Category Archives: abstracts

Saturday, Apr. 28, 9:45-11:15 Session 1

SS2102, Amphitheatre

Labor, Creation, Production: Within and Beyond the University (I)

David Cooke (York University)
Response to Neoliberal Contractual Research

Contract research in NZ is a finely-tuned process in which the funding agency (the “purchaser”) strictly controls the research and the researcher.   Purchasers routinely designate the research topic, direct the research process, can intervene in research procedures, own the products of the research, and can limit researchers’ subsequent publishing and presenting.

Serious ethical issues include(1) the ethical nature of the contracts signed, and (2) the oversight of research ethics procedures.   The topic poses significant issues of equity, academic freedom and research funding.

This workshop proposes:

  1.  a brief critical outline of contract research in NZ, including legal constraints
  2.  an alternative model stressing public interest, the public good and academic safeguards
  3.  contributions from participants on contract research in North America
  4. active responses and alternatives

Full general discussion is encouraged.

Bio: David Cooke, Senior Scholar, York University, previously Associate-Prof of English and Education at York.   Worked in language education in China, Cuba, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and New Zealand.   Now resident in NZ.   Writes and presents on contractualism, workplace language and social justice.   Member of the NZ Ethics Committee.

Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro (State University of New York New Paltz)
Lessons from Union Struggles at State University of New York New Paltz

Budget cuts since prior to 2008 to the State University of New York (SUNY) system, the largest in the US, have resulted in severely undermining an already semi-privatised state education institution, education workers’ livelihoods, and people’s access to the means of education. Though union representation is guaranteed in New York State, union struggles have been largely unsuccessful in overturning the onslaught. This seems due to several factors, among which are a repressive state apparatus, reformist top-down unions acting as Democratic Party transmission belts, complicit tenured faculty, isolation from student movements, top-heavy management, extreme inequality among university workers, expansion of contingent contracts, mass media propaganda, and craft-based union segmentation. This struggle over/for education institutions involves a multiple context-specific challenges, which impede organising and coordinating efforts within and between campuses. Relative to SUNY, a major issue is overcoming the problem of worker representation being an obstacle to workers’ struggles.

Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro works, presents, and writes on soil degradation and society-environment relations, as well as ecosocialism and working class struggles. He teaches geography, including courses on soils and gender and environment, at SUNY New Paltz. Among published work is a freely downloadable collection of critical geographies online and an edited volume on the European Union as an empire. He is editor for the journal Capitalism Nature Socialism and co-founder of Ecosocialist Horizons.

Anne-Marie Grondin, Scott Uzelman (Queen’s University)
A Small Victory in the Edufactory: Queen’s post-docs unionized

In July 2011, after months of legal wrangling, post-doctoral fellows working at Queen’s University were recognized as having voted in favour of unionization and representation by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).  A former post-doc and member of the organizing team will recount the ins and outs, ups and downs, strikes and gutters, of organizing a unique group of university workers in one of Canada’s most conservative edufactories.


The Organization of the University: Social Struggles Within Neoliberalization (I)

Sarah E. Hoffman (Carleton University)
University Food and Collective Kitchens

Food is, of course, necessary to human survival. However, the type of food production, distribution, and consumption that exists in the modern world is not. The current food supply system fundamentally interferes with the ability of individuals to live according to their own conception of the good. This interference can be interpreted as capability deprivation as the current food supply system offers only one way to organize life with regard to food. The specific capabilities of health and safety and of free association will be used to articulate the ways in which the modern food supply system interferes with the individual’s capabilities. The production, distribution and supply of food should be of concern to all consumers because a distribution delay would quickly result in food shortages. While the modern food supply system presents itself as the only viable option (in terms of economics, environment, and industry) in which food can be produced for the current population, the population can resist capability deprivation through change that can be understood as either structural or personal in nature. The population can resist capability deprivation with regard to food by producing, procuring, and distributing food products outside of the modern food supply system. Resolving food relating capability deprivation will have consequences that extend beyond the food supply system. Collective kitchens exist in many universities across the country. They aim to provide alternative ways to organize one’s life with regard to food by providing ways to subvert and change food production, procurement, and consumption. Do the stated motivations, conceptions, and ideas of these organizations coincide with the abstract philosophical ideas presented? In what ways are the power struggles that exist between the university and collectives illustrative of the greater power struggles that exist between industrial agriculture and the consumer? What lessons can be learnt through the power struggles experienced by collective kitchens? Which lessons can be applied, and in what ways, to consumer power struggles to reduce food related capability deprivation?

Mark Wilson (University of Victoria)
Politicizing Administrative Rationalization: students, staff and instructors calling bullshit on the corporate university’s discursive defenses

This presentation aims to raise discussion about effective ways of politicizing and organizing against the corporate university, particularly on campuses such as my own (the University of Victoria), where administrative practices oriented towards corporatization and the centralization of authority are widely felt but NOT highly visible. In 2010, a collective of UVic staff, students and instructors set out to challenge this image through the Automated Project, beginning with a series of forums to build alliances between staff, students and instructors in identifying and addressing common problems that impact us all. The continued aim of this project is to build spaces for democratic discussion and decision-making among all those whose labour constitutes the university, producing a space that is increasingly hard to find on a campus that masks corporate managerial practices and centralization of power behind aspirations to excellence, measurability, accountability, and technological efficiency.

I’m based out of the University of Victoria (BC, Canada), and work on a number of community organizing projects: with Allies of Drug War Survivors, working alongside people who use drugs in struggles for quality harm reduction services; with the Automated Project, organizing against the neoliberal restructuring of the university; and with the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group, challenging police discrimination against people living in extreme poverty. My doctoral work focuses on the discursive construction of homelessness as a contemporary political problem, and the roles of academics and practitioners in the reproduction of this discourse.

Joeita Gupta (University of Toronto)
The Lawlessness of the Law Makers: An Investigation of Non-Academic Discipline at the University

Codes of Student Conduct which apply academic penalties for non-academic “offences” have been used to criminalize peaceful student sit-ins and smother collective bargaining by unionized workers at various Universities, on several occasions. This presentation examines the historical development and recent applications of non-academic disciplinary frameworks in the context of the neoliberal structuring of the University. Drawing primarily on research from the University of Toronto with occasional references to other similar policies at

different institutions, this presentation makes two interconnected arguments: that the genesis of non-academic discipline by the University administration is a way of managing student dissent, while stifling academic freedom and freedoms of expression at Universities which are witnessing privatization, corporatization, gentrification and implementation of market logic, at alarming rates and that these processes work in tandem- one would not and could not be possible without the other. Additionally, the presentation charts the use of non-academic discipline to specifically target racialized students, students with disabilities and others from marginalized communities. Simultaneously, the debate around the usefulness, efficacy and relevance of non-academic discipline at Universities and its seemingly valid justifications by both its avid proponents and concerned members of the University community, are inextricably tied to questions of equity and safety. This presentation unpacks how the competing discourses around the Code of Student conduct are amply exploited by the University administration, determined to use non-academic discipline as a political weapon to crush student and worker resistance. In its effects, non-academic disciplinary policies (which are commonplace on several North American University campuses) demarcate students as second-class members of the community, subject to different rules. The presentation is geared at finding some constructive solutions. It is not enough to say we should eliminate the Code of Student Conduct and similar disciplinary frameworks; it is critical to think of suitable alternatives. The presentation will examine some alternative models, chart recent student struggles to challenge draconian codes of student conduct on their campuses and briefly situate these struggles in a broader fight to reclaim the University as a site for struggle and debate.


Critiques of Knowledge Production on Campus

Jason Dolny (Carleton University)
Towards a New Ethos of Science: The Naturalization of Neoliberal Science

My current thesis research looks at how the construction of knowledge within the pharmaceutical industry is representative of a changing ethos of science by focusing on the practice of medical ghostwriting.  Applying the theoretical concepts offered by Antonio Gramsci to this analysis I hope to be able to explore not only the emergence of a neoliberal mode of science but also how such a transformation is predicated on restructuring the role of academic researchers and institutions. 

Jason Dolny is a master’s candidate in the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University.  His current thesis research focuses on the emergence and reactions to pharmaceutical ghostwriting in medical journal disclosure policies.

Heather Morrison (Simon Fraser University)
The Global Open Access Movement: Enclosure and Emancipation of Scholarly Knowledge

My work as a scholar and activist is on the global open access movement and its often successful struggles against the tendency toward enclosure and commodification of scholarly knowledge. The vision that I strive for is a global knowledge commons in which all of humankind’s knowledge is freely available to everyone, everywhere. An example of a recent struggle is the Research Works Act in the U.S. pushed by Elsevier and other publishers which would have undone the public access policy of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, now withdrawn thanks to the very successful Elsevier boycott initiated by mathematician Timothy Gowers. Currently in many countries advocates are working for policies requiring public access to publicly funded research, and for policies at universities.

Bio:  Heather Morrison is a doctoral candidate at Simon Fraser University School of Communication, where her work focuses on scholarly communication and open access. She is also an adjunct faculty member at UBC’s School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, and a practising professional librarian. Much of Heather’s work can be found from her blog,
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

Mark Paschal (University of California Santa Cruz)
This is Not Our University

As US higher education formalized and standardized at the beginning of the 20th century, it did so around a notion of the ‘public good’ that operated against the interests of the militant working class. Liberal Progressive ideology, whose main theorists were the professionalizing academics and the disciplinary associations that came to exist in the late 19th century, relies on the cooperation of classes for higher productivity and a resulting social safety net. I will oppose this vision of higher education by looking at Workers’ Education efforts in the 1920s. For the workers’ education movement, the idea was to train a cadre of organizers and leaders for a broad based social and political revolution. It was education for the working class, not for social mobility. From here, I hope to engage in discussions on the organizing assumptions of North American student movements.

Bio: I am a ph.d student in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. My project is a political-economy of US higher education in the 20th century. I sometimes write for Viewpoint Magazine


Saturday, Apr. 28, 11:20-12:50 Session 2

SS2102, Amphitheatre

The Organization of the University: Social Struggles Within Neoliberalization (II)

Heath Schultz (University of Iowa)
Over-production of MFAs 

In this presentation I’ll try to connect the ways in which an imagined artistic autonomy and anti-capitalist political possibilities are undercut and recuperated by disciplining within professionalizing practices of the university. In conjunction with debt and academic hyper-competitiveness, this disciplining results in a stifled political practice that can only appear to maintain some integrity as being independent of capitalist / institutional persuasions. This is perhaps what distinguishes the MFA program from other graduate programs—that the artist is supposedly able to maintain some semblance of autonomy from the manipulative forces of a hierarchical university. But more importantly, it seems this imagined autonomy often results in MFA students willfully engaging in a valorizing process that forces cultural production into mere marketable styles, be it explicitly sold in a gallery or disciplined for a tidy discursive academic practice, have devastating affects on a radical cultural practice.

