I hate travel (ethnography), yet here I am (philosophy).
Gone is the task of providing “equipment for living,” in the words of Kenneth Burke.
May 26, 2017
On graduate labor and the Yale commencement protest
On Monday, Peter Salovey, president of Yale University, strode down the tree-lined streets of downtown New Haven, garbed in voluminous robes, a massive pendant, and a velvet cap with a gold, dangling tassel. Before him walked a scowling bulldog puppy that strained against its leash. Handsome Dan XVIII, the university’s mascot, was processing in his first commencement, and both figureheads were being very, very good boys.
Many of Sanders’s campaign proposals rested on unexamined assumptions about gender and race
October 14, 2016
Had all my radical professors, all my fire-breathing grad student friends, signed this oath?
Throughout the 20th century, loyalty oaths have had painful consequences for both those who signed and those who didn’t.
September 1, 2016
Graduate labor activists can’t afford to treat thinking as part of our professional development and building our unions as something else.
Downplaying the importance of compensation as an issue for grad unions, as even some union professionals do, limits the sense of who has a stake in this struggle.
August 26, 2016
Deans often feign surprise at graduate student complaints, and claim not to notice the thousands petitioning them every semester.
We need an Obama or Clinton NLRB to step in at Harvard and Yale, in other words, because Obama’s and Clinton’s friends and allies, their cronies and chiefs of staff, are preventing workers at those universities from exercising their rights. The reason we need to put a Democrat in the White House is to keep Democrats at bay in the private sector. The reason we need an Obama or Clinton to run the state is to stop Obamism and Clintonism in civil society.
Sociologists are always in danger of being seen as paranoids, all the more so when they oppose powerful vested interests.
December 16, 2015
This episode of the n+1 podcast goes on the road with Paper Monument co-founding editor Dushko Petrovich to talk about adjunct labor in universities and his new project the Adjunct Commuter Weekly.
October 23, 2015
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and literary activism
In this business of recollecting the world before the free market, before globalization, voluntary memory misleads, and the flicker of involuntary memory throws up, as ever, an array of fragments and sensations, but doesn’t, in itself, instruct us in the ethics of the vanished order, an ethics we have critiqued but whose proximity we no longer sense. So it is almost impossible now to remember—as it was impossible then to predict the fall of the Berlin Wall and the advent of President Obama—that poetry was the literary genre to which the greatest prestige accrued until the mid-’80s.
Three letters from Amsterdam
How far beyond the academy do our commitments extend? Are we defending our right to teach and study things that might be useless? Or are we insisting on our usefulness?
April 12, 2015
Letter from Amsterdam, Part II
A few weeks ago I wrote a chronicle of a revolution at the University of Amsterdam, where I teach. To recap: On February 13, a student protest group called De Nieuwe Universiteit occupied a campus building to protest dreadful budget cuts, and to challenge more fundamentally the neoliberal managerialism that has crept into academic governance since the 1990s, even in public universities like this one. They were evicted eleven days later.
Affect theory does not discover an authentic self buried by oppression; it constructs one anew from the wreckage of defeat.
Not dying is not living
Increased surveillance, tape-recorded representations of life, played back and rewound and remixed over and over again, digitally and virtually, will only remind jurors of an imitation of life, but it won’t revive the real thing. Rather than die knowing my death had been recorded by the camera, I would just rather not die. And rather than not die, I would like to choose to live.
March 26, 2015
Occupying the Maagdenhuis in protest is a minor tradition here. In 1969, students did so for five days. Now, it’s been almost a month. Back then, students and teachers were generally on opposite sides of the barricades, or at least teachers represented the establishment. Now, teacher and student are allies against a new establishment—the university’s Board of Directors (College van Bestuur, or CvB)—and against trends in Dutch academia and the broader world: the financialization of the university, something called rendementsdenken, neoliberalism itself.
March 25, 2015
On NYU and the future of graduate student unionism
Academic life moves slowly. The university system is always changing, but the current is sluggish enough that it’s easy to imagine the institution is fixed in some permanent form. Then, sometimes, things happen fast.
September 19, 2014
A Brief History of “American Poetry”
Divorced from all profound political engagement, the defiance of convention once associated with the avant-garde becomes itself conventional, the most efficient means of bidding up one’s price in a culture market made up of like-minded individualists
Catching disappearing languages
It’s three miles to South Williamsburg, one of the last Yiddish-speaking neighborhoods in the world, where a whole new dialect, some say a separate language, is coming into being. Farther out in East Bushwick, James Lovell is teaching Garifuna, an Afro-Indigenous language of the Caribbean. The Garifuna are descendants of African slaves who escaped a shipwreck off the island of St. Vincent in 1635 and intermarried with the Arawak and Carib natives.
March 14, 2014
On Wendy Doniger's The Hindus
In February 2014, it emerged that Penguin India had agreed—after defending the book in court for four years—to an out-of-court settlement. The Hindus would cease to be sold in India, and the remaining inventory would be destroyed.
March 7, 2014
This episode of the n+1 podcast features interviews with associate editor Richard Beck and author Sheila Heti. First, Richard Beck will talk about his essay in Issue 18 about the childcare sex-abuse hysteria of the 1980s. Then, Sheila Heti discusses her thoughts on writing, friendship, feminism, and more.
February 4, 2014
Graduate employees at public universities have long been granted that right, but private schools have lagged behind, often struggling against anti-union administrations in addition to being reliant on the shifting internal politics of the NLRB. Now, however, the recent NYU election and the administration’s agreement to remain neutral and honor the results are showing graduate employee unions at other private universities that sustained organizing pays off and that they do not need to wait for the NLRB to act to do so themselves.
In India, the peasantry was not disappearing. Archaism remained culturally dominant across the board.
October 2, 2013
Soon Free Cooper Union had more Twitter followers than Cooper Union itself.
September 16, 2013
The public schools funding crisis can only get worse. At the same time Philadelphia is growing.
September 11, 2013
One by one, parents, teachers, and students delivered indignant, anguished, oftentimes tearful speeches.