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Analysis: what does it do? -- The contradictions

this whole section will considerably change
susan leigh star standards
the colophon

new intro


the contradictions and tensions of attributing names, positionalities, the empirical body, but avoiding that this move is captured by the logic of calculation and assessment.


the colophon

visibility and acknowledgement within collective practices. new page: the The Colophon

the wiki as co-authoring platform


In this section, I try to analyse the methods and strategies developed in the range of projects that form part of this PhD. Each of the practices experiments and develops within its particular context, and therefore in different ways to develop strategies to counter

This section provides an analysis /synthesising view of the range of projects carried out and how they produce insights into the coercive reciprocal relationship between authorship, authorisation and authority. This section shifts from disclosing and discussing the works as self-contained entities to distilling a range of topics that connect these practices conceptually. The reflections and theorisations presented in the sections above describe a set of durational practice-based projects concerned with modes of doing and working together. They disclose the method, the context, the rationale and the aim of each project – i.e. why and how the individual actors or collaborating teams approached their practice and how these projects developed over time.

The analysis in this section 6 deliberates on the conditions and blockages that have been the starting point of my works as well as on the respective moves and attempts to deploy counter-strategies for intersectional feminist knowledge practices. Intersectionality here is understood as assertion that oppressions (based in racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. Critical intersectional feminist knowledge practices have, by now, been proven to provide valuable conceptual and practical tools with which to focus on inclusivity as outlined by many feminist de-colonial practitioners and scholars. Sarah Ahmed and Gayatry Spivak for example provide an important intersectional and de-colonial critique of the universalising concepts of authorship presented by French philosophers Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes, as discussed below.

However the aim of this section is to expand our understanding of authorship by investigating the coercive reciprocity between concepts of authorship, authorisation and authority and this triangulation's impact on intersectional feminist knowledge practices.

The function of this section in the overall kappa [1] is to produce intellectual insights into the complexities and double-binds of collective, open and de-colonial knowledge practices by making connections between the various experiments carried out and concepts found elsewhere, such as in intersectional feminist theory, de-colonial theory, sociology, philosophy, media theory and radical pedagogy.

Inevitably, such an evaluation goes along with a personal framing process in that I pick a certain perspective to frame and theorise the practice-based parts, most of them collaborations. These collaborations form part of the PhD submission and include actors, who are not (or decided to be not) part of the academic field. This set-up brings tensions and a degree of incommensurateness as a PhD inquiry is supposed to present an individual and original contribution to knowledge. One contradiction for instance that immediately springs to the mind is that these practices are carried out in collaboration, but here in the PhD submission it would fall back – again (!) – to the individual (me) who frames and historicises (and attaches its name) to these practices for posteriority.

Theorising these collaborative practices in the context of this kappa which is expected to be an "original" contribution to knowledge therefore presents a double-bind. Therefore I experiment with forms of authorial collaboration, or thinking together, that do not compromise the collectivity forming the core of the practice part.

It is inevitable that I make certain decisions or "cuts" as Barad Kember and Zylinska name it, in that I made (preliminary) decisions and set the structure of this text. However by inviting the collaborators who have a stake in our shared collaborative practice alongside peers who are invested in such practice's theorisation in order to multiply the number of those being able to make cuts and to make these cuts differently I experiment with a form of feminist intersectional knowledge practice that methodologically creates an extent of friction with the norms and standards of an individually authored PhD inquiry.

Choosing the format of a wiki that operates as a production and dissemination platform at the same time is in itself an experiment. It offers the possibility to invite other voices and add different perspectives and observations to my inquiry.

The wiki in its function as co-authoring platform is conceptually connected with the core of my inquiry around authorship, authorisation and authority and could potentially create some productive friction with the standard parameters of PhD examination based on individual performance and therefore potentially open up existing norms of doctoral research in artistic practice.

Yet the wiki approach bears potential tensions and conflicts, which I will address in the last paragraph of this section. By using this wiki as a method to write the thesis, the PhD writing itself turns into an experiment. It might become – in the end – a collectively authored document. But is this really possible?

Published chapter 'Library Underground – a reading list for a coming community', in Publishing as Artistic Practice, Annette Gilbert (ed.), Berlin/New York, Sternberg, 2016
The Piracy Project, 'The Impermanent Book', Rhizome, 2012
Andrea Francke and Eva Weinmayr (eds.), 'Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Cloning, Translating', London, AND Publishing 2014

I have co-authored a number of texts in the past. The essay 'The Impermanent Book' for Rhizome Magazine, for example, reflecting on the book as a temporary stabilisation was knocked into shape by mutual revisions between Andrea Francke and myself. Andrea drafted the bulk of it and I critically reviewed it by adding and removing parts and attempting to clarify our claims and positions. Because we were working so closely together, the writing process itself turned into a dialogue. Though it is a dialogue whose contributors and contributions remain eventually invisible to the reader as The Piracy Project stands in as collective author supplanting individual voices. While co-authored texts often enter into dialogue with the reader, they do not necessarily transmit the dialogues that led to their production and instead offer a consolidated version of different voices streamlined into one voice.

In an attempt to practice Jean Luc Nancy's claim that '[b]eing with, being together and even being ‘united’ are precisely not a matter of being ‘one’[2], we experimented in the introduction for the book Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Translating, Cloning, – with the format of a written dialogue. [3] This literary format allowed us to present disagreements, without consolidating each our voices and different thinking stances into one uniform text.

