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(11.1) From Noun to Verb

11 Analysis In this chapter, I will revisit the initial questions that triggered this research and analyze how these shifted and got refined and redefined through the five practice projects. I started out from a set of concerns about the emancipatory and political nature of the book. It wasn't the book as a discrete container for radical content alone that was of interest to me but the potentially radical, political and emancipatory ways it is produced (authored, edited, printed, bound), disseminated (circulated, described, cataloged) and read (used).

I wanted to investigate, from an intersectional feminist perspective, the book's assumed capacity to practically intervene, disrupt and change existing systems of production, distribution, and consumption of knowledge at the intersection of contemporary art, radical education, and institutional analysis.

At the start, I set out to investigate publication – assuming that knowledge is socially constructed – as a social and pedagogical and as such a political process. Knowledge, according to this understanding, builds on imitation and dialogue and is therefore based on a collective endeavor. I asked what is the relationship between "making" and "making public"? Between experience and articulation? How does the mode of distribution shape the publication’s content and vice versa? How can publishing create spaces, in the figurative and physical sense, for better mutual understanding and rethinking relations between people?

I identified that I had seen publishing as an outright positive and constructive act, as a tool of having a voice and developing emancipatory agency. However, this initial view became complicated by certain insights. Today I would argue that institutional pressure (publish or perish) seems to erode critical practice based on agency, creativity, experimentation, and collective knowledge making. It appears that publishing (and writing) in institutional or semi-institutional contexts is often reduced from a process of communication, discovery, and exploration, to mere evidence of validated excellence and thus an economic asset.

This is a rough outline of the tensions and incommensurabilities, the blockages as I called them, that emerged through the research. They point to systems of validation and audit culture, secondly to the stasis of the "finite" object and thirdly to the authority these discrete objects produce. As the inquiry developed it became clearer that what I was exploring was the coercive reciprocity between authorship, authorization, and authority.

With these three blockages, I wrestled practically and theoretically throughout this inquiry, each with different entry points and from different perspectives. Consequently, the initial questions shifted and new questions, as well as contradictions, arose. Addressing these, and experimenting with an alternative understanding of what constitutes a publication and its function, is what I worked out.

I came to ask if I understood publishing as a verb (the process) instead of a noun (the finished object) could practice itself be seen as a form of publishing. What kind of "public" and which "publics" does a process of publishing require? So for example: Is a teaching situation a form of publishing, a workshop, where knowledge is collectively produced and disseminated at the same time? When we think of the collaborative as a situation, scene, process, dynamic, method, or mode, can we frame such a situation as "publishing"? What is contextual publishing? Is publishing necessarily always tied to a document, whether scriptural, a film, a drawing, a photograph? What is a document?

Without having necessarily found the answers to the questions or solutions to the problems, the act of searching itself produced some insights. It is the “search” in research, as Jemma Desai emphasized, research is a process of searching, open-ended and generative rather than “complete, finished, exhaustive (and exhausting).”[1] The articulation of this search as a process, the shift from the set of questions at the start, via searching and finding insights in practice and theory, towards new and altered questions constitutes my research contribution.

In section 11.2, I analyze, from a perspective of intersectional feminist publishing, modes of collectivity. It has been a key insight that collective practices are not about joining forces to achieve more and better outcomes in a shorter time, but a method of being together and working together in order to resist the dominant individuating institution-based publishing economies.

In section 11.3 I examine the power dynamics of classifying, naming and organizing knowledge. As it turned out, naming and classifying is of a highly political nature, since, as a representation of the contents that are cataloged, the library catalog forms a contested meaning-making structure. Research into the concept and history of classification revealed the implicit biases and dilemmas of classification’s fundamental principles since each standard and each category valorizes one point of view and silences another.

In section 11.4 I investigate the politics of stabilizing knowledge that is fixing it to a document, such as a book. It is examined how this assumed stability produces authority since the book, understood as a discrete object, turns knowledge via authorship into property. I also show how digital technologies, and the possibility of constant modification (versioning) contest this assumed authority and allow for collective working modes to prevail.

Section 11.5 builds on the critique of the assumed fixity of the book and calls in question the assumption that a book is an endpoint of a process. Instead it investigates how a publication can act as a prop shifting the value from the object (as discrete countable and accountable output) to what this object does. Through the framework of institutional pedagogy (Felix Guattari, Fernand Oury, Aida Vasquez, Célestine Freinet), I analyze my collective publishing experiments in their function as a mediating “third object”.

In section 11.6 I analyze in which ways citation can support a concept of knowledge that builds on sharing, imitation and dialogue and is understood as fundamentally relational and collective. I show that citation, therefore, is a key method of building relationships and acknowledging interdependencies. I analyze the conflicts and exclusions that come with dominant citation practice and unpack the power dynamics at play in prevailing institutional protocols of legitimization and validation. This leads me to ask: how stable, "published" and fixed needs an utterance to be, that it can be cited or referenced – given that citing or referring to knowledges that are in flux, oral, not "authored" or not published is difficult?

In section 11.7 I ask how we could imagine authorship without ownership. Therefore, I analyze different instances of authorship in my practice, a range of co-authoring experiments, as well as attempts to renounce authorship in order to escape the individuating apparatus of single authorship. I also analyze the tension that such universalizing attempts create for a feminist decolonial practice that advocates “situated” authorship and the importance to acknowledge "who we are and from where we speak". (Gayatry Spivak)

In section 11.8 I propose a more flexible idea of authorship altogether by rethinking the author as an instigator or teacher, as somebody who "causes something". Such redefinition expands the concept of authorship beyond a so-called "output" that is bound to a tangible and fixed form. Here authorial practice would be fundamentally collective and in motion. Since such a definition of authorship would cause friction with current institutional environments that measure the "impact" of authorial practice according to a logic of calculation I argue for the need to rethink the notion of impact in our institutions. How can we shift the focus from "what can be measured" to "what we most value"? Could we think authorship as distributed, as citational “compost” in ecologies of feeding, digesting, excreting, and transforming?

In section 11.9 I analyze the fact that this Ph.D. submission constitutes a form of publication in its own right. Since this publication is subjected to the very questions I am addressing with my research, the authoring, publishing, and sharing of this research turns into an experiment itself. As I am "authorized" by a research institution to "author" this thesis, there is a danger that my individual framing could historicize and cement these dialogical, intersubjective, unstable and contingent collective practices. Therefore, I examine the dilemmas and double binds that I have to negotiate when I, as an individual that is subjected to an exam protocol, try to migrate collective work into the institutional context of academia.

(11.2) Collectivity

This Ph.D. project started out to explore the micropolitics of publishing and its implicit "blockages" for emancipatory, collective knowledge practices. One assumption was that working collectively could be a method to resist the pervasive neo-liberal regime that trains cultural workers to operate, as Susan Kelly notes, “as hyper-individuals in a competitive and brand-oriented set of institutional and market hierarchies.” [2]

While exploring this, I learned there is a difference between working collaboratively and collectively. Collaboration could mean two or more people are working towards a specific goal. It does not necessarily imply that they are working collectively since each could carry out discrete tasks individually that later merge into a common outcome. I came to understand collectivity as a much more messy and personally challenging process. There is a common idea or plan at the beginning, but the way and the steps on how to get there, is not known at this point and likewise, no specific roles or tasks are attached. And that is the value of it.

There is mostly a trigger[3] or starting point for each project that from then on develops over time in close dialogue and thinking together. I also observed that the motivations, concerns and desires of those involved, are not fully articulated at the beginning. What is tangible, however, is broad excitement. Still what actually drives those involved only reveals itself gradually, when propositions or steps taken by one of the actors come as an astonishment to the others. These are moments of discovery of each other's positionalities and subjectivities.

They reveal where “somebody comes from” (literally and metaphorically) and they expose the unspoken assumptions we sometimes make of each other when closely working together. To give an example: In the five-year long collaboration with Andrea on the Piracy Project, we often did not have to explain much, because our perception of many situations and our reactions were aligned. But there were moments when they weren't. These were instances where Andrea's cultural and embodied heritage (coming from a post-colonial society and sociability, growing up under various dictatorships, settled in London as a middle-class Latin American migrant) embodied a position that was different from mine (growing up in politically more stable but haunted-by-its-past Germany, settled in London as a middle-class European migrant). Such differing positionalities, caused by differing cultural backgrounds and age,[4] make a collective inquiry complex and messy. They come with unexpected baggage, concerns and questions. I learned that collectivity does not stand for a romantic, harmonic idea of togetherness. Rather collectivity implies facing each other's subjectivities, diversities, agreements, and disagreements. It can be a transversal moment, one of dialogue, negotiation, learning to transgress one's horizon and boundaries. Artist and activist Susan Kelly describes such moments of transversality as

a conceptual tool to open hitherto closed logics and hierarchies and to experiment with relations of interdependency in order to produce new assemblages and alliances. […] [It is a tool to experiment with different forms of (collective) subjectivity that break down oppositions between the individual and the group.[5]

This form of generative messiness is at the core of collectivity, as I came to understand. It is a constant back and forth between different knowledges and ways of knowing (distinction by de Sousa Santos). It is a constant back and forth between the "we" and the "I" Speechbubble.png

Another thought complicates a potential romantic conception of collectivity. It is related to the power dynamics of the "we" in contrast to the "they". Who decides who can participate in the "we", and who is excluded? (I am thinking of all sorts of essentialist communities, nation states, etc.) Since the sphere of the "we" turns potentially easily into a community that inadvertently or deliberately immunizes itself from alterity, often in contradictory ways, by producing boundaries and exclusionary mechanisms.

