Accepted Paper:

How long, how far? 'University drifters' and 'entrepreneurial academics' during Europe's economic downturn.  


Roberta Zavoretti (Universität zu Köln)

Paper short abstract:

This intervention aims at discussing the role of EASA in the context of the current crisis-stricken European job market. Funding opportunities increasingly respond to the ideal of ‘entrepreneurial academic’ – but do they offer an alternative to constant underemployment and continuous displacement?

Paper long abstract:

As for many colleagues, my employment path clearly reflects the post-2008 economic downturn. Having obtained full PhD funding in the UK, upon my thesis submission I was promptly offered employment by a German research institution.

While I enjoyed the privilege of a sound working contract and of a strong welfare system in Germany, my Britain-based colleagues witnessed the slashing of half of the higher education budget in 2010. This almost erased my prospects to go back to the UK, even if I had wanted to. On the other hand, German academia offered little opportunity for long-term employment.

Academics are recognized to be one of the most mobile professional groups. Yet, even for single academics, being a market-led floater is not always a feasible or desirable prospect. In the context of the recent economic crisis, those who want to remain in Europe are readier to accept continuous displacement and lower working conditions despite the high intellectual and personal costs.

Researchers are encouraged to be 'entrepreneurial', design large-scale projects and apply for funding provided by national research agencies (ESRC, DAAD…) or the EU. Not only these application processes lack transparency, but also require the applicant to invest large amounts of unpaid labour without any guarantee to be eventually chosen. What could the EASA do in this context? Should it only provide support to those who attempt this route to employment? Or, as a professional organisation, should it attempt to influence national and EU funding policies? If so, how?

Panel P022
Anthropology as a vocation and occupation