[Here more about Nancy's, 'Being Singular Plural']

These collectively authored texts are instances where the process of writing itself constitutes a dialogue and the resulting publication is not necessarily an end product trying to convince someone of something, but rather a method of 'working towards establishing conditions for the co-production of meaning'[4]

[Here perhaps Deleuze, Parnett, Dialogues II: 'An effect, an zigzag, something which passes or happens between two.']

That writing together is a method to make discoveries is best demonstrated in 'Revisiting Let's Mobilize' (working title). It was drafted collectively by the Feminist Mobilisation working group in 2017 in order to revisit a collectively authored earlier text 'Mapping the concepts and ways of working for Let's Mobilize' published in 2106.[5] This forthcoming text revisits the working group's initial ideas and claims by way of a multi-layered commentary. Such non-linear literary experiments have been employed for instance by Pierre Bayle's Historical and Critical Dictionary (1737) and Arno Schmitt's Zettel's Dream (1970). The working group revisited the original text, in order to reflect on the initial plans, hopes and desires. Did it work out as we intended? The method of multi-layered commentary allowed us to let each others' comments, thoughts and reflections stand for themselves without necessarily agreeing on them.

Draft chapter, Andreas Engman, Eva Weinmayr, Mary Coble, Rose Borthwick 'Revisiting Let’s Mobilize', in Decolonialism after the educational turn, (forthcoming).

We gave commentary on each other’s comments, thus creating a densely layered dialogue, an interwoven fabric of claims, statements, observations and doubts. We copy-edited the different passages to a certain extent but did not try to consolidate the observations into one voice. This strategy of co-authoring attempts to present collective work, not as unified voice, but reflects Nancy's claim of 'collectivity in difference'. [6] If we understand collectivity as 'multiple single' as Nicholas Thoburn proposes, the 'individual and collective are no longer placed in a dichotomous relation, for the dichotomy is undone along with the terms that it produces, as each individual or, as we can now call it, singular instance is a product of collective relations, and each collectivity is constituted through its singular and various manifestations.'[7]

My question however is: Can we actually work collectively, when we operate under meritocratic systems of governance, based on identifiable authorship, as they are commonly applied in universities and academic contexts? As media scholar Kathleen Fitzpatrick observes:

[H]owever much we might reject individualism as part and parcel of the humanist, positivist ways of the past, our working lives—on campus and off—are overdetermined by it. […] Always, always, in the hidden unconscious of the profession, there is competition: for positions, for resources, for acclaim. And the drive to compete […] bleeds out into all areas of the ways we work, even when we’re working together.’ The competitive individualism that the academy cultivates makes all of us painfully aware that even our most collaborative efforts will be assessed individually, with the result that even those fields whose advancement depends most on team-based efforts are required to develop careful guidelines for establishing credit and priority.[8]

Fitzpatrick’s working method with her forthcoming book Generous Thinking The University and the Public Good presents an interesting alternative to standard procedures in scholarly publishing. She published the draft of her book online, inviting readers for comments. Could this potentially become a model for multiple authorship practice in academia? Or could it at least present an experimental, open and constructive method of peer review?

[reference to problems of standard peer review procedures here?]

However, it seems to me that, while Fitzpatrick experiments with open forms of writing and peer review mechanisms, she does not necessarily exercise collective authorship. In the end, I speculate, it comes down to her individual selective authority that decides which comments and critique to incorporate and which to neglect, which would amount to a clear authorial position.

Anonymous Authorship

What Fitzpatrick describes above seems to emerge as a key dilemma in my inquiry. In the text 'Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices', published in the anthology Whose Book is it Anyway? A View From Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity, I reflect on the legal, economic and institutional construction of authorship and ownership by examining the double-binds of artistic challenges to copyright, such as conducted by Richard Prince, Cady Noland and the Piracy Project.

Upon finishing this investigation I wonder how I could escape this institutional construction of authorship that is based on individual merit and therefore constitutes the prerequisite for professional survival in academia. This question is based on the fact that the text results from a five-year collaborative practice with innumerable contributors and supporters. In the closing paragraph of the text, therefore, I am asking what would happen, if I did not assign my name to the text if it went un-authored so to speak. The question was: could taking the plunge into anonymous collectivity be useful to enact practically my thinking and reflections? I cite from the text:

I was interested how such a text orphan could circulate at all within existing research dissemination infrastructures: 'For example, how would bibliographers catalogue such a text? How could it be referenced and cited? And how would it live online with respect to search engines, if there is no searchable name attached to it? Most of our current research repositories don’t allow the upload of author-less texts, instead returning error messages: ‘The author field must be completed’. Or they require a personalised log-in, which automatically tags the registered username to the uploaded text. What if I used a pseudonym, a common practice throughout literary history? Multiple identity pseudonyms, such as ‘Karen Eliot’ or ‘Monty Cantsin’ used by the Neoist movement in the 1980s and 1990s could be interesting as they provide a joint name under which anybody could sign her or his work without revealing the author’s identity. The strategy of using multi-identity avatars is currently practiced by a decentralised, international hacktivist collective that operates under the label of ‘Anonymous’. The ‘elimination of the persona [of the author], and by extension everything associated with it, such as leadership, representation, and status, is’, according to Gabriella Coleman, ‘the primary ideal of Anonymous.’ [9]
What if we adopted such models for academia? If we unionised and put in place a procedure to collectively publish our work anonymously, for example under a multi-identity avatar instead of individual names – how would such a text, non-attributable as it is, change the policies of evaluation and assessment within the knowledge economy? Would the lack of an identifiable name allow the text to resist being measured as (or reduced to) a quantifiable auditable ‘output’ and therefore allow the issue of individualistic authorship to be politicised? Or would it rather, as an individual and solitary act, be subjected – again – to the regimes of individualisation? It seems that only if not assigning individual authorship became a widespread and unionised practice, procedures could be put in place that acknowledged non-authored, collective, non-competitive practices.[10]

[Anonymous authorship has a long tradition and has been a topic for many scholars, writers and artists. The following list of references is merely a draft collection of some contexts for anonymous authorship. Not yet elaborated.

