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8th of March ‘Day Without Women’: Striking from Academic Work

Rising from the South, spreading throughout Latin America, a feminist wave of (cisgender and trans) women has questioned violence and murder under the battlecry of “Ni una menos”. The wave then propagated to Poland, where women stopped the whole country for days in order to defend their right to abortion and self-determination. Then, the wave became the tide that flooded the streets of Rome and brought, everywhere in Italy, a political mobilization of women and queer subjectivities against gender violence. In the United States, women flooded the capital and major cities against Trump‘s election, protesting against the racism and the sexism overtaking the country. Only when the tide overwhelmed and blocked major airports in the United States did the international media understand the extent of these protests, but always neglecting to mention the transnational character of a revolt of women from distant countries united in the struggle against patriarchy and capitalism.

 

The 8th March 2017 will be a day of transnational struggle and mobilization, the day when women from 22 countries call for a strike to block productive and reproductive labor for capitalism, a mode of production which values our lives differently, makes our labor of care invisible, creates inequalities in salaries, and profits from the capitalization of differences. The gender system, reproduced through obligatory heterosexuality, imposes roles and assigns expectations (a violence in itself), generating and feeding violence against the most vulnerable bodies. In this context, frontiers represent a bleeding wound on the bodies of migrants, whom are made profitable at the same time as they are cast as unworthy to live.

 

The University has forever pushed us to produce twice as much in order to have only half of our efforts recognized. So many students crowd the classrooms and keep research going, challenging the crystal ceiling that keeps them away from prestigious tenured jobs or even from the more mundane hope of a temporary contract. The legacy of divergent ways of thinking is considered as a minor one, as useless and even harmful knowledges within a paradigm of knowledge production geared towards profit. This has meant a real and proper death-sentence to Gender, Queer and Postcolonial Studies, for example, such as the merging (that is actual closure) of of the PhD in Cultural and Postcolonial Studies at the ‘L’Orientale’ University in Naples, where many of us studied, thriving within a horizontal community of growth and exchange. We learned from feminism to start from ourselves to produce a thought that can change the world. Postcolonial feminist thinkers and writers taught us to listen and think ‘nearby’, not “in place of’’. Queer thinking showed us how to practice the art of failure and the betrayal of monumental epistemologies. Today more than ever we believe that knowledge is about taking a stance, questioning our privileges, and expressing a divergent thought against the violence of the gender system, against the austerity measures and the cuts which have sentenced the University and knowledges to death, against institutionalized racism and security policies, which, in the name of the defense of women and LGBTI people, are persecuting and deporting migrant people, but especially against every kind of – material or immaterial– border between nations and genders.

 

For these reasons, we will join the strike of the 8th March. Some will regularly go on strike, but most of us, without contracts, recognition and security within the university, will invent new forms of siege of cognitive capitalism. In the classes where we teach, often unpaid, we will cross our arms from unrecognized and unpaid work. We will desert the self-imposed obligation of having always to be visible and productive, a principle that pushes us continuously towards self-exploitation. We will refuse to practice any form of kindness towards those who consider our precarity as the legitimation of our total and perpetual ‘availability’. We will find new and unpredictable ways of taking the floor and manifesting our rage against this system, expressing our solidarity with the ones fighting for a world without inequalities, violence and borders.

 

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