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Accepted Paper:

Stubbornness and utopian politics in contemporary French universities  
Eli Thorkelson (Stellenbosch University)

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on my ongoing dissertation fieldwork on French universities, I aim to analyze the way that faculty activists, protesting the Sarkozy government's market-oriented university reforms, sustain their political hopes long after the political situation has turned against them. After massive university strikes ended in government victory in 2009, a small group, the "Infinite Rounds of the Stubborn," continued to hold weekly vigils before the Ministry. Here I will trace how this group maintains its commitment to meet week after week in the face of changing institutional situations and internal doubts. I will argue that this case demands that we take stubbornness seriously as one possible utopian project: faced with a seemingly triumphant wave of neoliberal reforms, this group has simply refused to give up. For them, and herein the broader lesson, utopian hope lies above all in collective remobilization: for them, utopian ideas appear secondary to utopian social forms.

Panel IW005
Imagination, crisis and hope, or, do futures have a future?
  Session 1