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The Imperial University

The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent

Piya Chatterjee
Sunaina Maira
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    The Imperial University
    Book Description:

    At colleges and universities throughout the United States, political protest and intellectual dissent are increasingly being met with repressive tactics by administrators, politicians, and the police-from the use of SWAT teams to disperse student protestors and the profiling of Muslim and Arab American students to the denial of tenure and dismissal of politically engaged faculty.The Imperial Universitybrings together scholars, including some who have been targeted for their open criticism of American foreign policy and settler colonialism, to explore the policing of knowledge by explicitly linking the academy to the broader politics of militarism, racism, nationalism, and neoliberalism that define the contemporary imperial state.

    The contributors to this book argue that "academic freedom" is not a sufficient response to the crisis of intellectual repression. Instead, they contend that battles fought over academic containment must be understood in light of the academy's relationship to U.S. expansionism and global capital. Based on multidisciplinary research, autobiographical accounts, and even performance scripts, this urgent analysis offers sobering insights into such varied manifestations of "the imperial university" as CIA recruitment at black and Latino colleges, the connections between universities and civilian and military prisons, and the gender and sexual politics of academic repression.

    Contributors: Thomas Abowd, Tufts U; Victor Bascara, UCLA; Dana Collins, California State U, Fullerton; Nicholas De Genova; Ricardo Dominguez, UC San Diego; Sylvanna Falcón, UC Santa Cruz; Farah Godrej, UC Riverside; Roberto J. Gonzalez, San Jose State U; Alexis Pauline Gumbs; Sharmila Lodhia, Santa Clara U; Julia C. Oparah, Mills College; Vijay Prashad, Trinity College; Jasbir Puar, Rutgers U; Laura Pulido, U of Southern California; Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo, California State U, Long Beach; Steven Salaita, Virginia Tech; Molly Talcott, California State U, Los Angeles.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4183-7
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction The Imperial University: Race, War, and the Nation-State
    (pp. 1-50)
    Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira

    Piya:January 19, 2012. It is midafternoon on a brisk and beautiful winter day in the Inland Empire of Southern California. I enter my second floor office in the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of California, Riverside. The hallway is silent. It reminds me, sadly, of any colorless and functional corporate office building. I wish for sound, some sign of collective social life. This alienating silence is particularly acute today given the noisy scenes of protest (including some Rabelaisian revelries with drumming and chants) taking place just a few hundred feet away in the student commons. The Board...

  4. I. Imperial Cartographies

    • 1 New Empire, Same Old University? Education in the American Tropics after 1898
      (pp. 53-78)
      Victor Bascara

      InThe Uses of the University(1964), University of California president Clark Kerr outlines “two great clichés about the university” in relation to social change: “One pictures [the university] as a radical institution, when in fact it is most conservative in its institutional conduct. The other pictures it as autonomous, a cloister, when the historical fact is that it has always responded, but seldom so quickly as today, to the desires and demands of external groups. . . . The external view is that the university is radical; the internal reality is that it is conservative. The internal illusion is...

    • 2 Militarizing Education: The Intelligence Community’s Spy Camps
      (pp. 79-98)
      Roberto J. González

      In July 2005, a select group of fifteen-to nineteen-year-old high school students participated in a week-long summer program called “Spy Camp” in the Washington, DC, area. The program included a field trip to the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, an “intelligence simulation” exercise, and a visit to the $35 million International Spy Museum. According to the Spy Museum’s website, visiting groups have the option of choosing from three different “scavenger hunts,” in which teams are pitted against one another in activities ranging “from code-breaking to deceptive maneuvers. . . . Each team will be armed with a top secret bag...

    • 3 Challenging Complicity: The Neoliberal University and the Prison-Industrial Complex
      (pp. 99-122)
      Julia C. Oparah

      This chapter suggests that our analysis of the relationship between the academy and U.S. imperialism would benefit from an examination of new regimes of mass incarceration and their imbrication within the fabric of institutions of higher education. I argue that a symbiotic relationship has arisen between the academy and the “prison-industrial complex”—a conglomeration of state surveillance and punishment machinery—and corporate profit making that has emerged as a response to the rising numbers of “refugees” displaced by and troubling to global economic and political elites. I argue that transnational technologies of mass incarceration are a key weapon used by...

  5. II. Academic Containment

    • 4 Neoliberalism, Militarization, and the Price of Dissent: Policing Protest at the University of California
      (pp. 125-144)
      Farah Godrej

      In this chapter, I argue that the neoliberal logic of private capital at work in the privatization of the University of California is necessarily intertwined with the logic of militarization and the criminalization of dissent. I will argue that the deliberate and systematic privatization of one of the nation’s greatest public education systems engenders—and in factrequires—a militarized enforcement strategy that relies on criminalizing those who dissent and on being able to engage in legitimized violence against such dissenters as and when necessary. The enforcement of the tuition hikes, budget cuts, and other so-called austerity measures at the...

    • 5 Faculty Governance at the University of Southern California
      (pp. 145-168)
      Laura Pulido

      I write as a faculty member of a wealthy, private institution, the University of Southern California (USC). While there is a rapidly growing literature that explores the current economic crisis and how it is restructuring public universities—and higher education more generally—USC is enjoying unprecedented wealth in addition to new opportunities and privileges. While in some ways, these two situations could not be more distinct, in fact, they are deeply connected. Christopher Newfield has argued that the latest round of attacks on public institutions is restructuring all higher education so that soon only private schools will make up the...

