The movement of the swimmer does not resemble that of the wave, in particular, the movements of the swimming instructor which we reproduce on the sand bear no relation to the movements of the wave, which we learn to deal with only by grasping the former in practice as signs. That is why it is so difficult to say how someone learns: there is an innate or acquired practical familiarity with signs, which means that there is something amorous – but also something fatal – about all education. We learn nothing from those who say: “Do as I do”. Our only teachers are those who tell us to “do with me”, and are able to emit signs to be developed in heterogeneity rather than propose gestures for us to reproduce. In other words, there is no ideo-motivity, only sensory-motivity. […] To learn is indeed to constitute this space of an encounter with signs, in which the distinctive points renew themselves in each other, and repetition takes shape while disguising itself.
— GILLES DELEUZE, Difference and Repetition
"We never learn from the dictionaries our teachers or our parents lend us. The sign implies in itself a heterogeneity of relation. We never learn by doing like someone, but by doing with someone, who bears no resemblance to what we are learning." — Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs
The recent #Rhodesmustfall and #feesmustfall protests have set South African higher education on a new course towards transformation, focusing on equitable access to higher education, Africanisation and decolonisation.
Similar movements have reverberated across the globe, addressing issues of neoliberalism, for example in Canada, the UK, the Netherlands and Chile; racism, as in Ghana and the US; and curfews on women students in India. This has raised important questions regarding knowledge production; continuing structural racism, patriarchy, homophobia and transphobia; the use and value of western theorists in research and curricula; and who gains epistemological and physical access to higher education. On the other hand, we have seen many productive junctures between pedagogy, education studies and the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari. In particular, there has been a focus on cartography, schizoanalysis, corporeal theorising, rhizomatic learning and nomadic thought in socially just pedagogical praxis. These junctures and innovative genealogies and methodologies can both address these issues and be further improved and made more precise by engagements with what it means to transform and reconfigure pedagogies and practices in higher education.
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What might a response-able Deleuze-Guattarian engagement with higher education policy look like, aim to do and seek to produce? A number of Deleuze-Guattarian scholars, most notably Maurizio Lazzarato, have done extensive research on the conditions of employment and unemployment, as well as precarious governing in the neoliberal labour market. Accordingly, this theme focuses on questions around how neoliberal, new public management practices which emphasise economic imperatives, corporatisation and commercialisation, are reshaping knowledge, bodies, relations, flows and capacities within higher education at local, national, regional and global levels. This theme provides an opportunity to explore how Deleuze-Guattarian frameworks can help us rethink the ‘nature’, scope and effects of higher education policy, through questions such as:
Higher education spaces are usually considered in relation to how they optimise student learning and, increasingly, how they optimise marketing potential to attract new students. In addition, meanings of ‘space’, ‘place’, ‘environment’ and ‘context’ are often elided, and it is taken for granted that learning happens in classrooms, seminar rooms and lecture halls. Such discourses take space for granted as a neutral background on which human endeavour is located. Unschooling (in a meta sense rather than the narrow sense of homeschooling) resists this kind of pedagogy in favour of building real communities and replacing dry, nationalist agendas with different kinds of training programs, learning opportunities and methodologies, apprenticeships, internships and mentorships. Unschooling thus represents a material politics aimed at genuine social freedom and enjoyable learning. Normative ways of understanding space and schooling are challenged by Deleuze-Guattarian understandings which, instead, conceptualise space as an entangled ‘constellation of human–nonhuman agencies, forces and events’ (Taylor, 2013: 688) within which objects, bodies and things do surprising and important if often unnoticed and mundane work as material agents and actants. Theoretically, such work draws on and takes forward the rich traditions of feminist and postmodernist understandings of space developed by Doreen Massey, Henri Lefebvre, and Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy of space and striation. This theme therefore wishes to open up debates about higher education spaces by considering questions such as:
While much work has been done on the affective turn as a rubric of inquiry and analyses, turning our attention to sites of struggle and the socio-political and economic structures that undergird them through signification, representation, essentialist notions of biological matter and the primacy afforded to the human, not much work has been done on the triad pedagogy-love-affect. In fact, love remains a largely underexplored topic in Deleuze-Guattarian studies. Hannah Stark is one of the few scholars to investigate Deleuze’ and Guattari's references to love and positions this in terms of ethics, rather than mere affect. While drawing attention to the body and emotions (and the mind as embodied), affect signals far more because it suggests a non-linear causality – an agential capacity to affect and be affected, the power to act and the social complexities and relations that influence this power. It thus foregrounds new possibilities for political expression and action. But where, in all this talk of power, is the place of love in pedagogy? In thinking about pedagogy-affect-love, this stream asks questions such as:
