically rethink our political strategy that we invite you to join
us in the project of rethinking the University of Minnesota as well as the concept of "the
university" itself. It is our belief that a militant struggle over higher education requires a militant
rethinking of the languages, organizations, and foundational assumptions upon which the battle
over higher education takes place. To this end, we want to collectively think about questions
such as: What is the role of the university in the production of value within contemporary
capitalism? What is the relationship between academic labor and various other forms of labor at
the university? How can we reconsider the status of academic knowledge, research, and
pedagogy in this context? How can we remake universities as agents for changing this context?
What forms of university governance, collectives, and subjectivities would best facilitate projects
for constituting the common world that we desire?
        The purpose of this inquiry is not only to produce critique, but also to generate sites of
resistance and viable alternatives to the corporate university. As such, we invite diverse
responses to these questions including collaborative works, workshop presentations, and art
(e.g. photo-essays, performance art, and film/video pieces), as well as traditional essay
presentations. In addition to presentations that engage the problem of the university in late
capitalism more generally, we also invite presentations that treat the specific case of University
of Minnesota. We hope to put into conversation workers of all types: university staff, artists,
lecturers, union organizers, students, professors, and community activists, all of whom have a
stake in shaping the future of the university.
Potential topics might include (but are not limited to):
radical pedagogy
corporate funding, branding
labor organizing in the university
students as consumers
intellectual property
immaterial labor
student and faculty activism
issues of access
class, gender, and race
casualization of labor
histories of the university

Please send questions and submissions (up to 500 word abstracts, workshop, or project
proposals) to:

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Received on Wed Nov 21 2007 - 11:15:50 EST