The Art of the Struggle: Self-enquiries, Transformation and Re-composition of Living Labor


UniNomade Seminar – at Teatro Garibaldi Aperto in Palermo, Italy – 9th-10th March 2013

A seminar to discuss the social recomposition of living labor: from art and entertainment workers to the figures of cognitive labor, subjected to the constraints of creatively flexible and mobile work, all suffer the reduction of their knowledges, information and relations to a mere social capital for the use and consumption of public and private companies. For decades, we witnessed the emergence of mechanisms characterized by individual risk, indiscriminate competition, self-entrepreneurship, typical of a world of self-employment in continuous and profound transformation.

Over the last twenty years, in those territories, schools and universities where the production and circulation of knowledge-commodities coexist, the struggles have been able to blow the lid off the alleged neutrality of these new forms of accumulation. However, the processes of counter-subjectification of other figures of the “cognitariat” seem to be undergoing a rather longer and more troubled gestation; and with them, the possibility of mutual recognition.

Significant signals are coming from new experiences of struggle and mobilization, in Italy and in the rest of Europe and the Mediterranean region, which see the “creatives” engaged in a renewed conflict over knowledge. We are speaking of the occupied theatres in Italy; of the role played by art workers in the revolutionary processes in Tunisia and Greece;  and of the mobilizations and political initiatives of those autonomous artists who, from England to Spain, are trying to build a “common ” plane of art and culture, free from the mechanisms of commodification and exploitation, a galaxy of new subjects that make cooperation and autonomy a basic feature of their artistic and cultural work.

Therefore, the challenge that we want to face is to hypotize trends and recompositive trajectories within the transformations of labor. The workers of art and entertainment, students and knowledge workers, the subjectivities of “self-employment” and of living labor as a whole, can and must find a common plan of political action.

The objectives of the seminar will be to identify, departing from paths of self-enquiry and co-research, both the problematic (and in certain cases ambivalent) nodes of different discourses and experiences, and the possible planes of convergence to cross over in the name of common struggles.

The seminar will be divided into three sessions. The first is dedicated to a theoretical contextualization of the struggles in the field of knowledge and culture, with an analysis on the processes of precarization and subjectivation, exploitation and resistance of cognitive workers in the metamorphosis of class composition. In the second session – departing from the attempts of self-organization of the cognitive precariat in the last decade –  we will discuss experiences of mobilization and re-appropriation of art, entertainment and knowledge workers, in Italy and in a transnational context. In the third session we will try instead to get to the node of recomposition, through a discussion among different militant investigation projects and various figures of living labour within contemporary struggles.




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