We are a collective of postgraduate student researchers (PGRs) based at the Centre of Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics (CAPPE) at the University of Brighton who are fighting to save our university from an onslaught of mass compulsory redundancies.
On 4th May 2023, the University of Brighton’s Executive Board announced its plan to make 130 workers redundant following a series of calamitous financial decisions. Lecturers in the Arts and Humanities – the least attractive to profit-driven outside investors, and traditionally some of the most militant within their Union – are among the hardest hit. Workers in our research centre have been told that half of them will be made redundant. CAPPE has built its reputation on its solidarity with all struggles against oppression. Now, as PGRs at CAPPE, we are asking for your solidarity with us and our colleagues at CAPPE and the University of Brighton. Our call for solidarity is rooted in our experience at CAPPE but extends beyond this, towards all Brighton University colleagues who deserve to keep their jobs, whatever their field of expertise. This statement is an appeal to critical theorists, radical philosophers, and social movement researchers to resist management’s attack on the work CAPPE has helped us to build together.
CAPPE provides a unique and invaluable space for critical thought. Since its establishment in 2005, its staff and students have built a home for critical research, education, networks and people that is otherwise hard to find. In times of rising global fascisms, attacks on education and the humanities and critical thought in particular, the work and relationships CAPPE makes possible are absolutely essential – and not only locally. Even with scarce resources, CAPPE’s staff and students have cultivated an exceptional space for academics and activists to share and enrich emancipatory research, collaboration and solidarity on a global scale. Being researchers at CAPPE has allowed us to be welcomed by movements of racialised disabled people in the USA, democracy and migrant solidarity networks in Turkey, global organising for restitution and reparation, mobilisations against the rising violence against trans people in the UK and beyond, and international networks of respected critical theorists. In return, we have been honoured to both share the imperative research done at CAPPE with those on the frontline of struggles, such as against right-wing populism, border regimes, climate catastrophe, or eugenic and colonial continuities in racial capitalism, as well as to host conversations between social movements and scholars at CAPPE and its journal Interfere. When Bolsonaro came to power, CAPPE offered our public platforms to Brazilian activist-scholars to explain their struggle against fascism to their colleagues in Britain. When Russia invaded Ukraine, ours was the first academic publication to publish an in-depth English language interview with Russian anti-war activists. When new forms of direct action emerged against colonialism in Palestine, and Hindu supremacism in India, CAPPE recognised their importance for critical theory.
As PGRs, CAPPE’s pedagogical spaces have facilitated our growth as researchers: collectively and individually, in academia and in the movements and communities we serve. Ultimately, though, these spaces have been ones for building friendships and connections with our peers at Brighton and beyond; a place of solidarity, kindness, respect, and care in an increasingly brutal world. We not only need our supervisors, but we absolutely need these spaces of collective work and thought as well as creativity, imagination and community. It is rare to find academic environments that put the lives, projects and interests of students, early career researchers, visitors and collaborators first. The precarity of academia as well as the world at large makes focused and sustainable research incredibly hard; the commitment of our CAPPE community to embody their politics beyond the classroom has enabled us to pursue our projects over the last years. But this isn’t limited to us. This space is necessary for critical engagements and fostering supportive relationships in academia and beyond, which are needed now more than ever.
We are asking everyone – whether you are a colleague at another university, or an activist who values what we do – to sign this petition in support of the University of Brighton workers. We would also be immensely grateful for any messages of public support you could provide by social media, email, in the comments below, or on video. Sharing these allows us to show senior management that the community around our research centre is outraged at these destructive proposals. If you are a lecturer at another university, please sign this open letter to Vice Chancellor Debra Humphris, emphasising the value of the research community at Brighton to colleagues around the country and the world.
Students have already begun to fight back. On 15th May, a student-organised march and rally was held in Brighton. Many have been vocal online and in meetings held with senior staff members to discuss the redundancies, criticising both the university and our student union’s weak and unacceptable statement. On 24th May, a solidarity open-mic event was held and flyers, leaflets, and stickers supporting the fightback have appeared throughout the local community – in shops, cafes, bars, and at bus stops. On 25th May, students started occupying the VC’s office. Join the fight.
Feature image via Brighton UCU (May 2023).
 CAPPE is part of the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programmes, co-founded in 2016 by Professors Judith Butler (UC Berkeley) and Penelope Deutscher (Northwestern University) to foster global alliances among likeminded scholars https://directory.criticaltheoryconsortium.org/about/
 For instance, see https://interferejournal.org/disrupting-coloniality-recovering-decoloniality/