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James - further concerns and support

Page history last edited by yuk.hui 12 years, 2 months ago

This was intended as a comment in reply to Yuk's earlier post (10.34 Jun 12), and a continuation of my response to the initial "front page" - but the wiki only accepts comments of  2,000 characters or less, which is why it's here as a separate page:


I hope you don't take my criticism of some points as a condemnation of the whole endeavour. But it's precisely because I think some of this is very worthwhile that I think it's important to filter out some of the less productive aspects so that more of us can get behind it.


Another way of putting my previous points is to say that I just don't see the problems you are referring to. Again, this issue of transparency: can you help me to understand what it is that you feel is needed? Like I said, it's easy to find out what the staff are doing. And we have the opportunity to find out more than many outside of CCS, because we can ask them. And the reader: if we (the current students) decide what it should consist of, then we would simply be making the decision for incoming students, rather than having staff making decisions. Is that any better? Also, these two points seem to have contradictory motivations: if each staff member chooses 2-3 readings then we get a chance to see what texts, topics, issues they are currently interested in, which seems to provide greater possible transparency rather than less...


But maybe you don't really see these as problems. Maybe all you want to say is, let's reflect on, and rethink the nature of academic study and postgraduate research, taking our department as an example in which we are all invested - and let's see what changes we can make. This would be a good thing, and if this is it, I support you (in general principle). Perhaps the issues you suggest are just meant to be examples of issues that a postgraduate student *might* have - not the actual problems you see as necessitating an attack.


Here is an issue that I would see as worth addressing - which might be something to do with what you intend by the "transparency" issue. It would be good for PhD students (in my case, it would *have* been good) to be more encouraged from the outset to take our research seriously as adult, professional, academic research. What I mean is, to think of it as work intended for publication (or dissemination in whatever form is appropriate) from the beginning, and to look for avenues for disseminating our work, and for developing other (especially collaborative) research projects - from an early stage. This may come naturally to some of the more mature students, those who come with publications etc already under their belt, but for others it is something that could perhaps be encouraged more. So I think a great thing that could come out of the rethink that you guys are proposing could be a postgraduate research group - not so much for commenting on one another's own work (although I'm sure relationships might emerge out of it that would facilitate this) - but for conceiving further projects, for looking at exciting collective endeavours, and ways of getting them to work (funding, facilities, writing proposals etc, making them happen). Maybe a bit like the Escape Committee in Escape to Victory? (oops, perhaps not, too many other dangerous associations there - military hierarchy, imprisonment, Nazism, colonial relationship to north and south America in the form of Sylvester Stallone and Pele ...scrap that comparison). I think if this was something in place and self-organising when people arrived, it might give them more confidence in the value of their own research and more of a sense of collective endeavour. Part of this group's function (direct or indirect) could be to think of ways to link projects together, including those of staff and students - and even to come up with ideas for larger projects (but also small ones) for the centre. It would be open to engagement with anyone - staff, students, those outside the dept (and outside academia) wherever a potentially viable project emerged.


Would this have anything to do with the sort of thing you are talking about?


Of course I know you aren't trying to force anyone to be a part of this, but I at least need to figure out what exactly it is. I find a contradictory tone parallel to the one Julia pointed out (warlike vs communitarian) in the way this seems to be a non-exclusive invitation to have an open discussion about a wide range of issues - but at the same time there are strong statements of the views and passions we would have to share from the outset. Like Julia, I can't match up the (very laudable) call for a community approach with the calls for abolition and requiring people to give up the structures of power and authority. I don't even know what these structures are or who it is that is supposed to possess them.


Related pages:

Response to James and several clarifications

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