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Collective Futures Intervention

March 5, 2011

The UfSO presented a Cultural (De)Tour at the Collective Futures: Organising Critical Experience, London Symposium on 3rd MARCH 2011.

This symposium brought together research students from London, Berlin and Copenhagen in the context of the current wave of struggles against educational cuts in the United Kingdom. The present crisis does not only affect the British educational system and British society as a whole, it derives from broad socio-economic changes shaped by global neoliberal capitalism as an attack upon collective futures everywhere. It was therefore deemed important to seek to define, analyse and imagine these potential futures in common with a range of participants internationally.

It was considered important not to limit ourselves to a debate about cuts, percentages and financial amendments. The primary targets of the British government and the transnational powers beyond it are places where critical thinking is developed. It is the development of what we call here ‘critical experience’ that together we sought to address in this symposium. The aim of the symposium was not to discuss how to save existing academic structures as they are, or how to go back to the ‘good old days’ of academia, but to think and experiment collectively new (future) forms of production of ‘critical experience’.

The UfSO presented a form of action that synchronised elements of the research paper, seminar, performance, audio-(de)tour and the spatial appropriation of London transport as a venue in which to experiment in the creation of critical experience. This experience was conceived as encompassing the intellectual and practical, personal and collective, rational and affective, academic and non-academic. The (de)tour produced a temporary and site-specific community of ‘students’, aurally linked through a collective sensory and critical experience, to learn and discuss elements of the radical history of South and East London and to apply an understanding of the way various transitions in capitalism and governmentality have shaped a geography and produced both space and subjects. A literal and symbolic re-appropriation of space, the (de)tour sought to examine parallels between the neoliberal privatisation of both physical space and that space of intellectual/critical enquiry.

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