22.05.2018, [The Precarious University], Social Sculpture / Seminar, Chorlton Arts Festival, The Beech Inn, Chorlton, Manchester.
‘The Precarious University’ is an ongoing and evolving social sculpture, realised through workshops, seminars, exhibitions, and performances, established as a critical response to the financialisation and commodification of higher education and its ‘pedagogy of debt’. It opposes the dominant-hegemonic consumer-provider model, where UK students exit undergraduate study with increasingly devalued degrees and a £45k personal debt, and promotes an alternative vision of education through a series of critico-creative educational interventions that contest antagonisms between public and private spheres. These interventions open-up free and democratic educational spaces, offering a model of pedagogy as both art and resistance.
The Precarious University opened to address questions concerning the commodification and privatisation of education, gentrification social exclusion, and public art throughout Chorlton Arts Festival 2016.
This seminar raised questions concerning the Manchester’s spectacular gentrification and the ways in which artists and art educators have responded. Readings for this event are available at the TEXTS section of this website.
Attendees were advised to quickly read Engels (1844) 'Conditions of the Working Class in England', particularly the introductory dedication 'To the Working Classes of Great Britain', and the chapter on 'The Great Towns', paying attention to the sections on Manchester. From there, we broadened out the discussion to revisit Althusser’s concept of the ‘Ideological State Apparatus’, raised originally in Lenin and Philosophy (1971). This allowed to link the processes of gentrification to dominant-hegemonic ideology, whilst also linking the expansion and transformation of the neoliberal universities of Manchester to the shifting class character of its suburbs.