Manifesto for an educational institution in the UAE as societal agent

Markus Miessen – December 2011


This institution...

Should be a localized, small-scale hub.

Should regularly perform cultural and educational activities in collaboration with local NGOs, schools, and individuals.

Should aim for a long-term local presence as a critical platform for exchange.

Should enact a non-preemptive, roaming, and non-consensual programme.

Should appreciate the value of failure.

Should institutionalize a frequent regime of “learning from” scenarios.

Should be a low-threshold space of knowledge (production).

Should question the default modes of institution building.

Should foster non-romantic forms of local engagement.

Should set itself apart from the US-model of franchised campuses.

Should generate local knowledge.

Should generate toolboxes that will remain within the region and are specific to the context in which they are situated.


Should be visible.


Should assume permanent local responsibility.


Should generate a turf for the concept and reality of consequence.


Should be a space for support.


Should be thought as a spatial typology for political exchange.


Should produce,


Should provide.


Should demand.


Should consume and exhaust.


Should be a non-profit space that accommodates an opposition, not in the sense of being “against” something, but a space, which is based on the notion of both political autonomy within the context in which it is situated as well as to put forward an autonomous institutional framework, which is deliberately introduced from the outside, yet embeds itself within the actors, realities and questions of local and regional practices.


Should allow for a decentered perspective of politics.


Should promote a sensitization towards everyday practice of the local and communal.


Should promote itself as a gathering space.


Should be a protected space for congregation.


Should assume the position of an uninvited outsider.


Should be based on a regime of hospitality yet opposing the myth of an open public space of participatory decision-making.


Should wear a strong directorial voice.


Should be a transparent civic institution.


Should become an agent through which political and other tensions can be channeled into more organized and productive forms and formats of discussion.


Should question both the normativity of the space of the “School” as well as the normativity of those communal spaces and practices.


Should be a Mouffian space in which one agrees to disagree.


Should be a space of oppositional but non-violent encounter.


Should stop making sense.


Should be a community in the making.


Should be a horizontally accessible space.


Should believe in spatial complexity.


Should entertain democratic pluralism.


Should be an agent of political contention and social change.


Should assist in un-learning the normative and default Western roles and educational models and conventions.


Should produce reciprocal links between the local and that, which is not.


Should assume limitless responsibility for its actions.


Should inhabit the consequences of its production.


Should attempt to maneuver between a diverse set of practices, relations and social networks.


Should be proactive, optimistic and energetic.


Should understand itself as a self-authorized enabler.


Should be based on an underlying principle of questions rather than answers.


Should introduce a destabilizing momentum.


Should contaminate the imagination of others.


Should perform itself as an autonomous agent, enacting and producing in relation to the given context and its specific audience producing affect.


Should instigate a zone for dissensus.


Should enable alternative formats or frameworks of production.


Should engage contingency.

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