Postcards from the Periphery

Precarity makes it difficult for temporary academic staff to discuss living and working conditions. Many casual academic workers are afraid to speak out about their conditions for fear of losing what few hours of work they already have. Societal stigma around poverty means many others are ashamed to come forward and admit they are struggling to make ends meet or are reliant on social welfare to survive. Many of us float in and out of employment not knowing when the next bit of casual work will come our way. When in employment we are often on the edge of our workplaces and not permitted into the central space occupied by permanent academics. We may not have an office, a library card or be included in department mailing lists. As a result, we often feel invisible, regardless of whether we are working. Some temporary researchers and lecturers are lucky to secure contracts ranging from 9 months to 5 years in duration. When the contract expires, however, there is no promise of further employment. There are cases where academics are employed on a temporary basis for 10 years or more while their employers fight to deny them permanent status.

To help break the silence and stigma around precarity we decided to embark on a new project entitled ‘Postcards from the Periphery.’ Our hope is that other precarious academics will join with us on this journey by contributing their own postcards from the periphery. It’s simple to do – just send us on an image file of you holding your postcard to thirdlevelworkplacewatch@gmail.com. The postcard should provide a brief snapshot of your situation, fears or experiences. No faces necessary!

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5 comments

    1. After 3 years as a sessional lecturer followed by 10 years as a 2 day part time permanent academic, I finally got a full time permanent position. I am one of the lucky ones. This was after 8 years of study.

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  1. Here are some videos that I recorded last year that re-present the lived experience of women casual academics in Australia; they are unfortunately all too resonant with the experience of casual academics in other countries:





    Please continue to expose the experience of sessional staff, as this is an important social justice issue.
    As Gough Whitlam said, ‘Sure – we can have education on the cheap… but our children will be paying for it for the rest of their lives.’

    Like

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