Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 365–386 | Cite as

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



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.


Posthumanism Undercover work Laboratory animals Educational parasitism Mimesis 



I am very grateful to SPED’s anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedback on an earlier draft of this article.


  1. Althusser, L. (1971). Ideology and ideological state apparatuses (notes towards an investigation). In L. Althusser (Ed.), Lenin and philosophy and other essays (pp. 127–186). New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  2. Andrzejewski, J., Pedersen, H., & Wicklund, F. (2009). Interspecies education for humans, animals, and the earth. In J. Andrzejewski, M. P. Baltodano, & L. Symcox (Eds.), Social justice, peace, and environmental education: Transformative standards (pp. 136–154). New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Arluke, A., & Hafferty, F. (1996). From apprehension to fascination with “dog lab”. The use of absolutions by medical students. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 25(2), 201–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Badmington, N. (2007). “… a drowning of the human in the physical”. Jonathan Franzen and the corrections of humanism. Subject Matters, 3/4(2/1), 1–14.Google Scholar
  5. Bey, H. (1991). T.A.Z.: The temporary autonomous zone, ontological anarchy, poetic terrorism. New York: Autonomedia.Google Scholar
  6. Biesta, G. J. J. (1998). Say you want a revolution… Suggestions for the impossible future of critical pedagogy. Educational Theory, 48(4), 499–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Birke, L. (1994). Feminism, animals and science: The naming of the shrew. Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Birke, L., Arluke, A., & Michael, M. (2007). The sacrifice: How scientific experiments transform animals and people. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (1976). Schooling in capitalist America. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  10. Coetzee, J. M. (1999). The lives of animals. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Culture Machine. (2001). Host. Culture Machine 3, Accessed 21 Oct 2010.
  12. Davidson, G. (2005). “Contagious relations”: Simulation, paranoia, and the postmodern condition in William Friedkin’s Cruising and Felice Picano’s The Lure. GLQ, 11(1), 23–64.Google Scholar
  13. Decuypere, M., Ceulemans, C., & Simons, M. (2011). Mapping education through experimental cartography: Socio-technical approaches in educational research. Paper presented at the European conference on educational research, Freie Universität Berlin, 12–16 Sept.Google Scholar
  14. DeLeon, A. (2008). Oh no, not the “A” word! proposing an “anarchism” for education. Educational Studies, 44, 122–141.Google Scholar
  15. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  16. Derrida, J. (2002). The animal that therefore I am (more to follow). Critical Inquiry, 28(2), 369–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Doll, W. E., Jr. (1993). Curriculum possibilities in a “post”-future. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 8(4), 277–292.Google Scholar
  18. Doll, W. E., Jr., Fleener, M. J., Trueit, D., & St. Julien, J. (Eds.). (2005). Chaos, complexity, curriculum, and culture: A conversation. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  19. Foucault, M. (1980). In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge. Selected interviews and other writings 19721977 by Michel Foucault. Harlow: The Harvester Press.Google Scholar
  20. Haraway, D. (2004). A manifesto for cyborgs: Science, tecnology, and socialist feminism in the 1980s. In D. Haraway, The Haraway reader (pp. 7–45). Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hebert, N. (2008). Hon fångar djurens blickar. [She catches the animals’ gaze; in Swedish] Tidningen Kulturen, Nr. 2 Mar 2008, 29.Google Scholar
  22. Holmberg, T., & Ideland, M. (2010). Secrets and lies: “Selective openness” in the apparatus of animal experimentation. Public Understanding of Science, Accessed 21 Oct 2010.
  23. Hunt, J. (1999). Paranoid, Critical, Methodical, Dalí, Koolhaas, and…. In G. E. Marcus (Ed.), Paranoia within reason. A casebook on conspiracy as explanation (pp. 21–30). Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  24. Kahn, R. (2003). Towards ecopedagogy: Weaving a broad-based pedagogy of liberation for animals, nature, and the oppressed people of the earth. Journal for Critical Animal Studies, 1(1), Accessed 18 Nov 2011.
  25. Kahn, R. (2011). Towards an animal standpoint: Vegan education and the epistemology of ignorance. In E. Malewski & N. Jaramillo (Eds.), Epistemologies of ignorance in education (pp. 53–70). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  26. Kahn, R., & Humes, B. (2009). Marching out from Ultima Thule: Critical counterstories of emancipatory educators working at the intersection of human rights, animal rights, and planetary sustainability. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 14(1), 179–195.Google Scholar
  27. Kemp, P. (2006). Mimesis in educational hermeneutics. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 38(2), 171–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Koolhaas, R. (1994). Delirious New York: A retroactive manifesto for Manhattan. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.Google Scholar
  29. Lather, P. (2006). Paradigm proliferation as a good thing to think with: Teaching research in education as a wild profusion. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19(1), 35–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Macey, D. (2000). The Penguin dictionary of critical theory. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  31. Marcus, G. E. (1999). Introduction: The paranoid style now. In G. E. Marcus (Ed.), Paranoia within reason. A casebook on conspiracy as explanation (pp. 1–11). Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  32. Masschelein, J. (1998). How to imagine something exterior to the system: Critical education as problematization. Educational Theory, 48(4), 521–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. May, T. (1994). The political philosophy of poststructuralist anarchism. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Mazzei, L. A., & McCoy, K. (2010). Introduction: Thinking with Deleuze in qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 23(5), 503–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McLaren, P. (1998). Life in schools. An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  36. Metzger, G. (1960). Manifesto auto-destructive art. Accessed 22 Oct 2010.
