The Imperial University
Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent
Publication Year: 2014
At colleges and universities throughout the United States, political protest and intellectual dissent are increasingly being met with repressive tactics by administrators, politicians, and the police—from the use of SWAT teams to disperse student protestors and the profiling of Muslim and Arab American students to the denial of tenure and dismissal of politically engaged faculty. The Imperial University brings together scholars, including some who have been targeted for their open criticism of American foreign policy and settler colonialism, to explore the policing of knowledge by explicitly linking the academy to the broader politics of militarism, racism, nationalism, and neoliberalism that define the contemporary imperial state.
The contributors to this book argue that “academic freedom” is not a sufficient response to the crisis of intellectual repression. Instead, they contend that battles fought over academic containment must be understood in light of the academy’s relationship to U.S. expansionism and global capital. Based on multidisciplinary research, autobiographical accounts, and even performance scripts, this urgent analysis offers sobering insights into such varied manifestations of “the imperial university” as CIA recruitment at black and Latino colleges, the connections between universities and civilian and military prisons, and the gender and sexual politics of academic repression.
Contributors: Thomas Abowd, Tufts U; Victor Bascara, UCLA; Dana Collins, California State U, Fullerton; Nicholas De Genova; Ricardo Dominguez, UC San Diego; Sylvanna Falcón, UC Santa Cruz; Farah Godrej, UC Riverside; Roberto J. Gonzalez, San Jose State U; Alexis Pauline Gumbs; Sharmila Lodhia, Santa Clara U; Julia C. Oparah, Mills College; Vijay Prashad, Trinity College; Jasbir Puar, Rutgers U; Laura Pulido, U of Southern California; Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo, California State U, Long Beach; Steven Salaita, Virginia Tech; Molly Talcott, California State U, Los Angeles.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
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Introduction: The Imperial University: Race, War, and the Nation-State
Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira
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Piya: January 19, 2012. It is midafternoon on a brisk and beautiful winter day in the Inland Empire of Southern California. I enter my second floor office in the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of California, Riverside. The hallway is silent. It reminds me, sadly, of any colorless and functional corporate office building. I wish for sound, some sign of collective...
I. Imperial Cartographies
1. New Empire, Same Old University? Education in the American Tropics after 1898
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In The Uses of the University (1964), University of California president Clark Kerr outlines “two great clichés about the university” in relation to social change: “One pictures [the university] as a radical institution, when in fact it is most conservative in its institutional conduct. The other pictures it as autonomous, a cloister, when the historical fact is that it has always responded,...
2. Militarizing Education: The Intelligence Community’s Spy Camps
Roberto J. González
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In July 2005, a select group of fifteen-to nineteen-year- old high school students participated in a week-long summer program called “Spy Camp” in the Washington, DC, area. The program included a field trip to the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, an “intelligence simulation” exercise, and a visit to the $35 million International Spy Museum. According to the Spy...
3. Challenging Complicity: The Neoliberal University and the Prison-Industrial Complex
Julia C. Oparah
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This chapter suggests that our analysis of the relationship between the academy and U.S. imperialism would benefit from an examination of new regimes of mass incarceration and their imbrication within the fabric of institutions of higher education. I argue that a symbiotic relationship has arisen between the academy and the “prison-industrial complex”—a conglomeration of...
II. Academic Containment
4. Neoliberalism, Militarization, and the Price of Dissent: Policing Protest at the University of California
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In this chapter, I argue that the neoliberal logic of private capital at work in the privatization of the University of California is necessarily intertwined with the logic of militarization and the criminalization of dissent. I will argue that the deliberate and systematic privatization of one of the nation’s greatest public education systems engenders...
5. Faculty Governance at the University of Southern California
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I write as a faculty member of a wealthy, private institution, the University of Southern California (USC). While there is a rapidly growing literature that explores the current economic crisis and how it is restructuring public universities—and higher education more generally—USC is enjoying unprecedented wealth in addition to new opportunities and privileges. While...
6. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement and Violations of Academic Freedom at Wayne State University
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The movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), organized in the United States and globally as a response to several decades of Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, has spread at a rate unimaginable ten years ago. Responding to a call from activists in Palestine in 2005, BDS has been a nonviolent campaign comprising...
7. Decolonizing Chicano Studies in the Shadows of the University’s “Heteropatriracial” Order
Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo
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I came to Chican@ studies as a young student at UC Santa Cruz in the early 1990s. The school and university system had kept me from accessing the histories of people who shared roots with me, the poetry of people that spoke like me. There was a profound resonance indicative of something you’ve been unknowingly thirsting for, the foreshadowing of something that will...
III. Manifest Knowledges
8. Normatizing State Power: Uncritical Ethical Praxis and Zionism
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In spring 2009, I was near the end of my yearlong tenure and promotion review at Virginia Tech. Tech is a research university that requires a decent amount of publication from its humanists, though its expectations are not what most would consider rigid or excessive. My tenure and promotion case had the added complication of being a year ahead of schedule (potentially ...
9. Nobody Mean More: Black Feminist Pedagogy and Solidarity
Alexis Pauline Gumbs
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Nobody black taught English at John Jay College of Police Science before Audre Lorde. Nobody dare teach “black English” in the State University of New York (SUNY) system before June Jordan. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow. Nobody Palestinian can claim home in Palestine. Nobody mean more to me than you....
10. Teaching outside Liberal-Imperial Discourse: A Critical Dialogue about Antiracist Feminisms
Sylvanna Falcón, Sharmila Lodhia, Molly Talcott, and Dana Collins
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This chapter reflects the multiple conversations we have had since 2007 about academia and is written in a manner that retains the spirit of our feminist collaboration. Our group embodies diverse social positions as women of color and as white women, as immigrants and as children of immigrants, as queer and as heterosexual, as mothers, and as middle class. Our diverse...
11. Citation and Censure: Pinkwashing and the Sexual Politics of Talking about Israel
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What follows is an expanded version of a lecture presented at the “Fundamentalism and Gender” conference at Humboldt University, Germany, on December 4, 2010. The original version of the lecture appeared in Feminist Legal Studies and also in Gender and Fundamentalism, edited by Ulricke Auga. Since the event detailed here, there have been numerous queer organizing...
IV. Heresies and Freedoms
12. Within and Against the Imperial University: Reflections on Crossing the Line
Nicholas De Genova
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Wednesday, March 26, 2003. Exactly one week after the commencement of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. At an antiwar teach-in at Columbia University, where I was employed as an untenured assistant professor of anthropology, I celebrated the defeat of the U.S. military in Vietnam as a victory for the cause of human self-determination and unequivocally called for the material and...
13. Teaching by Candlelight
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A few years after 9/11, my dean called me for a meeting.1 It was a pleasant enough day, a little chilly and overcast but nothing dramatic. I walked across the beautiful campus of the private liberal arts college where I teach in Connecticut. Along the way, I greeted and was greeted by students, staff, and other faculty. My geniality felt a little forced, because I was anxious about ...
14. UCOP versus R. Dominguez: The FBI Interview. A One-Act Play à la Jean Genet
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Almost five years ago, Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab released the first iteration of the Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT), a mobile-phone technology that provides poetry to immigrants crossing the U.S.–Mexico border while leading them to water caches in the Southern California desert. In 2010, the project caused a firestorm of controversy on...
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This book has come to fruition after a long journey, as many edited books do, but in this case our efforts to publish a volume about the imperial university constantly reminded us of the very challenges and crises of work in the academy we were trying to explore and document. It was not easy to try to publish an edited book critical of the U.S. academy at a moment when...
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Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2014