2014 OPEN CALL > 2014 FESTIVAL THEMATICS AND QUESTIONS > Academic Industrial Complex


Deutsche Bank LSE Urban Age 2012​

We start from the position that universities are overwhelmingly (though not always!) spaces where inequalities and hierarchies are systematically perpetuated. What are the implications for people living in cities? Questions can include:


  •  Examine academics and institutions that take funding or work with corporations or government departments. Recent examples; the 'militarisation of the social sciences in order to target anti-capitalist extremists' ( http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight+education/socialsciences ). Examine the increasing marketisation of education. The increasing control of research funding by corporations.


  • What is the role of corporate sponsored projects within 'the academy' such as the Deutsche Bank's LSE Cities Programme and Urban Age conferences, or UCL and Goldsmith's property development portfolio and think tanks that support the institutions ambitions?  
  • Examine disciplines like architecture and urbanism being exceptionally elite and Eurocentric. Question the 'echo chamber' of self-referential reading lists, academics etc. What this is this likely to mean for the creation, conceptualisation and understanding of cities across the world.
  • Challenge the inherent race and class bias in the founding principles of disciplines such as the social sciences. Examine class and race biases particularly in the understanding and use of social theories, which were fundamental to encouraging and enabling European colonisation and remain the driving protagonists and theories for 21st century globalisation.
  •  Examine the increasing marketisation of education. The increasing control of research funding by corporations. Challenge the false though happily trotted out argument that academics can't take a position in research – that they are independent. The impacts of the well-known practice of academics colonising, appropriating and profiting from those that they study. The process of pacification and institutionalisation.
  •  Investigating the predominance and impact of concepts such as 'creolisation', 'intersectionality', 'hybridity' and 'complexity'. Who benefits from such academic arguments and how? Why are these ideas so popular today?
  •  Examine the preoccupation of academics with their own perceived loss of status, habitus and cultural and economic capital. When did the 'ivory towers' become something to defend rather than demolish?
  •  Examine the socio-economic and racial backgrounds of academics and PhD students. How does this impact on their research outputs, their reading lists, their desire to make a career out of studying 'the other'? Have they got too much invested in the system to risk producing critical research that would rupture the status-quo? Is it just a 'job'?
  • Examine the control, financialisation and isolation of academic publishing. Who benefits from such a system?
  • The 'westernisation/globalisation' of education and the willing self-colonisation of non-western academics and how this now interacts with the global academic industrial complex. Should the AIC be understood as part of the Euro-American Military Industrial Complex – contributing to another hundred years of their dominance? ​


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Last updated on July 15, 2014 by This Is Not A Gateway