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Education Crisis

Education Crisis


UNICONFLICTS In Spaces of Crisis: Critical Approaches In, Against and Beyond the University

International Open Gathering

11–14 June 2015

At the Department of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Encounters and Conflicts in the City




The group “Encounters and Conflicts in the City” calls radical research groups, critical workshops and researchers, students and collectives that are placed in, against and beyond the neoliberal university in an open gathering on the 11-14th June 2015 at the Department of Architecture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Through this gathering, we aim to create a public space of dialogue transcending divisions among academic and scientific disciplines and to critically approach the urban issues of the era of crisis, through a dialectic, intersectional and postcolonial approach.

The central questions that we wish to raise are two:

  1. What is the role of knowledge, of the university and of researchers in the era of crisis?
  2. What are the critical epistemological and methodological tools for studying the spatial expressions of the ongoing crisis at multiple scales?

Within this context, we seek to examine the ongoing crisis not just as an over-accumulation crisis but also as a crisis of social disobedience and of the inability of the circulation of capital, patriarchy and nationalism. Moving against the mystification of the crisis, we are interested in critical approaches that focus on the spatialization of social relations and examine the spaces of dissent. Particularly, we wish to examine the articulations, the limits, the contradictions and the dialectic relation of commons, enclosures, inclusion, exclusion, insurgency and counter-insurgency as well as their hybrid intermediate forms, which emerge in and through physical space, modes of communication and the constitution of communities. Overall, we aim to break the North/South or East/West dichotomies and to focus on the fields of gender, race, class and culture.

Building on the critical evaluation of social relations, the circulation of social struggles and subjects and communities in motion, we search for their contentious spaces and their spatial transformations, limits, possibilities and contradictions in the era of crisis. Moreover, understanding education as a unity of theory and practice, we seek these epistemological and methodological tools that emerge from and aim to the deepening and the circulation of social struggles and social movements. In the context of today’s global and local crisis, we note that while a plethora of social struggles and insurgencies emerge, the academic research often appropriates and commercializes their ideas. It is exactly here that we identify the dead-end.

Hence, we seek to surpass the so called academic activism and to set as a main target of this open gathering the critical examination of the following:

A. The role of knowledge and of researchers in the university and in social movements

The neoliberal University and the educational system constitute strategic mechanisms for the production and reproduction of social relations. In particular, within a dynamic process of neoliberalization, the university studies are intensified and are linked more and more to the labour market. Within this context, we wish to examine issues such as the production of knowledge, knowledge as a common, the neoliberalization of the University, the new educational enclosures and the concept of Anti-university.

The transformation of knowledge into private property and consequently into a commodity creates new enclosures in the field of knowledge. These new enclosures in neoliberal education are expressed both through the commodification of the physical space of the universities and through the objectification of human abilities. Some indicative examples are the increase of studying costs, the studying loans, the control of access to information, the commercialization of academic papers and books, the securitization of the University space, the criminalization and the rhetoric against student mobilizations, the suppression of the struggles of university employees and the restriction of the freedom of speech.

However, since 1960s and 1970s, the universities are spaces of collective emancipatory movements, of social struggles and of radical experiments of self-organization for the production of knowledge. As a response to these movements, since 1980s, a number of educational reforms have been introduced. These reforms seek to promote the marketization of the university, aiming to produce the appropriate competitive workforce and to supress student movements.

Yet, during the last decade, many dynamic student movements have emerged in France (2006), Greece (2006-2007), the USA (2009-2010), the UK (2010), Italy (2010-2011) and so on, which targeted the enclosure of knowledge and were connected and inspired many other urban social movements.


