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Utopian Pedagogy

Utopian Pedagogy: Radical Experiments Against Neoliberal Globalization

Mark Coté
Richard J.F. Day
Greig de Peuter
Series: Cultural Spaces
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Utopian Pedagogy
    Book Description:

    Utopian Pedagogyis a challenge to the developing world order that will stimulate debate in the fields of education and beyond, and encourage the development of socially sustainable alternatives.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8509-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: What Is Utopian Pedagogy?
    (pp. 3-20)

    This book offers a critical examination of the educational dimension of struggles within and against neoliberalism. With this volume, we hope to contribute both to the debates on the neoliberal transformation of higher education and to the diffusion of social movements that insist another world is possible.¹ The voices in this book emanate from heterogeneous positions: from inside and outside academic institutions and from their margins; from divergent experiences of racial, class, gendered, colonial, and sexual relations of power; and from disparate intellectual and political traditions ranging from cultural studies to anarchism, from autonomist marxism to popular education.² Despite this...

  5. Part I: The Contested University

    • Introduction
      (pp. 21-24)

      Neoliberalism seeks to invest itself in all social spaces and reshape them according to its logic – and the university is no exception. The contributors to Part I, all of whom are academics, develop sober critiques of the neoliberal restructuring of postsecondary education. Nick Dyer-Witheford dissects ‘Academia Inc.,’ offering a critical account of the gradual integration of the university into global ‘cognitive capitalism’; Ian Angus examines the ‘corporate university,’ showing how ‘fiscalRealpolitik’ has undermined academic freedom, critical thinking, and democratic self-governance in higher education; Mark Edelman Boren reveals that universities around the world, pressured by neoliberal national and supranational governmental...

    • 1 Utopian Thinking in Dangerous Times: Critical Pedagogy and the Project of Educated Hope
      (pp. 25-42)

      Under the prevailing reign of neoliberalism in the United States, hope seems foreclosed, progressive social change a distant memory. A life beyond capitalism or the prevailing culture of fear appears impossible to imagine at a time when the distinction between capitalism and democracy seems to have been erased. As market relations become synonymous with a market society, freedom is reduced to a market strategy and citizenship is narrowed to the demands of consumerism. The upshot is that it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.¹ Within this dystopian universe, the public realm...

    • 2 Teaching and Tear Gas: The University in the Era of General Intellect
      (pp. 43-63)

      One April day a few years ago, pedagogic utopia visited me in a cloud of tear gas. The place was Quebec City, the occasion a demonstration against the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit, one of a sequence of counter-globalization street protests, after Seattle, before 9/11. A few hours earlier, I had been standing in a crowd of labour militants, witches, antipoverty campaigners, and eco-activists cheering black bloc anarchists as they vaulted the security fence surrounding the summit site before being repelled by riot police. The day then spiralled into semichoreographed encounters between security forces and demonstrators, punctuated by...

    • 3 Academic Freedom in the Corporate University
      (pp. 64-75)

      The university has historically played many distinct roles – elite, public, corporate – and has been perpetually haunted by another possibility – the democratic university. These roles have defined the relations between the university and capitalist society.¹ However, the university’s structure and functioning do not simply mirror the social and economic environment with which it must come to some accommodation. Similarly, politics within the university does not straightforwardly mirror politics outside it. The complex articulation between the two sets the framework within which a democratic politics can today be carried on within the university.²

      How does one define the university? It serves many...

    • 4 A Revolutionary Learning: Student Resistance/Student Power
      (pp. 76-92)

      Historically, students have generated tremendous power and provoked large-scale social, political, and economic changes. They have reformed universities and social institutions, toppled regimes, and transformed national politics and economic practices. As we enter the twenty-first century, which is already proving to be as dangerous and as politically complex an age as any, the role of the student is an extremely important one. Forces in the world both ancient and new are shaping our respective and common futures, and students are in a unique position to influence those forces, which range from ethnic strife, war, terrorism, and physical exploitation to globalization...

    • 5 Exiled Pedagogy: From the ‘Guerrilla’ Classroom to the University of Excess
      (pp. 93-107)

      This essay is written in equal parts as a manifesto and a personal project. The underlying story is the fate of the ‘utopias’ related to education that came into being in the 1960s – a story that is now part myth, part prophecy. Myth in the sense that the universities and cultural movements of the 1960s are easy to parody, as films likeThe Deer Hunter,Pulp Fiction, andThe Big Lebowskihave made all too clear. Myth also in the sense that these cultural movements changed nothing and were eventually ‘tamed and made to perform’ – that they eventually succumbed to...

    • 6 Universities, Intellectuals, and Multitudes: An Interview with Stuart Hall
      (pp. 108-128)
      GREIG DE PEUTER and Stuart Hall

      GDP: I would like to begin by asking you to comment on the current situation of the university, specifically in relation to what seems to be an inexorable drive towards the restructuring of the university according to a neoliberal model of governance. How do you see the neoliberal restructuring of the university playing out in the British context?

