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University and State Research Cluster

University of California, Irvine, University of California Humanities Research Institute

The intellectual impetus for this working group comes from two very different contemporary concerns about the university. We seek to mark these strands’ difference from one another and from an earlier generation’s analysis of the university, both by undertaking a comparative study of the idea of the university beyond North America and by stressing the theoretical genealogies and conceptual and political underpinnings of the university. Currently, on the one hand, on every continent there is the discourse of criticism, increasingly strident and anxious amongst humanists, of the privatization of the university: an emptying out of what it was, could have been, or still could be, for economic interests; the incursion of market rationality into the fragile relative autonomy of academic investigation. On the other hand, there is suspicion, formulated in tones ranging from celebratory to paranoiac, that modes of university-thinking may be serving domination, neocolonialism, and the foreclosure of alternative ways of life, traditional or non-normative, as well as alternative imaginings of the future. These diverse endeavors can be tied together productively by the problematic of the university. Central to the interest of the cluster is to push questions about the university as an institution, as an idea, as a model and symptom of various iterations of the state, and as rhizomatic histories of institutions and ideas, spanning geographic and intellectual traditions but never in simple or obvious ways, that ought to be engaged as such. Although in part provoked by rhetoric of crisis in the university, our object is to excavate existing discussion of the university that privileges consideration of the relation between the university and the state and to further this line of inquiry. Rather than assay the concept of crisis, and thereby allude to the dynamics of capital, the end(s) of theory, or political impasse, this group aims at greater purchase on the university as an idea in order to emphasize articulations between society and state, and the role of form and formalization in producing articulations of this sort.

Contact Information
Williston Chase, Ph.D. Candidate
Rei Terada, Professor

University of California, Irvine, University of California Humanities Research Institute
Department of Comparative Literature
University of California
Irvine, CA
United States
http://sites.uci.edu/universityandstate/
universityandstateuci@gmail.com
949 824 6406

Region
North America

Year Established
2016