Annotated by EW

and this poses a certain challenge since it makes the erected boundaries of each member porous and vulnerable: I can be touched. I can be moved. This movement could be described as a process of de-immunization, which is at stake, very tangibly during the sparring exercises in the “Boxing and Unboxing” project.

It has been a key insight that collective practices, therefore, are not about joining forces to achieve more and better outcomes in a shorter time. Collectivity could be described as a site where we develop methods of being and working together. A site that Jean Luc Nancy describes as "[b]eing with, being together and even being 'united' are precisely not a matter of being 'one,'"[6] a site, where we could unlearn to blindly reproduce predefined roles and hierarchies and therefore resist the reduction of the sum into its parts, i.e. into the possessive individual.

But it has also been an insight that the figure of the possessive individual re-appears again as soon as these collective moments become subject to, in some way or another, institutional regimes of audited cultural capital (the art world, academia, etc.). Since these regimes are based on (individual) merit, the collective body gets split up again into its limbs in form of attributable roles, tasks and achievements – claiming authorship, claiming ownership.

It's revealing to observe how my role shifted throughout the different projects. “Boxing and Unboxing” as well as the “Piracy Project” originated in a shared idea and developed with equal stakes from there. By contrast, with “Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?”, it was I who initially sensed out whether there would be interest to form a working group at the Art Academy. But the proposal then developed so much pull with colleagues, students, and administrators that it turned into a collective project with no predefined role left for me, apart from some organizing work. The “Library of Inclusions and Omissions” was again different in that I invited people to submit books, materials that were important to them to add to the Reading Room collection. The fact that it was conceived as a community library, as well as to some extent as an art project, created a problem in that there was a clear delineation between I as the instigating artist and the community being invited to contribute. Thus the project fell short of mobilizing what a clear-cut collective, non-institutionally affiliated project might have been able to mobilize, namely a collectively sustained project.

⟶  These mechanisms in relation to authorship, ownership and copyright are discussed in more detail in the book chapter Confronting authorship - Constructing Practices

Instigating a supposedly collective project and situating it at the same time in the economies of cultural capital (by framing it as art) seems to pose a fundamental conflict. I "owned" the project, and others contributed.

(11.3) Politics of Naming

How do we do, when knowledges are collectively constructed, attribute roles, authorship and ownership to them? Throughout years of my publishing activity, writing the colophon at the end of a collective process presented deep trouble. ⟶  see appendix: Thoughts on the Colophon As a site specifying and crediting the contributors and their respective roles, the colophon states information for bibliographic practices and will be replicated in perpetuity. These specifications appear as metadata in library catalogs (MARC records), research repositories, archives and the book trade (ISBN). These international standards have created a normed and rigid set of form fields and categories capturing the book's provenience. These inflexible categories produce a clash with the valuable messiness of collective practice as described above. Speechbubble.png

Interestingly, Rosemary who works at MayDayRooms, an archive for social movements in London, told in a workshop that in MayDayRooms' catalog "the author field hardly gets filled in". Since the pamphlets, flyers and leaflets in the archive mostly stem from collective political protests and campaigns they were produced as part of the movement no individual authorship is assigned. "Unbound Libraries" (Constant, Brussels, June 1-5, 2020)

Annotated by EW

Connected to the question of bibliographic practices, was my discovery of the power dynamics and the implications of classifying, naming and framing in the Piracy Project. As described, we tried out several ways of organizing the pirated books on reading room shelves along different classification criteria: one time according to the legal categories (Copyright, Fair Use, etc.) another time according to the ways they circulate (Black Market, Grey Market, White Market, Print on Demand, Archive as Distribution). Consequently, each of them presented a different entry point to the collection and therefore a fundamentally different understanding of the books.

⟶  see chapter Reflection: "Perspectives and framing under the disguise of neutrality"

Further research into the concept and history of classification (Ranganathan, Leigh Star, Bowker, Drabinski, Berman, Olson, Knowlton, Senior) showed the implicit biases and dilemmas of fundamental classification principles: Each standard and each category valorizes one point of view and silences another. Secondly, I came to recognize that despite their claim for neutrality and universality classification schemes are socially produced and embedded structures. “They are products of human labor that carry traces of all the intentional and unintentional racism, sexism, and classism of the workers who create them. it is not possible to do classification objectively. It is the nature of subject analysis to be subjective.”[7] ⟶  see presentation: "Radical Publishing Practices Demand Radical Librarianship" As it turned out naming and classifying is of highly political nature, since, as a representation of the contents that are cataloged, the catalog forms a contested meaning-making structure in itself.

(11.4) Politics of Fixing

The assumed stability as a key property of a book (being also a precondition to be included into a library catalog) generated a whole set of questions and attempts to explore this fixity's implications and limitations further. ⟶  see chapter Reflection: Piracy Project: "Queering the authority of the printed book" I already explained the perception that publishing means temporarily stabilizing knowledge by fixing it to a material form (paper, ink, screen, code). As an object, detached from its makers (person) as well as its historic moments (time) and ecologies (context) of production, it can circulate and spread into different regions, circumstances and epochs.

But what is the problem with this fixity? The book, as a discrete object, turns knowledge via authorship into property. This property, via copyright, claims originality and authority. It turns into an asset, a proof of excellence that gets authorized and validated just due to the fact that it is turned into a document.[8] It is also assumed that such a status is the end product of a process, a discrete output that can be counted, validated, audited, and therefore feeds straight into systems based on a logic of calculation (discussed below).

In this light, I am directing my critique not necessarily against "the book", but against the status, value and authority, a publication is being given within the wide field of knowledge practices. This asset-like character privileges publication over all other utterances and processes of creating and sharing knowledge, a development in Western Modernity that has been conceptualized by many decolonial, feminist and critical theory scholars. [9]

Exactly because documents can strip away context, because they draw their legitimization and authority from their permanence, transferability, facelessness and because they can be combined and organized in a number of different ways they have become a tool of social control in the name of transparency and accountability. [10]

The premise of permanence, stability and authority documents produce has been challenged in a range of ways in the Piracy Project. As I have shown with selected examples of pirated books in Piracy Project the invention of the photocopier and availability of digital printing technologies have fundamentally altered the stability of printed books. Digital technologies allow for print runs down to one copy with the implicit possibility to constantly modify the print file (versioning). The Piracy Reader “Borrowing, Plagiarising…”, for example, is a publication that develops over time. “This book is not finished. It is the start of a dialogue that will grow as we go along.” (preface) This open-endedness contests the concept that a book is a resolved object, an endpoint of a process and conceives publication as an active medium, similar to a prop. ⟶   see co-edited book: "Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Cloning, Translating," AND, 2014

(11.5) Politics of Mediating: the prop, the third object and institutional pedagogy

In this respect, shifting the focus of a publication from being a deliverable (end result) to being a prop (agent) was a real discovery. The Library of Inclusions and Omissions clearly builds on the book’s assumed ability to connect people, concerns and struggles. And, as I have shown, the experimental tactics, developed by the Feminist Pedagogies workgroup for editing, manufacturing and circulating the Let’s Mobilize workbook, shifted the focus from being "a deliverable" to potentially functioning as a prop. A prop proposes a fundamentally different idea as it shifts the value from the object (as discrete countable and accountable output) to what this object does, to its agency to move into new relations, and thinking together. And in the end, as Moten/Harney state, this new way of being and thinking together is more important than the prop.[11]

When I started this inquiry, I asked how publishing can create spaces (in the figurative and physical sense) for better mutual understanding and rethinking relations between people? I knew well from my prior experiences of teaching critical (feminist) strategies of publishing, that the process of collectively working on a publication can be a social and pedagogical – and as such a political process. But I could not quite put my finger on it.

I am not referring to skills here. Of course, to learn how to do a layout, prepare a prepress file, all processes around printing, paper, binding are useful skills to acquire. But I was interested in the function of this object that we were making together, its function for the collective practice itself. “Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy Workbook”, for example, acted as a material site for collaboration, a site for the group to work together for a shared aim. Firmly situated in a specific context, namely a critical community of practice in an art school, part of a large state governed university in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2016, the workbook's purpose was to invite the school community into a critical discussion and reflection about their own institutional habits, practices of learning and teaching, and to prepare the ground for these topics being collectively analyzed. This publication, situated and contingent, was a means and not an end.

By producing a piece of collective writing, the glossary, for instance, the working group's thoughts materialized and as such acquired a social existence. Being written, printed, and hung across the walls of the art school, the publication turned into a "third object". An object that mediated interactions between the members of the working group during the making phase, and once it was published, it started a dialogue with the students and colleagues, our institutional environment.

The concept of the mediating third object, that Gary Genosko describes as one that "exists outside of face-­to-­face relations and upon which work is done cooperatively, and for which responsibility is collectively assumed, through a series of obligatory exchanges”[12] helped me to conceptualize the significance of the collaborative work in relation to the book, and the importance the book as a mediator to clarify thoughts, articulate concerns, and share these with our institutional environment.

This is why the mediating third object had also been called the "institutional object" in the context of institutional pedagogy[13] conceptualized by Célestine Freinet, Fernand Oury, Aïda Vasquez, and Felix Guattari. Institutional pedagogy claims that an institution is never static but always developing, an institution is “that which we institute”. For Let's Mobilize, the work with institutional pedagogy involved an analysis of the sociology of our own institution, of the official rules and protocols of the school, of the power relations that exist between official and unofficial roles in the institution as well as the rituals and practices that serve to maintain this structure as the status quo. Therefore, Let's Mobilize workbook had a real-life effect in attempting to rethink relations between members of the art school and "instituted", to a certain degree, modes of being and working together, of learning and teaching, which disrupted or at least initiated a rethinking of institutional habits at the art school. The invitation to do this - via the workbook and its experimental dissemination - was taken up by the art school community and the workbook was subsequently used as course readings in a range of courses at the art school.

(11.6) Politics of Citing

As I have shown, a publication's scope to interact as a "third object" with others points at my initial assumption that knowledge is socially constructed. Knowledge, according to this understanding, builds on sharing, imitation and dialogue and is fundamentally relational and collective. Citation, therefore, is a key method of acknowledging relationships and interdependencies. When I cite I make visible, with whom I am in dialogue, what I am referring to, whether persons, tools or events.

Jason Bowman, "The Burston Rebellion"

Such relationality is at the core of the Library of Inclusions and Ommissions which invites members of the public to contribute a book that is important to them and provide a short rationale for their choice. The act of relating to a book's content is here made visible and the explicit sharing of this relationship via the library card is an articulation of this relationality. It is an act of connecting and therefore act of citation in an expanded sense.

Similarly, but with a different approach, relationality is asserted in the Piracy Project. Here, via "unsolicited collaborations" in the form of unauthorized modifying, reproducing, and intervening into the authority of published books, a new and at times contested relationship between the source and the pirate is set up. The Piracy Project sounds out the many conflicts that arise from enclosures caused by concepts of intellectual property and copyright and investigates the contestations and contradictions that come with cultural piracy and appropriation.

Piracy Project Reader–lowres.jpg

How do I relate to somebody else's work? What are my rights, and responsibilities, when I refer to, use, cite or pirate somebody's work? Is it an act of borrowing, poaching, plagiarising, pirating, stealing, gleaning, referencing, leaking, copying, imitating, adapting, faking, paraphrasing, quoting, reproducing, using, counterfeiting, repeating, cloning, or translating?

Citing, however, turns complicated when it comes to questions of concentration of power, visibility and authority. In a seminar during the first year of my Ph.D. studies, a question was put to us: "Which material do you access for your research? What sources do you consult? And where do you find things?" One of my peers responded: "In a phone call with my mum." It sharply made apparent the discrepancy between the formalized and established academic knowledge formation mechanism versus the informal and unpredictable learning methods rooted in friends, allies, and family. The three questions pointed at the politics of citation. They raised the possibility for us to call on the plan the voices, sources, and other forms of utterances that are not recognized within the existing academic canon.

Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?

Throughout my research practice, I experienced the tension between informal ways of knowing and the institutionally authorized canon of the colonial Modern Project. This experience triggered, on the one hand, the need to examine the field in between, the interactions and multiple power relations, reinforcements, convergent oppressions, violence, and exclusions that can occur within the spectrum of knowledge practices and, on the other, the desire to look for methods to foster dialogue and articulations between different kinds of knowledge.

Citation is, therefore, as a key technology for knowledge practices, also very problematic. For instance, as I have shown, my practice develops in dialogue. I use dialogue here in the Deleuzian sense, as the ability to "populate" and "be populated by others." [14] References and connections, therefore, emerge from encounters, from "doing together" and "thinking with."

Gilles Deleuze conceptualizes these moments as

You encounter movements, ideas, events, entities. All these things have proper names, but the proper name does not designate a person or a subject. It designates a zigzag, something which passes or happens between the two.[15]

But how to reference a zigzag? How do you name, cite or refer to knowledges that are in flux, oral, not "authored" or published? How would you potentially reference a situation, an encounter, an environment, or the tools you are using? What counts as a citable "publication"? What counts as citable at all? Academic style guides give an idea of how to reference personal communication [16], but I am asking a much more fundamental question.

For example, artist and researcher Femke Snelting pointed out in a conversation with me that Donna Haraway refers in one of her texts[17] to anthropologist Marilyn Strathern's study of Melanesian's sociality.[18] Haraway acknowledges the Melanesians as the first authors of their culture and society and Marilyn Strathern's study analyzing it only second. This is a significant shift. Speechbubble.png

Rosalie-eva phd 38-lres.jpg

Annotated by RS

This analysis of the politics of citation is also relevant to my practice of writing this Ph.D. thesis. In Western academia, citational ecologies are tightly connected to regimes of authorship, a discussion that will unfold over the following sections. Of course, citational methods do not operate the same way in different disciplines. But it is important to register that there are politics at play, since citing can be, according to Sara Ahmed, a "rather successful reproductive technology, a way of reproducing the world around certain bodies."[19]

During a conference held at Valand Academy to mark the 150th anniversary of art education in Gothenburg - the keynote speaker happened to reference in his contribution exclusively well-known and acknowledged white Western male authors, artists, and theorists. It shows that citational structures can construct a disciplinary cosmos that excludes all sort of other bodies and knowledges, a cosmos, as Sarah Ahmed says, in which other bodies do not exist.[19]

⟶  see interview with Sarah Kember: Rethinking where the thinking happens

Citing can also be seen as a strategic and/or necessary approach to claim a space in academia. The mechanism is simple and tempting. I put myself in relation to and into proximity to validated voices, hoping that my own writing might get similar mainstay recognition. I first map the field. I demonstrate that I am knowledgeable about the established authorities in the discipline, and then I craft my contribution in relation to them. I reference, I cite the orthodoxy in order to be taken seriously. This bears the danger that I inherit and, critically or uncritically, reproduce this tradition or I cite myself “into an academic existence."[20]

Reflecting on my own citational practice throughout the different sections, I am not freed from this risk. My references are partly based on personal relationships, direct encounters, conversations, workshops, or discussions, and partly through reading. Here, as sources serve mostly published books that already have received some authority within their respective disciplines. Such institutional validation tends to produce structural exclusions and omissions. In the Humanities, for instance, we can observe a striving for institutional power that goes hand in hand with oligopolistic tendencies in the publishing industry, as a recent study shows. [21]

(11.7) How could we imagine authorship without ownership?

When I set out to explore the micropolitics of publishing, I stated that rather being interested in the book as a discrete container for radical content alone I am interested in the potentially radical, political, and emancipatory ways it is made and shared as well as “owned”. In the previous sections, I have discussed the messy relationships within my collective practices, I have shown how fixing produces an object that easily turns into an asset that can be owned when it enters regimes of validation and audit. In this section, I will discuss the interplay between authorship and ownership and the attempts in the practice projects to find ways how we can imagine authorship without ownership.

