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Traces 5: Universities in Translation

Traces 5: Universities in Translation: The Mental Labour of Globalization

Edited by Brett de Bary
Series: Traces
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    Traces 5: Universities in Translation
    Book Description:

    The fate of the university has become an object of urgent concern for academics in many disciplines around the globe, as higher education has been commercialized by the global movement to “reform” toward new managerial structures common in business and industry. In English-language academic publishing, the future of the university has attracted the attention of critical theorists, but most works discussing the effects of profit-oriented corporatization on curriculum and pedagogy have focused on North America. Drawing on examples of university restructuring in China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Russia, and the United States, these trenchantpersonal essays take global transformation of the university in the age of informatic capital as an urgent question. Prominent scholars in humanities, cultural studies, translation, critical theory and postcolonial studies discuss theemergence of cognitive capitalism, neo-colonialism and the hegemony of academic English, academic freedom, and the rise of new, exploitative regimes of self-management that have implicated the university in a profound reorganization of labor dissolving distinctions between the “mental” and “manual.”

    eISBN: 978-988-220-561-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Statement of Purpose
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Editors
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)
    Brett de Bary

    This volume contains a series of short essays on the contemporary university contributed by scholars who work at diverse sites in Asia, Europe, and North America. Most authors are based at public and private universities in their respective national settings; some work at research institutes or collectives located outside the university. The authors are not specialists in educational policy but were asked, as non-specialists, to contribute short, reflective essays on the state of the university as it appeared to them in settings in which they work. Rather than being a series of research reports, this Traces volume has been envisioned...

  7. By Way of a Preface, Whither Intellectuals?

    • A Presentiment of the Death of Intellectuals in Korean Society
      (pp. 27-50)
      Goh Byeong-Gwon

      “Transformation into a knowledge-based society” has become an expression the Korean government is fond of using as it enforces its restructuring programs. Like Nietzsche’s ants, the government is making a commotion over the process.¹ It is attempting to create a sense of crisis that comes close to being a threat: if Korea does not advance, along with the rest of the world, on the path to becoming a knowledge-based economy and society, it will be left behind.

      Early in 2006, a government report was released describing the future of Korean society as “a global leader in the reconstruction of knowledge”...

    • Humanities Across the Borders: A View from the Periphery
      (pp. 51-58)
      Helen Petrovsky

      What will follow is a series of notes related to the current state of the humanities across the borders — and not a diagnosis of the situation. Living in the “here and now,” we are too myopic to give a bird’s-eye-view of the changes taking place. Yet we do sense certain, perhaps dramatic, transformations occurring in the field. By saying “we” I am referring to those who have come to identify their occupation with the “human sciences,” as they are respectfully called in my country. But, of course, one doesn’t have to be affiliated to articulate, in one way or another,...

  8. Part 1: University Reform and Its Ironies:: Globalization as Rhetoric

    • Academic Capitalism: Toward a Global Free Trade Zone in University Services?
      (pp. 61-72)
      Helmut Dubiel

      When I returned to my home university in Giessen in 2003, after a three-year visiting professorship in New York, I literally had to rub my eyes. A fundamental transformation of the university’s self-understanding, its organization of research and teaching, and its relationship to the state had taken place. Although I did not understand certain things, I could not immediately condemn the process. The status quo of all-encompassing depression and institutional stagnation at the university, which I had turned my back on in 1999, had been shaken up.

      In truth, I had not expected a substantial alteration of this state of...

    • The Oxymoron of Higher Education: Neoliberal Restructuring and the Incorporation of Japanese National Universities
      (pp. 73-88)
      Iwasaki Minoru

      Any serious theorization of the restructuring of higher education in the English-speaking world has an essential point of reference: The University in Ruins by Bill Readings.¹ The text of The University in Ruins was translated into Japanese in 2000, but unfortunately was quietly published in the “Universitas Library” series, a rather depoliticized though intelligent lineup of humanities texts, focused on introducing foreign academic trends.² Surely it would have been more appropriate for The University in Ruins to have been provocatively framed from the outset as a direct intervention into the stalled debate surrounding Japanese higher education at the time. Readings’...

    • The Accountologist: An Emerging Form of Anthropological Life in Mexican Universities
      (pp. 89-104)
      Steffan Igor Ayora Diaz

      In this paper I look at the current transformations in a Mexican university from an anthropologist’s point of view. As an anthropologist, I explore and recognize the ways in which local transformations, practices, and discourses enact, intersect, and are conditioned by global processes. This is a complex process whereby global and local structures interact and provide the grounds for the production of new forms of being that, in effect, simultaneously mimic and challenge the hegemony of homogenizing forces.

