Further thoughts on the right to research

Conversation (remote) with Susana yesterday (Thursday 14th July): practical matters – the website is nearly ready to be launched, pending upload of corrections of a few typos in the blogs and other pages. We need to buy a domain name and opted for the name ‘latoupiefolle.org’. This will entail changing the current title to ‘La toupie folle’ from ‘Mad Spinning Top’, and adding a note of explanation (already on the ‘About’ page). We’ve used software to transcribe the dialogue with Godofredo Pereira, which Susana will now edit. It’s not irrelevant to the theoretical concerns of the project, i.e. to its research questions, that we are able to use the budget to pay Susana to do this work. I checked this with the research administrators at King’s. The reason why it’s not irrelevant is because it bears upon the question of the professionalisation of research, and the extent to which the role of the academic (in the University sector) often comes down to control and policing of knowledge. In other words it relates directly to the question of the ‘Right to Research’, that is, to the right to undertake research as (paid) work. This is nevertheless work that is paid by the hour, so a form of piece work, which does not substantially alter the conditions of precarity which underpin the work of research. CERFI proposes an example, for a ‘brief moment in time’, when this structure was different, soon shut down, and thereafter reverted to control. Daniel’s work on the website, which is far more than ‘merely’ technical (in other words it operates at the interface of the human and the technological), also comes into the frame here.

Although we didn’t make the link explicitly, this connected to the other things we talked about, including the potential ‘output’ on the ‘Right to Research’. While the text on this written by Guattari et al. considers the historical moment at which the structure was shifted, and gives us the opportunity to elucidate the historical conditions of research as work, and work as research, in France in the early 1970s, we discussed the ways in which this could be linked to and speak to the present. One point was that there is a strong emphasis, now, on inclusivity, ‘research culture’ (Wellcome especially) and co-creation. But does this really breach the boundaries of the academic sector, and does it effectively function as a further form of control of knowledge? We thought about an ‘output’ with two parts, one historical, and the other a form of ‘manifesto’. Issues around gender (in)equality, conjugality, pay, etc are all relevant factors. To be continued.

Otherwise we discussed my suggestion of trying to think of a non-traditional format for the ‘output’ on Nietzsche 1972-1973. The idea, as mentioned before, is to illuminate the ways in which Nietzsche is ‘put to use’ in the specific socio-political conditions of that time. Deleuze’s talk ‘Nomad Thought’, at the 1972 Cérisy conference, is a key reference, especially his question ‘Who are the young Nietzscheans of today?’. No conclusive answers yet, but the open question is itself productive.

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