  • In the context of censorship and oppressive regimes:

Example: Marx' anonymously authored texts, for example, the 'Communist Manifesto'. Marx quote about the anonymity of the press: 'So long as the press was anonymous it appeared as the organ of public opinion without number or name; it was the third power of the state. With the signature of each article a newspaper became merely a collection of journalistic contributions by more or less well-known individuals. Every article sank to the level of an advertisement.' [11]

  • collective pseudonyms as an anarchic tactic or feminist anarchic tactic:

Example: The Anonymous movement 'The refusal of roles and identities in favour of anonymity and pseudonym is a recurrent tactic within anarchist and ultraleft pro-revolutionary milieus.'[12] Example: Luther Blisset, Karen Eliot, Monty Cantsin, Comité (Blanchot) Example: See Red Women's Workshop: 'Who holds the pencil, somebody must hold the pencil?' Also: Thoburn about collective pseudonyms – 'if we understand it less as a resource available to be tapped than as a construction that arises in practices that undo the partial individual and the social forms that produce and sustain it. Here the individual and the collective are no longer placed in a dichotomous relation, for the dichotomy is undone along with the terms that it produces, as each individual or, as we can now call it, singular instance is a product of collective relations, and each collectivity is constituted through its singular and various manifestations. As Luther Blissett puts it, the collective pseudonym is the production of a “multiple single” within and against the partial mode of being of the individual.' (Thurburn, Anti-book, p.38)

  • as literary concept: Gerrard Genet (Paratext)
  • a foundational, transindividual anonymity

Example: 'Virginia Woolf: 'The voice that broke the silence of the forest was the voice of Anon. Some one heard the song and remembered it for it was later written down, beautifully, on parchment. Thus the singer had his audience, but the audience was so little interested in his name that he never thought to give it. The audience was itself the singer.'[13]

Also to note: Woolf about anonymity and print: 'Print is a destructive medium. Printed books can record the past existence of anonymous texts in published works of fable — they can "preserve" anonymity — but they cannot create it.'(Woolf) 'Woolf here locates creative expression not in a self-present subject, and in the correlated separation of a creative subject from an audience, but in a foundational, transindividual anonymity'.(Thoburn)]

It does matter who is speaking, a feminist, de-colonial perspective

While anonymity, as Nicholas Thoburn and John Cunningham points out can have a tactical value in confronting the 'individuating apparatus at play in textual media', (reference Thoburn) such as publishing, there is a different consideration, which complicates the argument – this time from a feminist and de-colonial perspective.

Roland Barthes' and Michel Foucault' seminal critique of the romantic (originary) author has been theorised by many feminist and poststructuralist thinkers likewise. [14] Barthes critiques that 'the explanation of a work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it, as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of fiction, the voice of a single person, the author "confiding" in us' (Barthes, p. 143).

Likewise, Michel Foucault proposes in 'What is an Author?' the effacement of the writing subject's individual characteristics. (Foucault 1980, p. 143) 'The mark of the writer is reduced to nothing more than the singularity of his absence; he must assume the role of the dead man in the game of writing'(Foucault 1980, p. 143). 'The author-function is therefore characteristic of the mode of existence, circulation, and functioning of certain discourses within society' (Foucault 1980, p. 148). He claims that authorship (the attachment of a proper name) limits this function due to its classificatory effect.

Sara Ahmed points out that Foucault's emphasis on authorship as a function and effect separates the issue of authorship from the individual writer or producer of a text, as Foucault explicitly argues that the author function, 'does not refer purely and simply to a real individual' (Foucault 1980: 153). Ahmed raises the question of 'the relation between the author function and this 'real individual' or, at least, the specific or particular subject who writes'. (Ahmed, p.124) She asks: 'If the relation between the author-function and a 'real individual' does not take the form of pure and simple reference, then what form does it take? How does the individual or empirical writing subject participate in the institution of authorship?' (Ahmed, p.124)

What Ahmed picks up here with 'empirical writing subject' is Foucault's tendency towards a certain universalism expressed as 'indifference'.