As I have explained earlier, there are two aspects to authorship. One is the activity of making, doing, writing, the other is the attribution of author names to what has been done. In my inquiry, a range of author functions came up. Authorship operates (i) as a mechanism to be referred to (visibility, citation, responsibility, accountability) [→ see Library of Inclusions and Omissions], (ii) authorship as a concept that is tightly connected to ownership (intellectual property, copyright, cultural capital, institutional audit) [→ see The Piracy Project: "unsolicited collaborations"], (iii) the notion of authorship related to activities, that don't produce an object (organizing practice, developing methods) [→ see Let's Mobilize), and (iv) authorship related to moments of learning and dialogue (performative, sparring) [→ see Boxing and Unboxing]. The puzzle that surfaced throughout this PhD research was when does authorship turn into "Authorship" with a capital A? Or put differently: what and under which circumstances is something validated as authorship, and by whom? And if we could eventually do away with the author figure altogether, what would we win or lose? [22]


⟶  see essay: The Impermanent Book, co-authored by Andrea Frankcke, Eva Weinmayr Alongside the collaborative practice projects that are by definition collectively authored, I have conducted a range of co-authoring text experiments. One instance is the text "The Impermanent Book," which consolidates Andrea's and my voice into seemingly one. Here the authors' dialogue is not visible to the reader: the process of going back and forth when knocking the writing into shape, the mutual revisions, critical comments, the adding and removing parts to clarify the claims and positions. Hence in this example, the text comes across as written in a unison voice.

⟶  see introduction to: Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Translating, Cloning, co-authored by Andrea Frankcke, Eva Weinmayr

In contrast, in the introduction to "Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising…" Andrea and I used the form of a written dialogue that allowed us to present disagreements without consolidating the authors' stances and different positionalities into one consonant voice. It is a conversation, where one picks up on or responds to the other, where it is always visible who says what.

⟶  see multilayered commentary experiment: "Revisiting Let's Mobilize" by Rose Borthwick, MC Coble, Andreas Engman, Eva Weinmayr The third experiment is a densely woven piece of multilayered commentary across four columns that lets the different viewpoints and experiences of the contributing authors stand for themselves. Commentaries on commentaries spin a nested fabric of layers that link observations, frustrations, hopes, and desires of the contributing authors - without trying to whitewash the contradictions. [23]

The Feminist Mobilization working group made this choice because the technique of multilayered commentary allowed us to reflect on the jointly organized mobilization event without needing to agree.

It doesn't matter who is speaking

These collaborative writing experiments describe the activity of authoring: the making, the doing, the "verb". Once it is done, it turns into a "piece" of writing, a "noun." When this "noun" enters a specific context of dissemination it is most commonly signed with one or more names. I have discussed in the chapter "Confronting Authorship-Constructing Practices - How Copyright destroys Collective Practice" this second aspect of authorship, the demand for an attributable author name and its close ties with ownership in form of intellectual property and copyright and the stifling effects these legal constructs have on collective knowledge practices. Towards the end of that book chapter, I am asking what would happen if I did not attach my name to the text – if it went “unauthored” so to speak. [24]

What if anonymity replaced the designation of authorship? How would the non-visibility of the author matter to the reader? What would such a text orphan trigger within dominant infrastructures of publishing and validation? How would bibliographers catalog such a text? How could it be referenced and cited? [...] 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 politicized?

Much thinking and conversations, however, created the insight that this individual and solitary act of not attaching my name to the chapter would again be subjected to regimes of individualization. Only if not assigning individual authorship became a widespread and unionized practice. Only broadly accepted procedures put in place that acknowledged non-authored, collective, non-competitive practices would lead to an effect. However, it looks like under the regime of an unreformed institutional audit culture worshipping cultural capital, one needs to ask who is actually in a position to afford not to assign individual names to works? Since authorship ultimately serves as a marker for professional survival and advancement.

One technique of unionizing practice would, for instance, be the use of collective pseudonyms ("Anonymous", "Luther Blisset," "Karen Eliot," "Monty Cantsin) that I discuss in the same book chapter. [25] Collective pseudonyms select one joint signature name for multiple identities and authors who publish, perform and exhibit under this multiple-use name, a strategy that has been adopted by many radical and cultural groups to protect their anonymity.[26] The collective pseudonym could be seen as a construction of a "communal being."[27] Here, identifiable roles and identities are refused,[28] and the individual and the collective are no longer placed in a dichotomous relation, as Nicholas Thoburn explains, each individual is a product of collective relations.[29]

Therefore joint pseudonym practices, one could say, constitute an implicit critique of the construction of the "possessive individual," a concept coined by sociologist McPherson and discussed in the reflection on Boxing and Unboxing. ⟶  see chapter Reflection: Against immunization and the figure of the proper While anonymity and conceptualizations of "communal being," as I have shown, can have a tactical value in confronting the individuating apparatus at play in textual media and publishing, there is a different consideration, which complicates the argument – this time from a feminist and de-colonial perspective.

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

The pseudonym practices concerned with anonymity in the 80s and 90s in Europe and North America are based to some extent on Roland Barthes' and Michel Foucault's seminal critique of the author-function. [30]

Similarly Foucault, in focusing his critique on the author function (as a means to reveal the logic of discourse as something that does not proceed from the subject at its center of intention and logic) he tends to obscure, if not fully abandon, the scene of writing. The author function for him "does not refer purely and simply to a real individual”.[31] The task that he set himself is precisely to avoid this scene: ”I had no intention of describing Buffon or Marx or of reproducing their statements or implicit meanings, but, simply stated, I wanted to locate the rules that formed a certain number of concepts and theoretical relationships in their works.” [32] For Foucault, unlike a proper name, which moves from the interior of a discourse to the real person outside who produced it, the name of the author remains at the contours of texts—separating one from the other, defining their form, and characterizing their mode of existence. It points to the existence of certain groups of discourse and refers to the status of this discourse within a society and culture. The author's name is not a function of a man's civil status, nor is it fictional; it is situated in the breach, among the discontinuities, which gives rise to new groups of discourse and their singular mode of existence.

This critique of the author seems to be in tension then with the demand from those previously excluded and held in subaltern positions to achieve voice, and produce knowledge that is centered elsewhere than in European “Man.” Sara Ahmed responds to Foucault asking: "If the relationship 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?"[33] What Ahmed picks up here with "empirical writing subject" is what may appear as Foucault's tendency towards a certain universalism expressed as "indifference. "However, Foucault is clearly not proposing a universal dispensation (he is explicit on this point) but describing a changing economy of authorship: “the 'author-function' is not universal or constant in all discourse. Even within our civilization, the same types of texts have not always required authors; there was a time when those texts which we now call 'literary' (stories, folk tales, epics, and tragedies) were accepted, circulated, and valorized without any question about the identity of their author.”[34]

There is a difference between the project to describe the changing function of authorship in different historical contexts, seeking to dismantle its function in a bid for an emancipatory utterance; and the project of seeking a mode of “situated” authorship, as an emancipatory act, against a history of repressed authorship (exclusion from writing, exclusion from access to publishing, exclusion from recognition when published, exclusion from citation when published, etc.). De-contextualized these statements on authorship can appear as fundamentally opposed. However, read in their situatedness with respect to different political tasks, what emerges is a difference of strategy, not necessarily a dichotomy of position.

Nonetheless, we are still left with a tension between, on the one hand, a pull towards recognizing the author function as a regulative structure of the discourse, as part of an analysis of the regularities of the discourse of “man” and the power-knowledge couplet, and on the other hand, a pull towards claiming authorship, claiming authorial voice so as to enact the situatedness of knowledge and counter the universalism of the discourses of “man”.

Similarly, I see a tensionSpeechbubble.png

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between the desire to disband the dichotomy between the individual and the collective; and on the other hand, to recognize the importance of acknowledging the situated empirical subject. On various occasions, when workshopping these topics as part of this inquiry, interlocutors who have been previously marginalized, challenged my problematization of attribution practices. On the contrary, often there was fierce advocacy for the prominent appearance of the individual's name attributed to the work as a way to gain – at least – some sort of acknowledgment.

This raises again the question of who can actually afford to renounce this facet of cultural capital, not only in a monetary sense but in terms of being visible and being acknowledged as contributing to discourse. We need to identify this double-bind in order to be able to invent modes of being and working together that recognize the problematic of the possessive individual and at the same time acknowledge the difference of the “who” that writes. Then we might be able to move on from the question "how can we get rid of the author" to inventing processes of subjectivation that we want to support and instigate.

⟶  see presentation: Experimental Publishing #1, Critique, Intervention, Speculation

Recognizing a double bind is a straddle that calls for experiments. For me, experiments happen, when I am stuck. Therefore, experiments in my practice are connected to a particular problem in a specific context and time. They try to find approaches to act in a situation when the available or conventional modes of doing things don't work anymore. Implicit in practical experimenting is a potential failure, or the need to adjust. Nonetheless, experiments are a force to not getting stuck between "pure positions," as George Lipsitz proposes.[35] As an experiment, I will propose an entirely different understanding of authorship.