Heath Schultz is mostly a researcher who sometimes finds ways to make his thinking public. Interested in understanding the relationship between radical politics and cultural production, he reads, thinks, writes, makes zines, edits readers, and whatever else seems appropriate. He is currently a graduate student at University of Iowa where he struggles to balance a practice between activism, production, and theorizing. Some of his work can be viewed on his website:

Patrick Cunninghame (Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico/SITUAM trade union)
Cognitive capitalism, economic crisis and conflicts around knowledge production in the Mexican University

 Drawing upon my experience as a sociology lecturer, trade unionist, activist and researcher in a Mexico City public university, this paper will explore the current situation in the Mexican university system as the conflicts around knowledge production, sharing and use intensify and crystallize around the question of democratization and in opposition to a gathering neoliberal offensive to privatize the public university and promote the private university by stealth and through the marginalization of localized students movements as part of the Calderon government’s strategy for the criminalization of all social protest. As part of a research project comparing cognitive capitalism, immaterial labor and conflicts in the university over knowledge production in Mexico and Italy, the paper draws on a theoretical framework influenced and informed by the discussions in the Edu-factory and Uninomade lists, which have centered around the “dual crisis” of the public university and the indebtedness of both students and other university workers as central to global capital’s strategy of producing a cheap and controllable “cognitariat” in order to resolve the profound structural weaknesses exposed by the economic depression which started in 2008. In empirical terms, the paper seeks to explain some of the most salient events in Mexico and Latin America during 2011, particularly the students and trade union movements for university democratization in Mexico.

Sociology lecturer and member of the independent SITUAM trade union at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana – Xochimilco,Dep. de Relaciones Sociales

Jamie Magnusson (University of Toronto)
Financialization and the Organization of Learning and Labour

By now, many writers have provided analyses of the effects of neoliberal policy on higher education (e.g., Currie & Newson, 1998; Slaugher & Rhoades, 2004). However, relatively few writers have explored how the financialization of neoliberal capitalism has been reshaping higher education (e.g., Beverungen, Dunne, & Hoedmaeker, 2009). ‘Financialization’ refers to the increasing importance of financial markets and financial institutions in the sum total of national and international economic activity (Dore, 2002). Other writers describe financialization in terms of the increasing importance of the stock market and differential accumulation dynamics, citing the Nixon shock as a key historical moment (e.g., Bichler & Nitzan, 2004). In my paper I examine  how these dynamics are reshaping the organization of learning and labour within postsecondary education, with a special focus on classed intersections of gender and race. Key themes include precarity, debt, surveillance, and security.


Beyond the University: Autonomous Education Initiatives (I)

Anthony Meza-Wilson (University of British Columbia)
Educational Projects for Decolonization: Anarchist Allyship and Resistance Education in the Americas

This presentation considers movement schools for decolonization in the Americas including such projects as: autonomous schools, free skools/free universities, and indigenous community-based educational projects. In her book Red Pedagogy, Sandy Grande outlines how critical pedagogy, with its foundation in Marxist theory, has failed to adequately address the educational issues faced by indigenous people on Turtle Island. This paper is an examination of the ways in which Anarchist educational theories and projects both succeed and fail in addressing Grande’s criticisms. Examples from historical and current educational projects that contextualize Anarchism and decolonization in real-world struggles demonstrate the practical aspects of building a movement for a decolonizing Anarchist education. Such projects include: Indigenous Free School, Unsettling Minnesota at the Experimental College of the Twin Cities, the EZLN educación autónoma, among others. Special attention will be paid to the relationship between Anarchist educational projects and the cultivation of Anarchist allyship for decolonization through education.

The Free School Movement in Montreal

In Montreal, there is a growing movement to decommodify learning. Many groups are offering courses, workshops, skill-share gatherings, conferences and public discussions free of cost. These groups are challenging the dominant modus operandi of funding policies set forth by the Quebec government. The Quebec University Funding Plan in the 2011-2012 Quebec Budget outlines that students, donors and corporations are expected to provide increased financial support for universities. This will be achieved through a significant tuition increase (75% over 5 years for Quebec students), reliance on corporate donations and negotiating public private partnerships. Alternatively, community-learning initiatives are offering their programs without relying on funding from private corporations or charging user fees. This paper focuses on these community-learning initiatives by addressing how these projects can be sustainable over time and how to develop the free school model as a viable alternative to the current education system. To answer these questions, I took two approaches. First, I conducted interviews with six groups in Montreal who currently offer free education programs. These groups consist of the Ayllu, Université de la Terre, Cinema Politica, University of the Streets Café, Université Populaire, and Q-PIRG Concordia. In addition, by following a research in action model, I partook in the creation of the Alternative University Project2 (a free, non-hierarchical school that provides courses and workshops to the community of Montreal). The Alternative University Project began in December 2011 and is already offering several courses. In this paper, I provide an overall assessment of the various funding models used by each of the different projects. I conclude by suggesting ways by which community-learning programs can be successfully implemented, for free.

Richard Day (Queen’s University)
The University as Intentional Community

This presentation will focus on what might be called the ‘public non-state’ educational sector, that is, autonomous experiments in creating alternatives to the neoliberal university. I will advance the argument that, in order to create more sustainable institutions, it will be necessary to wean ourselves from dependence upon state and corporate funding and control – hence the term ‘autonomous’, and hence the necessity of seeing the university as an intentional community – a place where a life is lived – rather than as a place where one has a ‘career’ or merely passes through to gain a credential.  I will talk about some existing experiments that I’m aware of, and discuss some of the perils and possibilities of this kind of model. The specific outcomes in which I am interested are: (1) greater shared knowledge of those involved in experiments of this sort and (2) starting more experiments!


Chris Dixon and Alexis Shotwell
Imagining life beyond the tenure carrot and the adjunct stick: a Collective Conversation

Many of us labouring in the academy experience a profound contradiction between the realities of our daily lives and the aspirations we are trained to hold: we see the shift toward precarious university labour and its implications for our careers, and simultaneously we find ourselves called to believe that we can (and should) get tenure-track jobs if we only work hard enough. This workshop will create a collective space to explore the frequently individualized questions that come out of this contradiction, what kinds of strategies we are developing, and how we can create (and are creating) scholarly lives through and against academe. This session is for graduate students, sessionals, academic drop-outs, potential grad students, precarious academic workers, tenure-track faculty, and others interested in imagining how to collectively move beyond the tenure carrot and the adjunct stick.