All discourses, whatever their status, form, value, and whatever the treatment to which they will be subjected, would then develop the anonymity of a murmur. We would no longer hear the questions that have been rehashed for so long: `Who really spoke? Is it really he and not someone else? With what authenticity or originality? And what part of his deepest self did he express in his discourse?' Instead, there would be other questions, like these: `What are the modes of existence of this discourse? Where has it been used, how can it circulate, and who can appropriate it for himself? What are the places in it where there is room for possible subjects?' And behind all these questions, we would hear hardly anything but the stirring of an indifference: 'What difference does it make who is speaking?' (Foucault 1980, 160)

I would argue with Sara Ahmed, 'that the 'who' does make a difference, not in the form of an ontology of the individual, but as a marker of a specific location from which the subject writes.' Foucault's critique of authorship certainly helps to politicise authorship, but it leans towards a (Western) universalism, which is from a feminist and postcolonial perspective problematic. As Ahmed suggests 'an alternative critical project would not be indifferent to empirical authors, as the `who' that writes, but would document how the event of writing participates (by both supporting and complicating) in the structural and institutional relation of authorship itself'. (Ahmed, p. 125) Foucault's questions about modes of discourses and the terms under which they circulate would then lead to the importance of recognising the difference of the 'who' that writes. That would also complicate Foucault's own position as authorial subject. Quoting Naomi Schor and Gayatri Spivak, Ahmed suggests, that ‘Foucault effaces the sexual specificity of his own narrative and perspective as a male philosopher. The refusal to enter the discourse as an empirical subject, a subject which is both sexed and European (Spivak), may finally translate into a universalising mode of discourse, which negates the specificity of its own inscription (as a text)’. [15]

Ahmed points out: ‘The universalism of the masculine perspective relies precisely on being disembodied, on lacking the contingency of a body. A feminist perspective would surely emphasise the implication of writing in embodiment, in order to re-historicise this supposed universalism, to locate it, and to expose the violence of its contingency and particularity (by declaring some-body wrote this text, by asking which body wrote this text).’ (Ahmed, p. 123)

[Gayatri Spivak, for example, insists on marking the positionality of a speaking subject in order to account for the often unacknowledged Eurocentrism of Western philosophy –– Needing to read more Spivak here. And of course Donna Haraway. Who else?]

Rumour as Media

I am not quite sure yet how this adds to the discussion, however, there is an interesting aspect about authorship in rumour studies. Sociologist, writer and curator Maria Berrios for example talks in a conversation with Jakob Jakobson about invisibility and the power of the unmarked in relation to rumour. She says

'Rumours have to do with orality and oral cultures in which things are not written down. They can be understood as this formless noise that is continuously floating on the surface of the social in the sense that they never become fixed, they never become a specific form, or become a specific story. They are always in the process of becoming, and in this way they are invisible, ungraspable, unmarked.'[16] And curator Stephen Wright describes rumour as 'characterised by its indeterminacy – its basic anonymity and lack of identifiable source or authentication protocol'. [...] At the same time, rumours are always context specific. A rumour “flies” in one context though it would never leave the ground in another. This context specificity is linked to rumour’s indeterminacy. In short, precisely because it is by definition unauthored ...[ and this is what] makes rumour so impossible to suppress or control. [17]

The Quote as Dissemination

Limits of Openness, Co-option (this is a draft collection of thoughts)

Co-option is an underlying topic in the majority of the projects of this inquiry. Its connection to authorship, openness, commons and community and the various moral and ethical implications need to be unpicked.

  • It is at the heart of the Piracy Project's 'cases' in the collection which vary immensely in their motivations: ranging from creative appropriation, critical rewriting to political activism and acts of civil disobedience (in order to circumvent enclosures such as censorship and market monopolies) to acts of piracy generated by commercial interests. Here the question of co-option and ethics is key.
  • It is a topic at 'Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?' when there were indications that the institution co-opts such critical activities in order to demonstrate its own criticality without following up on issues. (For instance, the appropriation of image material taken out of context for promotional purposes of the art academy.)
  • Co-option was the starting point to write, publish and perform the play 'Downing Street' (New Documents, Los Angeles 2015).
  • Co-option is topic in the chapter 'Help! David Cameron Likes my Art' in Distributed (Open Editions, London, 2018) which reflects on the events and agonies brought about by the UK Government Art Collection’s acquisition of my artwork ’Today’s Question’ and its subsequent loan to Samantha and David Cameron for their private residence at Downing Street, then Prime Minister of the UK.
  • MuseumsJournal 2018 cover.jpg
    Villa Aurora-1998-2.jpeg
    Villa Aurora-1998-3.jpeg

Co-option is also at the centre in a recent discovery, which I plan to address as part of this inquiry. Artistic interventions I had anonymously carried out as a guest at 'Villa Aurora' in 1996, have been prominently featured on the cover of the 'Exile', issue 1/2018 of the MuseumsJournal Berlin Potsdam [18], and attributed to German dramaturgist Heiner Müller. The artistic intervention consists of modifications of the numerous fire escape 'EXIT' signs in the villa into 'EXIL' (German for exile) via white and green coloured sticky tape. Villa Aurora, today a German cultural institute hosting fellowships in art, literature, film and architecture, was bought by German writer Lion Feuchtwanger and his wife Martha during their exile from Nazi Germany and was their home until their death. I was visiting the villa not as an official fellow, but as a guest of the then artist fellow and friend Daniela von Waberer. Therefore my stay, and with it my site-specific intervention was not officially registered. The magazine article which narrates the history of Villa Aurora and the lives of the writers in exile (next to Feuchtwangers there were Bert Brecht, Thomas Mann, Arnold Schönberg, Vicky Baum in the exile community of Pacific Palisades) praises Heiner Müller's multilayered and subtle approach to this (my) work. I am not upset about this falsely attributed authorship. I have not attributed my name to it. However what will be interesting to find out, is, how such an attribution has actually taken place. Heiner Müller has been at the villa in 1995, two years before my stay, and has died shortly after. He, therefore, is unable to comment and cannot clarify this posthumous attribution. What is most interesting to me: how are such myths created? It is perhaps intentional fabrication? Why is it so much more attractive to attribute this unconfirmed origin work to 'one of the most important German-language dramaturgists in the second half of the 20th century' as the German Wikipedia lists Müller, instead of to the visiting girlfriend of the cousin of a former Villa Aurora fellow? Why had there not been any serious research conducted regarding the origin of this work? Why was an unchecked myth swiftly embraced, repeated and proliferated by a journalist? I will look into the trajectory and origin of this myth.

