Author:Caitríona Coen (NUI,Maynooth, Ireland)
Paper short abstract:
I will discuss my work as a public ethnographer, and how my research is community based while connected to contemporary global concerns. My question is: can the existing politics of career progression help me to develop as an ethnographer or academic?
Paper long abstract:
I am engaged in public ethnography, fully committed to it as a career- and I am passionate about it; however it remains unclear how useful the current politics of academic career progression will aid my future career prospects. I began my post graduate studies in 2009, a year after the death of both Lehman brothers and the Celtic Tiger. I have observed and experienced how academic freedom is increasingly more entangled in employment embargos, slashed budgets, a culture of fear and a desperate bid to introduce an audit culture. In some ways I believe being a 'young scholar' in an age of 'austerity and casualization of academic labour has made me approach my work quite differently from the outset. I am less afraid to make mistakes, yet at the same time, I have benefited from a high level of academic training. Increasing insecurity in employment across third level institutions is creating fear and if scholars are fearful of being unemployed, will this lead to more conventional thinking and teaching? Also, I have a social responsibility to serve the public good and not simply to service a broken economy. Perhaps limiting myself to the ideal of being an academic would not have given me the freedom to consider working in broader social fields. My reward from my current work is the knowledge that my research will informs a wide variety of public platforms and not just take up storage space in a windowless room.
Anthropology as a vocation and occupation