Chris Dixon (chrisd @ is a longtime organizer, writer, and educator with a PhD from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Dixon is currently completing a book based on interviews with anti-authoritarian organizers across the U.S. and Canada involved in broader-based movements. He serves on the board of the Institute for Anarchist Studies, the advisory board for the radical journal Upping the Anti, and the copyediting crew for the activist magazine Left Turn. Dixon lives in Sudbury, Ontario, where he is involved with anti-poverty and indigenous solidarity organizing.

Alexis Shotwell (alexis @ is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. Her academic work addresses racial formation, unspeakable and unspoken knowledge, sexuality, gender, and political transformation. Her engagement in political struggle focuses on queer liberation, indigenous solidarity, ending war, and feminist community education. Her written work has appeared in Hypatia, Sociological Theory, Upping the Anti, and book collections. She has recently completed a book entitled Knowing Otherwise: Implicit Understanding and Political Change (Penn State Press, 2011).

Saturday Apr. 28, 1:50-3:20 Session 3

SS2102 Amphitheatre


Mansoor Behnam and Felipe  Quetzalcoatl
A Cup of Coffee with Kafka (36 min., 2010)

Whether coming, going, arriving, or departing, willingly or unwillingly, we are in constant motion. This rings especially true in a globalized world, where the interchanges of peoples, commodities, and ideas across ever-fluid borders have generated an array of political, economic, and cultural phenomena. Constant movement is embedded in our politics, histories, philosophies, literatures, and artistic expressions, which are saturated with narratives preoccupied with moving across and redefining territorial, cultural, social, linguistic, and intellectual boundaries. At the same time, perhaps constant movement is as integrated in human experience as living itself, for, we may ask, what is human life but a conscious, transitory flash along the vast expanse of the universe?

Zach Ruiter and Anthony Gulston (Trent University)
Nefarious Steve and the Alfredo Sauce 
(36 min., 2012)

It is a 20 minute multimedia hybrid documentary-zine dispatch dedicated to the public use of reason within Trent University President Stephen Franklin’s land of “proprietary commercial information”.We’ll surf incremental waves of privatization in our newly created and penultimate faculty, the Faculty of Excellence-in-Commercializing-University-Research-for-the-Purpose-of-Greenwashing-Corporate-Profit-Sustainability-while-Calling-it-Activism-Studies. We’ll fall into the soup by speaking with the private consultants contracted by the administration to avoid accountability, but we’ll also show you the successful student initiatives combating austerity through enacting parallel structures.
It’s time to retake the university.

Presented by Zach Ruiter in association with Anthony Gulston. Zach and Anthony are colleagues at Arthur, Trent University and Peterborough’s Independent Press.


The Organization of the University: Social Struggles Within Neoliberalization (III)

Fabiana Medina (Autonomous University of Mexico City)
Autonomous University of Mexico City: Harassment in an Alternative Project

This paper seeks to present the characteristics and history of the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM) that make it a superior alternative education project aimed at groups traditionally excluded from this option. The brunt of which is the subject since 2010 has different profiles ranging from choking the current budget by local leftist government and the consequent violation of university autonomy; the attempt of employers to control workers’ union; and led the discrediting public from within the rectory.

Degree in Social Communication from Universidad Autónoma  Metropolitana. She  completed a Masters in Education at the Universidad Marista. She  has collaborated on projects of popular education and alternative communication for over 17 years.
She teaches at the UACM since 2008. She  is currently a member of the Executive Coordination of the Trade Union of Workers of the Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México  (SUTUACM).

Alice Cervinkova (Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic)
Unrest in Czech Universities: Policies and Practices of Protest

Although efforts to introduce neoliberal changes in higher education system in Czech Republic can be dated back to the middle of the last decade, only at that time they gather broader awareness among students, academics and public. Government introduced legislative intention of new HE law in 2011. Negotiations among representatives of HEI´s and Ministry of education failed. Ministry decided to continue with the legislative process without taking into account criticism and without including any proposals given by the representatives of academic community. This failure has mobilized academic representatives and academic community to express their concerns in the form of protests. In my contribution I would like to reflect on some aspects of ongoing protests against proposed changes in Czech universities. I will build on my (auto)ethnography data and document analysis. My primary concern will be politics and practices of protests that I have been observing in two Czech Universities (one traditional university with medieval roots and one new regional university). I will focus on following questions:

How have been the protests framed?
What are the key themes and topics of the protests?
What imaginaries about education have been mobilized?
How have been the protests linked to other societal concerns?

I am sociologist and PhD student currently working on ethnography based reserach on higher education in Czech republic. I am also academic activist involved in the initiative for Independent Universities.

Goovinda Juárez Rodríguez (Autonomous University of Mexico City)
The Autonomous University of Mexico City and the Right to Development


Workshop II

Occupy Harvard Facilitation Working Group
Philip Cartelli
(Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University); Hannah Hofheinz (Harvard Divinity School); John Hulsey (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University); Derin Korman (Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University)
Occupy Pedagogy: Facilitating Collective Engagement in the Classroom

The collective process that has been elaborated over the course of Occupy has profound consequences for teaching and learning in institutions of higher education. These lessons need not only be applied in alternative educational frameworks but can also be used to organize resistance within neoliberal universities complicit in structures of social inequality, privilege, and economic self-interest. How might an Occupy pedagogy differ from both dominant and existing critical models of education?
We four members of the Occupy Harvard facilitation working group propose a session that will address these topics by asking:
• Can a class of students be a collective? Ought it be?
• How do we move from critique to accountability?
• Does consensus belong in higher education?
In the spirit of the collective process use in the Occupy movement, this workshop will be proposed as a series of facilitated discussions. Drawing on our combined experience as facilitators and teachers, we aim to offer participants an interactive, engaged, and experimental setting in which to explore the pedagogical strengths, weaknesses, and overall implications of this mode of engagement when it is adopted as a mode of teaching.

