Scholars at Risk or Reserve Army of Academic Labor? The Case of Peace Academics in Exile
14 February 2019, h. 14.00
Speaker: Aslı Vatansever (Visiting fellow, International Research Center Re:Work, Humbolt University, Berlin)
Discussants: Enzo Colombo e Annalisa Murgia (Università degli Studi di Milano)
SPS Seminar Room (Room 215, II floor, via Passione side)
Dipartimento di Scienze sociali e politiche
Via Conservatorio 7, Milano
Over the course of the past two years, a growing number of the signatories of the Academics for Peace Petition were forced to leave Turkey to escape imprisonment and/or unemployment. Most of the time, their case is handled with respect to and emphasis on political risk. However, this approach poses two limitations on the overall discourse: First, by concentrating only on the aspect of political oppression that the displaced academics have been exposed to in their home countries, it overlooks the aspect of economic precarization to which they are still subjected in the international academic labor markets. Second, by victimizing the exiled intellectuals it fails to notice the potential the process of precarization bears for a new form of intellectual subjectivity. Moreover, as the conventional, politically oriented labels habitually miss out the gender perspective, the gender-related nuances regarding the perception and experience of precariousness often remain unnoticed.
In this seminar Aslı Vatansever will present the findings of her research on the relation between precarity and subjectivation, based on in-depth interviews conducted with the Academics for Peace in German exile. In their case, the sense of precarity due to being discarded into the reserve army of labor and the inherent precariousness of the exilic mode of existence overlap. Therefore, the study at hand proposes a combination of political economic analysis and subject-oriented interactive peer dialog, offering a snapshot of an ongoing moment of labor precarization. In order not to reduce human agency to a particular socio-economic or political position, this study attempts to capture the intersection of the socio-economic status of being kept in reserve and the exile state of mind. To bridge the analytical gap between the context and the potential for agency, both the socio-economic aspect of being a displaced academic as a member of the reserve army of labor and the political designation as exile with its socio-emotional connotations will be addressed. In the meantime, the question to what extent the degree of precariousness and the coping mechanisms differ among male and female researchers will be discussed in the light of the interviewees’ and the author’s experiences. The purpose is to explore the possibilities for a new form of intellectual subjectivity outside of the institutional academia to arise from conditions of occupational and existential precarity.