All cults, all abusers, work the same way, taking us away from friends and family, demanding more effort and more sacrifice and more devotion, only to find that we remain the same tantalizing distance from the next promised level. And the sacrifice normalizes itself into more sacrifice, the devotion becomes its own reward, the burn of the hunger as good as the meal.
So I have finally quit adjuncting! Even though my last gig was the best adjuncting gig that I could have had (I was paid more than any other position that I’ve held in the past 7 years, I had my own office, a real title and place in the department, etc.), I decided that it wasn’t enough. As someone who has now entered my forties, I’ve decided that it is no longer wise to continue working for peanuts regardless of the amount of enjoyment that I get from my job. It took me a while to come to this point because I just couldn’t let go of my identity as an academic. I realized that pride was the thing that was keeping me (and probably is keeping many adjuncts) in an oppressive profession. I didn’t have money, a house, children, a retirement fund, but at least I had my identity as a professor (well sort of). I needed to stop seeing myself as a victim and begin taking charge of my life. I came to the realization that if I had the ability to get a Ph.D. then I was not a victim. I had choices. My privilege as a Ph.D. afforded me to leave this profession and pursue another one.
I saw this article circulating on Facebook (below is the link). At first the title caught my eye but after reading the article I thought that the message was undermined by some very problematic statements. I know that the article is intending to be provocative and critical about the adjunct crisis, however, it is classist and racist with its references to the outsourcing of work to India. As an immigrant and an adjunct professor I feel that it would be more productive to build solidarity with workers around the globe rather than taking an elitist stand with statements like “I can’t see an Indian instructor teaching Renaissance literature to American college students via Skype.” In a capitalist system, we (all of us who dependent on our labor to survive) are all disposable and replaceable.
“Emily Van Duyne, an adjunct professor in New Jersey, told me she finds it uncomfortable to teach her students about issues like the American Civil Rights Movement when she feels unable to change her own unjust working conditions. “It feels very strange asking students to hone their critical thinking skills about an oppressive culture and the ways you can respond effectively, when you are teaching out of a broken system,” she told me.”
Click here for the entire article.
The thing about being a third generation immigrant refugee in one country and then moving to another country and being a first generation immigrant there all over again is that you have no delusions about belonging…you fight for everyone else’s cause, because you don’t know how else to live, but you know full well when the time comes for someone to stand next to you, even a union brother, you will be left standing there alone.
It’s that time of the year again when I am faced with the decision of whether or not to go to the national academic conference in my field. Do I want to dish out $1500-$2000 (which constitutes for me almost a month’s salary) for a conference where I’ll be shamed and made to feel like a loser because I still don’t have a tenure track job or do I stay home and let go of the opportunity to connect with potential employers, mentors, colleagues and old friends? I’m frankly so tired of this game and part of me really wants to stay home but I know that staying home is one more step in accepting and reifying my dead-end trajectory in academia– It’s putting one more nail in the coffin.