Tag Archives: OD Group

New Street University: Stop the Murder of Frogs on Russian Soil!

On October 19, 2008, New Street University (Petersburg), Humane Education (Moscow), and OD Group (Moscow) carried out a joint action in a pedestrian underpass on Nevsky Prospect. During the action, which took the form of a man-on-the-street survey, real live sociologists from Moscow pretended to be sociologists, while a rather large live frog was offered up as a sacrifice to passersby.

These unfortunate citizens were first handed leaflets containing the following text:

Stop the Murder of Frogs on Russian Soil!
In the biology department of Moscow State University, antiquated models of education hold sway. It is not only students who suffer from this, but even frogs. The department has not updated its educational methods since Soviet times. In particular, our little green pals are regularly subjected to archaic, bloodthirsty lab experiments.  It is not only students whose future careers will require them to be able to work with lab animals who are forced to engage in these practices, but also those who have chosen theoretical majors. Many students have spoken out, asking that students who have chosen one of these specialities be granted the right not to take part in such experiments. One fifth-year student was expelled for refusing to taking part in these unlawful experiments.

There is an alternative—Humane Education! Students can practice on artificial frogs (cats, etc.) and thus gain control of the production of knowledge. Continue reading

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BASTA! Special Issue: Towards a History of the Conflict in the MSU Sociology Department

This is the eighth in a series of translations of the articles in BASTA!, a special Russian-only issue of Chto Delat that addresses such pressing issues as the fight against racism and facism, the new Russian labor movement, the resistance to runaway “development” in Petersburg, the prospects for student self-governance and revolt, the potential for critical practice amongst sociologists and contemporary artists, the attack on The European University in St. Petersburg, and Alain Badiou’s aborted visit to Moscow.

The entire issue may be downloaded as a .pdf file here. Selected texts may be accessed here.

 

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NB. The conflict at the Moscow State University sociology department, described below, continues. On March 11, three OD Group activists—Sveta Erpyleva, Katya Tarnovskaya, and Olya Bushneva—were expelled for “amoral conduct.” You can read about this latest disturbing turn of events here (in Russian).

Towards a History of the Conflict in the Moscow State University Sociology Department

Oleg Zhuravlyov & Danail Kondov

 

The knowledge generated by the social sciences cannot avoid being critical knowledge. First and foremost, this is because only the impenetrability of scholarly discourse to the strictures of common sense—that is, political strictures—can underwrite an objective description of the world. What makes this impenetrability possible? How can we avoid the substitution of political doxa for scientific rationality? What is needed are particular social conditions for the production of scholarly knowledge about society—an institution autonomous from the political conjuncture and the pressures of the market.

The OD Group, which united students from the sociology department at Moscow State University interested in improving the quality of their education with civil rights and political activists who criticized the department’s authoritarian regime, made manifest the “family resemblance” between its two factions. What the demands for “academic freedom,” the protection of the social rights of students (and teachers), the creation of an independent professional union, and the improvement of the quality of education have in common is that they move the educational institution in the direction of greater autonomy.

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