A bold call to deromanticize education and reframe universities as terrains of struggle between alternative modes of studying and world-making
Higher education is at an impasse. Black Lives Matter and #MeToo show that racism and sexism remain pervasive on campus, while student and faculty movements fight to reverse increased tuition, student debt, corporatization, and adjunctification. Commentators typically frame these issues as crises for an otherwise optimal mode of intellectual and professional development. In Beyond Education, Eli Meyerhoff instead sees this impasse as inherent to universities, as sites of intersecting political struggles over resources for studying.
Meyerhoff argues that the predominant mode of study, education, is only one among many alternatives and that it must be deromanticized in order to recognize it as a colonial-capitalist institution. He traces how key elements of education—the vertical trajectory of individualized development, its role in preparing people to participate in governance through a pedagogical mode of accounting, and dichotomous figures of educational waste (the “dropout”) and value (the “graduate”)—emerged from histories of struggles in opposition to alternative modes of study bound up with different modes of world-making.
Through interviews with participants in contemporary university struggles and embedded research with an anarchist free university, Beyond Education paves new avenues for achieving the aims of an “alter-university” movement to put novel modes of study into practice. Taking inspiration from Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and Indigenous resurgence projects, it charts a new course for movements within, against, and beyond the university as we know it.