It’s been a fun year for me (leaving aside here, you know, many disturbing political events, trends, pomps and circumstances, because this isn’t that kind of blog) because some of my post-dissertation work is actually in print.
- In August’s American Ethnologist, I had a paper on French academic labor and the ways that French mobilizations against “precarity” ended up masking certain other social phenomena (race, class, status, political delegation).
- In this month’s Cultural Anthropology, I have a paper on the “infinite stubbornness” of a French faculty protest against the former Sarkozy administration’s university reforms.
- In the Autumn issue of Critical Inquiry, I have a little book review of “Why there is no poststructuralism in France.”
I have to say, not having done much mainstream disciplinary publishing before, I found myself agreeing with the received wisdom that scholarly publishing is a tremendously long process. The first paper went through at least eleven drafts and two journals. For the second paper, which has some nifty animated diagrams, I had something like sixty email exchanges over the past six months with the journal staff who organized and realized the animations. Not all these steps were time-intensive, but cumulatively they added up to quite a bit of work.
One of the inevitable results of the slow publishing process is that some of the work is born dated. For example, one of my claims in the paper on precarity is that a lot of anti-precarity organizing isn’t actually by precarious academic staff themselves, but is rather handled by a set of union delegates who themselves are not precarious. I also suggested that precarious academics tend to avoid identifying personally as precarious. If I were writing the paper this year, I might have changed those claims a bit, because a new “Collective of precarious workers of Higher Education and Research” emerged in France last spring. It seems to be getting a lot of the attention that the traditional union apparatus used to get, and it does speak more in the first person (albeit plural, not singular).
As far as the other paper, it turns out that I slipped in an unwarranted assumption that Sarkozy was only the past President of France:
The Ronde had initially been launched by French activist academics in March 2009, during Nicolas Sarkozy’s five-year term as president of the French Republic…
Now that Sarkozy is running for President again, it’s possible I may live to regret that assumption as well. History undoes academic knowledge so rapidly, one might say. It’s hard to know how to narrate the past if you don’t know the future.