Revolutionary Scholarship by Any Speed Necessary: Slow or Fast but for the End of This World
Advocates of ‘slow scholarship’ have called for building relations of care and solidarity across the university. This requires tracing how academia’s unequal temporal architecture makes some people’s temporally privileged situations interdependent with others’ more oppressed temporalities. Understanding such interdependencies is necessary for going beyond mere allyship and toward becoming accomplices in a shared struggle for mutual liberation. But these relations can be obscured by romanticizing the academic project. To de-romanticize academia, we offer a critical, decolonial history of the university. We highlight how, on the one hand, intertemporal relations are mediated through people’s inter-relations with and through the land and, on the other hand, how they are masked by colonial ways of thinking. Nostalgia for the university is often tied with an ideal of liberal democracy. Feelings of anxiety about ‘speed-up’ originate in the liberal ideal of the slowly deliberative citizen in the public sphere. Against giving into anxieties about ‘speed-up,’ we show that this over-politicizing of temporality has the converse effect of depoliticizing other important political struggles. While jettisoning these problematic assumptions of ‘slow scholarship’ advocates, we maintain their desires for building relations of care and solidarity. Revealing the university’s temporal architectures involves tracing, for example, how the (slow) scholarship of (tenured) faculty is already dependent on the (sped-up) time and labor of graduate students, lecturers, and service workers – as well as the temporalities of off-campus domestic workers and incarcerated persons. Further, these intertemporal relations intersect with other dynamics, including racism, sexism, labor exploitation, and bureaucracy. We offer an experiment with this approach of inter-temporally reflective scholarship through analyses of the #theRealUW and #DismantleDukePlantation movements at our own campuses of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Duke University. This allows us to envision possibilities for solidarity across different struggles, for expanding alternative temporal sub-architectures, and for amplifying already existing forms of resistance in the university’s undercommons.
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