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Ko-Fi

I’m leaving academia. But, here are some reasons why I stayed.

On Monday 7th January 2019. I emailed my line managers to hand in my notice of resignation. From a permanent lecturing post. That I had held for a decade. That had been a ‘pinch me’ job.
For a long time. Until it wasn’t.

As readers of this blog will know, I took a prolonged period of sick leave in 2018. My body physically gave in to ever progressing endometriosis and the situationally provoked mental health issues this created. In part, from attempting to mask a debilitating chronic illness. I have stage 4, severe, endometriosis in my bladder, my bowel, attaching my womb to both. Adhesions and lesions. I have been profoundly affected. 

I returned to work on a phased basis at the end of November 2018. This translates into taking 4 weeks to work up from 0 to full time - in case you were wondering. I still wanted to get back. I still wanted to teach in Semester 2. I didn’t want to go onto statutory sick pay; I received a letter telling me to sign on at the job centre the week I had returned…
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What kind of human rights activist are you, anyway? And, what kind can you be?

My research has long been concerned with understanding the ways in which human rights have meaning for women in their daily lives. I’ve always been interested in drawing out the diverse ways in which women choose to engage or reject the language and tools of rights. I’ve also explored the diverse forms of activism and ways women see themselves as non/activist. I spent a lot of time researching this in Russia - my forthcoming book, under contract with Palgrave - will reflect on what over a decade of research has told me about both women’s rights in Russia and elsewhere. The kind of black mirror that we are reflected in as Trump and Brexit unfold and unleash and entrench global misogynies, racisms and violences. 
In this blog, I want to focus on this question of non/activism and bring it closer to home. To my own practice. 
To the issue of academic/activist identity and responsibility.

As in my previous blogs thus far, I’ve been working through how chronic illness - and the disclosure of t…

F.O.M.O. The psychic and professional costs of not attending events you organised, or presenting an accepted paper you wrote.

On the 8th November 2018, as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, an event on representations of women and leadership in Politics in Scotland took place at the Glasgow Women’s Library. I co-organised this event and applied successfully for funding. This enabled female Modern Studies (a qualification in unique to Scotland blending politics, sociology, geography) pupils to attend a creative workshop to re—make representations of women & political leadership.  The aim of the 2018 event was as an intervention against the toxic, misogynistic, racist and classed representations of women politicians that dominate UK press and media landscape. It built on work I did in 2016- also for the ESRC Festival of Social Science. Again, female Modern Studies pupils created their own feminist manifestos to show the diversity of ways in which to conduct social science research. This represented a way to highlight the mainstreaming of misogyny in politics in practice and in curricula. This wor…

On Writing. But, not for the REF

In this second post in my series on ‘coming out as chronically ill’, I focus on being ‘off’ and what that means for an academic.
I could have written a post about guilt. For that was the overwhelming feeling I experienced when I first began my sick leave. I felt that I was letting others down and I was letting myself down. I was also keenly aware of my privilege in having paid sick leave to take, and having a job to return to, when so many don’t. I also really had the fear that I was proving my haters right - perhaps, I was not cut out for this.  
I might well return to this in a later post, polishing up a paper I presented back in June at a conference on ‘Imposter Syndrome as Public Feeling’ - one of the last papers I gave before my sick leave. There is still so much to be said about women’s experiences of the ableist neoliberal academy and our own internalisation of these unhealthy working patterns and conditions. There is great work on this in terms of motherhood and care, and the co…

Un/masking: Coming Out as Chronically Ill. Part 1.

Why I finally stopped masking my chronic illness at work.

This year, I finally ‘came out’ as chronically ill.  

I'm currently, and hopefully, nearing the end of an extended period of sick leave. Pausing and stepping out of my work bubble taught me some important lessons about actually living with endometriosis rather than attempting to hide it behind work. 

Endometriosis is a debilitating condition estimated to affect 1 in 10 women. Awareness of the scale and impacts of the disease is steadily increasing.
Yet, length of diagnosis remains on average 8 years and women recount pervasive dismissal of their pain - “this is what periods are like”. Indeed, suggestions for period leave were met with derision and endometriosis is not covered within disability legislation. It is unsurprising that many women suffering chose to mask, drop out, or move to part time or more precarious work. The precarious, part time, and ‘always on’ nature of employment - as well as women remaining disproportionate…