Surplus Rebellion, Human Capital, and the Ends of Study in Chile, 2011
Keywords:Student Movements, Reproductive Labor, Study, Riot, Autonomy, Politics, Representation, Neoliberalism
This article traces a dual representational crisis, at once mimetic and political, coursing through Chile’s 2011 movement and its post-Transition conjuncture. It aims to reconfigure the archive of 2011 in order to release its radical potential from the obfuscating solutions offered by the alliance of its dominant academic and journalistic reception and Chile’s elitist, liberal democracy, and to understand why in 2016 –five years since 2011 and a decade since the outbreak of student unrest– Chilean people continue to defy the state. Through a close reading of an anonymous pamphlet defending the violent, masked protestors known as encapuchados, I argue that this figure affects a representational crisis. As the anonymity of the encapuchado confounds the regimes of identification on which the moral economy of liberal democracy rests, so the anonymous authorship of its defense confounds the political logics of textual representation. In order to account for the encapuchado as a part of a movement that is not one, I advocate for an expanded understanding of 2011 as both a student strike and a rebellion of surplus populations –like the encapuchado– rendered marginal to productive waged labor. A materialist analysis traces the historical transfiguration of the Chilean university student, first, into a student-investor in her own human capital and, then, into a student-debtor. Reading the student in terms of its future labor, I ask if reconceiving study, its basic activity, as a form of present, unwaged, reproductive labor performed in service of future, productive, waged labor might dislodge the discursive capture of human capital and the moralizing control of the debt relation. I develop this argument with a reading of interviews with secondary students who occupied and self-gestated their schools in the winter of 2011. Through this example, I suggest that a notion of work beyond production and reproduction for capital, what I call study-without-end, subtends the divisive figuration of the movement into peaceful, student protester and violent, masked rioter.
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