      Universities show an overlapping of organizational forms and discursive formations. In the relationship between different formations we find competing visions of the...

    • Of Forms and Re-forms in French Higher Education: The École normale supérieure
      (pp. 105-118)
      Laurent Dubreuil

      Reform” appears to be a keyword in the numerous texts that describe, organize, or analyze the changes taking place at present in French higher education. In France, as in many parts of the planet, “reform” is a word widely used by political and business leaders — as well as by technocrats — to give a name to what they present as “necessary” and “natural” adaptations of society in a “globalized world.” In the service of such rhetoric, the word seems to have become the equivalent of a mere signal: more than any specific content, “reform” conveys the sense of an urgent and...

    • From Elitism to Populism: The “Industrial” Model and Chinese Higher Education
      (pp. 119-132)
      Lei Qili

      In recent years, higher education has time and again become a focal point of intense public discussion in China. Debates over the objectivity of entrance exams, equality in the admissions process, regional disparities in acceptance rates, and the possibility of abolishing the existing admissions system altogether have swept the country. Academic controversy has also boiled up around inclusion of the advanced English “Band IV” and “Band VI” exams among the qualifications for an undergraduate degree, requiring graduate students to produce academic publications before receiving their degrees, and over the “2003 Reform” proposal (Guiwei Gaige) which set forth new standards for...

  9. Part 2: University Reform and Bildung:: Subjective Technologies, language and Colonial Legacies

    • Once Again, Reinventing Culture: Singapore and “Globalized” Education
      (pp. 135-152)
      C. J. W.-L. Wee

      Since the People’s Action Party (PAP) came into power in 1959, Singapore has been a society committed to catching up with the West economically through interventionist social and cultural policies — indeed, through sociocultural engineering. Educational policy has, of course, been part of the process of fostering an industrial and capitalist modernity as the city-state’s very national identity.¹ “Culture” under the PAP was, and continues to be, conceived as a residual category to be revamped instrumentally as part of the reconstruction of subjectivity itself for the economy.

      Singapore is now in the midst of yet another cultural makeover to better be...

    • Redefining “Liberal Education” in the Chinese University
      (pp. 153-164)
      Cao Li

      The 1990s witnessed a historical transition in Chinese higher education; this proved to be a tough and controversial decade. Such terms as “merging,”¹ “expanding,”² “building up world-class universities,” “democratizing college education,” and “promoting quality education,” etc., became catch words of higher education. Among a rapid succession of reforms and changes, the launch and institutionalization of what is called “cultural quality education” (文化素質教育) for university students, the approximate equivalent of “liberal education” in the Chinese context, seems to have emerged as the least controversial. The nature of the task, however, is not in the least simple or unproblematic.

      As a founding...

    • Articulation, Not Translation: Knowledge-Production in an Age of Globalization
      (pp. 165-176)
      Ding-tzann Lii

      The process of knowledge production in a university has always taken place within the closed system of the academic community, thus separating itself from the broader social life and real world. Instead of engaging in, and reflecting upon real life, academics read journals or other published work to formulate their research questions. Many of these questions are, of course, very important, and it is nonsense to oppose reading articles in journals in an unqualified manner. Indeed, knowledge production is impossible without entering into the theoretical exchanges which are mostly carried out in published work. However, to read is one thing,...

    • On English as a Chinese Language: Implementing Globalization
      (pp. 177-196)
      Meaghan Morris

      Taken as a topic in critical theory, “globalization” has a curious capacity to detach academics imaginatively from our worldly situations as university employees. As Simon Marginson and Mark Considine point out in their study of executive leadership in Australian public higher education, universities are now “among the most ‘globalised’ of institutions,”¹ and this condition shapes our work a long way down the food chain. Anyone who assumes a moderate level of academic responsibility these days is busy implementing globalization on an intimate, everyday basis: supervising dissertations, writing letters of recommendation, reviewing articles for English-language “international refereed journals,” teaching exchange students...

    • The “Age” of the University in Asia
      (pp. 197-206)
      Ukai Satoshi

      The “Age of the University in Asia” — with this title, I would like to reflect on a few matters. My purpose is naturally very limited: simply to pose a few questions for your consideration about our time, about the university, and about Asia.