(11.8) A more flexible idea of authorship altogether: from Output to Input: contingent, contextual

So the new question that emerged through my research is how can we create a more flexible idea of authorship altogether? The etymology of the term "author" gives a hint. Deriving from Latin "augere", to increase, to augment, the "auctor," "autour," "autor" was somebody "who causes to grow, a promoter, producer, father, progenitor,[36] an instigator, maker, doer –– a responsible person, or a teacher, a person that invents or causes something."[37]

An understanding of the author, as an instigator or teacher, as somebody who "causes something" expands the concept of authorship beyond a so-called "output" that is bound to a tangible and fixed form. Hence an understanding of authorial practice as instigator would be fundamentally collective and in motion. Have you in your teaching practice ever considered yourself being an "author"?

Such an expanded conception of authorship seems complicated in our current institutional environments (New Public Management), which measure the "impact" of authorial practice according to a logic of calculation: "How many books, how many articles, how many papers, how many citations? "If you are being cited, you have an impact."[38] (See discussion around citation above.)

⟶  see project: Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?

The urgent question that emerged through this research that has not been obvious at the start of my inquiry is how can we rethink impact and consider all the "not measurable practices," such as teaching, mentoring, practices that care about how we actually meet in higher education institutions to create knowledge. These practices form the always assumed foundation of academic culture but are often not acknowledged in the way academic outputs are.

The organizing of the three-day Feminist Mobilization is an good example of this. The labor here went into fundamentally rethinking how we meet, which bodies, and how bodies are in one room together. How can we set up the temporal, spatial, and material aspects of such encounters to exchange and create knowledges? How can we listen to each other? How can we disagree respectfully? It was enormous work to organize the Mobilization, the working group acted for longer than one year, but when it came to the institutional research evaluation, the institution had no adequate evaluation parameters, and it did score very low in research points in the audit.[39]Speechbubble.png

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Annotated by RS

On the other hand, we can observe an energetic take-up of all the work invested in the project. The published workbook has been used as course literature for teaching at our and other art academies. It found its way in many international libraries and has been read and discussed in Feminist Reading Groups. [40]

The international circulation of the book resulted in a range of invitations to academic and non-academic events across Europe. [41] Likewise, we see more awareness amongst colleagues and students to not consistently reference white male Eurocentric or North-American references and artworks in teaching. We see student initiatives that explore self-organized modes of collective teaching and learning within the academy. [42]

Of course, this is not all due to the Feminist Mobilization. The Mobilization was just one public "mobilizing" event amongst many others that tried to tackle structural inequalities at our art school. [43]But still, the university has no formalized criteria in its evaluation framework to acknowledge and value such non-measurable inputs. Therefore, the insight emerged that we need to rethink the instituted taxonomy of values dominating our academic institutions, leading to a whole set of new questions:

What if we shifted the focus from "what can be measured" to "what we most value"?" What, if we evaluated scholarship according to criteria such as "equity, openness, collegiality, quality, and community?" as the human metrics initiative asks. [44]

What would that mean for publishing practices? I think we need to value and give formal merit to the processes and ways of how we publish. We need to assess how inclusive are our tools and protocols, how open, enabling, and diverse are our knowledge practices. Christopher Kelty rightly asks, what would happen if we valued not solely the content of utterances that are freely and openly circulated, but also the ways they are uttered. His most challenging demand is to ask ourselves "who is encouraged to say them [the utterances] and who is encouraged to remain silent?"[45]

In such a scenario, we wouldn't have "outputs," instead, we'd have "inputs". Speechbubble.png

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Annotated by RS

But what exactly does "input" imply? It means I put something into something. For example, I put yeast in the dough to make the dough rise. Input has a concrete agency within a specific context or community. The contingency and situatedness and the particular methods of production and circulation of the Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy? Workbook, for instance, can be seen as an attempt to treat publication as input rather than an output.

But this binary seems too simplistic. If we imagined knowledge practices not to be housed in a university building, but in a compost pile, we might be able to imagine a different ecology. One that turns the directional forces of "in and out" into a multi-directional thicket of turning over and over again, or in Karen Barad's words

We might imagine re-turning as a multiplicity of processes, such as the kinds earthworms revel in while helping to make compost or otherwise being busy at work and at play: turning the soil over and over – ingesting and excreting it, tunneling through it, burrowing, all means of aerating the soil, allowing oxygen in, opening it up and breathing new life into it.[46]

This kind of decentralizing ecology Barad describes here (to illustrate her theory of diffraction)[47] could help to rethink authorship as well as citational ecologies as distributed in economies of feeding, digesting, excreting, and transforming. Authorship here is decentralized since a multiplicity of agents are at work to create this nutrient-rich milieu.

Femke Snelting explains that such decentralizing practices could, for example, entail open-source and resource sharing, licenses that permit re-use, or documentation of practice. What is interesting with her feminist interpretation of "response-ability" is that it implies two-way interaction. It has a strong dialogic force. It is not "making this patriarchal move of making the one responsible over the other." [48]


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Annotated by RS

Referring to Donna Haraway, she states that for Constant's collective research practice it is important to create situations, obligations and objects in the world that allow for a response. To be responsible with materials, she says, means to allow people to figure out their own ways and also run with it – in ways that you might not have foreseen. Also, response-ability, as Femke explains, connects to moves like publishing the sources that are used, free-software tools, for example, which are in themselves response-able with their sources.

⟶  [[.....|]]

(11.9) Authorship, authorization, authority: remarks on the collaborative wiki

So, what would “response-ability” mean for sharing this research, as this Ph.D. submission constitutes a form of publication itself? How can I publish it without experiencing the very pitfalls that I address with this research project?

Building on the practice-based insights of this Ph.D., there was a need to develop an epistemic method to write and disseminate the kappa of this thesis that could potentially act “response-able”.

However, the problem that emerged was that this research describes and analyses a set of long-term collaborative practices. The chapter "Reflections, theorization of projects" discloses the context of why and how the individual actors or collaborating teams approached their practice and how projects developed over time.

Inevitably, this goes along with a personal framing process. As I am "authorized" by a research institution to "author" this thesis, there is a danger that my individual framing could historicize and cement these dialogical, intersubjective, unstable and contingent collective practices. (see section: Politics of Fixing above)

Therefore, the Mediawiki I chose as a format and tool for writing this thesis is an experiment in what way other voices could be invited to add different perspectives and disagreements and how several layers of commentary could respond to each other. Nonetheless, I inevitably make individual decisions or Baradian "cuts," in that I set the structure of this text.[49] Still by inviting my collaborators and peers who have a stake in our shared collaborative practice, to add to this wiki, I multiply the number of those being able to make cuts and to make them differently.

Choosing the format of a wiki that operates as a production and dissemination platform at the same time generates a non-linear form of writing and reading. It offers different points to enter, and it can link to its outside. It can embed multimedia such as audio recordings, and moving images, and can, in this way, mitigate the strictness and potential "monumentality" of academic writing and reading.

Furthermore, the Mediawiki, as a co-authoring platform, could create productive friction with the standard parameters of Ph.D. examination which are based on individual performance and on an authoritative act of analysis based on "autonomous" authorship. The syllabus of doctoral education is very clear on this, it uses the word "autonomously" nine times.[50] If this "wiki experiment" gets legitimized by the university, it could introduce a method of inquiry and disclosure that establishes an openly collaborative and dialogical knowledge formation.

However, there is a caveat. I will be awarded a Ph.D. title, but others have helped me to achieve it. Even if I credit all the contributors to this wiki alongside all collaborators in the practice projects, by definition, there can be only one name earning a Ph.D. ⟶  see Appendix: Thoughts on the colophon I am granted by the University of Gothenburg to conduct this Ph.D. as part of an artistic research framework. This comes with a position of privilege, such as five-year employment, a monthly salary, and hence financial security and headspace allowing me to commit fully. This authorization stands in stark contrast to most of my past, current, and potential future collaborators' situation, who often live on precarious short term teaching contracts. What was/is haunting me throughout working on this Ph.D. submission is exactly this unequal structural setting. It poses the threat that this arrangement comes close to an extractive process.

With the wiki, however, there is the possibility of feeding back into the compost pile, to the earthworms and bacteria, as Femke contends:

The fact that you are writing on a wiki for me is significant. Because it means not just me, but others will be reading this. And this means it is not going to be locked up in only one environment. So I know whatever I contribute is going to be part of that larger pool, it flows back to the field and is, therefore, in some way resisting this centralizing force [of academia]. And this why I can think with you without feeling abused. [48]

Another form of redistribution could be seen in me providing a service of thinking, connecting different fields, and archiving. The laborious task of sharing bibliographies and sources as well as compiling the images, posters, documents – ephemera that got dispersed and almost lost over time. Since they are now available online, these resources can be useful "to show and tell." (Remember – Lisa Gitelman's definition of the document function?) The reflections, insights, and connections which this kappa offers can be challenged and built upon.