Organized in the wake of occupations in New York City and Boston, Occupy Harvard’s tents went up in Harvard Yard on November 9, 2011. Occupy Harvard has since stood in solidarity with Occupy Everywhere, while unveiling a set of critiques specific to its own educational-institutional context, from repudiating the fiscal policies guiding the Harvard Management Corporation’s practices to interrogating complicit forms of pedagogy and scholarship. As students, teachers, and university community members broadly speaking, we are committed to the possibility of a post-neoliberal education. As members of the Occupy Harvard facilitation working group, we have a stake in the horizontal, participatory processes that guide our engagement.


Workshop III

Counter Cartographies Collective
 Mapping Universities in Crisis

We propose to lead a collective mapping workshop to produce a map of higher education struggles across North America and to begin to create an alternative cartography of the different universities imagine and are already constructing. In the workshop, we will create a physical map of where different movements and projects are located, and their relationships to each other and other movements, and produce a conceptual map of the issues, tactics, tools and problems emerging in different struggles. We will use the activity to foster conversations about concrete strategies and coordination among different participants and to highlight the existing and possible connections between struggles in different sectors and different places. The exact organization of the workshop will depend on the number of participants and their interests and we are also open to organizing the workshop with other individuals or groups interested in using collective cartography as a political tool.

Saturday, Apr. 28: 3:40-5:40 pm Session 4

SS2102, Amphitheatre

Plenary Session I
Occupy Education

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.

Saturday, Apr. 28, 7:00-9:00 pm

Toronto Free Gallery (1277 Bloor St West) (Lansdowne subway station)

“The Production of Living Knowledge”: Book Launch and Discussion

 Gigi Roggero (author) – University of Bologna, edu-factory Collective

Lenora Hansen – University of Wisconsin-Madison, edu-factory collective

George Caffentzis – University of Southern Maine, Midnight Notes Collective

Enda Brophy – Simon Fraser University, edu-factory collective

Some years ago the edu-factory collective proposed to describe the current situation in terms of a “double crisis”, a combination of the global economic crisis and the crisis of the global university. Today we are witnessing an acceleration of this process, including cuts to public education, the dismantling of programs and departments, the ongoing devaluation of degrees and knowledge, and many other unmistakable symptoms of crisis. In this discussion we propose to introduce “The Production of Living Knowledge,” authored by Gigi Roggero, through collective discussion of some of the urgent topics and questions posed by contemporary struggles and movements, topics that are the heart of the book. Categories such as living knowledge, class composition, the common, institutions of the common, and others used in its pages are not simply abstract categories, but concepts embodied in the creative power of contemporary struggles. Most recently, Occupy – in North America, as well as globally – is affirming the constituent dimension of social movements. In the context of the university the problem we collectively face is not that of defending the status quo ante from corporatization, but to create a new university and new forms for the cooperation of living knowledge. To confront this question, the Toronto meeting, as well as other similar events occurring around the world, are crucial in order to share practices and experiences, and in order to create and improve the transnational networking process.

Sunday, April 29: 9:45-11:15 am Session 5

SS2102 Amphitheatre

Beyond the University: Autonomous Education Initiatives (II)

Mike Neary (University of Lincoln) Social Science Centre, Lincoln (UK)
Social Science Centre, Lincoln (UK): An ‘Institution  of the Common’

The Social Science Centre (SSC) is a not-for-profit, co-operative model of higher education, based in Lincoln in the UK. The Centre is managed by its members: academics, students, administrators, educators, activists,  on the basis of democratic, non-hierarchical, dynamic self-organisational principles. Students will pay no fee to become a member of the Centre, but can make a subscription based on their income. Academics involved in the Centre will not receive any remuneration. Students will leave the Centre with an award that is at the level of graduate, or post graduate degree, accredited by the members of the centre. This talk will describe the political and policy context out of which the Social Science Centre has emerged, the process by which it has been set up, as well as some of the challenges and difficulties that it is facing. The paper will also situate the project within a range of other similar projects that are being set up in the UK. By attending the conference members of the Social Science Centre hope to make contact with activists, academics and students working on creating other  ‘institutions of the common’ ( Roggero  2011). For further information on the Social Science Centre, see

Dean of Teaching and Learning; Director of the Graduate School; Director of the Centre for Educational Research and Development

Greig de Peuter and Christine Shaw (Toronto School of Creativity and Inquiry)
Debriefing: Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry

The call-out for this gathering invited debriefings from a variety of struggles, contexts, and places. This presentation will address a local autonomous education project, the Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry (TSCI). Between 2005 and 2010 this collective, of which the two presenters are members, put on several public forums, reading groups, art exhibitions, and free lectures. The purpose of this presentation is to describe this project. It will situate TSCI in a larger wave of alternative education initiatives that have proliferated since 2000. The presentation will conclude by beginning to consider some concepts–slowness, exhaustion, friendship, prefiguration, and stalling–to reflect on this project, to assess some of the challenges confronted by such institutions, and, perhaps, to imagine it anew.

Brian Holmes, Malav Kanuga (16Beaver)
Organizing and Aggregating the Common: Toward an Autonomous Network of Space, Knowledge, and Subjectivity.

A relatively dense set of alternative practices and solidarities within and beyond the university already exists, and more are emerging. They have been important in our collective attempts to amass knowledge for our struggles in a new militant context. We seek to reflect and build upon the experiences of people and projects currently undertaking the work of plotting, planning, and scheming autonomous networks of space, knowledge, and subjectivity. We therefore pose the question of organizing and aggregating the common. So that we may think more clearly about what it means to organize our cooperative networks beyond the borders of the knowledge economy, we pose the following lines of inquiry:
With what forms and through what practices does a network become organized into a common? Upon what bases, principles, and politics, do we coordinate militant research, develop new knowledges, reappropriate time and resource, and de-individuate our work and social lives? How to organize a network loose enough to hold many adventures with different goals, languages, local roots, ideologies and temperaments—yet tight enough to encourage collaboration and create desire? How to organize networks of flight from the institutions that capture our common intelligence, work, and social relations (e.g. universities and museums) and how to reappropriate resources, time, and relationships in the process?
This is a conversation that we will begin in Toronto and continue at 16 Beaver in NYC the following weekend.