      Before beginning, however, I will have to ask you to pardon a kind of disturbance in my use of the personal pronoun “we.” It will refer in my remarks at times to “Asians,” at times to “Japanese,” and at times to a more neutral instance of “one.” I shall never, in this presentation, master this anomaly, this...

    • Neoliberal University Reform and the International Exchange of Intellectuals
      (pp. 207-226)
      Kang Nae-hui

      The single most persistent demand universities in South Korea have faced over the last decade or so may be summarized as “Reform or perish!” The momentum arose in 1995, when the Presidential Committee for Education Reform of the Kim Young Sam government enforced the ultra-legal Education Reform Act. This reform had all the characteristics of a top-down measure, unlike the demands for university reform raised in the “revolutionary” 1980s. How did this change come about? Universities in South Korea became reduced to an object of reform as the 1980s, democratic movement against authoritarian regimes came to an end. This change...

  10. Part 3: Thought and Resistance

    • The University Without Wall: Jewish Studies, Holocaust Studies, Israel Studies
      (pp. 229-252)
      Gil Anidjar

      Invoking the circumstances of a Cornell lecture he gave on the subject of the University, its pupils, and “the principle of reason,” Jacques Derrida recalled in a belated footnote one question among others, which he had raised and found neither possible nor desirable to erase. “Must barriers be built?” Derrida asked at the time.¹ I fear it may be in bad taste, even disingenuous, to quote Derrida at once out of context and very much in context, in the very geographical and institutional context, in fact, in which he then spoke.² Although today more than ever it should be a...

    • How Many Ward Churchills: Organizing Against Racism, Empire, and the Neoconservative Assault on the University
      (pp. 253-262)
      Daniel Won-gu Kim

      I was invited here to discuss the latest developments in the Ward Churchill struggle at the University of Colorado in Boulder.¹ As someone who has helped lead the faculty organizing effort on the ground in Colorado from the beginning last January, I’d like to update you about what has happened, and raise some hard questions that have confronted us as we have carried our fight forward over the past year and a half. I am also here to call on you to continue to stand with us into the next round of this fight, which has a deep connection to...

    • Academic Freedom and Political Change: American Lessons
      (pp. 263-278)
      Andrew Jewett

      The spread of neoliberalism around the globe since the end of the Cold War has fueled intense pressures on universities, which house both a gold mine of exploitable intellectual resources and some of the most vocal critics of unfettered capitalism. American universities, while substantially better insulated from such pressures than many of their counterparts in other nations, have nevertheless witnessed a sustained attempt to turn academic knowledge production toward neoliberal values. The emergence of a “competitiveness” funding regime in the United States has reoriented many disciplines toward the new market standard, especially in the sciences.¹ Indeed, the line between industrial...

    • The Discourse of the University: Modern And Postmodern
      (pp. 279-292)
      Eric Cheyfitz

      I first gave a version of this paper under the title “The Discourse of the University: The Critical Place of Language in Social Action” at a conference titled After Postcolonialism, Beyond Minority Discourse: Postcolonial, Ethnic, and American Studies, held at Cornell University in November of 1999, four years before I became a member of the Cornell faculty. In retrospect, the date is striking, for me in any event, because it evokes a world before the threat of terror became the central ideological tool of the Western nation-state, and in particular the United States, for rationalizing the subversion of democratic institutions...

    • Faculty Governance in the “University of Excellence”: Comments
      (pp. 293-298)
      Risa L. Lieberwitz

      Several presentations in this volume have touched on issues that I explore in my own research focusing on the impact of recent corporatization trends on academic freedom of faculty and on the public mission of the university.¹ I also deal with these issues in my active participation in faculty governance at Cornell, including work on the Faculty Senate and its committees.

      In these comments I will respond to the way three of the contributors have addressed important aspects of faculty governance and academic freedom. Eric Cheyfitz addressed issues of faculty and university identity in the age of university corporatization.² Professor...

    • The Conditions of Theory
      (pp. 299-314)
      Alberto Moreiras

      The dream of a critical theory without conditions is receding today in the university, and particularly in the North American university. Some of us thought for a time, and we may just still believe it, that everything thinkable is precisely thinkable, and that there are no conditions for our work that must or could be dogmatically excluded from reflection. Of course the moralists cannot understand this, since for the moralists the fundamental and unquestionable condition of thinking is their own self-affirmation, their own advantage.¹ The confrontation with moralism in the university is or seems lost. And yet it was crucial...

