Introducing the “Journal for Occupied Studies”


Pic courtesy of 90.9 WBUR.

It looks like Tidal has some competition. Today I stumbled across the Journal for Occupied Studies, a project that “springs from the New School for Social Research in New York City but which fills its pages not only with student and faculty perspectives on Occupy Wall Street but with contributions from diverse individuals outside that university and indeed outside the USA.” Articles are divided up into five sections: Strategy, Culture, History, Education, and Struggle.

It’s interesting to see how the emergent organs of Occupy publishing attempt to process the potential tension between academia and the OWS ethos. Should the educational goals of OWS focus on reforming and democratizing education within its current institutions or on a radical reconfiguration of how view the educational project? Neither Tidal nor JOS offers a programmatic solution to this dilemma–strict programmatics are pretty un-Occupy–but they each project somewhat distinct identities.

First, the obvious similarities: both are avowedly committed to the movement, heavy on critical theory, and snazzily designed. Tidal, though, seems to want to project a little more distance from the academic powers that be. While it publishes heavy hitters like Judith Butler and Gayatri Spivak, it is (as best I can tell) independent of any university. Not all the writers are superstars, though; in fact, plenty of Tidal’s authors write under pseudonyms. And with its cartoons and stylized, cut-and-paste design, it looks more like an Occupy-focused Adbusters than a standard academic journal. JOS, on the other hand, has an affiliation with the New School (the terms of which aren’t clear) and a heavier authorial skew toward the professorate and seems a more conventional project, even as it “operates for the radicalisation of this struggle, at the place between past and future, theory and praxis.” It also includes an article by PhD candidate Eric Lohman calling for the organization of grad students, faculty, and others to restore the dignity of the humanities, resist the commercialization of the university, and increase opportunities for tenure. Progressive ideas, certainly, but not exactly the Up Against the Wall Motherf**kerism that would satisfy the movement radicals.

Both make for good reading, though. Who knows if “Occupy Studies” as a field will exist in five years (a lot depends, obviously, on the survival of the movement over the coming months), but for now, the more thought spent on OWS the better.

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