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Accepted Paper:

Moving Forward, Staying Put  
Tom Marshall (Queen's University, Belfast)

Paper short abstract:

How did postgraduate students (PGRs) experience and react to temporal, existential im/mobility during the pandemic? My research paper considers qualitative PGRs during the COVID-19 pandemic and the related consequences of experiencing dis/connectedness from their research, peers and institutions.

Paper long abstract:

During the pandemic, ethnographers travelled from bedrooms to their fieldsite located in a living room or kitchen where our temporal and spatial boundaries became increasingly constrained. My paper argues that postgraduate research (PGR) ethnographers were particularly im/mobilised during the COVID-19 pandemic as we fought against corroding timelines, institutional alienation and, at times, suffocating dis/connectedness. PGRs who experienced temporal existential im/mobility endured the consequences of periods of uncertain renegotiation of their research. As we lingered in im/mobility, we grasped at the unravelling threads of our COVID-19 infected research, hoping that it could somehow be rewoven. Thus, what are the consequences of existential im/mobility for PGRs and did agentive potential diminish or re/emerge? How did the structures of academia help or hinder PGRs during the pandemic?

Using mixed-methods, my paper considers the temporal nature of existential im/mobility of PGRs in the UK and Republic of Ireland, who feared that their future was collapsing in on their present, eroding their past selves. I explore how universities often magnified PGRs im/mobility pushing them to move better (Hage 2005), without considering how, while many stood against a metaphorical brick wall. Many PGRs experienced purposeless im/mobility and dis/connectedness during the pandemic, leaving supervisors to add therapist to their already precarious workload.

However, despite academic existential im/mobility, some PGRs were able to re-envision their futures as hopeful however fragile that might be. Throughout my paper I will consider how PGRs can be helped to move better.

Panel P010b
Navigating hurdles and pacing (im)mobilities in times of corona [AnthroMob Network] II
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -