Working across and against nation-state and continental borders, disciplinary boundaries, and institutional barriers, we return to the feminist roots of autonomous knowledge production, challenging what counts as legitimate knowledge and who is granted the right to produce and receive it…
While we strongly oppose the privatisation of education at all levels and believe in free universally accessible education as a fundamental human right, we also contest the state’s authority over knowledge production and reproduction. The nonsecular state attempts to contain, limit, and censor ways of knowing, traditions of practice, and schools of thought that challenge power relations and social hierarchies. Consequently, we seek political and financial autonomy from state institutions–but also from supranational funding agencies, from private foundations, and rely on our members for the inspiration, sustainability, and accountability of the Centre. That is, our day-to-day sustainability depends on the contributions of our members, not on the vagaries and unpredictability of external funding.
In Greece, the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs regulates primary, secondary, tertiary education and university curricula and faculty appointments; the Greek Orthodox church has resisted the secularisation of schools, seeking to control social reproduction. Around the world, a backlash against gender studies, feminist and LGBTQI+ movements is coordinated and carried out by the far right. To the extent that “public education” (as opposed to social education) is subject to the control of the state, the space for the expression of dissident thoughts is becoming ever more constricted.
Yet, we also witness the seemingly inevitable corporate takeover of academic institutions (both private and nominally public) by the neoliberal model of the “knowledge factory.” The permanent and proliferating precariat is the linchpin of the academic-industrial complex, while students are constructed as consumers, studying seen as a(n expensive) passive-receptive activity rather than a productive one. Our feminist conception of autonomy disrupts the dichotomy between “public” and “private,” seeking to foster self-determination particularly for groups that are epistemically oppressed in academic institutions.
More and more, feminists critical of academic institutions have elaborated their reasons for making individual exits from neoliberal universities. FAC Research is an experiment in staging a collective exit. Breaking with the neoliberal logic of There Is No Alternative, we are, in practice, asking, what might it mean to create an alternative to hegemonic institutions of knowledge production?