Axes of Discussion

A.1 Social education and emancipatory movements in the universities

-Student movements: limits and contradictions, connection with other urban movements, confrontation of their suppression and criminalization

-Perspectives of a radical pedagogy towards the knowledge as common

-Ideas and practices of free–‐autonomous universities beyond the education of the neoliberal university

A.2 Control and commodification of knowledge

-Public, state and private education in the neoliberal era

-Politics of knowledge enclosures and copyrights

-The suppression of academic freedom and of the freedom of speech

-Knowledge as private property and commodity for the production of value and surplus value

-Student loans and study costs as mechanisms of disciplining

-The cultural politics of the neoliberal university

-Paid and unpaid work at the University

A.3 The role of the researcher

-Lifelong education, competitiveness and the precarious status of the researcher

-The researcher as producer of dominant discourses and her/his role in the reproduction of power

-Competitiveness, academic carrie and academic divisions and hierarchies

-The biopolitical character of the neoliberal education and the construction of new identities

-Education as praxis, understood as a unity of theory and practice

-Researchers, networks and groups against and beyond the neoliberal university


B. Critical epistemological and methodological tools for the study of the crisis’s spatial expressions at multiple scales

Against the privatization and commodification of the academic knowledge and the intended hegemony of the neoliberal perspectives, we seek those critical epistemological tools of knowledge production that encourage social emancipation.

During the last years, urban movements and a plethora of visible and invisible practices of resistance and emancipation offer a variety of tools for the destabilization of the dominant ideologies, ways of disaggregation of power, negotiation of contradictions and visibility of differences. In parallel, today there is the urgent need for the promotion, circulation and deepening of these critical perspectives and their linking to social struggles. Thus, we aim to discuss epistemological and methodological tools, such as the following:

B1. Dialectic critical urban theory

Which are those critical approaches that assist us to perceive and examine the multiple dimensions of urban space? How do dialectic approaches and critical urban theory contribute to the understanding of the spaces of social movements and the spaces of capital, racism and patriarchy?

B2. Intersectionality and urban space in the era of crisis

How does intersectionality contribute to the study of the urban space? Which are the intersectional crossings of the multiple systems of domination, oppression and discrimination such as race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, dis/ability, age, cast, language, culture, body size, education level or citizenship?

B3. Cultural and postcolonial approaches

How do cultural and postcolonial studies contribute to the understanding of urban space and the conceptualization of body, identity and modes of communication. How does the criminalization and the suppression of alternative modes of culture, information and lifestyle operate as mechanisms of control, disciplining and normalization? What is the role of social media in the communication of social struggles? We seek the expression of the ongoing crisis through the spaces of architecture, art, media, and internet.


Within the above context, we call critical research groups, workshops, collectives and individuals to participate in a gathering during 11-14 June 2015. If you would like to participate, please provide us with your abstract (300 words) by 1 March 2015 at the latest, to the following e-mail:

Participation is free and we will try to provide accommodation for as many participants as possible.


“Encounters and conflicts in the city” group

Costas Athanasiou, Eleni Vasdeki, Elina Kapetanaki, Maria Karagianni, Matina Kapsali, Vaso

Makrygianni, Foteini Mamali, Orestis Pangalos, Haris Tsavdaroglou




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The Urban Geography Research Group (RGS-IBG) invites papers and proposals for its upcoming annual conference: November 5-6, London. Please see below for details:


A two-day conference and open discussion organised by the Urban Geography Research Group (UGRG) of the RGS-IBG.

6-7th November 2014  The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London

Call for Contributions

This year’s UGRG Conference will explore the relationship between critical urban theory and infrastructure. Critical urbanism may be defined by Brenner et al (2009: 179) as concerned:

(a) To analyze the systemic, yet historically specific, intersections between capitalism and urbanization processes;

(b) To examine the changing balance of social forces, power relations, sociospatial inequalities and political-institutional arrangements;

(c) To expose marginalizations and injustices that are inscribed and naturalized within existing urban configurations;

(d) To decipher the contradictions, crisis tendencies and lines of potential or actual conflict within contemporary cities, and on this basis;

(e) To demarcate and to politicize possibilities for more progressive, socially just, emancipatory and sustainable formations of urban life.

