This is the final post in a trilogy following the 6th International Academic Identities Conference at the University of Hiroshima. In my first post, I described the conference, its location, theme and keynote presentations. In the second, I highlighted four presentations that stretched my thinking. In this post, I want to share the four papers I presented with colleagues, and issue a stern warning to myself to present fewer papers at future conferences.
Four papers is too many. Having co-authors made it possible (enjoyable even), but I talked too much, and listened too little. When I was listening, I was too keyed up about my next paper to listen well. One of my papers was on slow academia; practice what you preach and other idioms apply.
- The solace of slow academia (or breathing room)
This paper was a blend of theory, autoethnography and practical advice.
Theory: Judith Butler and Luce Irigaray make uneasy bedfellows, but reading their work together allows complex ideas to be explored. I read Irigaray’s work on breath awakening selfhood alongside Judith Butler’s relational performativity and slippage of identities.
Autoethnography: Reading, thinking and writing about slow academia and academic activism has become a way to manage the demands of work and the challenges of caring for a sick child.
I am using the theoretical work from this for a co-authored book chapter on collective experiences on (non)motherhood and (non)academia.
- Pressed for time: Doctoral candidates and early career academics’ experiences of temporal anxiety (with Lilia Mantai and Vanessa Fredericks)
The presentation included photos of Eye Shen’s Counting Time I took last month at the sculpture exhibition Hidden in Rookwood Cemetery. (Sydney folks: I can’t recommend this annual event highly enough as a family outing).
In the paper, we used Jacques Derrida’s conception of time and deferral to explore the temporal anxiety experienced by PhD candidates and ECAs, particularly as sessional staff members. For example, a PhD candidate says:
It frustrates me very much because I don’t have the time. It’s been over a year since I’ve been to a conference, which I think is pretty dire. I should have a chapter that’s ready. I should have something published. I should be going to conferences and meeting people but I just don’t feel like I have the time to do it. I do feel like it’s rushed to try and finish in three years. I wish I had more time for the other stuff.
And an early career academic says:
I hope to find a permanent position that allows me to do more research and writing, which is where my prime interest is. At the moment I am a casual lecturer which takes all my time and is financially a catastrophe. I have many ideas for articles, presentations and organising a conference but no time to pursue these goals. The big question is how long one manages to ‘hang in’ before giving up.
Lilia, Vanessa and I are currently writing this up as a journal article. Although it generated some great discussion, it was a bit of a downer, so we need to work on a hopeful ending.
- Who cares? Gendered care-work and the limits of care at the “friendliest conference in the world” (with James Burford and Jan Smith)
- Meeting ourselves, meeting the audience and meeting a discipline? (with Jeanette Fyffe)
Jamie has given a detailed summary of these papers which is difficult to top. You can read it at the wonderful blog Conference Inference. Here is his thoughtful comment about the complexities of academics writing about academic work:
While some might see my topic choices as a form of morbid self-absorption, I’ve tended to see this as a desire to begin where I am. Often I find myself using my ordinary environment and practices as a platform for inquiry. I think this can be valuable, as inhabiting a role or position can bring with it lots of questions, and research can be a helpful way to open ourselves up to further curiosity and even the odd answer. Perhaps at a broader level this is something that higher education researchers are always doing, as we go about researching our own profession and working contexts.
Our paper on gendered care and community work at conferences is currently under review. Jeanette and I plan to write our paper as a journal article next year. Right, Jeanette?
The immediacy of the conference and its imperatives are fading. Everyday life and work are taking over. I am trying to hold on to ideas, or at least record them for later. I am also trying to keep a sense of place. My mind returns to an onsen with a view of a rainforest river in torrent…