A thread is brewing on the internet from academics who have either left or considered leaving when the rainbow turned out not to be enough. (I deleted the examples from colleagues in this post 10 seconds after writing them for fear their stories would be recognized and the untenured among them would pay the price … )
Academic unfreedom is something we all like to chalk up to someone being “unsuited” for academe or for the department in which they work. Yet, I think if each of us thinks about it, we know at least one person who has done nothing wrong except show up excited and wanting to do the diverse and important work they were hired to do.
read the thread for more:
- Rent Party “el momento mas grave de mi vida no ha llegado todavia”
- Hattie’s Web “The Political Unfreedom of Academic Life”
- Profa Cero “On Mental Slavery”
Related to this thread but not part of it:
- Kiita “Ode”
- Historiann’s series on academic bullying (start here)
- Chronicle “Avoiding Academe’s Ax Murderers”
You should also know that this environment is not one exclusive to white heterosexual males with tenure on one side and everyone else on the other.
“Because the actual structure of the academy goes unquestioned—from tenure processes to grading systems to academic hierarchies—even progressives get trapped in the academy’s meritocratic myth, which either makes them insane or turns them into fascists. All the collective action we support outside the academy seems to disappear inside it—as we slave away in our offices in order to make sure everyone knows how busy and hardworking we are.”
Andrea Smith, “Social-Justice Activism in the Academic Industrial Complex” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 23.2 (2007): 144-145. (kiita/112 years old)
The nature of unfreedom warps many of us, leaving us walking wounded or closet henchmen. Like a Fanonian cunundrum we recreate the oppressions we claim to be liberating ourselves from by simply replacing the positions but not the system.
Every time I read these threads, I think: somewhere it has to stop. But unfreedom breeds slave mentality (part of that is the identification as master or slave); being envious or broken is only different in the ways that both buy in to the system of enslavement. Mastery means believing that you an innately deserving; and while, most will never use that language, read certain academic blogs or talk to many of them about the process and you will see what I mean. My refusal to buy into the “deserving model” has always left everyone wondering how I got to this side of tenure precisely b/c the process is meant to make you internalize unfreedom as normal and right.
What that makes me and my friends, w/ tenure or reaching for it, I don’t yet know.