WHY UNIVERSITY?

 Call for Papers

 WHY UNIVERSITY?

 Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay *

Avishek Ray

 

Concept Note

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:

  1. Why do(n’t) we need the university?
  2. Why and how did the ‘alternate’ models/paradigms of higher education disappear? How do we make sense of the (de)indegenization of higher education?
  3. 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?
  4. Is/was the model of the university adaptable in the non-West? In other words, is the university universalizable?
  5. 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?
  6. 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)?
  7. 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?
  8. 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)?
  9. How does the (extra-curricular) mechanism of funded research (out)weigh (against) notions of freedom – both academic and otherwise – within the university space?
  10. 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)?
  11. 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)?
  12. 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?
  13. 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)?

Cf. DO WE NEED UNIVERSITIES AND SCHOOLS?  Download (.pdf)

About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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