I (Malav Kanuga) live in Brooklyn, NY where I am editor and programmer of the publishing imprint/event series Common Notions/This Is Forever ( I also research value, urbanism, and surplus populations in postcolonial India as a doctoral student in the cultural anthropology department at the CUNY Graduate Center. I often coordinate autonomous education initiatives at 16 Beaver as well as at the CUNY Graduate Center (where our self-organized seminars have been for credit), and am beginning to work on issues of archiving autonomous knowledges with Interference Archive (


Social Struggles in the Crisis of Canadian Public Education

Adam Lewis (Queen’s University)
Decolonize the Neoliberal University

As neoliberal and capitalist modes of oppression and further encroach on public spaces of resistance, such as the university, oppositional movements continue to grow. Despite attempts to push back against this capitalist onslaught, resistance within the university (and in broader struggles) has been slow to take stock of the colonial residues that permeate both the university as an institution and movements of resistance.

In this presentation I name colonialism, and more specifically settler colonialism, as a system of oppression and privilege that needs to be challenged in the university and beyond. I aim to look at some of the ways in which colonialism operates as a system of privilege for settler academics and activists, and seek to engage possibilities for working as allies to Indigenous struggles within and outside the academy. More specifically, I probe, following Regan (2010) and Barber (2010), how we might as settlers seek to “unsettle” colonial privileges and engage in processes of decolonization. I suggest that both political solidarity (Scholz 2008) as well as the historical and continuing relationship between Haudenosaunee peoples and Dutch/British settlers recorded as the Two Row Wampum present opportunities for thinking about how to engage differently as academics and activists. I seek to raise questions that explore what might solidarity and decolonization mean. What does this look like in the neoliberal university? In social movements that push back against further capitalist intensification? What might it mean to be a settler ally in these contexts? Overall, I aim to argue for a decolonizing and anti-colonial academic practice that seeks to challenge colonialism and support Indigenous struggles in the academy and beyond.

Adam Lewis is an anarchist activist working towards settler decolonization in social movement and academic contexts. He is currently working to finish his MA thesis in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University on anarchist engagements with Indigenous struggles of resistance and the possibilities of developing anarcha-Indigenism as a form of anti-authoritarian and anti-colonial politics. He was one of 20 people arrested on conspiracy charges from organizing against the G20 in Toronto in 2010. In November

2011 he and 5 others accepted a plea deal to a lesser charge of counseling that resulted in charges being dropped for 11 others, and as a result is currently serving a 3.5-month jail sentence.

Gary Kinsman, Laurel O’Gorman, Tyler Horton, Danielle Beaulieu, and Melanie Durette (Laurentian University)
The Struggle Within, Against and Beyond Neo-Liberalism at Laurentian University

We would like to propose a joint student/faculty workshop/panel at the conference on “The Struggle Within, Against and Beyond Neo-Liberalism at Laurentian University.” Laurentian University is located in Sudbury, Ontario. This session will include a number of presentations from students and faculty at Laurentian that develop a critical analysis of how neo-liberalism is being implemented at Laurentian University against workers, students and faculty as well as the possibilities for resistance and struggle. This mapping out of the local social relations of struggle against the neo-liberal and capitalist university will include the attempt to undercut academic standards through delivering university programs through a community-college setup in Barrie; the impact on support staff including the partly successful strike by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM); the specific impact on francophone programs; the impact on student services and tuition fees; the impact on the humanities and social science programs in particular; and the shift from full-time core faculty to sessionals and precarious workers. The workshop/panel will also make visible contradictions and map out the possibilities for resistance and transformation (including the participation of some of the campus-based activists in the occupy movement) that can be very useful when brought together with other local analysis to develop a broader overall analysis and way of moving.
This session/workshop relates to the following themes outlined in the call for submissions: mapping the terrain of campus struggle, waged and unwaged labour in the university, the university and the occupy movement, the death of the humanities, the economics of the neoliberal university, University and student governance, and the undergraduate experience of neoliberalism.

Laurel O’Gorman is a queer single mother with two young children.  She is currently finishing her MA in sociology in Laurentian University’s Sociology program.  Her research focuses on access to education for single mother students and she also works with feminism and queer theory.  Laurel sometimes enjoys causing a rukus to expose power relations in her role as the president of CUPE local 5011 representing graduate teaching assistants at Laurentian University, and as a community activist working on issues like LGBTQ rights, student issues, anti-poverty work, union organizing, and women’s rights.  Right wing pundits are put off by (or, possibly terrified of) her anti-oppressive and anti-capitalist views; recently, her work with the occupy together movement caught the attention of an op-ed writer for nationally recognized paper who named Laurel (as a single mother, liberal arts student, and union activist) of being a main cause of the economic recession.

Gary Kinsman is a long-time queer liberation, anti-poverty,  and anti-capitalist activist and is a member of the new Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP). He is the author of The Regulation of Desire:  Homo and Hetero Sexualities, co-author (with Patrizia Gentile) of The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation, and editor of Whose National Security? and Sociology for Changing the World. He teaches sociology at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, on the historic territories of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek nation.

