This week, the Atlantic Studies Podcasts of Note Blog continues posting numerous episodes of broad interest to scholars of Atlantic History. This week, episodes focus upon revolution, scholarship, the Aztecs, immigration, and warfare. As well, the Journal of the Plague Year continues with observations on the changing academy in a year of pandemic and protest.
It is now commonplace among academics to accept precarity. Part of becoming a scholar involves a love of teaching, of research, of fellow feeling among other professors in service to a greater good. Because of this passion for critical thinking and the broader goals of changing lives for the better, the structure can often force more burdens of precarity upon the teacher, scholar, and academic than within other professions.
The broad adjunctification of the academy is the next stage in a movement toward a mostly precarious labor force within the larger educational system. In a year of much more absolute precarity, involving the instability of life, illness, and death during the coronavirus pandemic, this adjunctification has accelerated, not only at the university level, but within other parts of the educational sector.
This movement toward precariousness in broader society involves the removal of standard supports that employers have generally provided to non-temporary labor. The gig economy, day-trading, and adjunctification in the academy are becoming common as neoliberal mainstays, where the lack of employer healthcare, the denial of family protections, the removal of disability safeguards, and the constant threat of unemployment reign.
This new structure breeds impermanence, creating a precariat mass of temporary laborers in the academy who do not retain the sturdy employment to speak with full academic freedom nor the time away from applications and the uncertainty of life to complete their finest research. As with other spaces of the automated society, the laboring masses see the arrangement functioning through this pattern, and yet nothing can be done, pathways of prospective critique are closed off.
The precariat emerges as the centerpiece of this latest version of the academy within late capitalism, involving a surplus laborer striving to remain afloat because they love their jobs, even as commitments to teaching, camaraderie, and thinking are used against the precariat to create extremely transient and unstable existences. The academy may soon self-assess whether to continue mass adjunctification, but largely continues to increase such structural automation as part of a broader financialization of Western life.
Be strong in the abnormal.
Wear masks. Wash hands. Keep distance.
Atlantic Studies Podcasts of Note:
1) Ben Franklin’s World – Mary Beth Norton – “1774: The Long Year of American Revolution”
2) History of African Philosophy – “The Best We Have – The American Negro Academy”
3) New Books Network – Camilla Townsend – Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs
4) New Books Network – Gennady Estraikh – Transatlantic Russian Jewishness: Ideological Voyages of the Yiddish Daily Forverts in the First Half of the Twentieth Century
5) New Books Network – Kevin Weddle – The Compleat Victory: Saratoga and the American Revolution
This Date in History:
2/7/1926 – Negro History Week Launched
2/6/1820 – Organized Immigration of Free Black People from U.S. to Africa
2/3/1953 – Batepa Massacre
Remembrance of Past Podcasts:
For those interested in more intensive Critical Race Theory and psychologies of racism, New Books Network also posted an episode from Sheldon George on Trauma and Race: A Lacanian Study of African American Racial Identity.
The Great Books Podcast from the National Review recently offered a summary of Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington.