cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

Tag: university


During the past few weeks I’ve been so busy that I sometimes don’t have time to shower. But this morning’s theory lecture is far more important than petty hygiene. (Editing, however, is not. Forgive my form.)

research clearly valued superior to teaching: the better you are (research chair) the less you teach, especially at undergrad level.

  • Guy Roche in Quebec, made sense of all opposing schools of sociology (introduction a la sociologie). This is very recent! Dagenais’ first sociology class was with Freitag the giant. Now, tenure decided on number of articles published. The economy, not the synthesis, of knowledge. Want to get universities to compete with one another. ADAPTIVE – policies will force you to adapt to this economy. Taylorism, the managerial control of professional activity, is taking over the university. BUT ON WHAT FAILURE IS THIS REVOLUTION NECESSARY? none. not necessary.
  • the limits of modernity. Once we’ve gone through modernity, we can acknowledge its limits. (It is through the enormous transformation of the planet that we encounter the ecological limits of our existence.) Central in this is the key concept of modernization: individualizing everything, how we own things (private property); family (marriage for love and only the kids you want); authority (open to all who go though the phd process or democratic election); art (invention of subjective perspective). But there are limits to what individualism can deliver. Problem right now knowing if we are still modern? Postmodern? Some want to bring it to its end because of its limitations. This is where Habermas will suggest we continue the project of modernity, qualified by its limitations.
  • Edward Shorter The Making of the Modern Family and Dagenais’ The (Un)Making of the Modern Family; both phenomena caused by the same thing. Individualization of family, to marriage for live. Tranformation of traditional marriage to subjectively agreed-upon marriage. Individualistically oriented familia. Modern family is nuclear-founded every generation. Traditional familia is not founded at every generation, simply contribute to the renewal. The warmth and intimacy of home, hogar does not exist until 15th century England: introduces the personal aspect of life. And reflected in the change to marrying for love.
    • Calvin: women should have only the number of children they can properly educate. So, modern family comes from the want to educate/form children to become emancipated citizens that will later create own families, not continue their original family. This sets up children to betray their family of origin.
    • Modern funeral: find widow and console for loss of close person. Traditional funeral is a march because family is still intact.
    • Gender identity = objective. Primitive societies have divided world into gendered space and identities. Everything is one or the other. Later, modern gender identity is a subjective gender. Read Simone de Beauvoir, the Second Sex: women defined by their gender and males as transcending their gender. She wants not women’s rights, but rights of the individual. She wants access to the individualistic character of the man. Modern woman is woman for another man only in private. This gender identity is secondary to the public sphere. She is not a woman for her clients or for the government or even for her brother or father. This has made gender subjective.
    • Uncle is a modern term; does not exist in Ancient greek or in Latin. In traditional familia, brother of mother is not my family. Women do not transmit blood relationships.
    • Postmodern kinship systems demands that prof’s ex-wife share her role as mother with prof’s current partner. To do so is to allow for the future. To accept this is difficult, demands the transcending of the subjective. Post-conjugal. Based on the limits of modern love mediation. Instead of hitting him for replacing him as father, “have to admit that we share the same granddaughter”. Co-mothering legal is preparation for individual right to have child — an amplification of the individualizing process.
    • If you look at evolution of fertility since 16th century. Is it possible to identify different fertility modes? Pre-modern, modern, postmodern? Existential relation to a child: don’t want a family, want experience of having a child. Love is a pure relationship, not a reason for having kids. We want to find someone to have kids with; not a person we love, and kids are secondary. Modernization of family and modern deconstruction of family accounted for by modernity, even though opposite.

university as entertainment

Last winter I knew a girl from France who was astonished at how university worked here as compared to back home. Stuyding in France is very cheap, but in order for that to be the case it’s about going to class and little else. In Canada student space is valued and there are events, fancy gymnasiums, student initiatives (like Sustainable Concordia, the Potato, Frigo Vert, the Co-op Bookstore, clubs) and a hierarchy of political student bodies with massive budgets to make this work. In most cases, the promotion of student life has nothing to do with the activities of a student–namely, studying.

The CSU is pushing this even further with a proposal for a student centre that will cost $43 billion (67$ per semester for full-time students). I agree with voting for fee levies for humble initiatives that make Concordia a community, but a building with space for arcade games on campus is a waste of our money. Maybe it’s because I’m an international student and it hurts a lot to pay tuition, but it reminds me that I’m here to get an education, not to have a party on campus.

I wonder about the role of the university in a capitalist world that pushes it more and more towards becoming a private business. How does this pressure affect its objectives and policies?

I also wonder how increased rates of post-secondary education in Canada affect the population, as well as the education. Does it pay to dumb down classes for more people to get degrees? Does it elevate their quality of life?

Lastly, it would be interesting to run a sort of culture- and class-neutral IQ test on the wealthiest people in the US and compare the distribution to the rest of the population. Would they be similar? Would the rich score higher? If not, I would cite it as evidence against the American Dream.


Christine forwarded this to me:

Online Social Networking on Campus: Understanding What Matters in Student Culture is a professional guide for Higher Education faculty and Student Affairs administrators, which rigorously examines college students’ use of online social networking sites and how they use these to develop relationships both on and off campus. Most importantly, Online Social Networking on Campus investigates how college students use online sites to explore and makes sense of their identities. Providing information taken from interviews, surveys and focus group data, the book presents an ethnographic view of social networking that will help Student Affairs administrators, Information Technology administrators, and faculty better understand and provide guidance to the “neomillennials” on their campuses.”

Interesting. I wonder about not just how social networking is used by students to forge their identities but also how social networking affects their sense of connectedness (heightened anomie due to less real connection? different conception of “real connection” engendered? lessened anomie because of messaging or having a high number of friends?), what effect this different process of developing identity has, how online and offline interaction affect each other, what psychological effects exist.

Maybe I need to go back to sociology.

Coffee and brains

Concordia did some “world cafés,” which reminded me of the MC Scholars’ Philo Cafés that I loved so much. A Philo Café was a gathering of the 25 students of the Scholars Program along with its four Core professors (professors of history, literature, philosophy and music) in which we had the opportunity to talk about the course material in an informal setting. These were perhaps the most memorable and enjoyable part of the program, and I find that I have been wanting to recreate that sort of exchange with students at Concordia this past year. However, I’ve been largely frustrated to find that there is no equivalent here, no events conducive to such a dialogue set up for any subject. In actively seeking such a thing, or even just other students so interested in anthropology that they would want to talk about it without the context of the classroom, I became involved with Concordia’s Sociology and Anthropology Student Union. I come away to find that so far, in my classes most students and professors find it disruptive to the class when I ask questions or raise a topic for discussion, and though a handful have approached me to say that they like my insights or that they agree with me, I have yet to sit down and have a conversation with anyone about their ideas surrounding a certain discipline or its concepts. (Sadly, I have only managed to blurt out many of my own at someone who I thought might engage me in such a dialogue, only to find that they simply wanted my notes from class.)

I guess I’ll just have to host my own modern-day salon, my own hub of intellectual discussion, in the befitting Mile End.


  • grassroots organization empowering Latin Americans from the ground (themselves) up by taking back control over simple but important aspects
  • possibly collectivism, food, solidarity, health

Majors: anthropology, sociology; Minors: Latin American politics, nutrition/health