    • 6 The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement and Violations of Academic Freedom at Wayne State University
      (pp. 169-186)
      Thomas Abowd

      The movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), organized in the United States and globally as a response to several decades of Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, has spread at a rate unimaginable ten years ago. Responding to a call from activists in Palestine in 2005, BDS has been a nonviolent campaign comprising actions meant to end Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land.¹ These varied and proliferating campaigns have in some cases emanated from the grounds of the fortressed “imperial university” in the United States, where increasingly students and professors are opening up and broadening discussion on...

    • 7 Decolonizing Chicano Studies in the Shadows of the University’s “Heteropatriracial” Order
      (pp. 187-214)
      Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo

      I came to Chican@ studies as a young student at UC Santa Cruz in the early 1990s. The school and university system had kept me from accessing the histories of people who shared roots with me, the poetry of people that spoke like me. There was a profound resonance indicative of something you’ve been unknowingly thirsting for, the foreshadowing of something that will be with you for a long time. Most importantly, I developed a language and analytics through which I could imagine a resistance to the structures of oppression that had produced the multitude of violences that crossed my...

  6. III. Manifest Knowledges

    • 8 Normatizing State Power: Uncritical Ethical Praxis and Zionism
      (pp. 217-236)
      Steven Salaita

      In spring 2009, I was near the end of my yearlong tenure and promotion review at Virginia Tech. Tech is a research university that requires a decent amount of publication from its humanists, though its expectations are not what most would consider rigid or excessive. My tenure and promotion case had the added complication of being a year ahead of schedule (potentially four years, depending on the viewpoint). Counting my three years on faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, I applied for tenure and promotion in my sixth year out of graduate school rather than during my seventh, as...

    • 9 Nobody Mean More: Black Feminist Pedagogy and Solidarity
      (pp. 237-260)
      Alexis Pauline Gumbs

      Nobody black taught English at John Jay College of Police Science before Audre Lorde. Nobody dare teach “black English” in the State University of New York (SUNY) system before June Jordan. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow. Nobody Palestinian can claim home in Palestine. Nobody mean more to me than you.

      This chapter is a meditation on what it means to be nobody in a university economy designed to produce somebody individuated, assimilated, and consenting to empire. Is it possible instead to become nobody in the academic space? Is it is possible to align with the...

    • 10 Teaching outside Liberal-Imperial Discourse: A Critical Dialogue about Antiracist Feminisms
      (pp. 261-280)
      Sylvanna Falcón, Sharmila Lodhia, Molly Talcott and Dana Collins

      This chapter reflects the multiple conversations we have had since 2007 about academia and is written in a manner that retains the spirit of our feminist collaboration. Our group embodies diverse social positions as women of color and as white women, as immigrants and as children of immigrants, as queer and as heterosexual, as mothers, and as middle class. Our diverse locations, coupled with our shared commitment to antiracist/transnational feminism, produce a strength that resonates with Audre Lorde’s argument about women redefining and celebrating differences.¹ Accordingly, we reproduce here our ongoing conversations, which synthesize our collective commitments with the strength...

    • Citation and Censure: Pinkwashing and the Sexual Politics of Talking about Israel
      (pp. 281-298)
      Jasbir Puar

      What follows is an expanded version of a lecture presented at the “Fundamentalism and Gender” conference at Humboldt University, Germany, on December 4, 2010. The original version of the lecture appeared inFeminist Legal Studiesand also inGender and Fundamentalism, edited by Ulricke Auga. Since the event detailed here, there have been numerous queer organizing conflicts revolving around Israel/Palestine, including the battle at the New York City Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Community Center over the use of the term “Israeli Apartheid.” Much also has progressed in terms of the development of Palestinian solidarity discourses, the politics of pinkwashing,...

  7. IV. Heresies and Freedoms

    • 12 Within and Against the Imperial University: Reflections on Crossing the Line
      (pp. 301-328)
      Nicholas De Genova

      Wednesday, March 26, 2003. Exactly one week after the commencement of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. At an antiwar teach-in at Columbia University, where I was employed as an untenured assistant professor of anthropology, I celebrated the defeat of the U.S. military in Vietnam as a victory for the cause of human self-determination and unequivocally called for the material and practical defeat of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Like dozens of other faculty members that night, I had spoken for only about ten minutes. Ten minutes: few words in the great scheme of things—but words well chosen. What...

    • 13 Teaching by Candlelight
      (pp. 329-342)
      Vijay Prashad

      A few years after 9/11, my dean called me for a meeting.¹ It was a pleasant enough day, a little chilly and overcast but nothing dramatic. I walked across the beautiful campus of the private liberal arts college where I teach in Connecticut. Along the way, I greeted and was greeted by students, staff, and other faculty. My geniality felt a little forced, because I was anxious about what awaited me at my walk’s end. The dean and I had a fractious relationship, although it was neither personally unpleasant nor professionally threatening. This time, the dean’s call had been brief...

    • 14 UCOP versus R. Dominguez: The FBI Interview. A One-Act Play à la Jean Genet
      (pp. 343-354)
      Ricardo Dominguez

      Almost five years ago, Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab released the first iteration of the Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT), a mobile-phone technology that provides poetry to immigrants crossing the U.S.–Mexico border while leading them to water caches in the Southern California desert. In 2010, the project caused a firestorm of controversy on the American political scene, and the artists of EDT/b.a.n.g. lab were investigated by three Republican congressmen and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where Ricardo Dominguez, cofounder of EDT (with Brett Stalbaum) and principal investigator of b.a.n.g. lab, is an associate professor in the visual...

  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 355-356)
  9. Contributors
    (pp. 357-360)
  10. Index
    (pp. 361-385)