The Covid-19 crisis has seen the acceleration of the use of digital platforms also in the field of higher education. Far from being neutral “digital tools”, platforms such as Zoom, BBB, Skype, Youtube, DeepL, etc. are complex socio-technical architectures shaping the interactions among society, corporations, and institutions, which all together are in the process of redesigning the educational sector as it has never happened before.

In response to the rise of the so-called platform education, the course addresses the key role played educational tools in shaping and framing our knowledge system and the practices of learning and teaching. The debate on the tools for education has a long history that is not just about the digital divide, but crosses also class, gender and race lines of discrimination. It suffices to recall Audre Lorde’s dictum “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”, or Chakanetsa Mavhunga’s research on the “mobile workshops” in the African continent as an alternative to the immobile “Western laboratory.”

The course engages with the works of pedagogues and thinkers who address, from a variety of perspectives, the urgency of alternative knowledge models, starting from the idea of crafting new tools and technologies for education. These authors include: Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, bell hooks, Paulo Freire, Peter Damerow, Naoki Sakai, Noliwe M Rooks, George Maciunas, Gayatri Spivak, McKenzie Wark, among others.

The course’s outcome will be the proposal for the design of an unlearning machine (an object or practice whose form will be collectively investigated, discovered and discussed during the semester).

This is a reference to both Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’ concept of “unlearning one’s privilege as one’s loss”: the understanding that our privileges, whatever they may be in terms of race, class, nationality, gender, “represent a closing down of creative possibility, a loss of other options, other knowledge.”

As well as a reference to the charts “Learning Machines” created by Fluxus artist George Maciunas to contrast fragmentation of knowledge in the university curricula, and traditional linear-narrative methods of source of information such as books.

A certificate (Schein) is possible with credit in Media Philosophy. The evaluation of students participation to the course will follow the collective work made in class. All materials will be shared via old and new “platforms.”

Paolo Caffoni
pcaffoni [∂]
Consultation hours: on appointment
Enrolment: via email or Moodle
04.05 14-17:00
18.05. 17-20:00
01.06. 17-20:00
15.06. 14-17:00
29.06. 14-17:00
13.07. 14-17:00
Course start: 4 May 2022
Language: English
Room: 112


Paolo Caffoni is a research associate and PhD candidate at the KIM research group on critical AI studies at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. His doctoral project focuses on the methodologies of Naoki Sakai and Antonio Gramsci, investigating practices of translation among different media as a process of encounter between political subjectivities. His research interests include practices of critical pedagogy, the digitization of higher education, translation and mobility studies. Caffoni is faculty member of NABA (New Academy of Fine Arts) in Milan and was part of the curatorial team of the 2018 Yinchuan Biennale (China). He also is editor of Berlin based publishing house Archive Books and of exhibition and public program at Archive Kabinett.

Tools and Resources:

The Post-Pandemic University

Machine Unlearning: A talk with Kader Attia at HfG Karlsruhe

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga
Podcast: Towards an African Technological & Scientific Imaginary

bell hooks
Book: Teaching to Transgress

… More TBA