We need a new way of thinking about intellectual work which de-centers the academy and sees the community as its center. We must find ways to make this work compelling and viable for those of us who see our scholarship as more than a path to the awards of the university (i.e., tenure and promotion), but as ways of illuminating the hidden, awakening the dormant, enlivening the nascent, and ultimately reassembling our shattered humanities in the wake of the interrelated systems of white supremacy and capitalism. This also means that our teaching must be imagined and enacted, not as mere performativity, but as incubating the emancipatory potential of our students and ourselves.
We are, many of us, constrained by a university system that commodifies our knowledge, reduces the import of our teaching to its most superficial forms, and seeks to mine our bodies and minds for profitable ideas while paradoxically devaluing our labor through instruments of surveillance. In short, we need spaces that seeks to serve the unfettered ends of liberation. Moreover, I believe that we have models of this work emerging out of the social movements of the last half century which might inform this work, models which emerge from the grassroots rather than the centers of power who have so effectively redirected many of us from revolutionary struggle to the toil of survival and the banality of “victim analysis”.
We have failed to hold the “contested zones”. We are left with the task of creating new liberated zones, and making these the center of a new way of being.