[URBANTH-L] ANN: Imaginal Machines, Movements, and Academic Enclosures (NYC)

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Fri Mar 13 21:08:35 EDT 2009

Imaginal Machines, Movements, and Academic Enclosures
Wednesday April 1st, 2009, 7PM
16Beaver Street, New York

The defense of a PhD dissertation is a strange moment, one where what often 
starts as a collective process of the inquiry and the social production of 
knowledge is enclosed by the legitimating apparatuses of the academy. 
Something is gained for the individual upon whom a mark of academic is 
granted (PhD from the Latin philosophiæ doctor, or literally the status as a 
"teacher of philosophy"), but also something is lost within that process: 
the individual benefits, but often to the neglect of the flows of social and 
collective creativity from which their work draws. This is perhaps 
especially the case in forms of research and inquiry based around describing 
and theorizing political organizing, social movements, and radical politics. 
While searching out authentic moments of political discourse is often valued 
as a moment of data collection, the idea that there might be a role for more 
participatory forms of the evaluation of research and findings, role which 
goes beyond movements as data and breaks down the positions of 
researching-subject and researched-objects, is looked on with much greater 
skepticism, if not outright dismissal.

But what if it was otherwise? What if rather than a moment of 
professionalizing enclosure of knowledge, it was made into a moment for 
collective reflection and celebration of the collective creativity from 
which research draws? This would perhaps be to harken back to the origins of 
the doctoral degree as the ijazat attadris wa 'l-iftta ("license to teach 
and issue legal opinions") in the training of Islamic law, but rather with 
the difference that guiding focus is not the formation and constitution of 
the law, but rather the constituent processes that guide and continually 
compose social movements.

We invite you to join Stevphen Shukaitis, Silvia Federici, and George 
Caffentzis in a discussion and forum that will tentatively sketch out what 
such a process might be through enacting it. Stevphen will discuss his 
research on collective imagination, class composition, and processes of 
social movement, which George and Silvia will comment on, leading to a 
collective discussion and reflection, both on the research presented and the 
processes of academic legitimation in relation to politically engaged social 

Electronic copies of Stevphen's research will be made available via this 
site: http://stevphen.mahost.org/academicenclosures.html.

For more information http://www.16beavergroup.org

Stevphen Shukaitis is a lecturer at the University of Essex and a member of 
the Autonomedia editorial collective. He is the editor (with Erika Biddle 
and David Graeber) of Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations // 
Collective Theorization (AK Press, 2007). His research focuses on the 
emergence of collective imagination in social movements and the changing 
compositions of cultural and artistic labor. For more on his work and 
writing, see http://stevphen.mahost.org.

Silvia Federici is a scholar, activist, and professor emerita at Hofstra 
University. She is the author of Caliban and the Witch: Women the Body and 
Primitive Accumulation (Autonomedia, 2004) and is the co-founder of the 
Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa.

George Caffentzis is a member of the Midnight Notes Collective and 
coordinator of the committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. 

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