quinta-feira, março 01, 2007

La Universidad Experimental

The following is an English translation of the collectively written text by the Universidad Experimental, Rosario, Argentina.

Experimental University: Conflicts in the production of knowledge

An introduction

There are invitations to which we are indifferent. We forget them immediately. There are, however, invitations that remain. They float in our heads, intertwining with other ideas. When the invitation is to a group, the idea no longer floats in one head but in several. Remaining open to these other heads, it is available to be taken and processed. The invitation to the debate about conflicts in the production of knowledge has affected us in this second way. For us, it is literally a vital problem.

We have tried, then, to think about this problem from our experiences as a group. That is to say, we have tried to list the conflicts that are taking places as our project moves. In schematic form, we have classified these conflicts under three categories:

- our relations with the logic of the State University
- our relations with the logic of the Market University
- the relations we maintain with our project insofar as it attempts a different kind of instituent wager with respect to knowledge and thought.

In this sense, we tried to turn this analytic into a strategic tool - a resource for the project. At the same time, we do not cease to question, modify or revise this
analytic. For that reason, this text is only a small part of our discussion.

On the other hand, you will notice that this text lacks some kind of testimonial or chronicle of the experiences of the Experimental University throughout 2006. It seems to us much more stimulating to offer certain theses on the initial debate that also provide a kind of elaboration of what actually happened.

The Experimental University and the State University: conflicts

The Experimental University neither remains indifferent to nor exclusively confronts the State University, since it inhabits another logic.

Its gesture is not so much exodus as camping. This response, before being an ideological question, concerns a specific availability of resources.

The hypothesis of the piqueteros, although not in all its aspects, helps to show the relationship we have with the State University: we do not want to fight over academic positions; we do not want to take over the student centre. We want resources for the self-management of our projects.

The university can digest the works of any thinker but it seems much more difficult for it to digest participatory forms of debate and construction. It seems, then, that with the State University, we can develop ‘contact surfaces’ with regard to reading/writing/interventions but not with regard to management.

It cost us highly at the singular and the collective level to find usable resources for our project in the State University, but in the meantime we were playing and hitting up against the institution all the time.

Our wager is to subtract a fragment of the social interchanges of the university from state and market regulations in order to compose them with other social processes for the production and organization of life.

The Experimental University and the Market University: conflicts

Since in the mercantile era that which does not self-manage is either dismissed or absorbed by the market, our objective is to plot a ‘contract/contact’ with the participants of the Experimental University that goes beyond this mercantile absorption.

To insist on the ‘contract’ with the different people involved in this experience is to make it clear that our wager is a political wager.

Our wager is to work as a connective machine between those involved in the Experimental University and processes of social self-organization.

If we bet on participatory action, then our wager serves to form a platform of connections with different points of productive self-organization, which will necessarily lead us to redesign the processes of self-education.

The Experimental University and the Market University generate two parallel poles of management of the State University´s resources.

Therefore, the conflict with the Market University does not appear as much in the subtraction of resources as it does within the interior spaces of the Experimental University itself.

The whole strategy of the Experimental University, then, depends on the subjectivity that inhabits it. The subjectivity that produces the Market University is that of the consuming student. If one tries to break with the mercantile ways of life that we inhabit, the possibility emerges for new kinds of relations.

The Experimental University: conflicts

Our project positions us in the middle of a conflict between old and new organizational configurations that have as their agglutinative element the production of knowledge and its relation to other social spaces. What is at stake is the political productivity of knowledge and thought, which we have taken as a criterion that allows us to elaborate strategies.

There does not exist a privileged space for the practices of the Experimental University, but nor does it have a privileged practice. Its importance lies in its political productivity for the construction and support of spaces in which it is possible to decide on all the dimensions we consider relevant to our existence.

The Experimental University attempts to function as an attentive, moving and connective space, not as an auto-referential one. A double cognitive movement seems to install itself in our project: we seek, on the one hand, to invent a defining characteristic, a signature; and at the same time, to approach thinking no longer thematically but problematically.

We thus say it is not only a matter of instrumentalising concepts in relation to problems, but also of not ceasing to question and redefine this same logic of instrumentalisation.

We try to conceptualise knowledge only insofar as it can serve as a tool with which to think and intervene in our realities.

The fact that this form of knowledge can come into being in infinite ways, gives us the possibility to think that any kind of group can innovate constantly in its practice. Language itself is thought as a material that has in its immanence the power of being connective – that is, to assemble itself in unusual ways. On the basis of these connections, new forms of movement can be developed, both in thought and praxis, which are not within the repertoire of the quotidian.

If the traditional free universities ['cátedras libres' (free universities) are open academic spaces usually created by militant student groups and organized in the traditional way: active teachers, passive students, etc.] generate hierarchical divisions between those who know and those who do not know, between experimental and
non-experimental militants, the Experimental University sustains itself on another premise: ‘All of us involved in the project are the possessors of problems, that is to say, we ourselves become permanently problems.’

Today we consider that the dispute within, against and beyond the university must acquire a profile that privileges cognitive, methodological and connective aspects.

Can an institution that produces knowledge be defined exclusively by this triad? Absolutely not. Those are its defining traits, but not its only ones. Since the
institution is also management, that is, the ways of managing of these elements. Management conditions the logics of knowledge production from the inside. Command is not purely exterior with regard to the products: the historicity of these products is integrated in their very constitution.

What did we mean when we spoke about the ‘resources of the university’? Since one of our characteristics is precisely to inquire into the nature of our own collectivity (the very possibility for its existence, as much as the conditions it suffers and the profiles it adopts), we know that ‘a resource is never only a resource.’ To put it
colloquially: the essence of any resource is to be a poisoned gift. This ambivalence leads us to a permanent interrogation of the political utility of resources.

[autoformación] [coinvestigación] [laboratorio teórico]

ideas generales: textos con ideas generales sobre la Universidad Experimental 2007

máquina de comunicación: los múltiples modos de comunicación entre la UX y sus afueras

nuevos textos, nuevos proyectos: espacio para la elaboración colectiva de propuestas 2007 no incluidas en las categorías anteriores

cxpds2006: balances y discusiones sobre el desarrollo de la cátedra experimental sobre produccion de subjetividad durante el 2006

Universidad Experimental de Paraná: textos y proyectos de la Universidad Experimental de Paraná que se inicia en el 2007

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