      SH: In the British context there is no question that the pace of the neoliberal reconstruction of education has accelerated in the last fifteen years. I do not want to put this as an inexorable drive, but that process has extended into...

  6. Part II: Rethinking the Intellectual

    • Introduction
      (pp. 129-132)

      For most of the twentieth century, emancipatory movements maintained a pedagogical relation to the intellectual subject of modernity, as the trusted bearer of critical discourse. This figure – referred to by Michel Foucault as the universal intellectual – was a self-appointed carrier of truths and assumed the task of representing abstract majorities (‘the working class,’ ‘the proletariat,’ ‘the people’).¹ The universal intellectual embodied pedagogical theory as a moment prior to and separate from practice, and relegated emancipatory struggles to a secondary realm of concrete application. Whether his platform was the party, the union, the academy, or the press, this almost invariably male...

    • 7 From Intellectuals to Cognitarians
      (pp. 133-144)

      While the word ‘intellectual’ may no longer be part of the parlance of our times, throughout much of the twentieth century this term condensed key questions of ethics, of politics, and of ‘what is to be done.’ In recent decades the very nature of intellectual labour has changed completely, becoming progressively absorbed into the sphere of economic production. Once digital technologies made possible the reticular concatenation of individual fragments of cognitive labour, intellectual labour – now fractalized and cellularized – became subjected to the cycle of the production of value. In the pages that follow I discuss the roles that intellectuals have...

    • 8 The Diffused Intellectual: Women’s Autonomy and the Labour of Reproduction: An Interview with Mariarosa Dalla Costa
      (pp. 145-162)
      ENDA BROPHY, MARK COTÉ, JENNIFER PYBUS and Mariarosa Dalla Costa

      EB, MC, JP: One of the constant concerns emerging from within the history of the Italian radical left, from Antonio Gramsci’s vision of the organic intellectual tooperaismo’s tormented relationship with the party form, is the relationship between intellectuals and movements pushing for radical social change. We would like to begin by asking you to speak to the notion and role of the intellectual, as it was when you began your militancy, and as it is now.

      MDC: With regard to this question of what an intellectual is, I think that a person who plays this role within a movement...

    • 9 Conricerca as Political Action
      (pp. 163-185)

      ‘Knowledge is only knowledge. But thecontrol of knowledge– that is politics.’ This dazzling insight offered by Bruce Sterling inDistractioncould be usefully employed to sum up the practice ofconricerca.¹ As an activity transforming the existing state of things, as the site of education and counter-cooperation,conricercais – constituently – a production of knowledge that is ‘other than,’ an experiment in organizational practices, and a space of resubjectification. In fewer words: a lot of ‘ricerca’ without ‘con’ is a precariously founded sociological account; a lot of ‘con’ without ‘ricerca’ leads to sterile ideological production.

      Recently in Italy, the evocativeness...

    • 10 On the Researcher-Militant
      (pp. 186-200)

      At long last we have learned that power – the state, understood as a privileged locus of change – is not the site par excellence of the political. As Spinoza stated long ago, such power is the place of sadness and of the most absolute impotence. Thus we turn to counterpower. For us, emancipatory thought does not look to seize the state apparatus to implement change; rather, it looks to flee those sites, to renounce instituting any centre or centrality.

      Struggles for dignity and justice continue: the world, in its entirety, is being questioned and reinvented again. It is this activation of...

  7. Part III: Experiments in Utopian Pedagogy

    • Introduction
      (pp. 201-206)

      The contributors to this section primarily discuss educational projects in which they have been involved as organizers and as participants. The concrete experiments they describe breathe further life into the critical themes and radical impulses introduced in earlier chapters of the book: utopian imagination; linking universities, academics, and social movements; autonomously mobilizing people’s intellectual capacities; and creating educational spaces outside the state form and market imperatives. Among other things, the following chapters discuss free schools, supplementary schools, workshops, education societies, publishing, theatre, media labs, and, in one instance, a potential alternative economic system. Each project was a response to an...

    • 11 The Making of an Antiracist Cultural Politics in Post-Imperial Britain: The New Beacon Circle
      (pp. 207-226)

      The British liberal elite has come to recognize the complexity of the racial and ethnic composition of Britain, which manifests itself in often fervent and self-congratulatory pronouncements that contemporary Britain is a foremost ‘multicultural society.’ For many on the liberal Left, multiculturalism is that ‘judicious’ mixture of ethnic communities and identities. It is my view that the discourse of multiculturalism tends to obscure more than it reveals. In particular, it glosses over the long, complex, and contradictory history of antiracist struggles, radical intellectual work, and autonomous cultural initiatives that Britain’s non-white populations have undertaken, and through which these populations have...

