Universities after neoliberalism

We’re used to one-way neoliberalism, regardless of party, in which we keep getting more of its familiar features: public budget austerity, marketisation, privatisation, selective cross-subsidies favouring business and technology, precarisation of professional labour, and structural racism. But under the pressure of international social forces, neoliberalism is increasingly breaking down. These forces include the Covid-19-induced public […]

On the subject of roots

In 1983, Toni Morrison’s classic interview-turned-essay ‘Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation’ was published in Mari Evans’s anthology Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation. 1 In the piece, Morrison concerns herself with the figure of the ancestor in African American literature. For her, the ancestor is a ‘distinctive element of African American writing’, and because […]

Who will survive the university?

We write as organisers of #CoronaContract, a campaign we co-founded shortly after the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, demanding a two-year contract extension for all casualised university staff (academic and non-academic). In the early days of COVID-19, when previously unthinkable forms of economic rescue took place, this demand functioned as a ‘transitional demand’ […]

Authoritarian and neoliberal attacks on higher education in Hungary

In April 2017, a law adopted by the Hungarian authorities, and promptly nicknamed ‘Lex CEU’, made the operation of the Central European University (CEU) impossible. The CEU is an English language graduate university with accreditation both in Hungary and in the USA, which was based in Budapest from 1991. Following a long process of attempted […]

Dramatic differences

Exchange: Marx’s theatre of economic categories It is a privilege to read Asad Haider’s critical response to my article, ‘The Theatre of Economic Categories: Rediscovering Capital in the late 1960s’ in Radical Philosophy 2.08). 1 His enthusiastic defence of Althusser’s theoretical innovation allows one to witness the impact of Reading Capital on a disciple who […]

Wounds of Democracy

Scholars of European history and critical theory observing American politics in recent years have often found themselves experiencing déjà vu. History, the truism goes, does not repeat itself, but last summer, with calls for ‘law and order’ and armed right-wing militias clashing with anti-racist protestors across America, many asked, what more are you waiting for? […]

Against ‘Effective Altruism’

Effective Altruism (EA) is a programme for rationalising charitable giving, positioning individuals to do the ‘most good’ per expenditure of money or time. It was first formulated – by two Oxford philosophers just over a decade ago – as an application of the moral theory consequentialism, and from the outset one of its distinctions within […]

Counter-violence, a ‘Hegelian’ myth

Beyond a doubt Hegel knew about real slaves and their revolutionary struggles. In perhaps the most political expression of his career, he used the sensational events of Haiti as the linchpin in his argument in The Phenomenology of Spirit. The actual and successful revolution of Caribbean slaves against their masters is the moment when the […]

A liberal poetics of policy

In The Evolution of Educational Thought (1938), Emile Durkheim recounted the historical irony that undergirds the idea of institutionality – by pitting it against the birth of the university in medieval Europe. He noted how the coming into being of a corporative organisation – the universitas – was effectively an attempt at ‘unionising’ the body […]

Life is mine

In this intervention I investigate the relationships between feminist practices, basic income and the notion of ‘self-determination income’, focusing on the Italian feminist movement Non Una di Meno. The piece contends that self-determination income might foster a society of care and help to address the social and economic transformations occurring over the past three decades, […]

Of what is Bolsonaro the name?

[O]ne might refer to the fascist movements as the wounds, the scars, of a democracy that, to this day, has not lived up to its own concept. Theodor Adorno What’s in a name? First things first: to speak of ‘Bolsonarismo’ is not the same as speaking of Bolsonaro voters. Evidently, whatever we can call ‘Bolsonarismo’ […]

Uncaptured desires

1. As a younger activist I used to find it puzzling that some people who suffer the most from inequalities in capitalist society had little interest in radical egalitarian imaginaries, in the form of, for example, communal solidarity economies. 1 Certain individuals were attracted to groups defending those ideas only temporarily in crisis situations, when […]

Always trouble

This article investigates how the concept of gender might be located within a broader history of the medicalisation and policing of a binary concept of sexual difference and of reproductive knowledge and control. It begins by tracing the origins of gender as a clinical and behavioural category, which was first introduced to medicalise intersex and […]

Neoliberal antiracism and the British university

While debates over race and higher education in the UK have long focused on questions of access, in recent years a host of campaigns have drawn attention to the alienation of students and staff of colour who succeed in entering white-dominated institutions. Their claims, often articulated on social media with the pithiness that hashtags require, […]

The theatre of economic categories

Marx prefaces the first edition of the first volume of Capital with a laconic proviso. ‘To avoid any possible misunderstandings’, he writes, ‘a word. I do not by any means depict the capitalist and the landowner in rosy colours. But individuals are dealt with here only insofar as they are the personifications of economic categories, […]

Bodies in space

Weaker now, we mistakenly identify ourselves as our bodies. Ilona Sagar, ‘Correspondence O’, digital video, 2017 I have had twenty-five or thirty souls, with their bodies, at once under my roof, and yet we often parted without being aware that we had come very near to one another. Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854 The last […]