I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my role in the academy, and how I negotiate some of these roles in my personal life.
It’s been a truly busy few months, but I’m really okay with that. I feel like a lot of progress has been made, for where I want to be (personally, politically, and professionally).
I’m enjoying the media-moment, being on the radio, and finally launching my YouTube channel.
I’ve won awards. I’ll come back to those in just a minute.
I feel ‘caught up’. In the ‘right place’. I’ve been working with a coach, and for the first time in a very, very long time, my to-do list, at the time of writing, has 4 things on it, all of which will be completed before the end of next week, when I then go on leave for the majority of July.
There has been so much going on work wise, personally, I haven’t truly been able to reflect, and get back to what I love (blogging), so I’ve actually come back to the idea of a daily writing practice - something I’ve resisted ever since my PhD - so I can
1. better myself as an academic and
2. do more of what I love, and
3. make the everyday political visible.
Whilst you might think, Charlotte, the political is over-emphasised here, to me right now, it’s important.
I feel like there has been a shift, a personal one for me, that has played out / spilled out into everything else.
The awards that I’ve won recently have provided more of a confirmation of validation than I could actually comprehend at the time. But now I am starting to see. I feel comfortable in the uncomfortable place(s) that I occupy (and question - uncomfortable for whom?)
The recent research work that I’ve been doing has been recognised through an award, but also, my feminist practice has been recognised, and this is the thing that means the most to me. To see that this (by no means perfect) practice has impacted other people, that I have become that person that people can come to, I’m really good with that. I lean into the resistance I face with it. Because it gives me more fire to continue. And boy the resistance is there.
This was the original spark for this post. It’s what got me thinking about it.
The work that I’ve been doing for the last couple of years, with a variety of great colleagues, has centred around (the lack of) diversity in the curriculum, specific to psychology. Long story (but hopefully an academic paper’s worth) short, there are three main concepts the research sits within - place (where inclusive learning takes place and goes), space (having the mental space to explore such issues, and the safe spaces within/outside of the institutions to do so), but finally, and the one that is still bugging me - face - who exactly is the face of this work, and who is that face the right face for.
I know, right now, I am currently the right kind of face for this work. Diversity/equality in HE. Feminism. It makes me the wrong kind of uncomfortable, the opposite of the uncomfortable I referred to above. I suit the current agenda (broadly speaking) for addressing such issues, that allows for the ‘tick box’ to be obtained.
Interesting though, I have been told that I am still too much. That I am
Volatile in the example that, for my award speech, I drew on Sara Ahmed’s reflections on who does diversity work in the academy, and how that is (un)valued and by whom. Volatile in that I’ll be vocal about the lack of thought for disability in spaces. Volatile in that I will constantly and consistently (seemingly a lot at the moment) start every important conversation I’m involved with at the moment that I am a feminist, as this articulates a specific viewpoint (not to be unquestioned - to come in a future post). Volatile in that I might go rogue and say something that no longer ‘fits’ the suitable ‘face’ for this work.
And you know what?
You’re too bloody right I will.
The position(s) I occupy that intersect between my personal, political, and professional life are not just surface value - they’re not just the t-shirt - and I don’t occupy them to serve someone else’s agenda in a way that will get me further/higher/whatever. They are authentic to me, and in that sense, the only agenda is doing more equality and inclusion.
I do have more reflections on this, but as with (the current state of) feminism, they vary, go off on multiple tangents, are messy, and don’t have a true end point. But for now, I ask that if you’ve got to the end of this post (a well done sticker for you), that you stop and think about the roles you occupy, how you negotiate these, and how that makes you you.
*makes note to buy VOLATILE pin badge*