In 2018 I conducted a research project, titled “is there a future for Oxbridge?”, as part of my Educational Research MPhil at the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education. Upon employing Weber’s (2013 ) critique on the bureaucratisation of society as a framework for interrogating the legitimacy of the ‘leading minority’ status assigned to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, I undertook an empirical investigation into the manner in which Cambridge’s status is perceived by self-identifying under represented students at the university. Initially, the project acted as a coping mechanism following a series of negative experiences in my first term of study. Nonetheless, these emotional attachments helped me in producing honest work that was unforgiving and relentless in its criticality. Moreover, my personal connection with the topic did not support me in anticipating the ideas expressed by the project’s participants, who called not only for an end to ‘elite’ universities but to conversations concerning the inequalities produced by this eliteness. Presented here is a brief review of these findings, with attention dedicated to exploring what it means to ‘shut it’- it being both Oxbridge and the interest surrounding these institutions – down. I hope to expand upon this discussion as part of the Working Class 2020 conference by presenting more fully the work produced by the participants as part of the project’s engagement with creative methods.
I’ve been working with constellations for the last six years, alongside my friend and co-conspirator Kay Sidebottom. It’s a philosophical concept which we find ways of operationalising practically. Our constellations have their roots in the joyful affirmative ethics of the 17th century optometrist Baruch Spinoza, channelled via Deleuze and Guattari in their disappointment after the 1968 Paris uprisings and reinvented by Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova. We have studied with Braidotti and Hlavajova for several years at Utrecht University summer schools, which, when we first attended, we could barely understand. But something about the high theory resonated and, over time, began to drive us.