Carolyn Sale (University of Alberta)
Disclosing the Foreclosed University



Workshop IV

Taiva Tegler (University of Ottawa), Dillon Black(Carleton University) and Quinn Blue
 Pass the Dildo Please: Radical Queer Pedagogy to Deconstruct, Rebuild, and Transform Our Spaces of Learning

For actors at the front lines of activism in the academy community collaboration and partnership(s) play a critical role in challenging the institution; concurrently, the institution can provide support and resources to community social justice work. My research is rooted in the perspective that pedagogy is at the heart of transformative struggle and plays a pivotal role in engaging with critical thought that lays challenge to oppressive forces existing within our institutions of knowledge production (namely the Academy). First, I will draw from an in-depth semi structured interview with a social justice, queer-identified, community-based educator on the subject of radical sex-education contributing a Post-Secondary feminist classroom. The analysis and outcomes provide comprehensive pedagogical tools that may be mobilized in transformative ways to intervene in and challenge the Academy, as well as develop further links between community social justice organizing and feminist academia. In the second stage, I draw on lessons from my own experiences – highlighting specific examples – as a social justice organizer, radical militant activist, student union executive, sexual assault support worker and feminist educator to speak to the contradictions, complexities and possibilities in the spaces between activism and academia. Finally, I conclude with a look at the role radical pedagogy can play as a tool of activists and educators to rework our places of learning and contribute to strategies of resistance.

 Taiva Tegler is a radical, queer, activist, student and anti-violence support worker – her work is bound up in (un)learning power, privilege and decolonization.  Her passions manifest in radical queer pedagogy and its role in transformative struggle within systems of education and as a tool of intervention.   Taiva is currently a student union executive, a support worker with the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa (SASC) and a community activist with a number of groups including Under Pressure! a direct action anti-poverty collective.  

Dillon Black is a trans/gender-nonconforming anti-violence activist and social worker who uses radical activism as a means of challenging systems and structures of power. Dillon is passionate about youth centered initiatives and building capacity for community as a tool to educate and transform and has a particular interest in the intersections of race, queerness, disability and transembodiment. Dillon is active in anti-violence work locally, and transnationally and sees anti-racist, decolonization, and decriminalization organizing as central to the work they do and pivotal to breaking down borders and binaries of all kinds. Dillon sits on the National Youth Advisory Board for Sexual Health and HIV, partnered with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and is studying Social Work with a double minor in Indigenous and Sexuality Studies at Carleton University.

Quinn Blue is a queer trans student anti-violence activist. Quinn strives to integrate learning and unlearning into every aspect of his life, and works to deconstruct systems of power and privilege. Quinn passionate about reproductive justice, consent, sex positivity, and building a world we want to see through education, learning, and unlearning. Quinn is currently a student, a coordinator at a Women’s Resource Centre, a member of the Youth Advisory Committee of Project Acorn, a sexuality educator for youth, and a grassroots activist.

Taiva, Dillon and Quinn currently reside in Ottawa, Ontario: Turtle Island.

Sunday, Apr. 29, 11:20-12:50 Session 6

SS2102 Amphitheatre

Occupy Student Debt

This panel will discuss the struggle that is underway between student loan debtors (most of whom are not students any longer) and the various government agencies and banks that are keeping a lock on the debtors? future. We will also examine the role of the recent Occupy Student Debt Campaign in the debtors? struggle.

Robert Oxford (New York University)

Tuition as Profit: How Student Debt Functions In America

I will explore how the student debt cycle works from the perspectives of the individual student, government and banks in our current political ‘age of austerity’ to create a culture of student indenture.  

George Caffentzis (University of Southern Maine)

A Brief History of the Anti-Student Loan Debtors’ Movement in the US

After a briefer discussion of debtors’ movements in US history, this talk will focus on the recent development of anti-student loan debt organizations in the current social-political-economic crisis: their differences and prospects.  

Annie Spencer (City University of New York)

“Those promises have turned out to be empty”: Affect, Moralism, and Occupy’s Campaign for Student Debt Refusal

Much has been written about the present crisis in student debt in the broader context of the crisis of education and the neoliberalization of the university.  Taking this literature as a jumping off point, this talk seeks to address a different theoretical and strategic question regarding student debt?the potential for an effective campaign against it.  With increasing numbers of U.S. adults under the disciplinary grips of increasingly large sums of student debt, the anticipation of a counter-debt movement hangs large in the imagination of activists and social movements scholars.  Yet, despite the seeming urgency of the material consequences of student debt in the everyday lives of millions of Americans, efforts at organizing for a broad-based debt abolition movement are limited by a number of constraints.   The atomizing effects of student debt, combined with the strong cultural stigma of indebtedness and an ideological bias that student debt is “productive” debt, engender social conditions that are counterproductive for a counter-debt movement.   Drawing from the recent experience of the Occupy Student Debt Campaign, this talk will explore these and other constraints and how we might overcome them.

Robert Oxford is a graduate student of American Studies at New York University whose research involves cities, cultural geography, racism, racial violence, and intellectual history. He is also an organizer with the Occupy Student Debt Campaign.

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.

Annie Spencer is a doctoral student in Geography at the CUNY Graduate Center and a teaching fellow at Hunter College.  Her academic and political work focuses on questions of debt, dispossession and resistance under global economic restructuring.  She is a member of the Occupy Student Debt Campaign.


The Organization of the University: Social Struggles Within Neoliberalization (III)

Soo Tian Lee (Birkbeck School of Law, University of London)
After the High, Then What?:Questions without answers about post-protest-wave student struggles in London, UK

The 2010-2011 winter protests against the tripling of UK university fees was a time of excitement about the possibilities of student struggles against accelerating neoliberalisation. 1 ½ years later, however, the student movement is deflated. The March 14, 2012 day of action saw 300+ students march in London in what seemed an attempt to spark off a new eruption akin to that from the November 10, 2010 Millbank occupation. While there’ve been some recent successes, e.g. in student union elections, recent actions have lacked imagination or even a cohesive idea of what we’re fighting for. This presentation aims to raise questions about student struggles after the ecstatic effects of ‘moments of excess’ have faded away. Issues include sustainable organisation, the replication of now irrelevant tactics, the role of extra-institutional groups/collectives, and the relationship between university struggles and wider struggles. The presentation, drawing from debates within London student circles, won’t provide answers, but seeks discussion between participants who may be asking similar questions in their respective contexts.


