Mohammad Salemy, Künstler und Kurator & Rafael Pedroso, Researcher
Brain-Eating Zombies: The academic form vs knowledge production
Informed by the disappointments that often lead people away from academic cannibalism, our dialogue outlines the harsh realities of this practice. As a common aspect of intellectual life at universities, academic cannibalism involves the refusal of epistemic legitimacy to less powerful figures while simultaneously appropriating their new concepts and language. Our discussion will also focus on how universities, particularly those in the Global North, position themselves as centers of knowledge production. We will highlight how this power struggle occurs amidst their mismanagement of external challenges like political, technological, and cultural transformations in the real world, as recently highlighted by the academic controversies surrounding AI tools and the rise of post-truth narratives.
We will argue that universities often paint themselves as helpless victims of capitalism only to legitimize their position as the sole arbiters of knowledge production. This process further masks the role of academia in maintaining neoliberal cultural ideologies while self-representing as the most radical segment of society. Concurrently, academia engages in practices that worsen labor conditions for those lower in the hierarchy within their institutions and actively sabotages alternative knowledge production avenues.
Mohammad Salemy is an independent Berlin-based artist, critic and curator. He holds a BFA from Emily Carr University and an MA in Critical Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia. He has shown his works in Ashkal Alwan's Home Works 7 (Beirut, 2015), Witte de With (Rotterdam, 2015) and Robot Love (Eindhoven, 2018). His writings have been published in e-flux, Flash Art, Third Rail, Brooklyn Rail, Ocula, Arts of the Working Class and Spike. Salemy's curatorial experiment For Machine Use Only was included in the 11th edition of Gwangju Biennale (2016). Together with a changing cast, he forms the artist collective Alphabet Collection. Salemy is the Organizer at The New Centre for Research & Practice. He has been the cofounding Organizer of The New Centre since 2014.
Rafael Pedroso is a Brazilian independent researcher. He holds a Masters in International Relations from PUC-Rio, with a thesis focused on reading Marx in the Anthropocene by weaving together Marxist Ecology and Media Theory. He currently works at The New Centre for Research & Practice as Operations Coordinator and is a Researcher on the Critical Philosophy Program. His interests revolve around Political Economy, Ecology, Technology, geopolitics and political experimentation. He is also a part of the Subset for Theoretical Practice.