Originally produced and aired in 2016...:
The great political theorist, cultural philosopher, revolutionary, C. L. R. James once said that he is black, number one, because he is against what they have done and are still doing to us; and number two, he has something to say about the new society to be built because he has a tremendous part in that which they have sought to discredit.— C. L. R. James, C. L. R. James: His Life and Work.
In the article The University and the Undercommons: Seven Theses (The—sees), Fred Moten and Stefano Harney start their analysis with this powerful quote: “To the university I steal, and there I steal.”
They go on to write that this is the only possible relationship to the university (American) today. In fact, this may be true of universities everywhere. It cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment.
Their analysis is centered on a sharp critique of how we produce and reproduce a certain forms of knowledge. And the role and responsibility of those who step into this dialectical process of who has the right to know and what they should do with what they know.
Moten and Harney go on to suggest that in the face of these conditions one can only sneak into the university and steal what we can. To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in, but not of—this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern university.
The authors are attempting to peel back the cover of knowledge for knowledge sake. They suggest that in this present moment, we must begin to take the path of heretical thinkers.
The "maroons knew something about possibility. They are the condition of possibility of production of knowledge in the university—the singularities against the writers of singularity, the writers who write, publish, travel, and speak. It is not merely a matter of the secret labor upon which such space is lifted, though of course such space is lifted from collective labor and by it. It is rather that to be a critical academic in the university is to be against the university, and to be against the university is always to recognize it and be recognized by it, and to institute the negligence of that internal outside, that unassimilated underground, a negligence of it that is precisely, we must insist, the basis of the professions. And this act of against…always excludes the unrecognized modes of politics, the beyond of politics already in motion, the discredited criminal para-organization, what Robin Kelley might refer to as the infrapolitical field (and its music). It is not just the labor of the maroons but their prophetic organization that is negated by the idea of intellectual space in an organization called the university" .
Next we will hear an further elaboration of the ideas set out by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney with Dr. Claudrena Harold, author of New Negro Politics in the Jim Crow South from University of Virginia, Dr. Will Boone, Dr. Corey Walker, and myself of Winston Salem State University.
Our show was produced today in solidarity with the Native/Indigenous and Afro Descendant communities at Standing Rock, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Palestine, South Africa, and Ghana and other places who are fighting for the protection of our land for the benefit of all peoples!
Enjoy the program…!
Image: Toward a Black University Conference 13-17 November 1968. Hilltop, 8 November 1968...available here: https://www.dc1968project.com/blog/2018/12/27/12-november-1968-amp-toward-a-black-university-conf-hu-begins-tomorrow
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