Following on from my earlier post, this is a preliminary list of three ways we can utilize our existing expertise and institutional strengths as anthropologists, specifically our existing roles as researchers and teachers in universities and colleges. Importantly, these are extensions and tweakings of the work we already do, so are accessible to those who might not be able to engage in overtly political work. I’m thinking of people like myself who are non-citizens on visas, but equally can apply to those who are worried about a backlash from conservative employers.
I’m hoping to make these are accessible to anthropologists who are working in all kinds of positions: including administrative/support roles, contingent faculty, non-tenured faculty, postdocs, and grad students. The emphasis is on working with your institution, whether that be a liberal arts college, a public university, a private research university, a community college, etc., to make use of resources and expertise that might already exist.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed a middle-aged white guy I’d never seen before, hanging out near the foyer of the university building I work in. He was just sitting there on a chair, with a backpack, playing on his phone. He was still there later that afternoon. And again the next day, in the same spot. Then the day after as well, till the end of the week. If I walked to the rest room or the kitchen, or went outside on my lunch break, I noticed him just sitting in the hall, apparently waiting for someone.
I was curious, but it also started to make me nervous. Who was this dude? The building houses administrative offices – some for student support, but mostly university-wide administration. There are non-student visitors around every day. But no one sits waiting for an appointment for a week.
I started to think up increasingly dramatic possibilities. Was he someone’s stalker? These things happen. Had anyone else noticed him and mentioned it to security?
Last night J jokingly called me the Pied Piper of Academia. Since finishing my PhD a couple of years ago, I’ve been working in university administration.
And since almost the first month in my new job, I’ve been asked by fellow grads for advice on the pros and cons of taking that step over to the dark side.
At first it was just people I knew.
Recently I’ve had emails from total strangers, referred to me by people I hardly know, asking if I’d have time to talk over coffee.
So as academic job application season swings around, I thought it might be worth a blog post.
In this first post I’ll give you some background on how I ended up making the decision to apply for an administrative job in the first place. In the next I’ll leap into the bit you’re probably more interested in: the pros and cons of making a side-ways move in the university if you’d always assumed you would be an academic.
My thoughts on this topic are based on my own limited experience and to a certain extent my ethnographic work on universities. But if you in a similar situation yourself, please chip in in the comments! Continue reading