Category Archives: Seminars

Research seminar: Crises, Commodities and Education

Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski

Crises, Commodities and Education: Disruptions, Eruptions, Interruptions and Ruptures

Dr Glenn Rikowski, Independent Scholar

Thursday November 19th, 1.30-4pm, in room BH1201:

After a brief analysis of the concept of crisis (drawing on the work of Roitman, 2014) and following an outline and critique of some previous work (Rikowski, 2014) – on the Classical Theory of Education Crisis (in the light of Sarup, 1982) and philosophical perspectives on education crises – Rikowski explores the notion of crisis in relation to phenomena pertaining to the social forms of capitalist education. Starting out from Marx’s analysis of the ‘two great classes of commodities’ (following Adam Smith), Rikowski charts what ‘crisis’ might mean, and could be, in terms of the two commodity forms pertaining to educational processes in capitalist society. The final part of the paper explores actual and possible empirical manifestations of these crises of the commodity form in terms of the notions of disruption, eruption, interruption and rupture. It is argued that last two of these forms of crisis pose particular problems for the continuance and development of capitalism in general and the national capital and capitalist education in particular.

What Was Faculty Governance? How Can it be Rebuilt?

The RiCES group are delighted to welcome Chris Newfield, Professor of Literature and American Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Monday 19th October 2015, 3.30-5pm. Business and Law BL1104.

This talk offers a brief history of faculty governance in the U.S. as defined over the past hundred years by the American Association of University Professors.  My premise is that the conditions of the post-war model of shared governance are gone.  At one time, growth and the passivity of outside interests enabled administrative neutralism, in which they could concentrate on teaching and research.  Administrations have in recent decades become much more active shapers of academic priorities and also control contacts between the university and external interests.  While faculty critiques of administrative overreach, the distorting effects of audit culture, etc. are vital, the paper will argue that faculty have fallen into a “depressive position” that enables negative trends. The talk is designed to foster discussion of US/UK/EU similarities and differences and desirable faculty initiatives.

Christopher Newfield is professor of literature and American Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He brings an interdisciplinary background to the analysis of a range of topics in American Studies, innovation theory, and “critical university studies,” a field which he helped to found. Chris’ books include Mapping Multiculturalism (edited with Avery Gordon), The Emerson Effect: Individualism and Submission in America (Chicago, 1996), Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980 (Duke, 2003), and Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class (Harvard, 2008). He blogs on higher education funding and policy at Remaking the University, the Huffington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, and is completing a book called Lowered Education: What to Do About Our Downsized Future.

‘The future of the profession: A research afternoon on university political economy’ 

‘The future of the profession: A research afternoon on university political economy’

18 June 2015, 1:00-4:00pm, Business and Law building 1103

This seminar aims to be a lively discussion about university political economy through a reflection on its contemporary conditions and a reading of Jacques Derrida’s ‘The future of the profession or the university without condition (thanks to the “Humanities”, what could take place tomorrow)’ (1998).

It is free and open to all, but places are limited. Please register your interest with Sarah Amsler.

RiCES public seminar: Unpacking the ‘transnational associations of capitals’ in global higher education

Unpacking the ‘transnational associations of capitals’ in global higher education: rankings and the subsumption of academic labour under academic publishing capital

Krystian Szadkowski, Adam Mickiewicz University

3 June | 12:30–2:00pm | Minerva Building 3202

This presentation explores the concept of ‘transnational association of capitals’ in the context of higher education (Hall, 2014; Ball, 2012). The focus will be on the conditions and consequences of the expansion of merchant capital (or capital involved in circulation), limited to large and quasi-monopolistic academic publishers. The claim behind this talk is that in order to grasp the specificity of the process of subsumption of academic labour under academic publishing capital, it is not enough to focus exclusively on proprietary relations (i.e. expropriation, enclosures, primitive accumulation, alienation). Such an analysis, although providing extremely rich material, has its limitations: capital may opt out from the private property form and ownership, but will never give up domination. The tool of capitalist domination and control, in all sectors of production, even immaterial and biopolitical, is measure. For this reason, this presentation will focus on the functionality of the capitalist mechanisms of establishing measures for the expansion of academic publishers’ capital based on the subsumption of global academic labour.

Krystian Szadkowski (1986), is an assistant professor at the Institute of Philosophy and a researcher at the UNESCO Chair for Institutional Research and Higher Education Policy of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. His research interests cover Marxian political economy, autonomist Marxism and transformation of higher education systems in Europe. In 2014 he defended his PhD thesis entitled Towards the University as an Institution of the Common. Philosophical Foundations of the Critical Higher Education Studies [in Polish]. Recently, he co-edited a collected volume Joy Forever: The Political Economy of Social Creativity (MayFly 2014). He is also an editor-in-chief of peer-reviewed journal Praktyka Teoretyczna/Theoretical Practice.

Paulo Freire on ‘post-literacy’ adult education

Pedagogy in ProcessPedagogy in Process - quote








Paulo Freire on ‘post-literacy’ adult education
Reading Group notes (7 May 2015)

Our session began with an overview of the life and work of Paulo Freire, with a specific focus on the extent to which Freire was influenced by Marxism, and at what particular times and places this influence had been most apparent. Participants in the room had been asked to read a section from Pedagogy in Process (1983), a commentary written by Freire during his work in Guinea-Bissau. We focused on Letter 11, which explores the relationship between the content of educational programmes and the wider social purpose of learning.

There was some concern that this attempt to enhance adult education and levels of literacy had been carried out in Portuguese, the language of the colonial power. There was also a discussion about how Freire’s theory and methods might be appropriate for the geographical and political contexts in which some of the participants are currently working, in the UK and in Africa. The point was made that Freire’s literacy education projects took place as part of national government projects, in Brazil and Chile where the ability to read and write was needed to be eligible to vote. Yet Freire’s approach to critical literacy went beyond simply learning to read the word, and extended to learning to read and interpret the world, so that it might be humanised. This is the essence of the concept of conscientization, or critical consciousness, on which much of his work was based. We left to pursue understandings of what this can mean in the contexts of our work today.

For a description of this seminar, see here.