Tier Two Worker Remote Office: Resisting the Marketization of Higher Education
In this paper, I present Tier Two Worker Remote Office, a performance artwork that I produced on March 15-16, 2018 at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. For this performance, I set up an outdoor office between the building where I work and the picket line where I had been striking for three weeks. I worked outside in this “Remote Office” for two days while my colleagues continued to strike nearby (figure 1). I created this performance because I, along with thousands of other workers involved in the strike, risked deportation if we continued to strike. However, I refused to cross the picket line and enter into my office building. This predicament was a provocation for me to make art and to critique the structural conditions that produced that position. Through Tier Two Worker Remote Office, I highlight the precarious position of academic staff who immigrated to the UK to work in universities and then wrestled with deciding if, when, and/or for how long they could participate in one of the largest industrial actions in the history of the UK higher education sector. Influenced by the artistic performances of American artist and education scholar, Jorge Lucero (see Lucero, 2016a), Tier Two Worker Remote Office demonstrates how the university itself is a historical invention, and therefore its everydayness is an aesthetic, pliable material, as Lucero (2016a) puts it, that is always open to being reshaped. Tier Two Worker Remote Office illustrates how the arts can move academics beyond bemoaning the marketization of public higher education and serve as a useful tool in shaping our understanding that the marketized university is not inevitable, therefore can be resisted and changed.