The Provisional University

Active in Dublin

The Provisional University is an autonomous research project that emerges in response to the precarious conditions we find ourselves living and working in and a desire to transform them. For us this has meant developing research practices that are situated within the crises of our everyday lives. In this context, research is not a privileged, academic pursuit tied to pre-existing goals, but a constructive process that we enter into with other people who share our problems. Through this process we can help to create the tools, forms of articulation, actions and ways of organizing that are necessary to expand our social power now.

In the university and the city processes of exclusion and exploitation multiply. These processes are the effect of the governing neoliberal logic: university competes with university, city competes with city, and so are we forced into a competition that generates fewer and fewer winners, more and more losers. As well as excluding those who are unable to play the game, the logic of competition erodes and dismantles the public goods and services that we rely on (healthcare, water, housing, education). This does not just come in the form of privatizing and marketizing public resources and insitutions, but also through the individualization and precaritization of many aspects of our lives: the ways we are forced to see and act as entrepreneurs, against one another. These are real conditions that we live under, that we are forced to practice and perform on an everyday basis. It is from within these conditions and the immediate ways people seek to resist and escape them that we try to think and intervene.

It seems obvious to us that previous ways of understanding and organizing on the left are no longer capable of resonating with the times we live in. Nor do we believe in ‘intellectuals of the movement’ who are ready to interpret reality for us or tell us how to organize against capitalism. We believe in the equality of intelligences and the need to develop analyses with people from within the situations we find ourselves in. This process can help us produce common notions and actions, a living, material knowledge that can forge a a shared ground from which to struggle. This is not a linear process, nor about representing ‘minorities’, but an experimental, constructive process that is open to the novelty and fragmentation we are confronted with.

The Provisional University is a very small project that attempts to develop concrete practices of research militancy. We organize talks and discussions, we write and disseminate texts and we try as much as possible to participate in the construction and defence of those forms of social life that expand our collective possibilities beyond the scrooge of capitalism.

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