<editorial board> <agu> The Double Crisis of the University and the Global Economy

Nirmal Puwar n.puwar at gold.ac.uk
Wed Dec 24 14:11:12 CET 2008

thanks for this

i have just one  minor concern of a linguistic nature  -

does the continual use of the word crisis risk losing any sense for the
word crisis

there of course other words - cycle, process, phase...


 2008 10:56 pm, info at edu-factory.org wrote:
> The following are some brief notes to initiate discussion on
> the proposed theme for a zero issue of the edu-factory journal. After some
> off-list discussion, it has been suggested that the journal should be
> titled Edu-Notes: Conflicts and Transformations of the University.
> We would like to thank Augusto Illuminati and Nirmal Puwar
> for their insightful contributions. The first point below is an attempt to
> address the important comment made by Augusto regarding the term financial
> crisis. We would also like to open discussion regarding Nirmal’s concern
> about the possible narrowness of the proposed theme. By putting forward the
> following points for discussion we hope that other members of the
> editorial board can intervene regarding the appropriateness of the
> suggested theme for the zero issue.
> Ned Rossiter has also made a key intervention regarding the
> tricky question of peer review and quality control. Hopefully Ned’s
> provocation can attract some serious discussion of this matter on the
> list. We do not expect this is a question we will resolve quickly but it
> is a crucial one to confront.
> In this message, however, we restrict ourselves to the
> question of the zero issue, since the preparation of a call for papers,
> which should be briefer than what is outlined below, is perhaps the most
> urgent issue to confront.
> As starting point, the zero issue would investigate the
> characteristics of the global crisis. In mainstream analysis, the current
> economic situation is described as financial crisis. This idea is based on
> the classical division between finance and real economy, which we want to
> question. From this point of view, it is better to talk of a global
> economic crisis.
> We would base this analysis of the crisis on the
> investigation of material changes. What are the nature and the roots of the
> crisis? How is the crisis likely to affect the production of knowledge and
> the organization of such production around innovation?
> What does it mean to refer to the crisis as a global crisis?
> What are the different forms of translation of the crisis in
> various transnational contexts? How are academic employment, higher
> education export, higher degree research recruitment or other aspects
> affected?
> The focal point of the issue should be the nexus between the
> global economic crisis and the crisis of the university. By the latter, we
> refer to the end of the modern concept of the university and the permanent
> crisis of its transition into the new framework.
> With regard to the university, this double crisis highlights
> the difficulty of conducting an analysis in the classical terms of the
> dialectic between public and private. The corporatization of the
> university is not its privatization, but indicates that its new form –
> that is, the form of the crisis – must be thought beyond the state/private
> sector distinction.
> For instance, some articles could focus on the student debt
> system as one of the roots of the contemporary crisis. Such an
> investigation might approach the operations of the student debt system as
> paradigmatic for a sort of financialization of the welfare system.
> It could be interesting to analyze the relationship between
> universities and collateralised debt obligations. Institutional investors
> such as pension funds, insurance houses and university endowment funds
> were among the most important purchasers of these and other securitized
> financial products. But they were also among the first to become wary of
> such investments and thus their financial decisions contributed to the
> onset of the crisis.
> Another question concerns the role of ranking systems in the
> determination and evolution of the double crisis. The continued high
> ranking of securitized debt products by bond rating houses like Moodys and
> Standard and Poors contributed
> to the onset of the economic crisis. The global ranking of universities by
> institutions such as Shanghai Jiao Tong and Times Higher has become an
> obsession in higher education. What are the relations and complicities
> between such ranking systems?
> In this framework, there emerge two important questions. On
> one hand, it is necessary to ask how the global economic crisis redefines
> the crisis of the university. On the other hand, there is a need to
> inquire into the place and role of conflicts in the nexus of this double
> crisis.
> Finally, it would be interesting to discuss the temporality
> of the crisis in relation to the temporality of the production of
> knowledge. Does the traditional cycle outline, which poses
> financialization as a final stage that follows an expansion of material
> production, still apply? Or do we have to investigate a new temporality of
> the crisis? What does this mean for the temporality of conflicts, which
> have been understood to follow a cycle of struggles?
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Dr Nirmal Puwar
Department of Sociology
Goldsmiths, London University.
Co-organiser of Methods Lab

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