Academic Nomads. The Changing Conception of Academic Work under Precarious Conditions
In addition to the economic destabilization of academic labour markets in neoliberal times, intellectual labour also experiences ideologically motivated repressions in a number of countries. One of the most recent examples of the latter has been the AKP government’s attack on dissident scholars, which started following the Academics for Peace Petition in January 2016 and escalated in the aftermath of the alleged coup attempt in July 2016. As a result, over the course of the past two years, a growing number of the signatories of the Peace Petition have been forced to leave Turkey to escape imprisonment and/or unemployment. In most cases, the emigrated academics are offered short-term scholarships contingent upon political risk factor which help them avoid immediate threats from the Turkish government for the time being. However, without a future prospect for a steady position and/or a settled life on the horizon, they are faced with the existential precariousness of a forced nomadic way of living. Against the backdrop of the occupational dismantling and geographic uprooting that the exiled Peace Academics are experiencing, this study seeks to explore the challenges but also the possibilities that this severe precarity bears for a new form of intellectual subjectivity. The main question of this paper is how the confrontation with existential insecurity transforms the way the academics perceive their profession and whether this experience might lead to a wider questioning of the institutional academia in general. For this purpose, it attempts to map out the shared expressions of insecurity, disillusionment, and hope, drawing on in-depth interviews with the signatories of Academics for Peace Petition in German exile.
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