Notes Analysis

  1. Jemma Desai conducted a two-year embodied research into white supremacy in cultural institutions in the UK and her experiences of being "managed, mentored and championed by white 'feminists'". As an autoethnographic approach, she locates her "search" and writes from within and for a community. Her 164-page text is published, openly accessible as a Google Doc, and publicized on Twitter. See Jemma Desai, "This work isn't for us", March 2020,
  2. Susan Kelly, ‘“But that was my idea!” Problems of Authorship and Validation in Contemporary Practices of Creative Dissent’, Parallax 19.2 (2013), 53, Download pdf
  3. These trigger moments for collective practice are often grounded in a common experience of something going wrong and in the desire to address it, adjust or develop an alternative. For example, events at Valand Academy mobilized a group of staff and students to form a working group on Feminist Pedagogies that subsequently grew into a long-term project and the experimental organization of the three-day mobilization Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?. The trigger moment for the Piracy Project happened when Peruvian artist Andrea Francke approached me asking for an interview about AND's publishing practice. In this conversation, we talked about her research into book piracy in Peru, and thus the Piracy Project was born. It was congenial to connect the concept of book piracy fighting enclosures with the occupation of the Byam Shaw School of Art Library I was involved in at that moment.
  4. For example, Rosalie Schweiker and I recognized the aspect of our intergenerational collaboration only when we discovered that Rosalie's mother is a couple of years younger than I am.
  5. Susan Kelly, "The Transversal and the Invisible: How do You Really Make a Work of Art that Is not a Work of Art?", Transversal, (1, 2005), See also Gerald Raunig’s description of transversal activist practice: "There is no longer any artificially produced subject of articulation; it becomes clear that every name, every linkage, every label has always already been collective and must be newly constructed over and over again. In particular, to the same extent to which transversal collectives are only to be understood as polyvocal groups, transversality is linked with a critique of representation, with a refusal to speak for others, in the name of others, with abandoning identity, with a loss of a unified face, with the subversion of the social pressure to produce faces." Gerald Raunig, "Transversal Multitudes", Transversal, (9, 2002),
  6. Jean-Luc Nancy, Being Singular Plural, translated by Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O’Byrne (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2000), 154.
  7. Emily Drabinski, "Teaching the Radical Catalog" in Radical Cataloging: Essays at the Front, ed. K.R. Roberto (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2008): 198.
  8. What constitutes a document has been the topic of a vivid scholarly debate in the early 20th century across sociology, ethnography, anthropology, and media and communication studies. Michael Buckland provides a great ride through the efforts to come up with a satisfactory definition. "Any expression of human thought" was one common definition, but one could not agree whether a document should be limited to texts, let alone printed texts (Buckland 1997, 805). Paul Otlet extended the definition of document in his "Traité de documentation" (Otlet 1934) by claiming that "graphic and written records are representations of ideas or objects." And even the objects themselves can be regarded as documents if one is informed by observation of them (ibid). According to Otlet, this includes "natural objects, artifacts, objects bearing traces of human activity (such as archaeological finds), explanatory models, educational games, and works of art." (Otlet 1934, 217) A more technical definition, interestingly referring to the aspect of authority, was developed by the International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation: "Document: Any source of information, in material form, capable of being used for reference or study or as an authority. Examples: manuscripts, printed matter, illustrations, diagrams, museum specimens, etc." (Buckland 1997, 805). What everybody seemed to agree on was that documents are epistemic objects. As Lisa Gitelman shows, the term document comes from the Latin root "docere," "to teach," "to show" or "to cause to know." Gitelman defines documents as "evidential structures, recognizable sites, and subjects of interpretation across the disciplines and beyond." (Gitelman 2014, 1) Sociologists since Max Weber have considered documents as crucial technological elements of bureaucratic organization. (Weber 1968, 66-77). Since documents administer knowledge in a material form, they play a crucial role in colonial epistemic modernity. The stability and reliability of documents create value for the bureaucratic organization and therefore override other kinds of knowledge that are based in orality, in common experience, in lived collectivity.
    Michael Buckland, “What is a Document,” in Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Sept 1997. Paul Otlet, Traité de documentation, (Brussels: Editiones Mundaneum, 1934), 217. (Reprinted in 1989, Liége: Centre de Lecture Publique Communauté Francaise). Paul Otlet, International organization and dissemination of knowledge: Selected essays (FID 684), (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1990), 152, 197. Lisa Gitelman, Paper Knowledge, Toward A Media History Of Documents, (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2014). Annelise Riles, ed. Documents, Artifacts of Modern Knowledge, (Michigan: The University of Michigan Press, 2006). Max Weber, "Bureaucracy", in On Charisma and Institution Building, (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1968).
  9. Michel de Certeau, for instance, claims that the oral and temporal experience of sociability and discourse has been overwritten by "forms of transport," by a practice (writing, publishing) that was seen as more legitimate than "doing" whether in science, politics or the classroom. (De Certeau 1984, 134) He declares: "Thus one can read above the portals of modernity such inscriptions as "Here, to work is to write," or "Here only what is written is understood." Such is the internal law of that which has constituted itself as "Western." (De Certeau, 1984, 134) And decolonial scholar Boaventura de Sousa Santos asserts that colonial knowledge practices caused an epistemicide by destructing a variety of ways of knowing that prevail in the colonial societies and sociabilities. Western concepts of authorship, according to him, have "little validity in the epistemologies of the South insofar as, for them, the most relevant knowledges are either immemorial or generated in the social experiences of oppression and the struggles against it. In any case, they are rarely traceable to a single individual. (de Sousa Santos 2018, 54).
    Michel de Certeau, A Practice of Everyday Life, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984). Boaventura de Sousa Santos, The End of the Cognitive Empire - the coming of age of epistemologies of the south, (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2018)
  10. It is interesting to note that university reformers from the eighteenth up to the twenty-first century have celebrated the act of publication as a measure to correct bulging concentrations of power and unsustainable systems of patronage that were prevailing in the early modern university. They simply saw publication as an efficient vehicle to bring more transparency and objectivity into systems and networks of power patronage based on familial status, inheritance or personal connections.
    In the light of being published, the value of a scholar's work was visible to all because it was subject to more public and, therefore, so went the reasoning, more rational standards. Published writing could be accounted for, whereas charismatic teaching or speaking was more difficult to evaluate and compare. [...] The authority of printed writing lay in its capacity to circulate more freely, unencumbered by the idiosyncrasies of the local and peculiar. (Wellmon, Piper 2017) Published texts, according to Simon Shaffer and Steve Shapin, constituted "a virtual witness that was agreed to be reliable."
    Wellmon, Chad and Piper, Andrew "Publication, Power, Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing", Critical Inquiry, July 21, 2017. [accessed 30 Jul 2017]. Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011), 60.
  11. Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons, Fugitive Planning and Black Study, (Wivenhoe, New York, Port Watson: Minor Compositions, 2013), 106.
  12. Gary Genosko, Félix Guattari: An Aberrant Introduction (London: Continuum, 2002): 9.
  13. Most of the literature on Institutional Pedagogy is published in French including Freinet's , as well as Vasquez' and Oury's writings. Edward Thornton has translated parts for his essay "Thinking and Writing Together: Institutional Pedagogy and Félix Guattari". He explains:
    Institutional Pedagogy takes as its starting-­point an analysis of the sociology of institutions, including the official rules of the school, or educational establishment, the power relations that exist between official and unofficial ‘roles’ in the institution (including, for example, ‘teacher’, ‘sports captain’, ‘class clown’, etc.), as well as the rituals and practices that serve to maintain this structure as the status quo. (page 4)Vasquez and Oury define the institution in very broad terms that can stretch from something as mundane as a situation in which two people share a bar of soap without bickering, to a highly complex and historically produced social structure. Ultimately they claim that an institution is simply “that which we institute”, adding that this definition incorporates “places, moments, and statuses of each according to their behavioral level”, including people’s “possibilities, functions (services, positions, responsibilities ), roles (presidency, secretariat), various meetings (team leaders, level classes, etc.), and rites that ensure their effectiveness" (Vasquez & Oury 1968, 84, Thornton's translation). By analyzing the interaction of these different layers, Vasquez and Oury aim to explore the relationship between the level of bureaucracy and institutional regulation that exists in a school and the alienation that affects pupils, teachers, and administrators on the other. Oury’s pedagogical techniques were designed to help members of the school break out of the traditional power relations that exist between students and teachers. To do this, teachers must recognize that each student has their own social and cultural identity, which is located within a dense web of associations with race, class, gender, and other unspoken factors, and must become aware of the interactions that they have with this "unconscious" field of their student. They must also recognize the ways in which the structure of the institution interacts with the unconscious of the student, where the "institution" is understood in the broad sense outlined above.
