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Pedagogy of the “Not”: Negation, Exodus, and Postdigital Temporal Regimes


Postdigital capitalist time is an incessant acceleration that acts to homogenize time and wed us to the present, to which we have to constantly catch up. While the impulse of this is no doubt economic (the realization of value), it is crucially undergirded by a pedagogical logic wherein we have to perpetually learn and re-learn the latest apps, social media configurations, operating systems, and so on. Political strategies of resistance thus need to be bolstered by an alternative mode of educational life, and I propose a pedagogy of the “not” as one possibility. Such a pedagogy is an act of suspension that sustains a detachment from the present, clearing out oppositions and thereby exposing us to a radical indeterminacy and potentiality that is always untimely. Suspension is the praxis of negation, which means that negation operates by keeping sense indeterminate to meaning and signification. Rather than suppressing, disavowing, or annihilating the stated content, negation retains even that which is negated. While this would appear as a form of exopedagogy, which withdraws from the dialectic of the private/public, I instead argue that it redefines the terms of any dialectic, redefining the very categories exopedagogy withdraws from. Before concluding, I spend some time with Sandy Grande’s important critiques of Eurocentrism and progress in Western critical education, demonstrating how negation as suspension circumvents these errors through its accommodation of—or, better, insistence on—variegated temporalities and forms of life.

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  1. 1.

    For the first example, think of Twitter’s banning of promoted ads by Russia Today and Sputnik (two sources highly critical of the US government), or Facebook’s censoring of Safa, a Gaza-based news site. For the second example, think of when the Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak blocked social media. In the case of Iran in 2009, the USA intervened and got Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance so that the US-friendly and backed Green Movement could continue coordinating protests and attacks. For more on this, see the introduction in Ford (2018a).

  2. 2.

    This is not unique to Libya at all. The same thing happened (and is happening) with Syria, and it’s only a matter of time until it happens (again) with Iran, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), and so on. For more on Libya, see Ford (2015a, b)

  3. 3.

    Some contest the claim that we sleep less today than previously (e.g., Horne 2011). This research identifies that our “sleep deficit” has less to do with a lack of sleep and more to do with the stress and pace of our live (Horne 2011, p. 3). Horne importantly critiques a romancization of past sleep times. In fact, when one reads testimony about working conditions in English factories in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it’s clear that sleep duration was far from ideal. What this research does not challenge is that there is an inherent antagonism between sleep and capital.

  4. 4.

    I mean “betray” in both senses of the word: both to break from and to reveal.

  5. 5.

    For more on education and the common, see De Lissovoy (2011), Ford (2015a, b), Gautreaux (2017), and Slater (2015).

  6. 6.

    Malott (2016) provides a careful consideration of Indigenous critiques of marxism in his book’s first chapter.

  7. 7.

    This is not to imply that settler-colonialism is not considered in education. For examples of this, see the work of Troy Richardson (e.g., 2007; 2012) and the work of the Latin American Philosophy of Education Society. Noroozi (2016) uses Derrida to address the relationship between pedagogy, time, and the decolonial.

  8. 8.

    See chapter 2 in Grande (2004), especially pages 80–88.

  9. 9.

    See in particular chapter 2.6 of Empire (Hardt and Negri 2000).

  10. 10.

    It’s important to note here that Harootunian acknowledges that Lukács’ theories were more complex, and he deals with them elsewhere in his book.


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Ford, D.R. Pedagogy of the “Not”: Negation, Exodus, and Postdigital Temporal Regimes. Postdigit Sci Educ 1, 104–118 (2019).

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  • Exodus
  • Time
  • Sleep
  • Suspension
  • Negation
  • Paolo Virno