  37. Moran, P., & Kendall, A. (2009). Baudrillard and the end of education. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 32(3), 327–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Morrison, K. (2008). Educational philosophy and the challenge of complexity theory. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 40(1), 19–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Morss, J. R. (2004). Gilles Deleuze and the space of education: Poststructuralism, critical psychology, and schooled bodies. In J. D. Marshall (Ed.), Poststructuralism, philosophy, pedagogy (pp. 85–97). Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Osberg, D. (2009). “Enlarging the space of the possible” around what it means to educate and be educated. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 6(1), iii–x.Google Scholar
  41. Pearce, C., & MacLure, M. (2009). The wonder of method. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 32(3), 249–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pedersen, H. (2008). Learning to measure the value of life? Animal experimentation, pedagogy, and (eco)feminist critique. In R. Sollund (Ed.), Global harms. Ecological crime and speciesism (pp. 131–149). New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  43. Pedersen, H. (2010a). Animals in schools: Processes and strategies in human-animal education. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Pedersen, H. (2010b). Is ‘the posthuman’ educable? On the convergence of educational philosophy, animal studies, and posthumanist theory. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 31(2), 237–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pedersen, H. (2010c). Education policymaking for social change: A posthumanist intervention. Policy Futures in Education, 8(6), 683–696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pedersen, H. (2011a). Release the moths: Critical animal studies and the posthumanist impulse. Culture, Theory and Critique, 52(1), 65–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pedersen, H. (2011b). Counting affects: Mo(ve)ments of intensity in critical avian education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 16, 14–28.Google Scholar
  48. Pedersen, H., & Stănescu, V. (2012). Series editors’ introduction: What is “critical” about animal studies? From the animal “question” to the animal “condition”. In K. Socha, Women, destruction, and the avant-garde: A paradigm for animal liberation (pp. ix–xi). Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  49. Peim, N. (2009). Thinking resources for educational research methods and methodology. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 32(3), 235–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pierce, C. (2006). Groundwork for the concept of technique in education: Herbert Marcuse and technological society. Policy Futures in Education, 4(1), 61–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Raunig, G. (2010). A thousand machines: A concise philosophy of the machine as social movement. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar
  52. Roberts, P. (2008). Teaching, learning and ethical dilemmas: Lessons from Albert Camus. Cambridge Journal of Education, 38(4), 529–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rolke, D. (2005). På djurens sida. [On the animals’ side; in Swedish]. Stockholm: Anima production.Google Scholar
  54. Sanders, C. R. (2010). Working out back: The veterinary technician and “dirty work”. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 39(3), 243–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Schehr, L. R. (2007). Translator’s introduction. In M. Serres, The parasite (pp. ix–x). Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  56. Scheurich, J. J. (1995). A postmodernist critique of research interviewing. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 8(3), 239–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Serres, M. (2007). The parasite. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  58. Shukin, N. (2009). Animal capital: Rendering life in biopolitical times. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  59. Smitherman, S. (2005). Chaos and complexity theories: Wholes and holes in curriculum. In W. E. Doll Jr., M. J. Fleener, D. Trueit, & J. St. Julien (Eds.), Chaos, complexity, curriculum, and culture: A conversation (pp. 153–180). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  60. Stewart, K. (1999). Conspiracy theory’s worlds. In G. E. Marcus (Ed.), Paranoia within reason. A casebook on conspiracy as explanation (pp. 13–19). Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  61. Stiegler, B. (2003). Our ailing educational institutions. Culture Machine 5, Accessed 21 Oct 2010.
  62. Suissa, J. (2004). Vocational education: A social anarchist perspective. Policy Futures in Education, 2(1), 14–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Talpalaru, M. (2010). Lines of flight: Does the locavore movement offer an alternative to corporatism? Rhizomes 20, Accessed 17 Aug 2011.
  64. Taussig, M. (1993). Mimesis and alterity: A particular history of the senses. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  65. Willis, P. (1977). Learning to labor: How working class kids get working class jobs. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science, Environment and Society, Faculty of Education and SocietyMalmö UniversityMalmöSweden

Personalised recommendations