In the past de cade, for reasons of temperament and circumstance, I have
immersed myself in university activism. Among others, I have supported
gradu ate student unionization, opposed the offshored branding of educa-
tion and the casualization of labor regimes at New York University (nyu),
worked to shine a light on the horrific labor abuses tolerated by nyu in its
construction of a campus in Abu Dhabi, or ga nized against nyu’s physi-
cal expansion in and destruction of its New York City neighborhood in
Greenwich Village, helped lead the movement of no confidence against
nyu’s erstwhile president John Sexton, and worked for many years in the
Faculty Senate against the overwhelming trend toward the dilution of
faculty governance in academic affairs and the hypostasized growth and
gross empowerment of administrative managerialism at the nyu–New York
campus and in nyu’s global imperium. I also have spent the past de cade
writing and then trying to figure out how to turn these critical essays into
the academically— demanded and— validated monograph: such is the grip
of convention, even for someone such as myself, who other wise has flouted
a good number of its dictates. Fi nally, I deci ded to ignore the convention:
these are and really should be linked essays. They are thematically linked
by a long- standing intellectual- historical proj ect and problematique; and
they are linked by my sense of a necessary critical politics that is at once
scholarly and born of my life as a professor of Chinese history and activist
at nyu at this par tic u lar historical juncture.
The essays were written in the shadow of the historical transformations
in China and the institutional transformations shaping my everyday life
at nyu, transformations that feature the centrality of both China and nyu
to what I deem to be noxious neoliberal trends of and in the world today.
I have written widely for an internal nyu audience on my sense of those
transformations and their trampling of academic integrity, faculty auton-
omy, and intellectual life. The topics covered in this book can be considered
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