Monthly Archives: October 2017

After the University, Long Live the Academy!

I do not normally reblog things, but look at this.

chad wellmon

This is the slightly edited text of a talk I delivered as the Hansford M. Epes Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities at Davidson College on October 19, 2017. It gathers some of my thinking and writing from the past six months around the question of the university. And, as with most things I write these days, I am particularly grateful to Matt McAdam for helping me think through these big questions and for making generous contributions. 

In 1917 a group of German university students invited the renowned sociologist Max Weber to Munich to participate in a lecture series entitled “intellectual work as vocation” [geistige Arbeit als Beruf]. The students met weekly in the backroom of a bookstore as the Bavarian chapter of the National Federation of Independent Student Groups, a loose association of students established around 1900 to make sense of the radical changes German universities had…

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We must discuss

The minor
The website
The flyers
Study abroad options: UDLAP, UDG, UNAM
Recruiting visit LSU
Recruiting visit Ministerio de Cultura
Student showcase
Enrollment data
Mission and vision
Graduate certificate / M.A. with study abroad
Anything else anyone has to add

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Ruins of modernity

Detroit is an example of the ruins of modernity Benjamin discusses (cf. the Angel of History); how far do these ruins extend? For my article, I want to think about that.

Harvey: the molecular logic of capital, as opposed to the logic of the state, the state logic that accompanies capitalism.

I have to finish my ALFS article even if the fight is lost because someone has to leave a good analysis, testimony, a record of what happened. (That is of course why it should go to an academic journal; I keep thinking of it as something that should ALSO be an op-ed; there were also my two posts in Remaking the University that I meant to rework, with the unfinished third segment, for The Nation and did not.)

This is what I say.

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“César Moro between indigenism and surrealism”

That is the title of this really interesting dissertation.

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Some random notes from earlier

The book I bought and then lost was Judith Shapiro, Community of Scholars.

Badiou has a book or essay called “Vat is een volk?” that I should read.

Michael North’s book The Baltic would be worth reading. So would Lefebvre, Marxist theory and the city.

Kant’s 1764 observations on feeling; the sublime and the beautiful; have to do with race; so does the origin of the 3d critique on aesthetics; mestizaje was supposed to improve the looks of women; these ideas have something to do with the Caucasus that I must reconstruct.

There was Georg Foster, who traveled with Captain Cook, and attempted to understand the concept of races, apparently said there were no races (this is something to be verified).

See also Arendt on Kant’s 3d critique, and Kant’s introduction to Anthropology. It is from Kant’s discussion of the inner and outer judge that some of these ideas about race come; also, the idea of natural science and teleological nature come from the debate on race.

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Some things I learned at the conference

I learned a number of the things one normally learns, about new work, ideas, books. I learned that I have to actually write the proto-article I presented on: it is time to write it, and the thinking will come in the writing. Here are some of the other things I learned.

My projects are many and complex. They are like those of the stars and people who get invited to be keynote speakers. This is why I always end up in conversation with those people. And someone told me that it involves having the kind of thick education that many professors don’t have anymore.

Anyway, the reason I don’t develop my projects well enough is that they need R1 time and confidence, ideally, or barring that a more positive or at least less hostile work environment; and also that I’ve always been taught to be tentative, to limit myself, not to jump in with both feet. Jumping in with both feet is something within my power, as well as leading myself from the head and not pushing myself from the back (this last is what those who say their problem is not liking to write do). And standing up against mistreatment.

Also, I remember that in Reeducation I was not only accused of being too logical, but having excessive powers of concentration and focus. I kept saying these were just my academic training, and that I needed them, they were a tool of my trade, but my Reeducator was looking for pathology and thought he might be able to tackle me with an OCD diagnosis. I was afraid of this because I was afraid of the drugs I would have to take, and tried to show that I could destroy or disable my powers of concentration and focus on my own, without drugs (thus also proving I was not wicked, and trying to earn the right to something more like psychoanalysis).

The other part of Reeducation was academia and in it I was shocked to find myself, first, in a teaching-and-pampering situation and next, in a research-first situation where research wasn’t an intellectual endeavor but a measurable production endeavor for the university as industrial complex. It took me a long time to understand these situations and my lack of comprehension of them.

I think that for my article on neoliberalization these things are important. I remember some of the first signs of it when I was a student. We took them seriously but did not understand them as completely as I do now (and it’s not a question of hindsight; the information existed but we did not have it). I think that the whole time I have been a professor is the time in which this destruction has been happening. We’re accused of not having stood up to it but in my case it has been not understanding it, or at least not understanding it immediately. I have only become really able to understand it recently.

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The question

How is it that, according to da Silva, the mestizo subject is produced? This is the question for today. Here is a fairly recent talk by her, and I have been trying to understand just this one book for far too long.

On pages 248-249 the mestiço as the Brazilian subject is discussed. What precise racial and color markings the particular mestiço has “will determine whether he or she belongs in the present and in the future of the nation.” To be Brazilian is to have to operate in this murky and changeable situation. (There is a great deal more on these pages about transcendental poesis and the scene of engulfment, and I still do not understand these paragraphs well enough.)

On page 246 the mestiço is shown signify Portuguese productive power, because s/he is produced in a gendered way (through the appropriation of black female bodies). Only whiteness signifies the transparent I. The blackness and Africanness inherited from the woman remain in the mestiço. They are dangerous signifiers of a subject of affectability who must signify Brazil’s unstable placing at the outskirts of the modern [world-system].

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