Dalgliesh, B. (2023). The idea of the university as a heterotopia: The ethics and politics of thinking in the age of informational capitalism. Thesis Eleven, 175(1), 81–107. https://doi.org/10.1177/07255136231169061
Drawing on struggles within academe between faculty that promote critical education and advocates of New Public Management (NPM) who endorse instrumental learning, I reimagine the university as a counter-space that positions it as a counter-power to informational capitalism. Initially, I outline its twin threats: ethical, as self-entrepreneurial academics are valorised by NPM; and political, with informationalisation conflating spaces of thinking. I then detail Scott Lash’s specific account of how the info-comm society negates critique. However, his monistic understanding of informationalisation means Lash’s alternative of Informationskritik risks subsumption by it. I therefore defer to Jacques Derrida’s idea of the university. To ensure the autonomy of the principle of reason in a world of info-comm flows, the university is a supplementary body to society, yet intimately linked to it by its critical reflexivity, which is on behalf of society. Because Derrida does not elaborate the requisite institutional architecture, I conclude with Michel Foucault’s notion of heterotopia as a quasi-illicit site that is different and other. Such an institutional design enables the university as a counter-space that is a bank of reason and an archive of its manifestation in social practices. It also upholds a space for thinking, which in the form of nominalist critical history proffers a counter-power to society as an informational homotopia.