AA7: Prospecting: Extraction, Speculation, and Liberation in the Accelerated Academy // Nov. 22-23, Michigan State University

Our seventh event is taking place on 22-23 November, 2019. It will be our first event in the US, and is being organized by Zach Kaiser (Michigan State University) and Erin Glass (University of California, San Diego) with coordinating assistance from Filip Vostal (Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences) and Mark Carrigan (Cambridge University, UK).

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/accelerated-academy-7-prospecting-tickets-74230335933

Preliminary Program is now live! Check it out here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Q_I7VunT5o7sFmAiWst_JajZGie2ssfJKDysVYqKqyA/edit?usp=sharing

Keynote address by dr. sava saheli singh: “Love in the Time of Surveillance Capitalism: How Algorithms Are Reshaping Our Intimate Online Spaces”

In theory, the academy is an institution of research and learning, intended to advance human knowledge and educate citizens. In practice, however, the academy appears evermore as a site of prospecting, or a source of raw material for aggressive forms of neoliberal mining and extraction. Through various speculative and extractive behaviors, academic practice is increasingly managed and shaped by internal and external forces as a means of “optimizing” academic activities and making them more efficient in order to cut costs and maximize revenue. As is well documented in the growing literature of critical university studies, this prospecting is manifest in the adjunctification of academic labor, the rise of administration, the continuous increase of student tuition, and the perpetuation of the student debt crisis that has engulfed the United States. We can also see prospecting in the ruthless capture and privatization of scholarly research by scholarly publishers at the cost of public access to research that the public has in fact already paid for. Prospecting is also at play in the academy’s collision course with surveillance/platform/cognitive capitalism: the university’s intellectual products have been transformed into valuable data to be mined, packaged, sold, and ultimately controlled by IT and ed tech capitalists in their pursuit of profit. Though these extractive and neoliberal processes are not unique to the academy, their presence in institutions dedicated to learning has implications for academic subjectivities and the institutions themselves.

Building on the work of past Accelerated Academy symposia, the 7th edition proposes the concept of “prospecting” as a productive tool to think through the future of academic life, labor, and outcomes. Prospecting as a concept may help us broaden the discourses about academia, and shine light on the different economic interests, technical assemblages, and affective regimes that shape its activities. We are also, however, committed to the challenge of identifying prospects of autonomy and liberation that are still within the academy despite its compromised state, and thinking through the strategies that academics might use to better take advantage of them. We encourage contributors to consider the various material and social connotations carried by the term “prospecting,” and the way it might help us develop a robust analysis of life in the accelerated academy and the high stakes of our contemporary moment.

Presenters include:

  • Chris Long, Bill Hart-Davidson, Sonja Fritzsche, and Cara Cilano – Staying with the Trouble by Cultivating Your Path to Intellectual Leadership
  • Matthew Applegate – Digital Tools as Critical Theory: Edu-Factory to Digital Humanities
  • Ian Butcher – Expropriated Campuses and Community-Directed Higher Ed
  • Matt Rosen
  • Mark Carrigan – Can platformised scholarship be collective? 
  • Dafne Calvo – Collective, Collaborative and Free: Lessons from Studying the Commons
  • Anicca Cox
  • Sarah  Schönbauer – From bench to stage – How life scientists’ participation in leisure groups creates caring relationships 
  • Steven Weiland  – Time and Texts: Questions of Reading in the Accelerated Academy
  • Rubén Martinez – Labor Concerns on the Modern Dairy Farm
  • Riyad A. Shahjahan – Geopolitics of being and datafication of higher education: Towards embracing un/certainty
  • Scott Dexter – Have we reached Peak Student?
  • Sarah Ng and Noopur Raval – Workshop: Global South’s Knowledge Production and Delinking from Inequality
  • Filip Vostal – Workshop: Technologies of Time
  • Ellie Louson – Workshop: The Future is Generous
  • Justin Clark – Seeking Faster Minds in the American University



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