  • The second case, which needs more investigation and discussion is a protracted case of false attribution concerning Keep it Complex, a London-based feminist campaign group against Brexit and Wolfgang Tillmans. A case of collective, unattributed authorship of images that were exhibited in the context of a Wolfgang Tillmanns exhibition and subsequently attributed to Wolfgang Tillmanns in printed journals and social media. Interesting case of collective activist work, which has been appropriated by the paradigms of the art world....[more]

Dissemination, Impact

I am trying to think through the dilemma arising, when we understand feminist decolonial practice as a verb (the practice, the doing, the organising, the many layers, when working with people – often outside academia) rather than a “noun”(the finished object, the result) and the related questions of “impact” and value”.

Take the young academic, for example, who spends evenings and weekends in the library fast-tracking a book on social movements about which she cares deeply and wants to broaden her understanding. She is also desperate for it to be published quickly to earn her the university research points that will see her teaching contract renewed for the following year. It is likely that the same academic is losing touch with the very movements she writes about, and is no longer participating in their work because she is exhausted and the book takes time to write no matter how fast she works. On publication of the book, her work is validated professionally; she gets the university contract and is invited to sit on panels in public institutions about contemporary social movements. In this hypothetical case, it is clear that the academic’s work has become detached from the movements she now writes and talks about, and she no doubt sees this. But there is good compensation for this uneasiness in the form of professional validation, invitations that flatter, and most importantly, an ease of the cycle of hourly paid or precarious nine-month contracts.' (Susan Kelly 'But it was my idea' in New Formations, 2014)

The question raised here is about value versus validation. What we are doing here with the PhD is about institutional validation. The dilemma of this young academic is to create knowledge (writing a phd, article ABOUT social movement and therefore not being able to participate in the social movement) There is direct value in the actual working (for yourself and the people you are working with) and mediated value in the reflection, the” telling about” (for the academic field).

In order to make research worthwhile New Public Management asks about the impact of research. How do you define impact? The current audit system asks: 'How many articles, how many citations? If you are being cited, you have an impact.'

Current politics of metrification has been criticised by many scholars as too restricted and not fully capturing the impact of research, because it considers only the citation statistics of a limited set of journals as a source, such as those listed in “Web of Science” or “Scopus”, for example. Therefore some scholars engaged in opening up the sources to scholarly conversations online. Altmetric was coined, an algorithm measuring a wide spectrum of “web reactions” to publications measuring the “attention score” on social networks such as Facebook, microblogging services such as Twitter, video platforms such as YouTube, as well as international and national media outlets. Based on an undisclosed algorithm, the Altmetric score is visualised in the form of so-called badges presenting responses and interactions to published material.[19]

But even such initiatives limit themselves in evaluating impact to published material. The question to ask is how can we rethink impact and consider all the 'not measurable practices', such as teaching, mentoring which form a substantial part in research culture?

What does it mean for an author to be included in the syllabus, in a course reading? What if knowledge proliferates (and develop impact) in a discussion with 20 young people, who think through your proposals? Here, 'the syllabus might become the site of a more textured story about collegiality, community, equity, quality, and openness'. This kind of “citation” never makes it into the monitoring technology of Google Scholar, for example. It is never captured by the algorithms compiling the citation index, that count the click rates and downloads of your article.

To counter the demand for more quantity, scholars start to ask to shift the focus from 'what can be measured' to 'what we most value'. Because 'higher education has a culture problem that is at once historical, structural and interpersonal'[20], the Humane Metrics Initiative at Michigan University (HuMetrics SS), started a Mellon funded initiative on research evaluation that measures a scholar’s progress toward embodying five values that are central to all humanities and social science disciplines: equity, openness, collegiality, quality, and community. This includes recognising the value of more traditional mentoring structures through which senior scholars nurture the success of their junior colleagues and the importance of developing dense networks of reciprocal mentoring.

[more here: Radical Open Access Consortium at Coventry University, UK, or Eileen A. Joy's 'Manifesto Against Metrics for the Humanities'.]

[more: about teaching and workshops as a form of dissemination]

Dissemination, contingent, contextual

What does this all mean for artistic research? My artistic practice, for instance, consists of long-term projects. There is not one distinct work/outcome/result, which can be circulated, exhibited and audited, but a growing string of practices. In my view, the question how things are being done is equally important – from a feminist perspective perhaps even more important – to what is being done.

Secondly, all these long-term practices are collaborations. This working method has political implications trying to resist systems of subjectivation and individualisation. Therefore I made a few decisions within my PhD thesis, which is supposed to become exactly that what I am critical of, a discreet 'original contribution to knowledge'. Both characteristics of my work – that it is (i) long-term and (ii) collaborative – mean, that the format of the individually authored monograph is not suitable. The format of a compilation thesis enables me to publish and communicate in many different contexts – within and outside academia (See list of submitted materials in section 4) experimenting with forms of "impact" and dissemination that push the boundaries of normative academic practice.

