dylan rodríguez, “racial/colonial genocide and the ‘neoliberal academy'”

excerpts from dylan rodríguez, “racial/colonial genocide and the ‘neoliberal academy'” in american quarterly 64.4 (2012), special issue “left intellectuals and the neoliberal university”


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though american quarterly later published an errata that states there is no known indian burial grounds on the uc riverside campus, other uc campuses, such as davis and san diego, are known to be established upon the condition of desecration. uc san diego’s chancellor’s house, for instance, is built upon a kumeyaay burial ground, and the university has yet to return the ancestors to the tribes. in 2012, three uc professors filed a lawsuit to block future repatriation.

“My place of employment reflects how the U.S. academy remains constituted by its gendered racist, apartheid, colonial foundations. As several students and colleagues remind me, the desecration of Indian burial grounds has guided the construction and expansion of the land grant institution at which I work, the University of California, Riverside— that is, desecration is not an incidental and fleeting moment in the campus’s creation, it is the continual condition of UCR’s existence as such.” (809)

“To appropriate a well-known phrase, I’m advancing an abolitionist praxis without guarantees—of either victory or survival. Here ‘abolitionist’ invokes and identifies the genealogies of freedom struggle that emerge in direct, radical confrontation with genocidal and protogenocidal regimes: lineages of political- intellectual creativity and organized, collective (and at times revolutionary) insurgency that have established the foundations on which people have relied to build life-sustaining movements to liberate themselves from racial chattel enslavement and its extended aftermath, colonialist conquest and contemporary settler states, apartheid (Jim Crow), the prison industrial complex, militarized border policing, and so forth.” (810)

“I am undecided as to whether the university is capable or worthy of being ‘transformed’ from its dominant historical purposes, or if it ought to be completely abolished. For now, I am interested in the radical creativity that can come from the standoff position in-and-of-itself. Such a position reveals that the fundamental problem is not that some are excluded from the hegemonic centers of the academy but that the university (as a specific institutional site) and academy (as a shifting material network) themselves cannot be disentangled from the long historical apparatuses of genocidal and protogenocidal social organization. Placed in the context of the United States, we can see that (1) genocidal methodologies and logics have always constituted the academically facilitated inception of a hemispheric ‘America,’ and (2) genocidal technologies are the lifeblood of national reproduction across its distended temporalities and geographies.” (811-12)

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