Time and the university

Eli Meyerhoff, Elizabeth Johnson, Bruce P Braun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Over the past twenty years, university administrators in North America, Europe and elsewhere have used the apparent 'crisis' in higher education as an opportunity to roll out neoliberal policies. For many working in the academy, the effect has been felt as a very real crisis of time, as budgets, resources and job positions are cut, and the working day is stretched to the limit. Resistance has often taken the form of struggles over wages and job security, and, by extension, over time measured in terms of the length and intensity of the working day. While such struggles are necessary, our contention is that they are not enough. Extending the distinction between kairos and chronos as developed in the writings of Giorgio Agamben, Antonio Negri, and Cesare Casarino, we wager that transforming higher education must involve more than "making more time" for our work; it must also "change" time. Only by so doing, we argue, can we realize - and expand upon - the university's potential to interrupt the empty, homogenous time of capital and cultivate non-capitalist alternatives in the here-and-now. This paper thus makes three moves: one which critiques and analyzes the practices by which the university harnesses the creative time of living labor, making it both useful and safe for capital; a second which develops a 'revolutionary' theory of time that enables us to see capital not as the generative source of innovation, but instead as parasitic upon it; and a third, affirmative, move that explores experiments within and beyond the university with self-valorizing practices of collective learning, no longer as resource for state and capital, but as part of the 'expansionary' time of the common.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-507
Number of pages25
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011


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