One such experiment is the workbook Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?, a workbook published to invite and prepare participants for the three-day international mobilisation that took place at Valand Academy in October 2016. The book was not 'delivered' as a finished object. It was printed on loose sheets of paper, which had to be collated, folded and bound with a rubber string by the readers themselves. The book was launched four weeks prior to the mobilisation during an assembling day in the main entrance of the art academy. The academy community (and anyone around) were invited to collate the single pages laid on big tables and bind their copy of the book. People stopped by and gathered around tables to introduce themselves to the material featured in the book, looked at the images, and familiarised themselves with the different elements and inserts, the play script 'Strike while the iron is hot', excerpts of text the workgroup had been reading, policy documents, drawings and the introductory text 'Mapping the way of working'. The concept of involving the reader in the production/finishing process was informed by the idea, that the own investment of time and labour creates a different relationship to the object and creates a sense of ownership. Secondly, it triggered a social process, as people who do not meet normally in the academy were sitting together at the small tables chatting and trying to figure out together how to master the manual task.

One of the specific decisions of the editorial collective was concerned with design. We did not consolidate the vast range of diverse material into one overall design, instead, we used the individual contributions as ready-made. The pages bear all traces from the sites we took them, whether it is exported from a blog, a website, or scanned from a printed book and therefore visually reference their original source including many different layouts and typographic designs.[21]

The editing developed as an analogue process: in order to distribute the position of control of the one person mastering the Indesign document, we printed out and spread all pages on the floor, so each member of the editorial collective had the overview over the evolving book and access to individual pages and their sequencing. Metadata and bibliographic information were annotated on the spot by handwriting. At the very end, these pages had been scanned, as a binding and sequencing device of the final PDF. This immediacy and directness of working together form an important part of the book which is circulated online for free and can be ordered in print.

This experiment how the specific way of production gives way to a particular form of dissemination (and vice versa) is concerned with the question of socialising the book, and the difference between distribution and dissemination, which is in detail discussed in the text 'Outside the Page'. When conceptual artist Marcel Broodthaers stated in a letter to German artist Herbert Distel in 1972 'The definition of artistic activity occurs, first of all, in the field of distribution' he shifts the focus from 'making' to 'making public'. Here the question is not what the artwork is, but what it does, how it connects to its outside.

The socialising of the book implicitly critiques the widespread understanding that a publication is the finite end product of something. Here the concept of publication as a prop is interesting, as Fred Moten and Stefano Harney describe it in Undercommons:

'That’s kind of what it feels like: there are these props (…) and if you pick them up you can move into some new thinking and into a new set of relations, a new way of being together, thinking together. In the end, it’s the new way of being together and thinking together that’s important, and not the tool, not the prop. Or, the prop is important only insofar as it allows you to enter; but once you’re there, it’s the relation and the activity that’s really what you want to emphasize. So, with that said, if somebody’s reading our stuff, and they think they can get something out of the term ‘planning’ or ‘undercommons’ or ‘logisticality,’ that’s great, but what matters is what they do with it; it’s where they take it in their own relations. … So, what I guess I’m trying to say is that the terms are important insofar as they allow you, or invite you, or propel you, or require you, to enter into that social space [the text]. But once you enter into that social space, terms are just one part of it, and there’s other stuff too. There are things to do, places to go, and people to see in reading and writing – and it’s about maybe even trying to figure out some kind of ethically responsible way to be in that world with other things.' [22]

This connecting to the outside is grounded in an affective relationship between the book and the reader’s situatedness, a process which Deleuze calls 'reading with love'. 'This intensive way of reading, in contact with what’s outside the book, as a flow meeting other flows, one machine among others, as a series of experiments for each reader in the midst of events that have nothing to do with books, as tearing the book into pieces, getting it to interact with other things, absolutely anything, is reading with love.' [23]

The outside of the Let's Mobilize workbook was first of all the immediate environment of our own institution with all its layers and players, the students, the teachers, the researchers, the admin and leadership. The durational, one-day collective assembling was one step to connect to this 'outside', however, we did a second experiment of 'making public'. Each of the 140 pages had been enlarged to A1-size posters and distributed across the walls of the academy. That was a way to bring the questions, issues and topics of feminist pedagogy right into the physicality of our own institution. The sites were chosen for their spatial-temporal qualities, and how they are used. For example, the lift or the bathrooms could do with a demanding text about White Privilege, whereas corridors, staircases – sites of passage – were well suited for visuals or shorter pieces. A good spot proved to be next to the photocopier because people do spend time in front of the machine waiting for their copies.

