"The Right to Research" and a Further Spin
There is a long gap between this and the last blog, due to what is often referred to as 'life events', as if the work were separate from the life; this is actually what the R13 'experiment' puts into question, and the subject, often, of the 'interventions militantes' of the issue. In any case, coming out of the pandemic has been, in another stereotype, more difficult than going into it. This says something about the value, the hidden value, of enforced periods of withdrawal, but also more pragmatically, about what has been opened up and closed down by the facility of online communications. In any case, Susana and I applied for and were granted a 12 month 'no-cost extension' to the project, which means that the archival visits and interviews will take place in autumn-winter 2022-23, as well as an interdisciplinary workshop. We now have Daniel Nemenyi working with us, particularly on the technical issues of the website, and he is bringing his considerable expertise with systems to bear upon it, while also building the website for us, with these blogs, and what I have been calling a map of nodes, which indexes all the names in the blogs and connects them.
We have also decided on a new distribution of labour, whereby I focus on the blogs, and Susana intervenes punctually. In terms of the work to do, we need to develop our ideas around what we initially called the 'mapping of concepts', and find a way of doing this; the idea is to track the way in which theoretical concepts constitute a kind of toolbox for doing things with the material, the material in this instance being the analysis of collective equipment, the history of infrastructure, and, on the other hand, ways of thinking about the nature of collective research, the 'libidinal and affective elements' of the process. The discussion between Foucault and Deleuze, 'Les Intellectuels et le pouvoir' is interesting in this respect, since it mentions the idea of theory as a box of tools. Monique David-Ménard picks up on this interestingly in her book Eloge des hasards dans la vie sexuelle.
So it was good that we decided to aim for two article-length pieces as 'outcomes' of the project. One would be more historically oriented and relate precisely to the deployment of concepts, in 1971-1973, in this conjuncture. The other would take as its starting point the 'Right to Research' piece published in Le Monde in 1975 as a reaction to the State's termination of 'research by contract'; thereafter State funding for research could be granted only to those with a formal academic affiliation (e.g. in a University or the CNRS). This key step in the 'professionalisation of research' can be seen, and was seen, as a good thing, with benefits for the researcher in terms of a solution to precarity. However professionalisation also has effects of bureaucratisation and the normalisation of the process of research. We think this debate speaks to contemporary issues. The current focus on 'research culture' or collaborative research, and impact, tends towards the involvement of non-professionals (non-academics) in research, not as objects but as partners, in a way which might be seen to reverse the process of the State decision of 1975. How should we understand what is at stake here, what are the risks on either side; should the context be assessed in terms of risk? is not risk assessment one of the key drivers and a dominant element in the ideology which underpins the University sector as many others? The issues of money, conjugality, equality will come into play, but, I imagine, quite different ethical, socio-political and subjective factors will be at stake. In other words the apparently pragmatic focus and subject matter opens up substantial theoretical avenues to explore.
For the other article I was thinking of basing it around the topic of 'Nietzsche in France 1973'. This would not be an account of the place of Nietzsche in French theoretical writing in the 1970s, but would take the 'event' of the reading of the Genealogy of Morals by the R13 group as the centre of a series of concentric circles radiating around it, exploring how an encounter with a book like this, and with this particular book, can generate effects, create connections, instigate a 'spin' of the toupie folle.
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