Ecology, as material reality and as a political movement, call upon us to pay attention to radical human/non-human entanglements. This, in turn, requires that we not only jump across the conceptual 'fences' erected between humans and non-humans, but also that we bridge divides between disciplines of knowledge and ways of knowing. How, then, can the Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy – and particularly Guattari’s ‘three ecologies’ – help in the critical task of bringing the ecological into conversation with the pedagogical? Such conversations might benefit from the following considerations:
The humanities have seen a number of ‘turns’ over the past two decades. This is true of Deleuzian scholarship as well, which has tended in a number of directions, but in two markedly consequential ones, namely speculative realism and new materialisms. At the heart of the new materialisms, and in the tradition of Deleuze-Guattarian thought, we find that categories previously deemed binary are now held to be part of a complex co-imbricated ontology, as the work of, for example, Jane Bennett, Karen Barad, Elizabeth Grosz, Donna Haraway, Manuel DeLanda and John Protevi have shown. Studies such as these have given rise to more complex understandings of many phenomena, including pedagogy and Higher Education. In particular, there has been a focus on cartography, Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of schizoanalysis which problematises Cartesian subjectivity, corporeal theorising, rhizomatic learning, nomadic thought and so on. This stream brings together the series Deleuze-Guattari-pedagogy, and Deleuze-Guattari-new materialisms-higher education to ask:
The spectrality of ‘being’ - which is not the same as ‘presence’ as Derrida argues – calls for a hauntology that allows for the emergence of new ways of living. It also enables a praxis that is capable of “confront[ing] ‘white’ culture with the kind of temporal disjunction that has been constitutive of the Afrodiasporic experience since Africans [and other indigenous peoples] were first abducted by slavers and projected from their own lifeworld into the abstract space-time of Capital” (Fisher 2013, 46). In similar fashion, the work of Deleuze and Guattari encourage engagement with and into the spectral art of entanglement, generating, in the process, novel ways of engaging with matter differently and immanently. In A Thousand Plateaus (1987), for instance, the ‘fictional pedagogue’ Professor Challenger, delivers a delirious lecture on the necessity of ‘geophilosophy’: a radically entangled, transversal, and histological onto-ethical pedagogy and philosophy of presence that binds together myth and science, objects and living beings, causal networks with substances, the universe, fate and destiny (Grosz 2017, 136). In this stream, we ask presenters to take up this challenge by considering ways in which the uncanny/spectral/hauntological might engender new forms of ‘being-presence’ and ‘being-in-becoming’ in higher education praxis. As Deleuze and Guattari suggest, transversal ‘contaminations’ between widely divergent realms of knowledge are not so much rules or exceptions to rules as they are indications of how objects, flows, processes and assemblages operate along variegated relational axes and scales. The spectral, in their onto-ethical epistemology, announces protean multiplexity and the impossibility of single-vision or orientation. Bearing in mind the hauntological complexity of the material and the immaterial, we ask presenters to engage creatively and dynamically with a Deleuze-Guattarian pedagogy of the uncanny. Such an engagement might be informed by, but is by no means restricted to, the following questions:
The conference is open to anyone with an interest in the subject matter. The fee for the full two days (including tea/coffee and lunch) is 100€/R1,500 for affiliated academics, 80€/R1,200 for salaried persons and 40€/R600 for anyone with limited financial means. Nobody will be excluded for lack of funds; please let us know in the registration email if you cannot pay the full fee.
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 July 2019, including an abstract of 300-500 words if you wish to present. Also list your affiliation (if any), along with your contact details and any access, dietary or other requirements you have. We welcome proposals for the delivery of presentations through art, performance, poetry, multimedia or any other mode of creative expression. Please also let us know if you’d like to attend the free two-day workshop on Guattari's The Three Ecologies.
"How do the semiotics of space and time in the school... how do the semiotics of discipline... support crushing, sometimes definitively, the semiotics of the “pre-school" child? And how do they generate the semiotic conditions of the factory, office and barracks? In fact, the machine of obligatory learning does not primarily have the goal of transmitting information, knowledge or a “culture," but of transforming the child’s semiotic coordinates from top to bottom." — Felix Guattari, The Machinic Unconscious
Dr Hannah Stark is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Tasmania. Her research interests include the work of Gilles Deleuze, feminist and queer theory, philosophies of love, autotheory, the nonhuman turn, cultural engagements with extinction, and the emergence of the Anthropocene as a key conceptual framework. Hannah is the author of Feminist Theory After Deleuze and the co-editor of Deleuze and the Non/Human and Deleuze and Guattari in the Anthropocene. She is currently working on a book on love, and a project on the global trade, collection and display of extinct thylacines (Tasmanian tigers). In 2018 she was awarded the University of Tasmania’s Vice Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Postgraduate Supervision.
Dr Timothy Laurie is a Scholarly Teaching Fellow in the School of Communication (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences). His core research interests include cultural theory, popular music studies, and gender and sexuality studies. Currently, Timothy is a co-authoring a book with Dr. Hannah Stark entitled How To Do Politics With Love, arguing for a post-sentimental concept of love as a radical departure from existing discourses on romance and familial attachment. Timothy is also managing editor for Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, and has published across a range of cultural studies and social research journals, including Cultural Studies Review, Social Identities, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, Qualitative Research Journal, and Higher Education Research and Development.
We will announce further keynotes closer to the conference date.
Further information coming soon