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Robert Meister

Opposing University Financialization from the Inside: An Autoethnography

Monday, November 13, 2023, 5:00–6:30pm

Foster 107

As higher educational services become a cheapening commodity and income gaps widen, the strategy of educational elites is to assetize their rankings and brands. But this branding strategy works only insofar as faculty don’t break ranks: it depends on them to continue saying that the university is still “good” in all the ways that would distinguish it from a diversified hedge fund. Unlike other corporate employees, tenured faculty have the (academic) freedom to question their administrations’ integrity, and it wouldn’t take much dissent to subvert the financialization that is hypersensitive to faculty’s willingness to cover for it.

Drawing on his own experience at University of California Santa Cruz, Robert Meister identifies a tension in which both the corporate campus and the professional discipline are on one side and transdisciplinary academic self-governance is on the other. His lecture considers how faculty’s own professional culture inhibits resistance and opens a discussion about how to repoliticize universities by gaining distance from the financial models through which administrations govern faculty.

Robert Meister is professor of social and political thought in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he directs the Bruce Initiative on Rethinking Capitalism. His political thought concerns the moral relations between the beneficiaries of social and political injustice and its victims. Meister is the author of Justice Is an Option: A Democratic Theory of Finance for the Twenty-First Century (University of Chicago Press, 2021), After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights (Columbia University Press, 2011), and Political Identity: Thinking Through Marx (Blackwell Publishing, 1991).

This event is free and open to the public, and registration is recommended. Please email us at  if you require any accommodations to enable your full participation.