Skip to main content

University as a Terminal: Socio-Material Infrastructure for Post-Neoliberal Society

  • 960 Accesses

Part of the Palgrave Critical University Studies book series (PCU)


The chapter questions if the university as an institution and a socio-spatial entity – not only with all buildings, land and infrastructure but also academic community – can secure any economic autonomy in a contemporary capitalist city. It also discusses the idea of a “terminal”, the material element of urban infrastructure, allowing different urban actors (human and non-human) to freely plug-in and use it to support its existence and development. The chapter is based on analyses of projects done in the academic year 2014–2015 by students of the second year Master of Architecture programme at the University of Plymouth for Academic Quarter of Silesia University in Katowice, Poland. The idea of strict zoning – the notion of the city with precisely spatially defined functions, is still pretty strong in Katowice. This is a modernist attitude, leading to sorting functions, to dividing the city into specialized areas. Urban planning based on fragmentation is somehow related to the identity politics focused on strongly defined, unique subjects. However, there is an alternative to this kind of urban development and politics. The city, especially the contemporary “mongrel” city, is a concoction of different functions and different residents. What makes a city unique as a political entity is its spatiality, allowing diverse logics to operate simultaneously, side by side, potentially without any interaction. Thus, the city has an ability to unify and integrate, but at the same moment it could protect weaker actors and could allow a creation of autonomous spheres (they are not necessary spatial zones) and local experimentations. The chapter analyses mechanism of this process of connecting and separating. It argues that the mechanism of mediation should be secured by “inclusive infrastructure” or “infrastructure for social change”. I would argue that the university, especially in a Polish context, has the ability to and indeed should become a laboratory of socio-economic and cultural experimentation.


  • City Council
  • Homeless People
  • Spatial Zone
  • Material Infrastructure
  • Land Speculation

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


  1. 1.

    Katowice is the capital of the Silesia Voivodeship. The region is one of the main industrial centres of Poland, traditionally strongly connected to coal mining. Katowice has unsuccessfully applied to become a European Capital of Culture in 2016, but in the process several new cultural institutions were created and a new generation of young urban activists emerged. Katowice is still a relatively rich city; unemployment (3.8 % in December 2015) is much lower than in the Silesia Voivodeship (10 %) and the country (10.3 %).

  2. 2.

    This perspective is inspired by work of the Foundation for P2P Alternatives


Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Krzysztof Nawratek .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Nawratek, K. (2017). University as a Terminal: Socio-Material Infrastructure for Post-Neoliberal Society. In: Izak, M., Kostera, M., Zawadzki, M. (eds) The Future of University Education. Palgrave Critical University Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-46893-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-46894-5

  • eBook Packages: EducationEducation (R0)