Snippet 4: DH as Critical University Studies

This is the final post I will make on this work here. Enjoy!

In his 2011 The Production of Living Knowledge, Gigi Roggero opens with the following claim: “Above all, [Autonomist] inquires into the new production of subjectivity: the category of living knowledge is the attempt to reread the Marxian concept of living labor within the present context.” His project grows out of an effort by the Edu-factory Collective to identify how the university exists as a space of struggle, but also how it serves as apparatus that captures knowledge to prevent its becoming-common. For Roggero and the Edu-factory Collective more generally, the politics that follow are solely focused on “how to collectively re-appropriate the university;” their answer is to “face this problem from within.” Indeed, neoliberal imperatives over the university equate subjectivity and knowledge with entrepreneurialism, demonstrating capital’s hold over knowledge production, but also demanding a response from within the institution itself. Thus, in an antagonistic mode to these processes and regimes, the production of subjectivity comes to function as the practice and aspiration of alternative forms of life manifesting in and reorganizing the present. It mirrors the political turn in Balsamo’s work, parallels Bailey’s claim above, and extends concerns vocalized by Koh, Pritchard, and Moravec.

Although Roggero’s analysis is centered on union activity at Columbia and NYU, the militancy of ‘60’s and ‘70’s are not the alternative Roggero has in mind here—his project is concerned with neither political programs nor modes of ‘consciousness raising.’ Indeed, either avenue of action would function under a logic of capture that Roggero is intent on opposing. Rather, militancy operates as an orientation within and from the antagonistic forces through which living knowledge is produced. It acts from within the attack on the common. Militancy is therefore an assemblage of power that refuses hierarchy and command but preserves partisan opposition. Within the space of the university, militancy organizes intellectual labor in a way that not only explodes the categorical ossification of knowledge but also radically relocates its production.

Roggero extends this practice of militancy in his article, “Notes on Framing and Re-inventing Co-research.” There, Roggero proclaims processes like real subsumption to be an object of hate, especially in educational contexts, but forwards a concept of co-research in order to oppose capital’s incursion into the university. The categorical logic of his antagonism is manifest. Precisely how this form of militancy coheres with claims to critical university studies above, as well as its application in DH, however, rests on theorizing their shared interests.

One of the most interesting features of Roggero’s work, especially as it might apply to DH, is his claim that co-research requires a reinvention of the tool. It speaks directly to issues presented in chapter three concerning dead and living labor, but also to those focused on inclusion and difference above: “tools of inquiry have to be reinvented at the level of the general intellect’s networks, going beyond the division between the virtual and the real,” in order to maximize living labor’s break with capital, opening up a space for co-research to form a “material base for revolution” (520-521). DH’s reinvention of the library has never been more apt. Liu’s claim to critical infrastructure studies is a first step in this direction. What his work demands is a claim comparable to those articulated by Laboria Cuboniks above. The university is not a freestanding institution; it is embedded within processes of real subsumption that span the whole of contemporary life. What once was the factory is now the university.

Roggero, then, too, is concerned with questions of infrastructure, but from a radical political position. His concept of militancy as co-research refers directly to the alliances we make with our tools and the underlying frameworks that motivate their use. “In co-research,” Roggero argues, “the production of knowledge is simultaneously the production of subjectivity and the construction of organization” (517). This is to say, much like the post-human turn above, processes of self-making are both collectivized and focused on underlying frameworks of social organization. Thus, “co-research on the one hand translates and implements the discourse into practice, on the other hand it transforms and elaborates political discourse from the starting point of a struggle and the subjective recomposition. Co-research is at the centre of militancy” (519).


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