A changing academic life

So grate­ful to Geral­dine Fitz­patrick for spend­ing the time talk­ing to me and giv­ing me the chance to put words to my still ill-formed thoughts on liv­ing an aca­d­e­m­ic life. Such a priv­i­lege to be part of her pod­cast series, Chang­ing Aca­d­e­m­ic Life.

In talk­ing to Geral­dine, I’ve tried to be hon­est, find­ing space between my naivety and the intel­lec­tu­al envi­ron­ment I’d love to help build with the many amaz­ing aca­d­e­mics I work with. Find the pod­cast and abbre­vi­at­ed tran­script here (along with some oth­er great inter­views: I high­ly rec­om­mend Ali Black­’s).

HCID seminar talk

Six weeks into the new job and I’ve been giv­en a sem­i­nar slot.
Here’s the abstract:

Think we must *

Excerpt, quoting "think we must" from Virginia Woolf's Six Guineas

Vir­ginia Woolf (1938) Three Guineas. Hog­a­rth Press.

It’s been a thrill to join HCID and City and to be wel­comed so warm­ly by many of you. In this talk, I’d like to intro­duce myself in a more delib­er­ate way, spin­ning a thread through my career path that cap­tures what’s impor­tant to me and what has helped me find my way.
Start­ing way back with work at Xerox, and then my twists and turns into acad­e­mia and then indus­try again, at Microsoft, I’ll talk through punc­tu­at­ed moments in my research—about teenagers and their mobile phones; fam­i­lies liv­ing amongst their clut­ter; and neigh­bour­hoods cop­ing with com­mu­nal life and data aggre­gates. What I’ll try to con­vey is how it’s been a think­ing that has ani­mat­ed me through­out this work, a think­ing not always with clar­i­ty and cer­tain­ly a think­ing with many knots and frayed ends, but nev­er­the­less a think­ing. A point I want to reflect on, then, is how ideas thread into our work, weav­ing togeth­er a live­ly tapes­try. I like the way Car­la Hus­tak and Natasha Myers use, invo­lu­tions here as a “ ‘rolling, curl­ing, turn­ing inwards’ that brings dis­tinct species togeth­er to invent new ways of life” (2013: 96).
Through my own invo­lu­tions, I’ll try to use this talk to work my way to a think­ing that has a gen­er­a­tive mode—a mode with both an open­ness and an ongo­ing­ness to it that invites more, always more. For me, this is a mode of think­ing that affects one­self and that demands a care, because it is not just about study­ing the worlds we inhab­it, it is about mak­ing those worlds and the con­di­tions of pos­si­bil­i­ty that come with them. I sup­pose, above all else, this is a talk invit­ing a think­ing of this kind that we might do together—it is to pose an open ques­tion about our think­ing and about what worlds we might make possible.
* My title is inspired by Isabelle Stengers and Vin­ciane Despret who bor­row the phrase “Think we must” from Vir­ginia Woolf, and use it to pon­der gen­er­a­tive­ly on their lives in the academy.

Hus­tak, C & Myers N. 2013. “Invo­lu­tion­ary Momen­tum: Affec­tive Ecolo­gies and the Sci­ences of Plant/Insect Encoun­ters.” dif­fer­ences 23(3):74–118.
Stengers, I., & Despret, V (2015). Women Who Make a Fuss: The Unfaith­ful Daugh­ters of Vir­ginia Woolf. Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press.