Edu-factory is a transnational collective engaged in the transformations of the global university and conflicts in knowledge production. The website of the global network (www.edu-factory.org) collects and connects theoretical investigations and reports from university struggles. The network has organized meetings all around the world, paying particular attention to the intertwining of student and faculty struggles.
The Edufactory manifesto
As once was the factory, so now is the university. We start with this plain and apparently unproblematic statement, not to affirm but to interrogate it. We want to radically rethink this assertion by means of both theory and politics. It is from here that the edu-factory project begins. Edu-factory has been running for two years. The project began as a transnational mailing-list for discussion of transformations to the university, the production of knowledge and forms of conflict. About 500 militants, students and researchers have participated. Rejecting the notion that networks necessarily institute horizontal and spontaneous relations, we proceed with the view that networks must be organized if they are to operate as political spaces. The model has involved two temporally circumscribed and thematically identified rounds of discussion: the first on conflicts in the production of knowledge and the second on hierarchisation of the market for education and the construction of autonomous institutions. After each round of discussion, the list closes to await a new opening in a successive cycle. In this way, edu-factory moves from an extensive to an intensive mode of organizing networks.
Not surprisingly the edu-factory process has not been without tensions and conflicts. The opening and closing of the list in particular has led to debates with participants and onlookers regarding the openness and the ownership of networks. Despite these tussles, the project has assumed a life that beyond the list. Not only a website but also participation in and organisation of events in three different continents (Europe, Australia, and North America) have become part of edu-factory. Materials from the list have been collected and translated for a book publication in Italian: L’università globale: Il nuovo mercato del sapere (Roma: Manifestolibri, 2008). This volume became a central reference point in the ‘anomalous wave’ movement of students, researchers, parents and teachers that swept Italy in late 2008. Autonomedia Books will publish an English version of the text in early 2009.
Edu-factory is now at a critical turning point where the question of its political application becomes paramount. A central interest is the transnational linking of variously existing autonomous edu-initiatives, but this brings up problems and politics of translation, scale and resources. Has edu-factory lived beyond its life as a list? Or must its continued organisation involve the reinvention of the list and its modulation with other forms of practice and action?
After the last edu-factory round, we proposed the project of a global autonomous university. We do not want to enter the education market. On the contrary, our aim is to open a process of conflict in the knowledge production system and its mechanisms of hierarchisation. From this standpoint, the global autonomous university is not simply an alternative university but a process to build up a transnational organized network of research, education and knowledge production, based on experiments and experiences that already exist across the globe.
We now wish to propose another step in the process of the construction of edu-factory as an organized network, as well as in the evolution of the global autonomous university: a transnational journal. We choose this medium for two reasons. First because it will give continuity to the analysis on university transformations and knowledge production carried on in edu-factory. Second because it offers a stable platform of connection among the critical research projects, auto-education experiments, and struggles that connect to the project. In this framework, we want to re-open the list, in order to make it a collective place of debate, self-evaluation, and development for the journal.