    • 12 ‘Before Coming Here, Had You Thought of a Place Like This?’: Notes on Ambivalent Pedagogy from the Cybermohalla Experience
      (pp. 227-241)

      A formal definition of a pedagogue in a working-class locality could be as follows: a figure who, through interactions, brings into the students’ consciousness a reality beyond their immediate reach; a figure who brings into their lifeworld skills from other locations that will place them in a more advantageous position in society.

      The frame of the lifeworld of the pedagogue is visible and articulate. It is in a position from which to propose a vision for the other world – a vision of empowerment through intervention. The inner world of the ‘student’ is of anticipation, anger, and restlessness. It lives with...

    • 13 Transformative Social Justice Learning: The Legacy of Paulo Freire
      (pp. 242-247)

      The intellectual and political work of Paulo Freire haunts a number of the theoretical discussions and practical experiments addressed in the present book. Renowned as pioneer of ‘popular education’ theory and practice, particularly in the Latin American context, Freire addressed a serious dilemma of democracy: the constitution of a democratic citizenship. He also advanced in the 1960s – quite early, compared with the postmodernist preoccupations of the 1980s – questions of diversity and border crossing as central tenets of transformative social justice learning. Freire taught us that domination, aggression, and violence are intrinsic to human and social life, and argued that few...

    • 14 Breaking Free: Anarchist Pedagogy
      (pp. 248-265)

      Before I begin, I should say something about my own politics. I’ve been involved in the anarchist movement for some time and have participated in a wide range of anarchist educational projects. My academic life and my political life run parallel to each other, and intersections are frequent. This essay is an instance of it.

      Anarchist pedagogy breaks free from authoritarian modes of education and the regulatory mechanisms of the state. It actualizes its politics by functioning immanently, in the here and now. This is the sense in which anarchist pedagogy is utopian. It is a gesture towards the future,...

    • 15 An Enigma in the Education System: Simon Fraser University and the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society
      (pp. 266-279)

      Not long ago, Connie,¹ an Aboriginal student in Simon Fraser University’s First Nations Educational Institute in Kamloops, British Columbia (better known as SCES/SFU),² was called to her son’s non-Aboriginal primary school for a teacher/parent conference. Her son, it seemed, was having trouble socializing; instead of ‘playing’ with the other children, he chose to be on his own during recess and lunch and to sit alone in class, away from the other students, who preferred to sit in groups. The teacher concluded that Connie’s son was educationally challenged. As Connie noted,

      His teacher is afraid that my son will not fit...

    • 16 The Subaltern Act! Peasant Struggles and Pedagogy in Pakistan
      (pp. 280-293)

      Pakistan offers an unexpected perspective on the relays between resistance and pedagogy. Unexpected, because the popular image associated with Pakistan is that of a nuclear-armed, fundamentalist breeding ground of terrorism, a country locked in an armed confrontation with neighbouring India, and a client state serving America’s regional interests. What is mostly unacknowledged is that Pakistan is a hub of various movements, struggles for democracy, peasant revolts, and workers’ struggles. Also often forgotten is the constituent role of pedagogy therein. The general level of ignorance regarding these struggles reflects the ongoing difficulties faced by the subaltern when they try to speak....

    • 17 ‘Let’s Talk’: The Pedagogy and Politics of Antiracist Change
      (pp. 294-313)

      In this era of transnational resistance to globalization, the difficulties of ‘working across difference’ have become both familiar and newly important. Deeply divisive conflicts over racism have been among the strongest challenges facing social movement organizations; they have rattled the fragile notions of both ‘woman’ and ‘worker’ as grounds for solidarity. In the early 1980s, there rose a new wave of voices challenging oppressive practiceswithinsocial movements and community organizations,¹ voices that also reverberated in many class-rooms and workplaces, and encouraged efforts at antiracist, anti-oppression pedagogies. In the current neoliberal context, and in the context of so-called campaigns against...

    • 18 Present and Future Education: A Tale of Two Economies
      (pp. 314-333)

      Thinking about education involves two broad frames of reference, which in turn generate two approaches of study.

      Part of education is intrinsic and oriented towards the individual. To think about education starting with the student, we examine the process of conveying information and skills and developing talents in students. We ask, What is the best way to educate students, given the exigencies of what is taught, the attributes of students, and the abilities of teachers?

      But part of education is also contextual and social. To think about education starting with society, we examine the process of transferring information and skills...

    • 19 Academicus Affinitatus: Academic Dissent, Community Education, and Critical U
      (pp. 334-352)

      The university is a contested space. It is a site of persistent antagonisms and conflicting possibilities. As the articles in Part I of this collection attest, such dynamics of struggle are not captured in the cynical portrait of a one-dimensional institution wholly integrated into the machinery of neoliberalism. Nonetheless, increasingly the university is being restructured to conform to an instrumentalist model – witness the managerialization of academic subjectivity, budgetary pressures on critically oriented programs, and the market logic that governs so many university ‘partnerships.’ These trends seem to portend a bleak future for academic dissent, and the historical conjuncture of ‘with...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 353-358)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 359-359)