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Abolitionist University Studies: An Invitation

Cops Off Campus Research Collective
Thursday, February 25, 2021
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Off Campus Location
Zoom registration required:

We think it’s time to take up an abolitionist approach to the university. We can’t do it without you.

Abolition, we believe, offers the occasion for thinking about the university in ways that the institution itself might otherwise render impossible. And in doing so it may provide an opportunity to trouble the institution as we know and inhabit it—and as it inhabits us. Inspired by radical scholars and organizers in and outside of universities, we embrace abolition as a generative rather than merely negative project. We aim to build relations that steal the sheen from the university’s romanticized history and to repurpose its resources, capacities, and function of reproducing sociality with and for other ways of being, other ways of living. In coming together, we take up the question, What would an abolitionist approach to the university say yes to?

These conversations belong to a larger set of recent efforts to theorize and historicize the dense and manifold linkages of universities with the infrastructure of settler colonial power, U.S. militarism, and racial capitalism. These efforts have sought not only to introduce new vocabularies and critical frames for how we understand universities and their conditions of possibility; they have also revealed some of the limits of the methodological tools heretofore available to think the university. From the well-intentioned methodological nationalism that tends to disappear the constitutive militarism of the Cold War university to the unrecognized settler imagination that valorizes as democratic the postbellum “public” land-grant institutions, to periodizations of the modern research university that hold its proximity to slavery at bay, the production of the university as an object of love and an occasion for rescue has often been reproduced in efforts to study it.

Abolitionist university studies, an emerging set of conversations about knowledge, power, and its institutional organizations has sought to offer a broad frame and a set of coordinates to study the university on different terms. It has, furthermore, insisted on regarding knowledge production not as a set of disembodied ideas or logics, but as organizational forms. Such a frame calls for methodological creativity. What kinds of pedagogical strategies does it open onto? What kind of historical frames get brought into courses, and how to bring abolitionist approaches into classrooms not nominally focused on the topic? How can abolitionist modes of organizing within universities open onto or remake existing political collectivities?
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Type: Livestream / Virtual
Tags: Abolition, Activism, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Interdisciplinary, Lecture, Research, Romance Languages And Literatures, Virtual
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Romance Languages & Literatures, LSA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion