Tag Archives: history

Papers on French philosophy, precarity and protest

It’s been a fun year for me (leaving aside here, you know, many disturbing political events, trends, pomps and circumstances, because this isn’t that kind of blog) because some of my post-dissertation work is actually in print:

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experts on french student movements

Apparently there is a group of French historians specializing in academic contestation: “Jean-Philippe Legois est historien spécialiste de la contestation universitaire, membre du Germe (groupe de recherche sur les mouvements étudiants) et de la mission Caarme (pour la création d’un centre d’archives sur les mouvements étudiants).” Legois was interviewed in Liberation; he thinks that the strikes could either grow substantially or remain small. Which is obvious. A more interesting point is that he thinks the question of the “politics” of student groups – which seems to be code for government accusations that they’re a front for the “extreme left” – is a nonissue, the real question being the creation of contingent coalitions of different groups in different circumstances. As for the question of the Pécresse law’s opening of the university to big business, he seems equivocal.

A broad spectrum of feelings is apparent in the comments on the article. One says:

au fond ceux qui manifestent ne sont-ils pas en plein desarroi? on leur a fait croire que l ‘université était accessible à tous, tout le monde pouvait être docteur, chercheur ……. et non même à la fac il y a un filtre( à la sortie) il vaut mieux faire des etudes modestes et respectables, que de “longues études” qui ne menent à rien! je suis d ‘accord dès que le privé sera dans l ‘université alors celles-ci brilleront davantage comme à l ‘etranger c ‘est vrai mais attention la fac n ‘est pas faite pour tout le monde! il faut l ‘accepter et accepter ses limites. (on voit même des bac pro s’inscrire en medecine sic!, en science!) l echec est programmé non?

Which means roughly:

at heart, aren’t those who protest in total confusion? they were led to believe that the university was accessible to all, everyone could be doctor, researcher…. and that even at the fac there wasn’t a filter (at the exit). it’s better to do modest and respectable studies, than “long studies” leading to nothing! i agree since the private [sector] will be in the university, they’ll shine like they do abroad, it’s true. but pay attention, the fac isn’t made for everybody! you have to accept it and accept its limits. (one even sees vocational high school students enrolling in medicine, in science!) failure is planned, no?

It’s a very conservative pragmatism to argue that “the fac isn’t made for everybody,” but I think it’s an interesting claim that failure is planned. There’s more to look into when it comes to planned failure and disappointment in academic institutions.