  11. Part 4: The University and the Emancipatory Project:: Limits and Possibilities

    • Cognitive Capitalism and Education: New Frontiers
      (pp. 317-330)
      Yann Moulier Boutang

      Whatever the term being used — “cognitive capitalism,” “knowledge-based economy,” or “intellectual capital” — and whether or not one agrees that knowledge is at the core of a new system of accumulation that is increasingly predominant, it has become clear at the present time it is the activity of producing knowledge and intellectual human resources that is more central than the end product of that activity, that is to say, knowledge codified in software and databases.¹ What we call “human capital,” or intellectual capital, conditions the capacity to innovate. In and of itself, such a capacity to innovate would favor resistance against...

    • Cognitive Capitalism and Its Discontents
      (pp. 331-336)
      Dominick LaCapra

      Yann Boutang’s intricate paper provides much food for thought. I shall perforce address only a few aspects of it.

      In analyzing a globalized society and economy, the paper identifies a third stage of capitalism coming after the mercantile and the industrial stages, which it terms cognitive. Cognitive capitalism is adapted to “the appropriation of knowledge and to the continuous production of innovations” (7). It stresses work geared to processes enabling responses to problems that cannot be codified or programmed in advance. Accumulation in it focuses mainly on knowledge and creativity. And it increases the importance of education and educational institutions...

    • Comment on Yann Moulier Boutang’s “Cognitive Capitalism and Education: New Frontiers”
      (pp. 337-340)
      Naoki Sakai

      Instead of predicting the retreat of the university and the loss of the autonomy of public education under the onslaught of neo-liberalism, Professor Yann Moulier Boutang recognizes an imminent opening towards a certain sense of equality and some possibility of democratic sharing of knowledge, in the midst of what is often referred to as the crisis of the university observable in many parts of the world today. He argues that what he calls “cognitive capitalism” might appear to promote the centralization and codification of knowledge, but that it contains some inherent contradictions, thanks to which cognitive capitalism cannot straightforwardly dominate...

    • Imagined Networks: Digital Media, Race, and the University
      (pp. 341-354)
      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun

      As my title suggests, I’ll be arguing in this paper for the existence and importance of “imagined networks,” but I want to start by outlining the difficulties in discussing links between “digital media, race, and the university in translation.” The first is the fact that the term “race” does not translate easily: there is no universal form of or diagnosis for racism. The pursuit or celebration of “hybridity” within the United States, for example, has a very different resonance than in Brazil, a country whose racial self-categorizations are changing in response to the introduction of affirmative action programs. In addition,...

    • Very Much a Midnight Child: Software and the Translation of Times at the University
      (pp. 355-370)
      Gabriela Vargas-Cetina

      In 2006, during the first sessions of a course on post-structural theory I was teaching at the Autonomous University of Yucatán, I assigned the class Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. I am continuously discouraged by what I see as the current disinterest of students in theory books. This time, however, the students read the book and, when we had to discuss it, one of them, who was the president of the student union, started by thanking me on behalf of the whole class for having them read that book. They had discussed it among themselves all week and found it very...

    • How an “Intellectual Commune” Organizes Movement: A Brief Report on the Experiment “Research Space Suyu+Nomo”
      (pp. 371-384)
      Ko Mi-Sook

      Professors will tell you, “College students these days have no interest in anything but their love lives and the higher civil service examinations.” Students say, “Professors do nothing but go to conferences and work on research projects.” It seems students no longer consider professors their teachers and professors do not consider students their intellectual companions. In a word, there exists no relationship of teacher and student in the university at the moment. But actually, this is not true. The term “relationship of teacher and students” had already disappeared a long time ago. A university (大学) without the relationship of teacher...

    • Traces Editors Recommend ..... The Edu-Factory Machine: Transnational Politics and Translational Institutions
      (pp. 385-386)

      The old institutions are crumbling — from central banks to political parties, from museums to newspapers, from broadcast television to schools. They cannot cope with the continual rollout of crises one after the next. Nor can they adapt to the encroachment of networks on their borders. Most are trying to brand their way out of their dead ends. Doubtless some will survive, but most will become extinct. In any case, a radical politics can no longer be committed to the long march through these institutions. seeks to become a theoretical and political machine for the production of the common and...

  12. Submission Guidelines
    (pp. 387-388)
  13. Traces Publishers
    (pp. 389-390)