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Narrative Theory

Life Politics: conversations about education and culture

Mediation is the Message

QUESTION: As we understand your point, strategic politics implies a certain know­ledge of the social cycles in order to make decisions. Is the role of the intellectual read the tendencies?

IVOR: There are many potential roles. But the ideal role of the intellectual, I mean, there are many things, but one of them is to understand trajectories, to understand what social political trajectories at the moment are. And to read those particularly in the moment. I said, as I talked with you about pedagogy, that the kind of trajectory which I see there is that student demand is finally going to be celebrated. The trajectory of student pedagogy, looked at historically, implies always resistance to it. Suddenly there is no resistance and no one asks why. But the trajectory of economic change implies that at this moment this has more to do with actually selling post­graduate courses, and celebrating student demand is a way of, in a way, forcing univer­sities to do it. So that’s reading a trajectory at a moment, and arguing. Otherwise, you get what’s happened in both of the conversations I’ve had in Argentina, which is people making timeless arguments, excited arguments about the introduction of pedagogy as a science now. And being very excited by it. In a way, I must say, to some extent I guess it is. But the question I have to make is “OK, but, why now?” And the “why now” is an analysis to do with the understanding of trajectories of this point in time, to do with the coming privatization of many courses in Argentinean universities, which make, suddenly, student demand enormously desirable to groups that have resisted it for decades. So, let’s go back to your reformist politics, let’s look at the reformist moment in 1918. The University of Cordoba, a university founded in 1610 by the Jesuits, in 1918 becomes the centre of the reformers which is, in a way, the celebration of student demand. Usually resisted by all the groups we would expect to resist it, celebrated by the progressive groups we would expect to be supportive of it. Move the reform moment forward, from 1918 to 1999, you find the groups in favour of student demand to be precisely the groups that were once opposed to it. The reason is, obviously, that that fits with, now, suddenly, marketisa­tion and repackaging of education into a series of financial commodities to be sold. Suddenly, student demand is the way to make sure that university professors and others do that with their courses. So that’s how you read history on trajectories against the moment. Or you could just make a series of philosophical arguments. In a sense some of my Argentinean colleagues were just making them when they said: “this is really exciting, finally, power is listening to arguments about pedagogy”. That can be an example of a strategic reading by an organic intellectual of the situation. Which would lead you to think differently it as opposed to the timeless philosophical analysis of the argument of pedagogy, which is a strong argument, I believe in it, I’ve always believed in it. But the situation in 1918 is totally different from the situation in 1999. And that gives an important clue to the fact that powerful groups are finally support­ing the argument of pedagogy, whereas one figures the question of “why now”, “what’s happening”, is a crucial intellectual question.

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  • Date of publication: 01/05/2012
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 154
  • Publisher: Sense publishers
  • Subject:
    Narrative Theory
  • Available in:
  • Appears in:
    Life Politics: conversations about education and culture
  • Number of editions: 1
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: $39
  • ISBN: 978-94-6091-538-3
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