, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 365-386
Date: 28 Dec 2011

Undercover Education: Mice, Mimesis, and Parasites in the Teaching Machine

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Abstract

What happens to education when the potential it helps realizing in the individual works against the formal purposes of the curriculum? What happens when education becomes a vehicle for its own subversion? As a subject-forming state apparatus working on ideological speciesism, formal education is engaged in both human and animal stratification in service of the capitalist knowledge economy. This seemingly stable condition is however insecured by the animal rights activist as undercover learner and—worker, who enters education and research laboratories under false premises in order to extract the knowledge necessary to dismantle the logic of animal utility on which the scientific-educational apparatus rests. The present article is based on a semi-structured interview with an undercover worker. It draws on a synthesis of critical education and posthumanist theories to configure knowledge creation and subjectification processes in the “negative spaces” of education. The techne of undercover work includes mnemotechnical and prosthetic devices, calculation of risk, and mimetic labor. The article argues that the agenda of the undercover worker generates a multi-strained mimetic complex that composes a parasitic educational subject-assemblage redirecting scientific knowledge away from the animal stratification logic of the knowledge economy into different viral circuits; different lines of flight. It invites a rearticulation of the formal education state apparatus in more indeterminate directions, provoking scientific-educational knowledge-practices to become a catalytic impulse for their own disintegration.