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School of Disobedience: Knowledge and Network Agency

School of Disobedience: Knowledge and Network Agency
Volksbühne Berlin | general_use

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With Stefan Heidenreich. Sometimes knowledge helps to do things. Sometimes it doesn’t. The difference between useful and useless knowledge is not always easy to spot, especially not from inside scientific or academic institutions. Self-referent and recursive operations, like the routines of application or evaluation, tend to push research into closed cycles. To identify pockets of useless academic rituals, one may watch out for purely ceremonial routines (Ayres) and proverbial academic bluster, like vain hierarchies, titles, or other traces of excellence signaling (Bourdieu). In this case, the concept of „bullshit jobs‟ (Graeber) may be extended to identify „bullshit knowledge‟. On the other hand, the development of the modern research University in 19th century Prussia gives an example of a successful transition from ceremonial rituals to productive and useful research. Reactivating Humboldt’s and Schleiermacher’s guiding principles could help to reconnect current knowledge with agency. Stefan Heidenreich used to teach Art Theory in Cologne and Media Theory in Basel. His books and texts appear at Merve Verlag, Hanser Verlag, die Zeit, der Freitag et al. Currently, his main job is to work for the democratization of art.

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