Silent University Ruhr [English Version]

What kind of knowledge do we allow, what are the boundaries of free exchange? The Silent University, initiated by the Kurdish artist Ahmet Öğüt, is an autonomous platform of exchange for academics, who can’t share their knowledge and skills as teachers due to their status of residence or because their degrees are not recognized. Knowledge that was silenced is being heard again. Together the participants develop programs which fit to their professional qualifications and their reflections as refugees and asylum seekers, and which help them to get out of the role of a person who waits and has no voice.

Founded by Impulse Theater Festival, Ringlokschuppen Ruhr und Urbane Künste Ruhr the Silent University Ruhr is located well visible in Mülheim’s city center and invents itself as alternative Ruhr University for all those who have no or only very limited access to education. Over the last months connections to various existing initiatives and associations in the Ruhr region have already been established, as well as with respective institutions in the city of Mülheim. The Silent University Ruhr is a longterm project, with its own rhythm – public when possible, as a safe shelter if needed. Internal events alternate with public lectures and courses that are accessible to everyone. Often, lectures and seminars are held in the native language of the teachers, thereby turning upside down the existing rules of exclusion and inclusion.

The Silent University - Towards a Transversal Pedagogy

The Silent University is an autonomous knowledge exchange platform by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. It is led by a group of lecturers, consultants and research fellows. Each group is contributing to the program in di≠erent ways which include course development, specific research on key themes as well as personal reflections on what it means to be a refugee and asylum seeker. This platform will be presented using the format of an academic program. Since 2012 the Silent University has involved those that have had a professional life and academic training in their home countries, but are unable to use their skills or professional training due to a variety of reasons related to their status. Working together, the participants have developed lectures, discussions, events, resource archives and publications. The Silent University aims to address and reactivate the knowledge of the partici- pants and make the exchange process mutually beneficial by inventing alternative cur-rencies, in place of money or free voluntary service. The Silent University’s aim is to challenge the idea of silence as a passive state, and explore its powerful potential through performance, writing, and group reflection. These explorations attempt to make apparent the systemic failure and the loss of skills and knowledge experienced through the silencing process of people seeking asylum.

Principals and Demands

1. Everybody has the right to educate.
2. Immediate acknowledgement of academic backgrounds of asylum seekers and refugees.
3. Activating knowledge without language limitations.
4. Activating knowledge without legal limitations.
5. Participatory modes of usership.
6. Artistic pedagogical practices need to be emancipated from commonly used terminologies such as “projects” and “workshops”.
7. Pedagogic practices must be based on long-term engagement, commitment and determination.
8. We act in solidarity with other refugee struggles and collectives around the world.
9. Extra-territorial, translocal knowledge production and conflict urbanism must be priorities.
10. Decentralized, participatory, horizontal and autonomous modality of education, instead of centralized, authoritarian, oppressive, and compulsory education.
11. Acting beyond limitations of border politics.
12. Adhocracy instead of bureaucracy.
13. Action knowledge can only be produced through assemblage methods.
14. Revolution of decolonizing pedagogies.