Soo Tian Lee is a PhD candidate at the Birkbeck School of Law, University of London. He has been involved in various things in the last couple of years, including the Save Middlesex Philosophy and Save Philosophy at Greenwich campaigns, as well as university-centred groups/initiatives such as Open Birkbeck, the Autonomous Reading Group (ARG) and the anticutsspace. Given that many of these groups have proved to be transient, he is keen to understand how sustainable organisational forms can be brought about. He spends too much time nursing eclectic music tastes and thinking about the radical potential of animated moving images.

Nicola Short (York University)

Neoliberal Academic Restructuring and the Antinomies of Intellectual Labour: Notes for an Analytical Framework

“Intellectuals develop slowly, far more slowly than any other social group”
– Antonio Gramsci

This paper seeks to develop a framework for analysis for understanding the relationship between intellectual labor and neoliberalism in historical-material context. To do so, it will examine the ideological, juridical, and material dimensions of relationship between the academy and society in historical context. It will consider how such conditions have structured the nature of scholarly work – including their articulation to logics of ‘collegial self-government’, the affective and psychological demands of scholarship and the particularities of intellectual inquiry as a form of labour – and how the logics of neoliberalism operate strategically to exploit certain tensions and antinomies within the contemporary academy. The praxeological purpose of this inquiry is to understand the particular role of faculty in the failures to defend the academy from neoliberal restructuring, especially given its assault on the erstwhile foundational principles of the modern university. The paper will conclude by considering the implications of such an analysis for identifying the foundational elements of alternatives for an intellectually robust, socially responsible academy and sites where such goals may be most strategically pursued.

Amarela Varela and Alejandro Chora Camacho (UACM)
Itinerant Museum “SER UACEMITA”

Facilitator: Max Haiven (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design/edu-factory)
Respondent: Alison Hearn (Western University)
Translator: Patrick Canninghame


Labor, Creation, Production: Within and Beyond the University (II)

Zach Schwartz-Weinstein (New York University)

Provincializing Academic Labor: Academic Capitalism’s Other Histories

Critical accounts of the operation of the contemporary university too often ignore the biopolitical labor of the vast and increasingly outsourced and globally dispersed corps of service, affective, and even manufacturing workers who make possible the operation and expansion of the contemporary university.  That is, accounts of the university which treat upon the student as the privileged subject of class struggle or which account only for the university’s extraction of cognitive labor from an increasingly casualized lumpenprofessoriat fall victim to precisely the sort of occlusion of non-instructional labor’s central role in the production of knowledge.  My paper complicates a politics of exodus from the education factory by calling attention to the ways in which the preponderance of service work ruptures the artisanal pretensions of not only a politics of return to the era of faculty self-governance but also of some of the much more laudable politics of escape and marronage.  For U.S. universities, at least, an account of the political economy of university labor cannot stop at the classroom but must also extend to the payroll office, the kitchen, and the bathroom.  A radical anticapitalist and antiauthoritarian engagement with the racialized and gendered geography and histories of university service work allows for transverse connections between, on the one hand, the precarious cognitarians who have created and sustained the most promising and powerful critical accounts of higher education and laborers and, on the other, “lower grade” affective laborers whose labor is both reproductive within and productive of the violent topology of academic neoliberalism.  My paper will sketch out the ways in which service work is integrated into the neoliberal university assemblage, offering a historical genealogy of that assemblage’s reliance upon racialized and gendered forms of affective labor and an analysis of what the continuing inextricability of the university from the values it extracts from such labor means for insurrectionary movements which attack and create radical alternatives to the present system.

Bob Hanke (York University)

The Union Against Itself: The Mirror Stage of Contract Faculty Labour

I describe how the self-organization of the precarious at York University failed to restructure CUPE Local 3903 to give contract faculty relative autonomy and power. In 2010 and 2011, in the wake of the longest strike in English Canadian university history, a Unit 2 Working Group developed a proposal for a composite model that would give contract faculty greater representation. Despite a history of being the lead Local in the Ontario university sector, and an openeness to allocating resources to cultural politics, what has emerged is a disjuncture between the self-image of a member-driven, Local against becoming a business-like bureaucracy, and the executive committee’s reassertion of control. Static, centralized, top-down organization  was reinforced by CUPE National and the shorter-term interests of an active minority of graduate students and recent, indebted Ph.Ds  who elect the majority of the executive committee and occupy the general membership meetings. Thus, paradoxically, the university’s myth of meritocracy finds its inverse image in the marginalization of more senior contract faculty.

Bob Hanke teaches in the Departments of Communication Studies and Humanities at York University. His first foray into media studies, academic labour, human capital and the knowledge-based economy was published in the International Journal of Communication. His research on the network university is situated at the intersection of media studies and critical university studies. He is guest co-editor, with Alison Hearn, of “Out of the Ruins: The University to Come,” a special issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies to be published in the fall of 2012.

Jesse Gutman (McGill University)

Organizing on Campus: Linking Worker’s Struggles to the Student Movement

It is essential to link the struggles of university students and university workers. In 2009, a campaign to unionize support employees and research  assistants/associates began at McGill, culminating in the certification of two bargaining units. Many student activists aided in the campaign and its success has changed the landscape of politics at McGill. In this talk, I would like to discuss my experience as a member organizer and its inextricable connection to activism within the student movement. Also, the talk will be rooted in the current context in Quebec, which has given rise to the student strike.

Jesse Gutman is an articling candidate at a union in Toronto. He is currently active on policing and homelessness issues and also at the Magkaisa Centre. He is a former high school teacher and has been engaged politically in Montreal throughout a BA and BCL/LLB at McGill. In 2010, he was a member organizer of the Association of McGill University Research Employees (AMURE)’s successful certification drive, and briefly held a position on its Executive.