    Edward Thornton, "Thinking and Writing Together: Institutional Pedagogy and Félix Guattari," Deleuze and Guattari Studies 13.2, (forthcoming). Published on, 2019, Download. See also: Aïda Vasquez & Fernand Oury, "Vers une pédagogie institutionally" (Paris: Maspero, 1968). Aïda Vasquez & Fernand Oury, "De la classe coopérative à la pédagogie institutionally," (Paris: Maspero, 1971). Aïda Vasquez & Fernand Oury, "The educational techniques of Freinet" in Prospects in Education: A Quarterly Bulletin Vol. 1 (Unesco, 1969).
  14. See Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues II (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), 9.
  15. ibid, 6.
  16. It is interesting that the Chicago Manual of Style actually includes personal communication. Hammersly Library at Western Oregon University suggests in their “Style Guide on Citation of Personal Communication: "Citations of personal communications should always omit any personal data (email address, cell phone number, etc.). Personal communications are typically also left out of the bibliography. Instead, include resource information in the footnote. Western Oregon University, Hammersly Library, accessed November 2019,
  17. Donna Haraway, "Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin", in Environmental Humanities 6, (2015), 161.
  18. Marilyn Strathern, The Gender of the Gift, Problems with Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988). Strathern's study shows the limitations of Western epistemologies, since as she claims, a range of Western concepts are inadequate for a genuine understanding of sociality in Melanesia. These include an understanding of personhood as fundamentally gendered, the distinction between commodities and gifts, the relation between individual and society. She points out that according to Western thought models, persons own themselves, their minds, their bodies, actions, and the products of their labor (John Locke, MacPherson). Such possessive individualist concepts do not exist in Melanesian thought, Strathern's claims. The importance of this study lays in its critique of universal applicability of categories central to social science that reveals the ethnocentrism in dominant anthropological representations of the "other".
  19. 19.0 19.1 Sara Ahmed, "Making Feminist Points", Feminist Killjoys, September 13, 2013. [accessed Dec 2018]
  20. "Women too, people of color too, might cite white men: to be you have to be in relation to white men (to twist a Fanonian point). Not to cite white men is not to exist, or at least not to exist within this or that field." Sara Ahmed, "White Men", Feminist Killjoys, April 11, 2014, Sara Kember calls such reproductive structures "a boys' citation club" and even toyed in the planning phase of a new, experimental university press in the UK, with ideas to introduce a female citation policy. This plan, eventually, could for legal reasons not be implemented as a policy. See Sara Kember, Eva Weinmayr, “Rethinking where the thinking happens” (London: AND Publishing, 2016),
  21. In a recent study called "Publication, Power, Patronage," Chad Wellmon and Andrew Piper reveal the inequalities of scholarly publishing in terms of institutional diversity and gender equality. Conducting quantitative analysis, they studied four leading US-based humanities journals between 1970 and 2015 (Critical Inquiry, New Literary History, PMLA, Representations). They found that gender equality had slightly improved (39,4% of articles published by female authors between 2012-2015). However, the concentration of power in the hands of prestige universities had even increased: authors with a Ph.D. from just two elite universities alone, Yale and Harvard, accounted for twenty percent of all articles published in the studied journals. See Chad Wellmon and Andrew Piper, "Publication, Power, Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing", Critical Inquiry, July 21, 2017, Similarly, a study by Knowledge Gap, a collective of researchers studying the underrepresentation of Global South academic knowledge in the global publishing system, and the various mechanisms through which such structures of inequality and exclusion are produced and reproduced in paradigms of openness present disproportionate ownership of academic journals and papers in natural and the social sciences by the top five academic publishers in the Global North. They cite a study by Lavier et al. suggesting that the top five publishers (Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor Francis and Sage) accounted for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. This concentration of power puts not only economic pressure on independent academic presses, but it also, as the researchers argue poses an increasing pressure on global south scholarship in order to join the discourse and participate "to adapt to the Western forms of scholarship and an increasing allure for global south journals in joining a global north publisher. Joining a global north publisher, in particular, serves as a form of academic neocolonialism, as the global north firm will have a direct influence upon the policies of such journals; while the adoption of western forms of scholarship merely enhances the hegemonic effect of global north academia." See V. Larivière; S. Haustein; P. Mongeon, “The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era.” Plos One, 10(6), (2015). 2015. Alejandro Posada, George Chen, "Inequality in Knowledge Production: The Integration of Academic Infrastructure by Big Publishers", in ‘’ELPUB 2018’’, (Toronto, 2018): 2, For Knowledge Gap, see "The Geopolitics of Open," Radical Open Access and the Ethics of Care, Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University, 2018.
  22. Mark Rose provides a detailed historical inquiry into how the concept of authorship developed in Europe due to the spread of the book printing business thanks to Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the movable type printing press. Two forces came into play with the printing press in the early modern period. One tended to "think of texts as actions. Because texts were perceived as actions and valued “for what they could do” (Rose, 1993,13) and because printed books were assigned more authority than oral utterances, legislation was put in place that each printed book needed an accountable author name assigned. In England, booksellers, printers, and authors needed to apply for "printing privileges" for each title that was in work. Via the guild, the so-called Stationers Company, the English crown was in control of what was deemed okay to be published and circulated. Through a royal charter (1557), the crown granted the guild a monopoly on printing. Interestingly, according to Rose, "the primary interest of the state in granting this monopoly was not, however, the securing of stationers' property rights, but the establishment of a more effective system for governmental surveillance of the press."(Rose, 1992, 12) Only a later development, then, saw texts as "aesthetic objects." Here an individual "someone" was needed, a creator that came to be attached to notions of originality, genius, and therefore property. In: Mark Rose, Authors and Owners, The Invention of Copyright (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1993). For further exploration of the relationship between authorship and ownership, intellectual property and copyright see Aufderheide, Patricia, Peter Jaszi, Bryan Bello and Tijana Milosevic "Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use Among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report" (New York: College Art Association, 2014). Lionel, Bently, "Copyright and the Death of the Author in Literature and Law," Modern Law Review 57 (1994): 973–86. Carys J. Craig "Symposium: Reconstructing the Author-Self: Some Feminist Lessons for Copyright Law," American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 15.2 (2007): 207–68. Deborah J. Halbert, Resisting Intellectual Property (London, Routledge, 2005). Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, No Trespassing, Authorship, Intellectual Property Rights and the Boundaries of Globalization (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004). Jennifer Nedelsky, "Reconceiving Rights as Relationship," Review of Constitutional Studies / Revue d’études constitutionnelles 1.1 (1993): 1–26, Nicholas Thoburn, Anti-Book, On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2016). Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi, eds., The Construction of Authorship, Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1994).
  23. Such nonlinear literary experiments had been employed in the past, for instance, in Pierre Bayle's "Historical and Critical Dictionary" causing major disruptions in the understanding of authoritative texts at the time (1737). Likewise, Arno Schmitt used it as a literary device in Zettel's Dream (1970) to create several parallel-running narratives on one page.
  24. In the chapter I argue:
    This text is informed by a myriad of encounters in panel discussions and debates, as well as in the classrooms supported by institutions, activist spaces and art spaces. All these people donated their valuable ideas to its writing. Various drafts have been read and commented on by friends, PhD supervisors and an anonymous peer reviewer, and it has been edited by the publishers in the process of becoming part of the anthology you now hold in your hands or read on a screen. In that light, do I simply and uncritically affirm the mechanisms I am criticizing by delivering a single-authored text to be printed and validated within the prevailing audit culture?” Eva Weinmayr, "Confronting authorship - Constructing Practices – How copyright destroys collective practice", 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), 267-307.
  25. "Luther Blissett" is a multiple-use name that was informally adopted and shared by hundreds of artists and activists across Europe and the Americas since the 1990s. Luther Blissett first appeared in Bologna, Italy, in mid-1994, when a number of cultural activists began using it for staging a series of urban and media pranks and to experiment with new forms of authorship and identity. "Karen Eliot" is a "name that refers to an individual human being who can be anyone. The name is fixed, the people using it aren’t. The purpose of many different people using the same name is to create a situation for which no one, in particular, is responsible and to practically examine western philosophical notions of identity, individuality, originality, value and truth.” [...] Anyone can become Karen Eliot simply by adopting the name, but they are only Karen Eliot for the period in which they adopt the name. “When one becomes Karen Eliot one’s previous existence consists of the acts other people have undertaken using the name. Karen Eliot was not born, s/he was materialized from social forces, constructed as a means of entering the shifting terrain that circumscribes the ‘individual’ and society.” Lousia Döderlein, "16 Minds – Karen Eliot and Second Life", See also Nicholas Thoburn’s research into the political agency of anonymous authorship. Nicholas Thoburn, Anti-Book, On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 168–223.