Since the publication of Splintering Urbanism (Graham and Marvin, 2001), there has been a heightened focus on employing critical urbanist perspectives to study the fundamental issues of urban infrastructure, of who gets what infrastructure and where? This includes work on the assemblage and effects of different types of infrastructure including water, waste and other metabolic systems (Gandy 2002; Marvin and Medd 2006; Nikolas et al 2006), traffic and city streets (Hamilton-Baillie 2008; Buiter 2008) motorways and flyovers (Harris 2013; Merriman 2007; Norton 2008), various forms of public transportation (Butcher 2011), cycling (Aldred 2012) and airports (Guller and Guller 2003; McNeill 2010).

Emerging research has highlighted the particular materialities of different infrastructure systems as they sustain and disrupt the circulations that constitute urban life (Amin and Thrift 2002; Gandy 2004; Latham and McCormack 2004; Hommels 2005). It has also examined practices of dwelling and experiences of inhabiting infrastructural systems as particular kinds of public spaces (Bissell 2010, 2014; Koch and Latham 2014; McIlvenny 2010; Sheller and Urry 2003; Wilson 2012).

Such work has demonstrated the exercise of social and political power through infrastructural provisioning, and the challenges of governance which might bring about more inclusive and democratic forms of urban infrastructure (Boudreau et al 2009; McFarlane and Rutherford 2008; Spinney 2010; Swyngedouw 2005).

Much work remains, however, in exploring the key dynamics through which infrastructure structures and restructures urban spaces. In particular, the UGRG is keen to hear from scholars working on topics and theoretical perspectives which include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • state versus private provision, management and maintenance of infrastructure
  • dynamics of access and exclusion
  • privatization of key urban infrastructure
  • Global North and Global South standards and models of infrastructure provision
  • comparative studies of infrastructural provision and innovation
  • policy mobility and the circulation of ‘best practice’
  • dwelling and inhabitation within infrastructural spaces
  • new imperatives of sustainability, austerity and resilience agendas
  • innovations ranging from micro-scale to regional master-planning

Papers are welcomed from researchers at any stage of their careers (including doctoral students). We will also be holding a ‘pecha-kucha’ session as we did in 2012.

The deadline for 200 word abstracts is Friday, 5 September 2014; abstracts should be submitted to the official UGRG conference email

Please contact Luke Binns ( and Gabriel Silvestre ( if you have any questions. Well look forward to hearing from you!



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RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2012

C A L L   F O R   S E S S I O N S

The Urban Geography Research Group (UGRG) is pleased to announce its call for sessions for the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2012 to take place in Edinburgh, on Tuesday 3rd-Thursday 5th July 2012. The conference chair is Chris Philo (Universityof Glasgow) and the theme is Security of Geography/ Geography of Security. For further info please see:

UGRG encourages submissions that are urban in focus, that are innovative and exciting, and that connect to the conference theme and/or the aims of the Urban Geography Research Group. For further info on the UGRG please see our new and exciting website: . Benefits of Research Group sponsorship include promotion for your session, help in managing timetabling clashes for parallel sessions, and opportunity to apply for registration fee waiver for certain categories of guests.

Individuals or groups who would like to propose a session for UGRG sponsorship are invited to submit a session proposal by emailing before November 30, 2011.


To be considered for sponsorship, please include:

* The session title and abstract (max 400 words),

* The name(s) and affiliation(s) of the session convenor(s), and

* The format the session is going to take (paper session, panel discussion, etc.).


As usual, each session will be 1 hour 40 minutes in length. The format can range from paper or poster sessions, panel discussions to practitioner forums. Sessions usually consist of five 20 minute papers (with time included in each for questions) or four 20 minute papers with discussion / questions at the end. If you plan to propose an alternative format, please indicate this in the session proposal.

Convenors will be notified as to whether or not their session will be sponsored by UGRG by early December 2011.

Please bear in mind the change of location and earlier date for this year’s Annual Conference. If you have any further questions regarding this call, contact Luke Binns:

We look forward to hearing from you!
Luke Binns
PhD Candidate
Dublin Institute of Technology
Room 213, DIT Mountjoy Square,
Dublin 1,Ireland




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