Swarthmore College

As part of our project on “Race, Racism, and Liberal Arts,” the Aydelotte Foundation will host Abigail Boggs, Eli Meyerhoff, Nick Mitchell, and Zach Schwartz-Weinstein for a week-long residency, beginning April 10, 2023. These scholars are the authors of “Abolitionist University Studies: An Invitation” and will be on campus to participate in a keynote conversation on abolitionist university studies, hold office hours open to students and faculty, and to visit classes and seminars. 

Abolitionist university studies (AUS) is an interdisciplinary inquiry that foregrounds “the foundational epistemological and material violences of the U.S. state, liberalism, and capitalism” in the study of higher education. In other words, AUS analyzes colleges and universities by embracing the intellectual traditions of abolitionism, in addition to those of Black Studies, Feminist Studies, Ethnic Studies, and critical tendencies in a number of other disciplines. In addition to their work establishing this framework, Boggs, Meyerhoff, Mitchell, and Schwartz-Weinstein each study particular aspects of higher education in their own scholarship, including the role of foreign students, the history of alternative educational institutions, the development of Black and Feminist studies, and university unionism. 

A full schedule of events open to the Swarthmore community and the public related to the visit can be found below. 

Friday, April 7

Swarthmore Student Reading Group on Abolitionist University Studies
The Aydelotte Foundation invites students to participate in a reading group session on a new, engaging pamphlet written on abolitionist university studies. This is a chance to learn about university abolitionism before the Abolitionist University Studies Residency beginning April 10, during which Abigail Boggs, Eli Meyerhoff, Nick Mitchell, and Zach Schwartz-Weinstein will be on campus.

Friday, April 7th 6:00pm
Location: Sproul 201
Free pizza and boba provided

Register here to receive a PDF copy of the reading, “Abolish the University?”. First edition print pamphlets will be available for pick-up in the Aydelotte Foundation office on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-4pm, beginning April 4th.

Tuesday, April 11

3-5pm – Open Office Hours with Boggs, Meyerhoff, Mitchell, and Schwartz-Weinstein
Aydelotte Foundation Office, Parrish W201

Swarthmore faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend open office hours sessions for open discussion with our scholars-in-residence. Advance reservations are not required.

Thursday, April 13

1-3pm – Open Office Hours with Boggs, Meyerhoff, Mitchell, and Schwartz-Weinstein Aydelotte Foundation Office, Parrish W201

Swarthmore faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend open office hours sessions for open discussion with our scholars-in-residence. Advance reservations are not required.

Friday, April 14

Abolish the University? A Conversation with Abigail Boggs, Sophie Lewis, Eli Meyerhoff, Nick Mitchell, and Zach Schwartz-Weinstein, Sterling Johnson—and other special guests

Friday, April 14, 2023, 6-8pm
Making Worlds Bookstore and Social Center
210 S. 45th St, Philadelphia

Presented by the Aydelotte Foundation at Swarthmore College

Please note: This event is in-person and virtual. As we expect to be at full capacity, advance registration is required.

In offering a possibility for the “object of abolition,” Stefano Harney and Fred Moten suggest “not so much the abolition of prisons but the abolition of a society that could have prisons, that could have slavery, that could have the wage, and therefore not elimination of anything but abolition as the founding of a new society.” This event examines how the abolition of the university fits within the practice of imagining the world otherwise and how university abolition connects with other abolitionist projects, including that of police and prison abolition, as well as family abolition. How are the aims and tactics of university abolition distinct, if at all, from other forms of abolitionism? The conversation thus hopes to connect struggles in and around higher education–labor, debt, gentrification, policing, and others–to broader political horizons. 

The event is part of the Aydelotte Foundation’s project on “Race, Racism, and the Liberal Arts.” This project assembles work on underrepresented histories of how people, institutions, and ideas have existed outside of, pushed against, or reshaped from within the ideas and institutions of the liberal arts. It also investigates and recounts curricular, epistemological, and institutional genealogies that challenge how or whether the term liberal arts has silenced histories and ways of knowing developed by Black people, indigenous people, and people of color. 

Featured Speakers

Abigail Boggs is a scholar of feminist and queer studies with a focus on the transnational dimensions of the contemporary United States university. She is currently revising her first book manuscript, “Noncitizen Futures and the U.S. University: A Genealogy,” which provides a critical genealogy of the figure of the noncitizen student in university policy, federal immigration law, and U.S. popular culture. She is also working with Eli Meyerhoff, Nick Mitchell, and Zach Schwartz-Weinstein on a project developing a framework for abolitionist university studies. She is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University. 

Sophie Lewis is an ex-academic, critical utopianist, and the author of Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family (Verso, 2019) as well as Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation (Verso, 2022), with a new book coming out soon on “enemy feminisms.” Sophie teaches online courses for BISR (Brooklyn Institute for Social Research) and sometimes describes herself as an “independent scholar” visiting at UPenn, or simply a freelance writer.

Eli Meyerhoff works as a staff member in the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. His research focuses on abolitionist, decolonial approaches to education institutions and alternative modes of studying. He is the author of Beyond Education: Radical Studying for Another World (Minnesota, 2019).

Nick Mitchell explores the social arrangements of knowledge and the ways that knowledge and its institutional practices arrange social worlds. She is working on two books, Discipline and Surplus: Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and the Dawn of Neoliberalism (under contract, Duke) and The University, in Theory: Essays on Institutional Knowledge. He is Associate Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz.

Zach Schwartz-Weinstein is an independent scholar who writes about universities and labor. 

Sterling Johnson researches in the areas of Black geographies, anti-colonialism, feminist geography, carceral and abolition geographies. Their research is concerned with laws and morality and issues of social justice and liberation.

For questions about the residency, please contact Andy Hines (ahines1@swarthmore.edu). 

About the Author

Andy Hines is the Senior Associate Director of the Aydelotte Foundation. He is the author of Outside Literary Studies: Black Criticism and the University .

More Posts by Andy Hines
Posts by Andy Hines