Plenary Session I
Brian Whitener (University of Michigan)
The New University: Circulation and Resistance
I argue that we are witnessing in the United States today the creation of a new hegemonic model of the university, one that is founded upon a novel and unprecedented insertion of the university into the sphere of circulation. In the second half of my talk, I discuss one of the most important political analyses to emerge from the U.S. Occupy movement which deals precisely with how to attack the sphere of circulation.
Brian Whitener is currently finishing a PhD in Romance Languages at the University of Michigan. His most recent projects include False Intimacy (Trafficker Press), De gente común: Arte, política y rebeldía social (Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México), and Genocide in the Neighborhood (ChainLinks). He edits Displaced Press.
Amanda Armstrong (University of California Berkeley)
Debt and the Student Strike: Antagonisms in the Sphere of Social Reproduction
This talk will give an account of recent campus protests in Califoria, with a particular focus on questions of social reproduction. How does debt-financed higher education participate in the reproduction of neoliberal social relations, and how can we understand recent university strikes and occupations as initiating or gesturing toward oppositional forms of social reproduction?
Amanda Armstrong is a graduate student at UC Berkeley, and has been involved with campus struggles against privatization since the fall of 2009. Last semester, she helped coordinate solidarity actions with Occupy Oakland, and was involved in the Occupy Cal Nov.15 strike committee.
George Caffentzis (University of Southern Maine/Midnight Notes)
Student Loan Debt and Access to the Knowledge Common
The notion of a knowledge common has posed a counterforce to the intellectual property demands of corporations neoliberal governments, but that is not its only political use. For if knowledge is a common good, then access to it ought to be commonized as well, otherwise its status as a common good would an empty claim. The co-dependent increase in university tuition fees and student loan debt in recent decades is paradoxically making the price of access to a common good a decades-long experience of indentured labor. This creates another reason for classifying student loan debt as an illegitimate, onerous debt.
George Caffentzis is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine. He is a co-founder of the Midnight Notes Collective and the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. He is the author of many books and articles on social and monetary themes. He now works with the Occupy Student Debt Campaign.