Call for Papers
With the increasing formalization of knowledge, the ‘university’ as a pedagogic model has been naturalized by and within the paradigm of ‘modern’ (higher) education system. While the institutionalization of education is intrinsically linked with of the post-Enlightenment Western Modernity, what the model has done ever since is astonishing in terms of the scale of social change it has ‘engineered’, and its impact on depleting the diversity of pedagogic cultures that existed outside the ‘modern’ frameworks of knowledge.
This session aims to engage into a sustained critique of the ‘university’ and its normativization and/or normalization process. We want to critically examine the modality of the model, the dynamics of its projection and reception, and that of the models it has eventually depleted. The point therefore is to rethink and (re)complicate the structure of the university alongside the disjunctive and multiple vernacular iterations of (institutionalized) higher education that existed – often as mimicking enterprise – outside (?) of the epistemic hegemony of (Western) Modernity, purportedly always an ‘unfinished’ project in the non-West. Despite all contentions in opinions on the achievements and failings of the ‘university’ as a pedagogic model, the centrality of the institution still continue to thrive. The critique of the university has rarely generated the kind of scholarly enquiry and reflection that other institutions of the civil society, or for that matter, issues on (de/un)schooling have. What needs asking is: why do questions concerning pedagogy, epistemology, higher education etc. necessarily begin (and often end) with invoking the university? We seek to problematize the impulse, very rarely examined, to assume the university to be an uncontested, dominant framework of higher education. The agenda, however, is not merely to debate on the efficacy of the university, but rather to philosophically probe into the intellectual history of the model and what renders it so pervasive (both in the West and non-West; the postcolonial democracies in particular and beyond). The core issues this session seeks to assess and explore include, but are not limited to:
- Why do(n’t) we need the university?
- Why and how did the ‘alternate’ models/paradigms of higher education disappear? How do we make sense of the (de)indegenization of higher education?
- What are/were some of the contemporary, indigenous models (say,: Swaraj University, Barefoot College in the ‘modern’ Indian context, and the catuspathi, the tola, the maktab or the madrasa in the ‘pre-modern’)? Why and how are they different?
- Is/was the model of the university adaptable in the non-West? In other words, is the university universalizable?
- How, if at all, is an epistemic negation of the university different from the extremist-fundamentalist attempts (cf. the Taliban or the Boko Haram) to destabilize the whole educational system? How do we make sense of the difference on an epistemic realm?
- To what extent is dissemination of knowledge by and at the university linked with ‘modern’ disciplinary techniques, manufacturing the ‘ideal’ citizen? (This question entails violence of science (cf. Ashis Nandy); objectification of subjects through disciplinary technologies, subjectificton and subjection) Can we ever (re)imagine the university as non-concomitant with the corporate-sponsored minimal (nation-)state, the statist ideologies (cf. Althusser)?
- To what extent does the university function as a site for universal division of labor, both academic and otherwise? What implication does it have upon alienation from the labor process, the socially necessary labor (cf. Marx, Gandhi)? Does university-education also alienate subjects from supposed nature and culture?
- How and to what extent did the idea of mass education, 19th C. British social welfarism, (cf. Raymond Williams, Richard Hoggart pitted against the Arnoldian notion of ‘culture’) and their impact contribute to the emergence of Knowledge Industry (cf. Bourdieu)?
- How does the (extra-curricular) mechanism of funded research (out)weigh (against) notions of freedom – both academic and otherwise – within the university space?
- How do the organic versus inorganic intellectual (cf. Gramsci), the intellectual versus technical intelligentsia etc. dichotomies map on to the discourse of the university? To what extent are ‘reproduction of cultural capital’ (cf. Gouldner, 1979) and ‘puzzle-solving’ mentalities (cf. Kuhn) detrimental to ‘inventions’ and ‘discoveries’, in compliance with the existing epistemic paradigms that deplete ‘curiosity’ (in the Ruskinian sense), or revelatory dispositions (in the Heideggerian sense)?
- How do we account for the recent shifts toward liberalization and utilitarianization of the university, toward a certain form of patron-client relationship (wherein academic mafias and political parties are important stakeholders) that is overtly dependent upon and legitimizes money-sign (think of the ‘publish-or-perish’ model as endorsing print/electronic capitalism, or the provision of educational loans)?
- What stakes then do the apparently ‘non-capitalistic’ models of knowledge dissemination (e-learning, home-learning, the Open access systems, which is to say, apparatuses of learning without using money-sign) have in engendering ‘parallel’ paradigms? How do we register these voices of dissidence? Are these add-ons to or substitutes for the university system?
- Now that we are all cyborgs and the separation between the ‘natural/material/biotic’ and the ‘human’ worlds has been rendered porous (cf. Latour, Haraway), what implication does the neo-liberal university, better still, the ‘multiversity’ have upon the heuristic category of the (post-)human (cf. Andrew Wernick, Rosi Braidotti)?