  26. We see these tactics used by underground movements across the political spectrum, from the radical left, anarchist as well as more recently by the far-right. See "Infiltration," Florian Cramer and Stewart Home, and Tatiana Bazzichelli at Disruption Network Lab #14, Berlin, September 27, 2018, See also Maik Fielitz and Nick Thurston, eds., Post-Digital Cultures of the Far-Right - Online Actions and Offline Consequences in Europe and the US (Bielefeld: transcript-Verlag, 2019).
  27. Nicholas Thoburn points here towards Marx's thinking about "communal being" in "On the Jewish Question." Thoburn refers to Marx's conceptualization of a political sociality of the communal or the common. "The bourgeois individual of the modern state — the 'citizen,' the subject of the 'rights of man,' the 'possessive individual' as we know it since C. B. MacPherson — is premised on an opposition between individual and social existence." Thoburn, "Anti-book", 178.
  28. 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), 47. See also John Cunningham, “Clandestinity and Appearance,” Mute, July 8, 2010. http://
  29. Thoburn, "Anti-book", 179.
  30. Barthes' influential claim about the "Death of the Author" proposes to shift the agency of a text from the author to the reader, from intention to interpretation or in Barthes' words: from "writerly texts" to "readerly texts." For Barthes neither the author's personality nor his/her history or empirical body, is in focus, instead "it is language which speaks, not the author; to write is [...] to reach that point where only language acts, performs, and not 'me'". See Roland Barthes, S/Z, translated by Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1974), and Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author", in Image Music Text (London: Fontana Paperbacks, 1990), 143.
  31. Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?", in Donald F. Bouchard, ed., Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press), 130.
  32. Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?", 114.
  33. Sara Ahmed, Differences That Matter, Feminist Theory and Postmodernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 124.
  34. Foucault explains
    The 'author-function' is not universal or constant in all discourse. Even within our civilization, the same types of texts have not always required authors; there was a time when those texts which we now call 'literary' (stories, folk tales, epics, and tragedies) were accepted, circulated, and valorized without any question about the identity of their author. Their anonymity was ignored because their real or supposed age was a sufficient guarantee of their authenticity. Texts, however, that we now call 'scientific' (dealing with cosmology and the heavens, medicine or illness, the natural sciences or geography) were only considered truthful during the Middle Ages if the name of the author was indicated. Statements on the order of 'Hippocrates said...' or 'Pliny tells us that...' were not merely formulas for an argument based on authority; they marked a proven discourse. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a totally new conception was developed when scientific texts were accepted on their own merits and positioned within an anonymous and coherent conceptual system of established truths and methods of verification. Authentification no longer required reference to the individual who had produced them; the role of the author disappeared as an index of truthfulness and, where it remained as an inventor's name, it was merely to denote a specific theorem or proposition, a strange effect, a property, a body, a group of elements, or pathological syndrome. At the same time, however, 'literary' discourse was acceptable only if it carried an author's name." Foucault, "What is an Author?", 125-126.
  35. George Lipsitz says “Living with contradictions is difficult, and, especially for intellectuals and artists employed in academic institutions, the inability to speak honestly and openly about contradictory consciousness can lead to a destructive desire for “pure” political positions, to militant posturing and internecine battles with one another that ultimately have more to do with individual subjectivities and self-images than with disciplined collective struggle for resources and power.” George Lipsitz, "Academic Politics and Social Change," Cultural Studies and Political Theory, edited by Jodi Dean (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000), 80.
  36. See Mario Biagioli's discussion of the analogies between the concept of the author and the father/progenitor in the framework of patriarchy. Biagioli investigates plagiarism not as a violation of intellectual property but of the kinship relationships between the author and his work. He traces back historical instances where plagiarism was perceived as the loss of the ownership (sic) of a child, "not just as a biological father but as paterfamilias." Hence, "the author is not simply deprived of an object of property but ‘loses control’ of the child, with a subsequent reduction of his personhood." Marion Biagioli, "Plagiarism, Kinship and Slavery", Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 31(2/3) (2014), 67.
  37. See Hensleigh Wedgwood, English Etymology, (London: Trübner & Co, 1872), 32. Walter W. Skeat, Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology (1882), republished (London: Forgotten Books, 2013), 32. And for a more detailed discussion: etymonline, accessed September 2, 2019,
  38. These current politics of metrification have been criticized by many scholars in the Humanities and Science as too restricted and not fully capturing the impact of research. The argument goes that only a limited set of academic journals are considered as a source for citation statistics. Therefore some scholars engaged in an arguably progressive step opening up the range of sources to be evaluated and counted by launching "Altmetric". Altmetric measures a broad spectrum of "web reactions" to publications by calculating the attention score on social networks such as Facebook, microblogging services such as Twitter, video platforms such as YouTube, and other media outlets. Based on an undisclosed algorithm, the Altmetric score is visualized in the form of so-called "badges" that quantify responses to and interactions with published material. While this innovation certainly opens the convention of what can be validated as output, I would claim it still adheres to a logic of mere calculation.
  39. The point system laid out in the steering document for artistic research at Gothenburg University (2018) lists:
    Book (or equivalent), published by national or international publishers > 5 points
    Artistic work (peer reviewd) > 5 points
    Article, peer-reviewed (scientific / artistic) > 3 points
    Conference contribution (scientific / artistic) peer reviewed > 2 points
    Article (scientific / artistic) > 1 point
    Research Summary > 1 point
    Chapter in book (or equivalent), published by national or international publisher. Also editorial for book > 1 point
    Artistic work > 1 point
  40. The contexts I am aware of in which the book has been used include “Feminist Arts Education”, at the Institute for Art and Art Theory, Cologne University, 2017. And “Feminist Pedagogies” at Cologne University, Madame B Reading Group, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London
  41. For instance, “What is an Artschool”, Symposium, Chelsea College of Art, London, 2016; “Exploiting Justice”, Symposium, Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Gothenburg, 2016; “Feminist Arts Education”, Workshop, Institute for Art and Art Theory, Intermedia / Artistic Media Practice and Theory, Cologne University, 2017.
  42. Student initiatives include the Autotheory inquiry group, the Queer Reading Group, Color Island working group, to name just a few.
  43. A range of public events focussed on decolonial and intersectional feminist topics in pedagogy. They include “Critical Practice” conference (2015); KUNO seminar “Inclusive Actions–Art Schools Imagining Desegregation?” (2017.) PARSE Bienal Conference “Exclusion" (2016); “Decolonising Film Education" (2019).
  44. The Humane Metrics Initiative (HuMetricsHSS) at Michigan University proposes to evaluate scholarship along five criteria that are central to all humanities and social science disciplines: "equity, openness, collegiality, quality, and community." They propose to develop dense networks of reciprocal mentoring through which senior scholars nurture the success of their junior colleagues. See also Christopher P. Long, "Toxicity, Metrics and Academic Life," Human Metrics, Metrics Noir, edited by Meeson Press, Eileen Joy, Martina Frantzen, and Cristopher P. Long (Coventry: Postoffice Press, 2018). Published on the occasion of the Radical Open Access II – The Ethics of Care conference taking place June 26-27, 2018 at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University. Download open access pamphlet
  45. Christopher Kelty, "Recursive Publics and Open Access" in Guerrilla Open Access, edited by Memory of the World (Coventry: Post Office Press, Rope Press and Memory of the World, 2018). Download pamphlet:
  46. Karen Barad, "Diffracting Diffraction: Cutting Together-Apart", in Parallax, 20:3 (2014), 168-187. DOI: 10.1080/13534645.2014.927623.
  47. Barad explains, "It might seem a bit odd to enlist an organic metaphor to talk about diffraction, an optical phenomenon that might seem lifeless. But diffraction is not only a lively affair but one that troubles dichotomies, including some of the most sedimented and stabilized/stabilizing binaries, such as organic/ inorganic and animate/inanimate. Indeed, the quantum understanding of diffraction troubles the very notion of dichotomy – cutting into two – as a singular act of absolute differentiation, fracturing this from that, now from then." Barad, Diffracting, 168.
  48. 48.0 48.1 See "Research as Thinking Together," a research conversation between Femke Snelting and Eva Weinmayr on Jitsi during lockdown, conducted on March 24-25, 2020, prepared and supported by an open-source Etherpad, a server, and a wifi provider.
  49. See Karen Barad, "Nature's Queer Performativity", Kvinder, KØN & Forskning 46, 1-2 (2012): 46; and Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska, Life after New Media - Mediation as a Vital Process (Cambridge MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012).
  50. Revisiting the syllabus for doctoral education at Gothenburg University, I find the contested paradigms of monumental knowledge nested in the rules and regulations document of the university. As a feature required for the award of a Ph.D. degree, the syllabus talks about "intellectual autonomy," "disciplinary rectitude," "to independently and autonomously pursue artistic research." The word "autonomously" appears no less than nine times in the document. "Doctoral Education Ph.D. syllabus," (Gothenburg: Gothenburg University, 2015).

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