By turning the academy building into a walkable book, the narrative is not constructed by the binding of the book the pages fixed into a given sequence. Instead, it is the reader’s actual body on its daily trajectory through the workplace, which creates encounters with the dispersed page posters. The colleagues, students, administrators as well as guests – visiting or inhabiting the building created their own spatial, temporal and meaning-making encounter with the book. One colleague commented in an email: 'I loved the way you / the posters insisted upon me / the recipient to meet/contemplate its content before and in particular after the event. For one because it was texts "donated" or re-distributed by others, and then donated to me by you. But also because by precisely hanging them in a room where I give myself a couple of minutes break from the everyday haze you are creating the possibility not only for a first reading but then for a re-re-re-discovery / understanding. This placement can apparently turn into a transformative current in itself because the content of the texts precisely interrupts the thoughts of and thereby inter-textualises the everyday'. [24]

The book’s pages were up for four months and their material presence right in the middle of institutional life served as a provocation, as a set of clues and cues connected to the field of forces of a day-to-day working environment. If these pages mobilised, the mobilisation took place in the middle, 'in the in-between spaces that emerge between representation and presence, theory and practice, and above all between the current state of affairs and the possibility of changing it.'[25]

Perhaps due to the opening up and experimenting with different layers of encounter with the content of this workbook (online PDF, physical copy and posters on the walls) it had been used by several teachers as course readings in our institution and internationally. The print copy is available in selected independent bookstores, it is distributed by AND Publishing at independent publishing fairs and through their website. It also circulates through participants having taken one or more copies back into their institutions, art spaces and libraries. This book will most likely not show up on the Google citation index, but its impact is demonstrated by invitations to talk about the mobilisation, to run workshops and talk to students at universities and art schools nationally and internationally.[26]

authorship, authorisation, authority: remarks on the collaborative wiki

Co-authoring a PhD brings many conflicts. On the one hand, if this 'wiki experiment' of openly, collectively authoring a PhD gets legitimised by the university, it could potentially introduce a method of inquiry and disclosure that constitutes a collaborative and openly dialogical knowledge formation. However I will be awarded a PhD title, but others have helped me to achieve it without receiving credits by the institution. Even if I credit all the potential contributors to this wiki, by definition, there can be only one name who earns a PhD. All the people, who contributed to this inquiry by reviewing, adding to and commenting on this text and by having collaborated within, conceptualised, invested labour in the practice parts – how could they be acknowledged? Would the traditional 'acknowledgement' section attached as paratext be enough? What exactly differentiates acknowledgement from authorship?

Secondly, as a doctoral researcher, I am authorised by the University of Gothenburg to conduct this research as part of an artistic research framework. This affiliation comes with a position of privilege, such as five-year employment, a monthly salary, and with it financial security and headspace allowing me to commit to this inquiry. This authorisation stands in stark contrast to most of my past, current, and potential future collaborators' situation, who mainly live on precarious short term teaching contracts. So how could I ask them to engage with this text, invest time and effort to add their observations and perspectives? Do I need to find resources that could help to remunerate them for their time? Could I possibly share my employment contract with them? It's interesting that I would not hesitate to ask for help, ideas and critique in a non-institutional context outside of economies of money, authorisation and audit, where other values govern an economy of exchange. But as soon as this potential collaboration forms part of an institutional authorised and validated setting alongside its implicit merit system the ethics of working with non-institutionally affiliated collaborators seem to become conflicted. Are there ways to solve this double-bind?

[Could be interesting to contrast this thought with Roberto Esposito's concept of the commons and community, which according to him is not based on property relations, but on mutuality, debt and obligations. [27]

