Our theory of the university - how to study it and how to be in relation to it - calls for a fundamental rethinking of property relations. It is a theory that refuses many collective assumptions of the university, perhaps most centrally its benevolence and its inevitable future. To focus on accumulation, capital, and land has the potential to widen the frame of who the stakeholders are in this struggle beyond students and faculty so as to be accountable to and ideally in solidarity with other campus workers and the people who live in areas adjacent to college and universities. To think the university in this way is to shift away from the idea of being “in but not of” to grapple with the ways we’re all of it, whether or not we want to be and thus to refuse a tempting absolution from complicity with the institutions’ violence. We understand ourselves as working in and on the university, with our different and shifting positions in relation to university institutions (tenure-track, tenured, adjunct, staff, grad student-worker, ex-academic) to agitate across our positionalities—particularly in reckoning with the limits and possibilities for studying, collaborating, and organizing in solidarity with each other.
The abolition university recognizes that abstract oppositionality and critique, left to their own devices, may in fact unwittingly reproduce accumulation regimes by offering their practitioners the sense of moral supremacy and social exteriority necessary to imagine knowledge production as a form of change in itself. Instead, we imagine the abolition university as a relation, a network, and an ethos with various potentials for transforming what and whom the university can be for.