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Beyond Education

Radical Studying for Another World

2019
Author:

Eli Meyerhoff

Beyond Education

Read the Introduction

 

A bold call to deromanticize education and reframe universities as terrains of struggle between alternative modes of studying and world-making

 

In Beyond Education, Eli Meyerhoff traces how key elements of education emerged from histories of struggles in opposition to alternative modes of study bound up with different modes of world-making. Taking inspiration from Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and Indigenous resurgence projects, he charts a new course for movements within, against, and beyond the university as we know it.

 

"Placing the university at the center and at the margin of analysis, Eli Meyerhoff deftly unmasks the engineered ‘romance’ of institutionalized education and, as vitally, engages the nuanced ways communities build—sometimes temporal and fugitive—practices of study and learning that are linked to struggle. Beyond Education is required reading for those in liberation movements, including abolitionists, particularly for those of us who reside in the undercommons and beyond."—Erica R. Meiners, Northeastern Illinois University

Higher education is at an impasse. Black Lives Matter and #MeToo show that racism and sexism remain pervasive on campus, while student and faculty movements fight to reverse increased tuition, student debt, corporatization, and adjunctification. Commentators typically frame these issues as crises for an otherwise optimal mode of intellectual and professional development. In Beyond Education, Eli Meyerhoff instead sees this impasse as inherent to universities, as sites of intersecting political struggles over resources for studying.

Meyerhoff argues that the predominant mode of study, education, is only one among many alternatives and that it must be deromanticized in order to recognize it as a colonial-capitalist institution. He traces how key elements of education—the vertical trajectory of individualized development, its role in preparing people to participate in governance through a pedagogical mode of accounting, and dichotomous figures of educational waste (the “dropout”) and value (the “graduate”)—emerged from histories of struggles in opposition to alternative modes of study bound up with different modes of world-making.

Through interviews with participants in contemporary university struggles and embedded research with an anarchist free university, Beyond Education paves new avenues for achieving the aims of an “alter-university” movement to put novel modes of study into practice. Taking inspiration from Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and Indigenous resurgence projects, it charts a new course for movements within, against, and beyond the university as we know it.

Beyond Education

Eli Meyerhoff is a visiting scholar in Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute and program coordinator of the Social Movements Lab. He earned a PhD in political science from the University of Minnesota.

Beyond Education

Placing the university at the center and at the margin of analysis, Eli Meyerhoff deftly unmasks the engineered ‘romance’ of institutionalized education and, as vitally, engages the nuanced ways communities build—sometimes temporal and fugitive—practices of study and learning that are linked to struggle. Beyond Education is required reading for those in liberation movements, including abolitionists, particularly for those of us who reside in the undercommons and beyond.

Erica R. Meiners, Northeastern Illinois University

In 2009, students at the University of California took over buildings and refused to leave, all under the banner ‘We Are the Crisis,’ and as student debt reaches a breaking point, it’s hard to disagree. In Beyond Education, Eli Meyerhoff takes this claim seriously by showing how the crisis of the university reveals a profound crisis of capitalism, but also how student struggles point beyond it. Incisive and moving, Beyond Education is an eloquent manifesto for a new university, one made to the measure of a new world.

George Ciccariello-Maher, author of Decolonizing Dialectics

Beyond Education

Contents

Introduction. Against the Romance of Education: Snapping in and at the University

1. “We Are the Crisis”: Studying the Impasse of University Politics

2. Disposing of Threats: The “Dropout” Narrative as Crisis-Management Tool

3. Degrees of Ascent: School Levels as Preconditions of Capitalism

4. Educational Counterrevolutions: Management through Affective Credits and Debts

5. Experimental College: A Free University for Alternative Modes of Study with Erin Dyke

Conclusion: Toward an Abolition University

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index