1st Edition

The Idea of the University Histories and Contexts

Edited By Debaditya Bhattacharya Copyright 2019
    308 Pages
    by Routledge India

    308 Pages
    by Routledge India

    What is this ‘idea’ of the university? Why does it need to be defended?

    Does the work of defense preclude the task of rearranging the idea itself?

    Drawing on these essential questions, this volume traces the historical transformations of the university in medieval Europe and explores current debates on its existence and sustenance in a neoliberal India. It challenges the liberal-humanist ‘ideal’ of academic exchange to inquire into long befuddled debates on the true nature of the modern university.

    Along with its companion The University Unthought: Notes for a Future, this brave new intervention makes a compelling foray into the political future(s) of the university. It will be of interest to academics, educators and students of the social sciences and humanities, especially education. It will also be of use to policy-makers and education analysts, and central to the concerns of any citizen.

    Introduction: The University in History: From ‘Idea’ to Impossibility. Part I: Historicising the Contemporary 1. The Vocation of the Public University 2. The Surplus University 3. Perils and Prospects of the Modern University: African and Asian Contexts in a World-Historical Perspective Part II: Understanding Contexts 4. Divide and Educate 5. Of Utopias and Universities 6. Audit Cultures and the Indian University as Credit-Capital 7. Of Feudal Intellectual Capital: The History of the New Provincial Universities Part III: (A)politics in/of the University? 8. Is There a Calling on the Left? 9. The University as Passivity? The Role of Students’ Political Activism 10. The Convergence of Unequals: Struggle for Rights in the University Space Part IV: Reflections and Memoirs 11. Bearing Witness to the University-‘Idea’: Some Personal Reflections 12. Don’t Study, Be Happy 13. The Presidential Transition 14. University: The State’s Kitchen?


    Debaditya Bhattacharya teaches literature at Kazi Nazrul University, India. He has previously taught at Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi, India (2010–2012), Central University of South Bihar, India (2013–2015) and Nivedita College, University of Calcutta, India (2015–2018). Debaditya’s doctoral work engaged with the relationship between literature and death, and with specific reference to the testimonial speech-act. He researches on continental philosophy, and writes on contemporary modes of political articulation as well as practices of mobilization in the Indian context. His current interests cohere around a social-economic history of higher education, with specific attention to Indian policy-contexts. He is co-editor of Sentiment, Politics, Censorship: The State of Hurt (2016).

    "The university is in crisis everywhere. Pushed by the demand for new technology-driven skills and hugely expanded aspirations for college degrees, the traditional university is being squeezed by a mercenary sector that supplies education for profit and shrinking state support. These two volumes, containing essays by a stellar list of contributors, provide the most comprehensive discussion I have seen of this crisis, particularly in India but also covering the neighbouring countries and the global scene." - Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology,Columbia University, New York, USA and Honorary Professor, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata, India

    "These landmark volumes offer a veritable smorgasbord of deep and original thinking about the question of what a university is for. A stellar cast of essayists explores the university’s historical embeddedness in the nation-state, critiques its present imbrication with global capital, and provides a richly imagined manifesto for its future." - Niraja Gopal Jayal, Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

    "This invaluable and extraordinarily thought-provoking collection offers many critical readings of not only the idea but also the ideology of the university in the global south, and especially India. It not only brings out the ‘consecration’ of nationalist and neoliberal commonsense in the university today, but also provides a vocabulary to challenge and question this consecration. One of the great pleasures of the collection is also the tension and implicit conversation between the various readings, which differ from each other, sometimes subtly and sometimes emphatically. An indispensable set of volumes for anybody concerned about the stakes of ‘higher’ education today." - Ajay Skaria, Professor, Department of History/Institute of Global Studies, University of Min