A few years ago now I tried to open up my own (para-)academic space. I think part of its failure is addressed here. What I attempted was less something outside the university than a space which worked in conjunction with it, overlapped, and at times, depending on the event, was indiscernible from it.
What is Para-Academia? I extracted the following definition from an advertisement for a symposium which occurred in New York last year:
The term ‘para-academic’ captures the multivalent sense of something that fulfills and/or frustrates the academic from a position of intimate exteriority. Para-academia is that which is beside academia, a place whose logic encompasses many reasons and no reason at all (para-, “alongside, beyond, altered, contrary,” from Greek para-, “beside, near, from, against, contrary to,” cognate with Sanskrit para “beyond”). The para is the domain of: shadow, paradigm, daemon, parasite, supplement, amateur, elite. The para-academic embodies an unofficial excess or extension of the academic that helps, threatens, supports, mocks (par-ody), perfects and/or calls it into question simply by existing next to it. Following a series of classes organized through The Public School New York on the subject of “Para-Academia and Theory Fiction,” this event brings together a group of editors…
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