WHY ‘BROKEN ACADEMIC’?

I have been working in academia since 1996.

I am not sure I know what that means other than I have been engaged in a form of intellectual labour, but labour nevertheless. It is a privilege to be paid to ask questions (hopefully interesting) and to inquire into those questions in order to contribute to the betterment of our existence.  This ‘asking’ also means entering into discussion about the ideas that animate and organise human existence – commonly referred to as ‘teaching’.The ‘broken academic’ is a project aimed at examining the condition of contemporary academic labour through a phenomenological perspective.

In the first instance this is in relation to what Barbara Jago has called  ‘academic depression, or what Art Bochner refers to as ‘…institutional depression, a pattern of anxiety, hopelessness, demoralization, isolation, and disharmony that circulates through university life.’ ,  the way we succumb to performative institutional culture, especially the ways we are conditioned to split our academic and personal lives, to privilege the former and suppress the latter.  

This ‘split’ causes tremendous pain.  For some, this pain manifests in depression and other obvious forms of mental distress.  For most, though, they suffer the ‘cost of coping’ – medicating their pain through drink, drugs, overwork, etc.  This ‘coping’ impacts upon partners, children, friends, work colleagues.

These are the ‘private’ costs of our intellectual labour,  the hypocracy of ‘public’ and ‘humanist’ institutions that are silent and cruel in relation to personal pain.

The ‘broken academic’ is a project aimed at experimenting with ways of writing and researching that can re-moralise in the context of demoralisation.  I will share my writing, my reflections on that writing, my research, and my reflections on how I go about that research.  This is also about asserting that one of the key tasks of ‘academic’ work is to be led by inquiry and not so much by institutional ambition that empties intellectual labour of meaningful content and intent.

I hope you gain something from this enterprise. 

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