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Edu-Factory Manifesto

Edu-Factory Manifesto

As was the factory, so now is the university. Where once the factory
was a paradigmatic site of struggle between workers and capitalists,
so now the university is a key space of conflict, where the ownership
of knowledge, the reproduction of the labour force, and the creation
of social and cultural stratifications are all at stake. This is to
say the university is not just another institution subject to
sovereign and governmental controls, but a crucial site in which
wider social struggles are won and lost.

To be sure, these changes occur as capitalism gives new importance to
the production of knowledge, and in the advanced capitalist world,
moves such production of knowledge to the centre of the economy. With
this movement, the university also loses its monopoly in this same
sphere of knowledge production. Perhaps it once made sense to speak
of town and gown. But now the borders between the university and
society blur.

This merging of university and society takes diverse forms. It can be
shaped by the pressure to market degrees. Or it can be forced by
measures that link the provision of funding to ‘technological
transfer’ or collaboration with ‘partners’ from government and/or
commercial enterprises. Similarly, the growing precariousness of
academic work means that many labour both in and out of the
university, not to mention the labour conditions for non-academic
workers. And the opening of many universities to previously excluded
cohorts of students, whether on the basis of social class or national
jurisdiction, means that their internal composition has also changed.These transformations both shift the possibilities for political
expression in the university and initiate new kinds of struggle. In
some instances, a politicised student movement has disappeared. In
others has begun to grow. The transnationalisation of many university
operations, including the internationalisation and diversification of
the student body, introduces new kinds of cultural conflicts and
tensions. At the same time, the university is derailed from its
traditional mission of safeguarding the national and official
culture. How are we to make sense of these changes, and, above all,
how should they inform radical political investigation and action?

The university is a key site for intervention because it is now a
global site. Indeed, there is no such thing as ‘the university’ but
only universities, in their specific geographical, economic, and
cultural locations. Even within universities there exists a range of
labour practices and conditions as well as different cultures of
organisation. If, in analogy to the factory of yesteryear, we are to
understand the university as a paradigmatic site of struggle, we must
first map and understand these differences (even as they are taking
shape), not as an end in itself but as means of generating shared
resources to meet the conflicts at hand.

We propose a series of transnational web-based discussions on the
condition of the university today. These will lead up to a series of
moving web-archived seminars (in cities to be decided) on a number of
different topics, beginning with ‘conflicts in the production of
knowledge’. It is important that contributions come from all
continents, from different types of universities, from people with
different relations to the university, and from those involved in
‘free’ or autonomous university initiatives. The aim is to use the
discussions to sound out the geographically disjunctive relations
between the participants, creating a collective knowledge of
globalising society that in turn contributes directly to thematic
discussions and the development of new forms of relation and resistance.

Conflicts in the Production of Knowledge - First round of discussion
(February-April 2006)

Knowledge is a common good not because it exists in nature but
because it is produced and reproduced by living labour and social
cooperation. The centrality of knowledge to the contemporary system
of production applies not simply to those sectors that rest upon
innovation but to the entire spectrum of labour composition. With
this in mind, we propose to investigate the conflicts of knowledge
produced on the (always more porous) boundary between the university
and society. In the academic context, we would like to analyse—always
taking concrete circumstances into account—the ambivalence of
oppositional knowledges as challenges to the institution and
processes of domestication.

the edu-factory collective

scheduled discussion on the mailing list

February 22-28th Catedra Autonoma Rosario / Brian
Holmes / Marc Bousquet

March 1-4th Patrick Bond/Ashwin Desai

March 5-11th Gordon Lafer/ Dennis Brutus/
Surendran KK

March12-18th Sunil Sahasrabudhy/Nigel Gibson/
Eileen Schell

March 19-25th Claire Pentecost

March 26th - April 1st Angela Mitropoulos / Melinda
Cooper / Jon Solomon

April 2-8th Carlo Vercellone / Mike
Hayes / Kaushik Sunder Rajan

April 9-15th Michael Goddard / Dmitry
Vilensky / Lin Chiming / Amit Basole

April 16-22nd Stephen Shukaitis / Gordon
Mathews / Pablo Ortellado

April 23-29th Jeffrey Williams – Avinash
Jha – Randy Martin

April 30th– May 6th Andrew Ross / Jie-Hyun / Nirmal
Puwar / Sanjay Sharma
May 7-13th Gary Rhoades / Chandra Mohanty

May 14-22nd Conclusion