Given the sheer amount of information in my head, it is extremely difficult to bring much order to the maelstrom of thoughts in my mind. Whence this maelstrom?
Over the past week, I've participated in #HPJ101. #HPJ101 was an editorial training course for people interested in potentially becoming editors for the online, peer-reviwed journal Hybrid Pedagogy. HP put out a call, and about fifty of us responded. From what I can tell, most of us participated in the event.
Wouldn't call #hpj101 a happening because #happenings seem more intentional, artistic, and arriving at some prearranged goal if it were. Instead, #hpj101 was set up with a variety of community building, edit practicing, ethos sharing, and personality exposing events. Each and every one of these had their merits. Most of these, except for the Twitter chats, were asynchronous.
Unlike a variety of academic venues, the personal, political, and academic were all welcomed. There was no pretending that what we do outside of our jobs, how we feel when we do our work, when we teach, and our backgrounds do not impact our academic or scholarly work. Or our writing. Nope. We were not pretending to be objective. We were not pretending to be above emotions. From what I can tell, most of us also had, at core, a distinct agenda in moving with and working towards social justice. [Yes, that's a huge term/concept, but it was pretty prevalent.] One part of social justice is treating students with respect. Another part of that, at HP, is treating writers with respect and giving editors credit for their work.
In the midst of all the conversations, especially where people were opening and taking risks to share more sensitive or damaged aspect from their experience (rejection, embarrassment, doubt, impostor syndrome, etc.), it was easy to find people like me. Sure, they were not like me in many ways, but they were also very like me. (Maha Bali discusses her experiences in a similar vein in her post diversimilarity.) We shared the same ethos and pathos. We could feel the same way on similar topics. We could be upset or engaged or excited--all of these are possible. All of them happened, for me at least. When I look at the tweets for #hpj101, it was obvious that many others felt the same way. Ditto when you review the discussions.
Some of us feel blends of rage at the current state of our culture, education, and the ongoing war/violence machine that entrenched power uses to oppress and beat people down literally, economically, socially, and through tactics of fear and anxiety. What was so different is that I could not find a single person in this community that does not try to act to change this oppression. Yes, many of us are pissed off. Instead of smashing bottles, drinking bottles, or suffering in numbness, we're figuring out how to convert direct our rage into love. How to do right by our students and by our people. Working towards a kinder, more compassionate society.
Alone, this feels like a hellish but necessary task.
A task that often isolates us from our peers, puts us out of step with our field or fields, and leaves friends and family wondering just what the heck we are thinking. "That's not what academics do, is it?"
What are academics supposed to do?
Are we academics first? Or are we public intellectuals? Or are we thinkers and citizens? Or are we just cogs in the educational certification machine that extracts profits from families via tuition and extended student loans?
Just because we work in academia does not mean that the Academy is our Master, that the Academy can silence inconvenient or important critiques, or that we will ignore the inherent ethics.
We don't have to be silent.
Groups suffering far greater oppression and violence than academics have spoken, acted, and redeemed themselves and their own communities. For many of us, academia is our community. No one is going to come and save academia. Much of academia doesn't even think it has a problem.
For one of the first times in my life, certainly one of the few times since I received my PhD, I feel hope. I have hope. I know, I KNOW!, that if one small journal like HP can attract this many people with this kind of emotion, feeling, and power, that there is hope.
This is just one network. What other networks, nodes, and people are out there? How do we connect with them? How can I connect?
No longer alone; no longer isolated; I feel like I've found a posse, a people who helped give me my voice and my feelings back. I am me again.
A final note: I've written & published this quickly to preserve the feeling of the moment and the experience. To polish it would be to wrong the piece. As such, the piece is bumpy, perhaps. But it is about as authentic as I can make it.
Maelstrom image from Wikimedia.
Sisyphus image by Curiouso.
Network image by Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology.
Sekyo's White Falcon located at Wikimedia.