Universities as Sites of Power, Violence (and Justice?)

Monday, 16 July 2018: 09:00
Location: Constitution Hall (MTCC NORTH BUILDING)
Oral Presentation
Nandini SUNDAR, Delhi School of Economics, India
This paper looks at the question of academic freedom, which is increasingly under assault from authoritarian governments worldwide, supported by right wing student groups who act as provocateurs and disruptors within. However, this issue needs to be located more broadly. As critical nodes in the process of elite formation (both nationally and within imperial formations) universities are intrinsically connected to the establishment, and thus sustain ruling power, even if the self-image is one of critical distance. While the assumed disinterestedness of knowledge production, and the way in which this constitutes an educated personhood functions as an important source of hegemony, universities are also sites of work and exploitation (especially of contract faculty) and vehicles for different kinds of agonistic relations (e.g. between student expectations and what the university actually offers), all of which limit the concept of academic freedom in important ways.