Notes section [7] Analysis
  1. As a reminder for the reader, the function of the kappa within this PhD inquiry is to disclose the research contribution being made by the body of works, practices, conversations and published texts that are registered and "wrapped" by this document, which is in the Swedish context called kappa (English "coat").
  2. Jean-Luc Nancy, 'Being Singular Plural', trans. Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O’Byrne, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press, 2000,p. 154.
  3. Eva Weinmayr & Andrea Francke, 'About this book and about the Piracy Project', in Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Translating, Cloning, Eva Weinmayr and Andrea Francke (eds.), London, AND Publishing, 2014.
  4. Stevphen Shukaitis, 'Toward an Insurrection of the Published? Ten Thoughts on Ticks & Comrades', eicp transversal, June 2014.
  5. The working group organised the three-day mobilisation 'Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?' for which it published a workbook four weeks previous to the event. (see detailed reflection xxxx).
  6. , Nicholas Thoburn,Anti-book, On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2016, p.xx
  7. ibid. p. 179
  8. I am quoting from the published draft version: Kathleen Fitzpatrick, ‘Generous Thinking The University and the Public Good’, chapter ‘Critique and Competition’, Humanities Commons, 2018,
  9. Anonymous started on 4chan, an online imageboard where users post anonymously. ‘The posts on 4chan have no names or any identifiable markers attached to them. The only thing you are able to judge a post by is its content and nothing else.’ Gabriella Coleman, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, London and New York, Verso, 2014, p. 47.
  10. Eva Weinmayr, 'Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices' in Whose Book Is it Anyway? A View From Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity edited by Janis Jefferies and Sarah Kember, Cambridge, Open Book Publishers, 2019.
  11. Karl Marx, 'The Class Struggles in France: 1848–1850, in Surveys from Exile, David Fernbach (ed.), Harmondsworth, U.K., Penguin 1973, p. 134.
  12. See also John Cunningham, “Clandestinity and Appearance,” Mute, 8 July 2010, http://
  13. Virginia Woolf, 'Anon. and The Reader, Virginia Woolf’s Last Essays', edited by Brenda R. Silver, Twentieth-Century Literature 25, no. 3/4, 1979, p. 382.
  14. See also the discussion of the correlation between the romantic model of authorship and the construction of copyright and the blockages this mutual construction poses for transversal collective practice. Eva Weinmayr, 'Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices' in “Whose Book is it anyway - an anthology”, edited by Sarah Kember and Janis Jeffries, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2019
  15. Sara Ahmed, Differences That Matter, Feminist Theory and Postmodernism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 119 – 141, 125. See also Naomi Schor, 'Dreaming Dissymmetry: Barthes, Foucault and Sexual Difference', in Coming to Terms: Feminism, Theory, Politics, Elizabeth Weed (ed.), London, Routledge, 1989, pp. 47-58; and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, 'Can the Subaltern Speak?', in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds.), Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1988, pp. 271-313.
  16. Maria Berrios in conversation with the Antiknow Research Group at Flat-time House, London 2013, printed in Girls Like Us, issue [find print issue xx]
  17. It's interesting that Stephen Wright describes rumour as being a medium itself, one that is so pervasive and performative, exactly because it is unauthored. ::'Rumour may be the world’s oldest media. What is more all-pervasive, more corrosive than rumour? Like its siblings, gossip and hearsay – or what is loosely referred to as “news” – rumour is not just the channel through which the subordinate classes vent their spleens against the rich and famous, spreading compromising half-truths about them. Nor conversely, is rumour merely the way in which the powers-that-be manipulate public opinion. If rumour is so corrosively effective, it is because it is itself a media. Though rumour is characterised by its indeterminacy – its basic anonymity and lack of identifiable source or authentication protocol – rumours are performative. That is, they make things happen. As everybody knows, there is “no smoke without fire,” and once a person is stained by rumour, it is next to impossible for them to clear their name. It is for this reason that rumours have always proven so devastatingly effective in provoking panic and pogroms. Whether they spread from the outskirts to the corridors of power, or the other way around, rumours have terrified and inspired the common people no less than their rulers, sparking fear of war and reprisal, thirst for vengeance and retaliation. At the same time, rumours are always context specific. A rumour “flies” in one context though it would never leave the ground in another. This context specificity is linked to rumour’s indeterminacy. In short, precisely because it is by definition unauthored, rumour is what “people are saying”, what’s “going around” or – to quote songwriter Leonard Cohen – what “everybody knows.” This is what makes rumour so impossible to suppress or control, and why in the age of the blogosphere, cell phones and media concentration, rumour has such a promising, and eminently ambiguous, future before it.' e-flux announcement for exhibition Rumour as Media, Akbank Sanat, Istanbul 2006,
  18. MuseumsJournal is a quarterly publication by Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH, a consortium of museums in Berlin.
  19. Altmetric states: "Thousands of conversations about scholarly content happen online every day. Altmetric tracks a range of sources to capture and collate this activity, helping you to monitor and report on the attention surrounding the work you care about."[1]
  20. Christopher P. Long, principal investigator in HuMetrics, 'Toxicity, Metrics and Academic Life', in "Human Metrics, Metrics Noir", edited by Meeson Press, Eileen Joy, Martina Frantzen, Cristopher P. Long. [2] It was published on the occasion of the Radical Open Access II – The Ethics of Care conference, which took place June 26-27 2018 at Coventry University. [3]
  21. For the texts which were specifically commissioned for this publication we researched and used fonts designed by women. We were aware of ongoing research projects about male dominance in typographic design and wanted to reference this fact. See WD+RU (Women’s Design Research Unit) founded in 1994 by design historians and educators Teal Triggs, Sian Cook, and Liz McQuiston in London [4], or MMS, a group of graphic designers (Maryam Fanni, Matilda Flodmark, Sara Kaaman) based in Stockholm investigating visual culture, graphic design and historiography from feminist perspectives.[5]. See also Genista Jurgens, 'Can A Font Be Feminist?' in Format, 16.10.2017, [6]
  22. Fred Moten and Stefano Harney. "The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Studies", New York, Autonomedia, 2013, p. 108
  23. Gilles Deleuze, 'Letter to a Harsh Critic', in Negotiations, 1972-1990. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 8-9, 1995. See also related discussion of transmedial publishing in Soenke Zehle, Simon Worthington, Peter Cornwell, Pauline van Mourik Broekman, Archive Architectures, in ”Network Ecologies”, Scalar, Franklin Humanities Institute, Durham: Duke University, 2016.
  24. Kerstin Bergendahl, a teacher colleague at Valand Academy in an email to the organisers of Let’s Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?, quoted in Andreas Engman, Eva Weinmayr, Mary Coble, Rose Borthwick 'Revisiting Let’s Mobilize', in Decolonialism after the educational turn, Black Dog Publishing (forthcoming).
  25. Nora Sternfeld, 'Para-Museum of 100 Days: documenta between Event and Institution', in On Curating, issue 33, Zürich, 2017, page 166.
  26. 'What is an art school?' symposium, workshop at Chelsea College of Art and Design, 2016, convened by Katerine Hjelde; 'Feminist Art Education', Institute for Art and Art Theory, Intermedia / Artistic Media Practice and Theory, Cologne University, 2018, convened by Mirjam Thomann; 'Exploiting Justice. Processes, Performances and Politics', Symposium at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Gothenburg (27-28 November 2016) Symposium convened by Eva Maria Svensson. The batch of 20 copies we shipped to Printed Matter for the New York Artbook Fair 2017 were sold out during one weekend.
  27. Roberto Esposito, The Origin and Destiny of Communitas, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2010, and Greg Bird and Jonathan Short, 'Community, Immunity and the Proper – an introduction to the political theory of Roberto Esposito', in Angelaki Journal of the theoretical humanities, vol. 19, no3, 3. September 2013.